Medals, Degrees, Diplomas & Scars

By Jim Whitt

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

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote about his experiences as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Dr. Frankl, a psychiatrist, had developed a theory he called logotherapy. At the core of this theory is the belief that man’s primary motivational force is his search for meaning.

As a Jew in Austria prior to World War II he saw thousands of German Jews being shipped to concentration camps. He had the opportunity to flee Austria with his wife before the Nazis annexed the country but it meant that he would have to leave his mother and father behind. He also reasoned that if his theory of logotherapy were valid then he must prove it to himself.  He elected to remain in Austria.

Eventually he and the rest of his family were incarcerated in concentration camps. Millions died in the gas chambers. He was the sole survivor of his family. The survivors endured suffering that we cannot imagine in our worst nightmares.

It’s hard to imagine that anything positive could come from this morbid experience. But Dr. Frankl did learn something essential to his work. He learned that others may control our lives but they cannot control our attitude.  He also learned that the survivors of the death camps were those who had something of importance in their life that made it worth living.

The scars of Dr. Frankl’s suffering provided the critical evidence essential to substantiate his theory of logotherapy. Scars are the evidence that the wounds have healed — many patients and fellow psychiatrists have benefitted from his scars.

All of us have experiences in life that wound us. Perhaps, like Dr. Frankl, the scars that come as the result of our wounds and healing will benefit others.

In this, there is meaning. “God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars.” Those scars are reminders that wounds do heal.

*This is an excerpt from Road Signs For Success: 99 Purposeful Principles To Guide You On The Road To Reaching Your Full Potential ©1993 Jim Whitt

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