By Kat Cannon
I washed my hands in the sink in the ladies bathroom, sneaking a quick glance in the mirror. My glance turned into a wide-eyed stare.
What. Is. That?
I leaned in for a better look. A garish purple-red bump glared back at me, perfect white dot in the center where the pore in my skin should have been. My nose boasted an unsightly puffy pimple that was so-not-there this morning when I put my makeup on. No one could miss it.
I bolted for the door and down the hall to my office, snagging my purse and rummaging through the inside pocket for my concealer as I dashed back to the bathroom. I kept my head down, hoping not to see anyone in the hallway. Well, I thought to myself, that explains the quizzical look I got from my co-worker earlier that day. She must have wondered why I looked like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer way out of season, but she didn’t say anything for fear of embarrassing me. Safe in the refuges of the ladies’ room, I yanked the applicator lid off my makeup bottle and began to dab at the swollen circle on my nose. I felt my over-confident inner strut deflate and shrink behind growing embarrassment as I realized how many people must have seen the exposed welt in the course of my day already.
Experience tells me I get zits for two reasons: my hormones slide out of whack because I’m under too much stress, or I’ve been eating the wrong things of late. Stress acne shows up on my chin and starts as little sore spots a day or two before the skin raises up and discolors, so I get some warning. This little winner popped up literally in a matter of hours and not in the usual spots. I dealt with her evil twin sister just yesterday when she appeared on my earlobe. MY EAR LOBE. Who gets a pimple on her earlobe? Chalk this little outbreak up to my diet.
As I caked concealer on my spot, the inner conversation began. What did I take in that’s working it’s way out in the most unsightly and embarrassing way possible now? I considered all of my comfort foods, warm-but-rich coffees, and hot chocolates, figuring they contributed. This pride-popping-pimple may have had her roots in the fried chicken I paired with a few lettuce leaves yesterday as if that made it healthy. Or the chocolate truffles I’ve been working my way through for dessert for the last week. Or cream-cheese-heavy-spinach-artichoke-dip-that’s-baked-in-the-same-pan-with-homemade-rolls-covered-in-butter-but-hey-it’s-the-football-playoffs-so-I-ate-that-for-dinner on Sunday. With a heaving sigh, I put the cap back on the concealer, zit still visible but at least not screaming. Some proper cleaning, disinfecting, anti-microbial, exfoliating work would be done later at home.
And then the Familiar Whisper came.
“It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt?” (Matthew 7:3-4 Message)
I love to overthink and spiritualize everything. And here I go again.
See, it’s not just my physical eating habits that have consequences, but my mental, emotional, and spiritual ones, too. I spend a lot of time and energy running my mouth, telling others what and how they should think and speak and act. I have no shortage of ideas and opinions with the research to back me up. And I’m not shy about sharing. Proud of my intellectual prowess and charismatic delivery, I preach to all who will listen.
All the while, I’m taking in a junk-food diet of poor TV choices, gossip disguised as prayer requests, crude jokes, and harsh words. In with what’s convenient and comfortable instead of the Truth that true beauty requires. Going to that movie that everyone else has seen and loves but I’m pretty sure will kill off a few brain cells and heart nerve endings. Hours spent surfing social media and snacking on snark. Filling up on mindless screen time instead of face time with the ones I love and the One Who Loves Me. The results of a poor mental and spiritual diet pop out of me just as ugly and obvious as a giant zit in the middle of my face. Maybe faster than I think possible. That infection might erupt as an unkind word at exactly the wrong time, an assumption of the worst in someone else, or judgmental preaching to a wounded heart. And I’ll never see it for myself if I never take a look in the mirror. Oblivious to my own hypocrisy, a nasty pimple in the middle of my face.
All of this demands some intentional attention on my part. A daily washing regimen, of course. Definitely better decisions about what I take in. Some regular self-examination is in order, too, particularly before I dare to get in someone else’s face and tell them what I think or claim any kind of authority. I’d never take beauty advice from a gal with terrible skin – would you? So why would I expect anyone to listen to me if I have a giant spiritual infection on my face while I say I’m trying to help others with theirs?
Praise God for promised healing and a big bottle of beautifier under the brand name “Grace and Humility.” You’ll find it on the aisle right next to the “Forgiveness” section. As long as I struggle with my issues – which will be from now until I reach heaven’s gates – the ugliness inside of me will pop up, sometimes in embarrassing and obvious ways. When it does, I can grab hold of Him just as fast as my emergency makeup kit. I would also be wise to take up a beauty regimen for the spiritual me with the same diligence as I do my daily facial routines. And to know that the best concealer in the world matters not a whit if I feed the infection from the inside out.
So I’ll have a salad for lunch today, thank you very much. And I’ll be intentional about taking in more of Him today, too. This outbreak will pass, and I know He can wash me clean. And before I presume to have anything that anyone needs, I’ll take a look in the mirror. The pimples I surely will see there will pop my pride again.
Got some bad “eating” habits that pop up in bad places? I’d love to pray for you, and for you to pray for me, too! Comment here or visit me on Facebook and let me know I’m not alone. And if think this post might help someone else, please share it on your social media so others can join our conversation.