Last week something strange happened.
I was sitting in my living room Thursday working on a paper and I began to notice something was wrong.
I felt a small patch of hives on my upper left cheek forming.
But I figured If I let them be, they would go away.
I continued working on my paper and then went to bed.
The next morning I woke up and quite the opposite happened.
My entire face was flushed, and hives were covering the whole thing, as well as my neck and collarbone.
There was slight swelling on my cheeks and eyelids.
I’ve always had sensitive skin susceptible to allergic reactions; I am my grandmothers granddaughter.
I chose not to let it bother me though.
I skipped my makeup regime and decided for the duration of my reaction. No big deal, right? No one would care.
I went to the store that night, without having looked in the mirror since the morning.
I suppose, in my mind I thought my face looked more normal than it did.
Within moments of walking down the aisles, I began to feel an uneasiness.
I became more aware of my surroundings – people were staring.
But the staring wasn’t the biggest problem.
People were talking, too.
I was in the home section, looking at an office desk when I heard a woman on the same aisle say to her husband “hasn’t she heard of Clearasil?” and he responded “I don’t know but that’s bad”
I shrugged it off.
It wasn’t acne, but so what if it was? No ones business.
Then a few minutes later a child looked at his mother and said: “mommy, why is her face like that?” and pointed. His mother responded “I’m not sure honey, sometimes people just have bad luck.”
I rolled my eyes slightly and continued to walk.
Almost immediately an older woman turned the corner and simply gasped.
And so it went on…
“That girl needs to invest in some makeup”
“What’s wrong with her face?”
“I wouldn’t leave the house like that”
I continued my shopping wondering how people could be so mean.
I understood that people have those thoughts sometimes –
admittedly, I’ve had them.
But I wasn’t sure why people felt the need to vocalize them.
As I walked, I prayed for God to take this from me.
The header image of this post is me from that night. Honestly, I was nervous about including it. But I felt it necessary to get my point across as far as what these people were seeing, and to get past my fear of these judgements. This is me being vulnerable.
These people didn’t know me.
They didn’t know what was wrong.
They didn’t know that it was an allergic reaction.
They didn’t know that I was in pain, and my skin felt like it was burning. They didn’t know that the swelling made it difficult to open my eyes fully. So why were they making these judgements?
What gain comes from it?
Between the stares and comments, I had to pause and ask myself how many times have I passed judgement on someone without knowing virtually anything about them? Too many.
The experience was humbling upon my realization that while my inner thoughts were inner, if spoken and overheard like I had just experienced, it would be so hurtful.
If the words of my thoughts would be hurtful if spoken, then they should not be my thoughts at all. I should be trying to set my thoughts on things that would honor and spread the love of Christ. I should be allowing those I come in contact with know that they are Christ’s and they are marvelously made and they are precious.
My Saturday was filled with similar experiences.
I continued my mission of keeping my thoughts centered on Christ.
A red face shouldn’t hinder my boldness.
And while I forced myself to walk through stores with my head held high;
I will admit, it was difficult at times to not be discouraged.
That night, I stared at myself in the mirror.
I inspected each piece of this mess.
And I prayed. I prayed long. And I prayed passionately.
But unlike the days prior, I didn’t pray for my face to be magically spotless.
I prayed for boldness.
I prayed for a strength to look into a mirror that reflected what He sees when He looks at me.
I prayed for the ability to help others to do the same.
I prayed for a change of heart and perspective.
I just prayed and asked God to reveal His thoughts and heart to me.
And then it was Sunday. Sunday was an amazing experience.
Sunday I went to church. And you know what?
Not one person commented on my red, puffy face.
They saw my heart.
Here’s what they did do, they demonstrated the thoughts and heart of the Lord to me.
Everyone who I ran into showered me with loving words like:
“You look so beautiful today!”
“I love that outfit!”
“You always are so cute!”
“Your eyes say so much about you!”
“We’ve missed your gorgeous face around here!”
“The Lord shines through you!”
“I love keeping up with you online while you’re in Kentucky!”
It was so refreshing and filling to hear the Lord use these people to speak to me. Sometimes, that’s just what a heart needs.
I encourage you, surround yourself with those who speak the Lord’s truth to you.
Spend time with those who challenge you to be better.
Do the same for those you spend your time with.
Let there be something different about you.
Don’t fall into the lies of this world.
Let your witness begin before you ever speak the name of the Lord.
Let it begin with qualities that are of Him that shine through.
Don’t try to dictate experience to fit your desires, but rather allow Him to work in all things, seeking His will as you traverse this life. He is not bound by our commands; and in surrender to Him, comes freedom. And with freedom, comes Joy.