But for Scars

But for Scars

“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars.” Elbert Hubbard

Tonight I am invited to a special ceremony to celebrate a group dedicated to improving the health of Asian women. There will be food and a presentation, some entertainment and some awards.

I am one of the recipients of those awards. I am receiving a service award for helping to “advance and improve” Asian women’s health.

To say I am not worthy is not false modesty – for in comparison to most of the people who will be attending my role has been small, my part minimal. I have primarily worked with my friend Chien-Chi who is a force to be reckoned with.

But it makes me think about awards – because our society loves them, and so do I. I’ve received few in my lifetime. I am fairly average but the few I have received have been meaningful. A cheer leading trophy in 9th grade when I was a complete misfit, coming from a small school in Pakistan to a public school in New England; a work award soon after I came back to the United States; and the one I will receive tonight. All of them came at times when I was vulnerable and least expected any tribute, any award.

As much as I love awards – they don’t take you very far. Oh they can in earth time – they can help get you speaking gigs, book deals, obtain tenured positions, raises, prestige. But in other time? Other time doesn’t speak the language of awards.

Other time speaks the language of the scarred.

Because scars mean there was once an open wound. Scars mean we went through the grueling, sometimes agonizing process of healing  – far more work than any medal, any diploma, any award, any other achievement. The fact that the scars are not open wounds is because of the hand of God, the healing by One far bigger and greater than the wounds that cause scars. They are not open because of the hands and feet of those who walked alongside helping to heal the wounds. They are medals of honor disguised as scars.

But for scars we would walk with open wounds. But for scars we would ride on our own merits, our own laurels, our own pride. But for scars we would not realize the need for transformation – the need for a Gospel.

So I’ll accept the award with joy (for who doesn’t love an award) ever aware of the scars I carry and the grace I’ve received.

11 thoughts on “But for Scars

  1. Very proud of you Marilyn. Proud that you have had courage to follow the Healer of the wounds. The award is the testimony to His on-going presence among the wounded through those whose wounds have been healed to scars. Today, Good Friday, it is very appropriate to draw our attention to His wounds that have brought healing to our sin-wounded lives. “Father, forgive…”


    1. Lea – thank you so very much for this lovely message. I was looking through some old letters that my mom kept recently and there are a couple where I am very concerned for you because you had hurt yourself. I’ll try and find them and scan them to send you….it was such a reminder of grace in my life and the grace people gave me when I was young.


  2. I found your blog several weeks ago via a Facebook group of which I am a member; a link to your blog was posted there. Thank you for your thoughtful posts; God is using your words to help me think through and reflect on His mercy, grace and love.


    1. I am so grateful that you came by – so grateful for this comment. I’ve been doing a lot of re-thinking blogging and more these past couple weeks and one of the biggest things I’ve felt is that I don’t want to be ‘noise on the internet’ or waste the time of those who graciously come by. These words meant a great deal to me! I’m glad you came by, and yes – glad someone linked Communicating Across Boundaries so that you found it!


  3. Congratulations, Dear Marilyn!! What a lovely and well-earned award! There are awards, and then there are awards, for all sorts of achievements, all sorts of recognitions. In the eyes of this beholder, your achievements in helping to advance and improve the health of Asian women in Boston are well recognized not only here among people and things of this earth, but also in the higher ‘other’ realms of which you write. I know firsthand of your passion and dedication to help those who are most vulnerable, and so I rejoice with you! Blessed are the merciful . . .


    1. You know so much of the back story to this award that I can’t wait to have a good chuckle with you on the irony. It’s a great picture of some of the hard work of cultural competency and that it doesn’t always come naturally! Thank you for your congratulations! By the way she wants to do another cultural competency thing in the fall so we (you and I) will be working together on that I hope.


  4. I’m reading Devil in the White City about the World’s Fair and one sentence captured me. Can’t quote it exactly, but something about how these men in the late 1800s all bore the scars of regular life. They had all lost someone or dealt with significant health issues. I thought, we all have scars, don’t we? But in this century sometimes we’re too good at hiding them, convinced they are ugly or say something about our worth. But…but for scars we wouldn’t see our need for transformation. Yes. Enjoy your award!


    1. So true about how easy it is, at least in the U.S., to hide our scars. Perhaps not so true in places like Djibouti and Pakistan – where scars can’t be hidden quite so well. It was a fun evening. I was thinking about how it wouldn’t have meant as much if it has been a group of non-minority women…that this was an Asian group was so cool. Like they had graciously allowed me into their world – and were now honoring me. Perhaps the third culture kid thing of looking white but not feeling it!!


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