Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
We are called to embrace the cross…
Yet we often fight this calling, particularly with those crosses we did not think were meant for us. There are some crosses we are willing to suffer because we expect them and are prepared (to some degree) to suffer and
embrace their weight (ex: the work it requires for the job we want, the growing pains in relationships, sacrifices for the sport we love, etc.) These are kinds of suffering that have an innate purpose and profound intentionality that we are more willing to embrace. The feeling of purpose consoles us, as well as when we find ourselves embracing similar crosses as the majority around us. But it is in those unexpected and unlikely crosses, those in which we feel most ostracized and alone, that are the most opportune to join to Christ in the depths.
I am going to share with you one of mine.
Many of us have struggled with acne at some point or another. Most of us went through that trench in high school, some of us carried it through college, and even fewer of us never encountered until one day—BAM—adult acne comes at us out of left field.
I find it hits us hard at any of those stages, but in adulthood it just seems wrong. We imagine that when we are fresh out of college/grad school and ready for that big girl job we will be these glowing women of success. But after enduring a bucket of stress in those final years—it is no surprise when acne mars your face.
In high school and college, I never had anything more than blemishes here and there—nothing scarring or lasting.
As quarantine began in March, I was finishing up my masters theology thesis along with many other papers. Along with the rest of the world, I was wrestling with the growing stack of unknowns in my life. Quite rapidly, this spread to my face and nothing could stop it. Picking, popping, scratching, you name it. This was my shameful stress relief. I felt it was becoming uncontrollable like an addiction. No fancy soap or acne gel helped. I was miserable and it seemed helpless.
I was unable to see a doctor until the school year ended. On top of that, I had to wait another month for an opening in the dermatologist’s calendar. At this point I was headed to Maryland to work for a parish that summer. I arrived in Maryland, a new area with new coworkers and a new community. This is the face they would meet—their first impression of me would involve acne.
What made it worse: there was difficulty with insurance and shipping in which case I was not getting the proper acne ointments and medicine I needed until another month. [Side note: I did not want to take any drastic medication because the side-effects frightened me. Taking a natural route definitely takes patience as you do not see the results immediately.]
Things got worse between wearing a mask all day, working in the heat, and having no significant medication other than some expensive vitamins and probiotics.
There were many occasions I broke down in tears in Adoration. I cried out to Him in my heart, “Lord, if you are willing, please heal me. I weep because my face does not reflect my heart—it feels as though it does not reflect You! I now understand the lepers.”
My acne was not healed in Adoration.
It pierced me. I had to resist the temptation to prove myself all the more. I felt this need to say “I promise I am beautiful! My face is just sick right now.” No. I could not give disclaimers. Though everything in me shouted: this is not me!
My face is still healing. Slowly. There are scars that were not there, but my scratching hands are healing. The need to examine my face is healing. There is healing here—purpose too—it just looks different than I expected. The slowness of it all is still an answer. As St. Alphonsus writes in his work “God’s Will”—perhaps this is the very season that saves me.
Perhaps without this facial marring, I would have given into vanity and conceit.
I had to beg daily for the grace to see my heart anew through the Father’s eyes. I sought to rest in the confidence I boldly held as a seven-year-old. I knew at that age I was delighted in by Christ and cared about no one else’s opinions or impressions.
If you are in the middle of acne, seek His gaze and let it penetrate your being to the depths. Resist the Liar’s definition by declaring your identity as the King’s daughter. At the very least remember that this is not our home and one day we will be totally restored.
With my dear saint friend, Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, let us say, “Jesus if you will it, then I will it.” She was eighteen years old, losing her hair, and had increasing cancerous pain when she joyfully declared this.
Pray for me in this season, dear sister, as I am still healing and learning here. He is not finished with me yet, so I choose to trust His work as my perspective is broken down and made anew.