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.