Monday, January 7, 2013

in which not everything is a gift.

This post has been sitting in the drafts bin since March or April. I'm not sure what's compelling me to publish it now, all these months later, except I'm in such a different place, and I like looking back and seeing how far I've come. I also know now, more than I did back then, that this struggle is familiar to a lot of people. I'm not the only one who has struggled with my skin, not the only 20-something to have to gob on concealer to go on a job interview. This is for you, then. For those who have looked in the mirror and felt like you'd never like the face (or maybe the body) you saw there. I am oh-so-much-better these days, both in my mind and in my skin. Medication helped get my acne under control, and although I'm thrilled my face looks like the me I'm used to knowing, I'm also comforted by the fact that I endured. I am tough, and I think these words -- written in the throes of something I'd rather not repeat -- are proof of that.


Would you like to know what bothered me so much last week, what prompted me to need so much salvation in the form of encouraging words and breaths of confirmation? Would you like to know what nearly had me in tears almost every day, annoyed just by looking at myself in the mirror?

Acne. Adult acne.

Isn't that awesome?

Isn't it awesome that a) I'm still struggling -- and badly -- with acne at 26, and b) I'm allowing it to cripple me and frustrate me and drag me down into the depths?

I'm not better, by the way. My face didn't miraculously clear overnight, and I'm still trying to figure out what exactly caused this latest and most violent assualt on my skin.

But I'll tell you what I do know, what I have no trouble telling you today that I might have had trouble telling you last week: My acne is not a gift.

There is not a purpose in my acne.

Some of you are going to think that's common sense; others of you are going to think it's sacreligious. I don't really care what you think one way or another. I just know for me, it's been important to come to this understanding that God hasn't given me acne to teach me a lesson. He's not saving me from predators or from lusting after men or from entering into adulterous relationships because normally I'm so blindingly hot.

He's not giving me acne because I've committed some sin. He hasn't allowed Satan to assult me with pimples because I am righteous like Job and needed a good challenge.

I have acne because my parents had acne, because I lead a busy, sometimes stressful life, because I'm a girl, and I have hormones, and because, yes, I occasionally eat at McDonald's.

I'm working on some of those things. I'm eating more fruits and vegetables. I'm taking herbs; I'm slowing down.

But I am not going to lock myself in my room and cry out to God anymore asking Him why He did this to me.

He didn't do this to me.

Our bodies are temporary, and they fail. This earth is broken and flawed, and I'm sure acne wasn't really a part of the original plan, but now it's here to stay because there are toxins and puberty and environmental outbursts and all other kinds of things floating around and messing with our skin.

But my acne isn't from God. It's not a gift.

And I know, I know. Everything is grace. It's all a gift. Life is a gift.

Yes, you're right. I believe that. I believe in purpose and divine plan and 1,000 gifts and beyond.

But this isn't one of them.

It's freeing me up a little bit, this idea that maybe, just maybe, my acne is just acne. God isn't out to get me; Satan isn't attacking my face. It's hormonal; it's the food I eat; it's the life I live, and sure, there's some purpose to knowing that. There is a purpose in knowing that my face is a war zone: It's a sign I need to switch some things up a bit. I need to be more conscious about what I eat and what I say "yes" to.

But it's not a gift meant to save me from some horrible fate.

My latest bout with problematic skin isn't a blessing.

And that's okay.

It's okay that not everything is a gift; not everything is a blessing.

Some things are just reminders that this earth is temporary, and we don't have to live here very long. Some things just serve as reminders that these bodies aren't the best. They're not designed to be the best; they're designed to prepare us for the best.

Let me assure you, after last week, I am beyond prepared. That new, redeemed body better be flipping awesome, because adult acne is not for the faint of heart.


Kari said...

Oh, girl. You know you are speaking my language here. I am glad you have found this freeing.

(Also, I was on Accutaine in high school, so I get it somewhat. After I weaned Atticus, I developed a rash on half of my face that still shows up based on my hormones. Some weeks are better than others.)

Erin said...

This reminds me of what my mom told me once when I was in the midst of making a big life decision: there is no wrong decision.
We always think that everything is a part of God's plan, and while to an extent I think this is true, sometimes things just are what they are.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh. This speaks straight to me right now.

For the past few months, my eyes have decided to rebel against my contact lenses in the most itchy, annoying way possible, so I've been reduced to my old glasses from high school. I know it's vain and silly. I know I shouldn't care. But I just feel like insecure, high-school Emily again in her chunky glasses. Or like a troll or something. But whatever.

Jenny said...

Oh girl, I can totally relate. I went through the whole acne thing last year and am still going through it really. It sucks. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is easy to feel your in this alone.

Laura said...

That is so true! Sometimes things just are how they are, and it's not because God doesn't love us or He's punishing us, it's just because this world is sinful and constantly failing.

My favorite lines of this post:

"Some things are just reminders that this earth is temporary, and we don't have to live here very long. Some things just serve as reminders that these bodies aren't the best. They're not designed to be the best; they're designed to prepare us for the best." How exciting when you put it in that perspective! I just can't wait for heaven!

Cara Howard said...

This applies to SO MANY areas of others lives and one in particular of mine, that plagues me and continues to but I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! It is full of truth and how I see God and sin existing in this temporary world and just. Thank you. xo

DaisyGirl said...

I know this wasn't the most fun post to put out there, but I'm sure many struggle as well and your honesty helps them. I think it was on your blog where you opened up and told us about the oil face cleaning method. I was so glad you did because I've been using it ever since! Have a great day!