‘My skin was smooth and clear’
Originally appeared online in the teen series: Q&A - August 2, 2017
Q: My skin looks really bad from acne and also acne scars. I want to be healed, but I also feel like the appearance is all I can think about. How can I focus on God instead?
A: Oh, I know how you feel. It’s hard not to be sucked into focusing on what’s staring back at you in the mirror! But it’s possible—and super beneficial—to shift your focus to God.
For me it wasn’t acne, but a little bump I noticed under one of my eyes. At first I mostly ignored it, but then it got bigger and didn’t seem so benign. I got scared. I’m going to be honest: I was kind of obsessed with it. I felt panicked when I saw it each morning as I put on my makeup, and I worried about it periodically throughout the day. But I found a way to turn the obsession into an advantage.
After praying about it, it occurred to me that every time I thought about the bump, I could turn my thoughts toward the spiritual truth about me instead. I might start out thinking about the problem, but I refused to stay there. I’d use that moment to listen to God and learn something new about my identity as pure and spiritual.
For instance, I’d asked a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me, and she’d shared some simple thoughts. One was, “Nothing can deface the beauty of your being.” I spent some time thinking about that, knowing that real beauty—beauty that lasts—is spiritual. Beauty isn’t based on what my skin or face looks like.
Every time I thought about the bump, I could turn my thoughts toward the spiritual truth about me instead.
I’ve come to realize that real beauty, spiritual beauty, is the good we do and embody. Every good, pure, and beautiful thought that we’ve ever had is proof of our unbreakable union with God. It’s proof of our real and lasting beauty. We can cultivate this beauty and see more of it in our lives as we claim our spiritual identity as the satisfied, totally worthy expression of God, who is Soul.
At first I was concerned that people I was seeing might ask about the growth, but they never did. And when that concern crossed my mind, I’d pray about that, too. I could feel a mental shift going on. I was focusing more on my spiritual identity and less on something I knew wasn’t really true about me. And I was trusting others to do the same.
Around this time, I had a song stuck in my head. It was written by a Christian Scientist. One of the verses says, “I’m not made of things that vanish / I was made for Life immortal” (Tim Dixon, “Immortal”). That was my turning point. It reminded me that I wasn’t made of an ugly growth; I was made of beautiful spiritual qualities. Those qualities, God’s gifts, are lasting—and they’re good. I lived with this thought, and before the week’s end, my skin was smooth and clear.
The best part of any healing is that it has a ripple effect, and this can be helpful to remember if you start to feel doubt or discouragement. What we learn about the nature of God as we pray, and about our own nature, and everyone else’s, as spiritual, is bigger than just our own experience. It makes us readier to help others.
I wasn’t made of an ugly growth; I was made of beautiful spiritual qualities.
For example, in the middle of my healing, when I was checking in at a hotel, the gentleman who waited on me had a visible skin condition. Instead of feeling afraid, I looked at him with an amazing sense of spiritual love. I saw right through the problem while looking right at it. I just wasn’t impressed by it, and I felt I caught a glimpse of his beautiful spiritual identity, right where this other thing claimed to be. I knew that what I was learning about God, and of man as God’s expression, could only bless both of us.
I didn’t see the man again, so I don’t know what happened with him. But I do know that I’m learning to be more proactive in choosing the way I think about others. And you may be finding that blessing others is the inevitable outcome of your prayer, too. You can be sure that the effect of that growth, that mental shift toward God, is healing in your own life—and your ability to bring healing out into the world.