On any given night, you will find me leaning into the bathroom mirror, concerned about my face.
It always starts the same way: stepping out of the shower, wiping the condensation from the mirror, leaning forward to apply moisturizer, and the realization. My face is dotted with pimples. And next the instinct: do something about it. An intense scrutiny follows. One would hope that this torture would at least yield a worthwhile result, but on the contrary, a reddened, haggard face stares back at me. Her worn-out features seem to ask, Why do you keep doing this?
When I was in high school, people told me that acne was a temporary burden of teenage years, but it did not miraculously disappear when I turned 21. If anything, it worsened, despite prescriptions, pills, and creams. And so, back to the mirror and the endless examination that I conduct upon my face every day.
You know the old-school shaving mirrors that magnify your face for accuracy? I once read a book that called one of these a “bombshell mirror,” because it enlarges your imperfections, turning every one of them into a bombshell that destroys your self-confidence, that distorts your perception of your own appearance, that forces you to believe that the beauty of your face is the difference that remains after you’ve subtracted each pimple.
My dad once told me to think of each of my blemishes as a reminder that I am not perfect. He’s right: inwardly, in this life, I will never be perfect. I need an outward reminder—we all do.
And here’s the thing: hurting my face will not heal my skin. It’s not so much the action itself that is destructive (though it’s not good either), but the thought that underlies it. What am I doing when I scrutinize my acne? I am leaning into a mirror. All I’m ever going to see in that mirror is me. Alone, I am not enough for my own contentment.
When I fixate upon my acne, I magnify my imperfections, mimicking the effect of a “bombshell mirror” without even owning one. I blow a single aspect of my appearance wildly out of proportion to the rest of my body and reinforce a habit of noticing how I fall short, a habit that would extend beyond acne should that problem disappear. The harder I beg God to heal my face, the longer the acne will remain, I am convinced. It will not disappear until I start asking for something else: for God to let me see myself the way He does.
In His eyes, I am beautiful. And, ladies, in His eyes you are too.
We need to change what we’re asking for.