Bullied for years because of her appearance, a teen disliked what she saw when she looked in the mirror. But the realization that true beauty is spiritual and God-given to everyone brought lasting peace and happiness with who she is.

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From the time I was in second grade, I was bullied for my freckles and had a deep hatred of my skin. Other kids called my freckles ugly, and one boy told me that my face made him feel sick. Once I started middle school, the bullying morphed to judgment and gossip.

When I was in sixth grade, I discovered makeup could completely mask my freckles. Soon, I was completely relying on makeup to feel beautiful, and the more coverage I had, the more comfortable I felt.

A couple of years later, when my mom found out I’d been secretly covering up my freckles, it broke her heart. She explained to me that I could love and appreciate my individuality. I had never thought of being “different” in a positive light, so I was taken aback.

She reminded me of what I’d learned in the Christian Science Sunday school: that my identity is not a physical image in a mirror, but truly God’s perfect spiritual reflection, because God made each of us in His image. There is nothing ugly or gross about God, because God is completely good. So there couldn’t be anything ugly or gross about me, because I am the expression of God.

It was hard for me to see myself as a perfect reflection, because whenever I looked in the mirror, I hated what I saw. So I realized I had to make a choice about what I was going to believe. Either my identity was just what I saw on the surface, or my identity was God-based and completely spiritual. If my being is spiritual, then beauty must be included in my identity, because beauty is a quality of God. This beauty is not my hair, my clothes, or my skin. My beauty is my God-given individuality and being true to the way God made me.

The summer between eighth and ninth grades, I prayed regularly about beauty and identity. I tried to shift my focus away from myself by thinking more about God and about others. I spent a lot of time just being grateful. Soon, these thoughts outweighed the self-focused thinking that had dominated for so long, and I began to feel a lot more secure, peaceful, and happy.

The first day of freshman year, I came to school with a makeup-free face. At least one person from each of my classes complimented my skin, and I made friends that I was able to be unapologetically myself around.

Now it’s years later, and I almost never wear makeup. I embrace my freckles, because they’re a symbol of the way I’ve learned to love my individuality. I’ve discovered that what’s really important is learning more about, and being true to, my spiritual identity. After all, since I’m the image of God, why would I want to change that?

Adapted from an article published in the Christian Science Sentinel’s online TeenConnect section, Oct. 9, 2018.

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