Speaking of acne, I need to share something important.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about being Busted by a Five Year Old. The post exposes an adorable little girl who could have been perceived as a heartshattering chatterbox. Instead, she gave me an opportunity to test my mettle. I adored her youthful curiosity and openness.
How did I manage to stay positive when I could have been crushed?
Years before, at 12 years of age, our house in a small prairie town burned to the ground. My older brother and I would soon be in high school so our parents decided it was time to move to the city. I panicked. Besides “bad skin”, I decided I’d feel like a country hick in the midst of hundreds of dazzling, “hip” city kids.
At the end of day one at my new (Junior) High School, two girls approached me. They told me I had to make a decision: which group was I going to belong to? I was astonished. “Well, I don’t want to belong to either group. I don’t know any of you and want to be friends with whomever I please.”
Both girls stood looking at me, speechless. I excused myself and began walking home, relieved to be alone and out of the company of seeming silliness. Why would anyone narrow an opportunity for friendships, I wondered.
Thereafter, both groups were friendly. I sensed the girls respected my standing up to their “leaders”.
My response to the two girls had come automatically. As a young girl with acne, I had come to believe if I wanted friends I first had to be one. The incident at school helped me realize the trump card was personality. Before anybody had a chance to notice my complexion, I made sure they saw a genuine smile that invited a loyal and true friendship. Apparently it worked. Throughout the rest of my high school years, I had many good friends who came from various groups. My boyfriends were young men with values, integrity and respect. I didn’t feel pretty enough to attract the fellows who attracted hordes of girls. My apparent lack of interest caused some of those young men to “check me out”. I shunned them even when I was deeply attracted. I didn’t feel confident enough that I could match their good looks.
Then one of the most popular girls in high school asked me for pointers on how to develop a personality like mine. I felt I’d won an award. I said a sincere prayer of thanks.
By the time I was 25, I’d finished school, traveled Europe, married and begun a career. Throughout each of these monumental stages of life, my acne persisted. In spite of prayers, every pivotal event brought stress and the inevitable outbreak on my complexion.
Around age 25 I learned about a new book, The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom. A true story, Corrie and her sister Betsie were put in a concentration camp as young Dutch girls. Their hut was the worst one and was full of fleas. Corrie complained bitterly to Betsie who told Corrie to thank God for the fleas.
Corrie couldn’t believe her sister could be so daft. Thank God for the fleas that were eating her alive and keeping her awake all night? Yes, Betsie confirmed. Corrie was to get on her knees and thank God for each and every flea.
When Betsie could, she explained. Because of the fleas, the guards were staying away from their hut. The fleas meant a reprise from beatings. They created opportunities to sneak food to women who were starving and near death. The fleas provided freedom to talk and encourage one another. Their presence ensured a sharing of literature and Bible readings. Two sisters were able to stay together.
What a concept! Like a lightning bolt, I decided it was time to say thanks for my pimples. I did so – faithfully. I began seeing all the benefits I’d derived by having acne – from staying away from teenage temptations to keeping character and integrity at the forefront of my life.
I realized how a condition like acne may scar the skin, but it was up to me if I let it scar my soul.
A short time later, I met the dermatologist who gave me the simple solutions that have kept my skin 99% clear for decades. No more antibiotics, no more expensive creams, no more dread of being embarrassed, rejected or ridiculed.
Writing about an enthusiastic five year old reminded me to renew my thanks.