Worn wood edges resist my diligent scrubbing. I scrape with fingernails and put my elbow grease to good use against my foes—flecks of fuchsia nail polish, a rainbow of paint splatters, glitter now a permanent part of the wood grain, and an array of marker stripes. My arm aches as I wash and wipe the kitchen table and chairs for the millionth time.

But if company is coming, suddenly these imperfections seem to blare with glaring light, and my desire to hide the stains becomes an exercise in futility. I tap a finger against my chin, contemplating a table cloth. Or maybe a centerpiece to draw the eyes somewhere else?

Letting out a lungful of air, I shrug. The table will stay uncovered. If I cover it, masking the imperfections underneath, people will miss the stories behind the stains. My well-used table tells the stories of my family—meals together, spa days, painting projects, play time, and lots of mishaps along the way, like the infamous glitter explosion of 2017. I wouldn’t trade any of it. Those stories make us who we are as a family.

I was talking with the creative and wise Cynthia Ruchti (My agent. Wow, do I love saying those words!) recently and we discussed how, as humans, we often desire to hide our stains. With her permission, I’m going to continue this discussion with you.

We’re sometimes quick to hide or cover the things we view as stains. Maybe we had a tough childhood, didn’t grow up in church, are recovering from an addiction, are divorced, or don’t have great family relationships. Maybe we’re the only Christian in our circle of friends or in our workplace, and we think we have to seem like we’ve got it all together. Or maybe if we’re new to a church or a new believer, we think we better make ourselves more palatable to other Christians. We don’t want to look like we don’t belong.

The problem with veiling the scars of our lives is then we miss the opportunity to show the real us, to show the story behind the stain. The story encapsulates the heart of us, the uniqueness of who we are, and how God has used the circumstances of our lives for our ultimate good and his glory.

Jesus didn’t come to Earth to have us hide. He came to save us from legalism and the prisons of our own making. He came so we could live an abundant and authentic life, and not only that, but so we can share our beautifully imperfect selves and our stories with others. To share his love, his hope, and his open arms for all. Not just those who are best at covering their nicks, scrapes, and wounds.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10: 9-10 [NIV])

God himself could’ve chosen to gloss over or omit the legacy of Christ, a line which includes the prostitute Rahab and adulterers Bathsheba and David, but he didn’t. He chose to highlight these “stains,” bring them to light, and tell their story. To show there’s no stain, no hurt he cannot heal, and that he can use them for his purpose in our lives and as a witness in the lives of others.

Jesus, too, used stories all the time to bring people together, to connect with them, and to teach them right where they were. He helped them understand who he was and where they belonged in the story the Heavenly Father was writing for their lives.

Maybe if we share our story with others, taking off the veil, they’ll feel comfortable to do the same with us or with someone in their own life. And perhaps they’ll be able to see the One for whom the veil tore wide open 2,000 years ago, leaving us full access to the holy of holies— the Father.

How about you? Is there something you could use, a “stain,” in your experience, to reach someone else? Do you ever feel like you need to polish up or cover an area of your life?