Monday, March 28, 2016

Don't Waste Your Acne

My school photo in 1994.  I don't have many photos of myself from this period of time, because I was not eager to get my face in front of a camera. 
Dear young person with acne,

I can relate.  I can count on one hand the number of people I've met whose acne was as bad as mine.  For a period of 5 or 6 years I scrubbed my face three times a day.  I still love the scent of witch hazel.  And I still remember the social awkwardness that acne fostered in me.  If I could step back and give advice to the person I was 25 years ago, I would say something like this:

Be friendly, not shy. People are more understanding and sympathetic than you might think.  They aren't thinking about how terrible you look.  So stop thinking about it yourself.  Greet people warmly and be interested in them.  A smile covers a multitude of blemishes. 

Appreciate your friends.  If any people actually start avoiding or mocking you because of your appearance, it shows that they weren't your friends to start with.  Acne filters your fans and weeds out the ones who love you just for the way you look. 

Don't worry about facial scars.  Acne is not going to make you look like an ex-con.  Becoming an ex-con will.  Two weeks of chicken pox when I was 18 left far more scars than 6 years of acne.  (And even the chicken pox scars receded with time.) 

Treat the cause, not the symptoms.  Generally acne is a sign of a more serious hidden imbalance.  Drugging yourself with tetracycline for 5 years may prevent acne but allow the underlying cause to worsen.  After 6 years of acne, I learned that the acne on my face was caused by eating soy, and the acne on my shoulders, by eating gluten.  I eliminated those from my diet, and the acne went away.  (I also learned that flax oil, 1 Tbsp per day, was very helpful.) 

Think long term.  This too shall pass.  If you don't follow Jesus, you will go to hell, in which case your body will be destroyed by something far more terrible than acne.  If you turn from your sin and trust in Jesus, you will go to live with Him, in which case you will get a new, perfect body (and you'll be more interested in His scars than in yours).

Worship Christ, who relinquished beauty - for sinners like you. 

Jesus gave up beauty when He came to earth:
He has no form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.  
(Isaiah 53:2, NASB)
And even more when he was crucified:
His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
(Isaiah 52:14, NASB)
I discovered these verses while I still had acne.  It amazed me, and still does, that Jesus chose to come in a wrapper that was not appealing.  And He did it for evildoers like me.

I'm indebted to John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Cancer" for the title of this post. 


  1. We have this treasure in earthen vessels...

  2. This was a really great post, Daniel. Thanks for sharing your experiences and reflections.