A face despised

I once tried to delete my face. It was the spring of 1997, during my second term at university. My face wasn’t the cause of my actions directly, but it became the target of my unrestrained rage. The cause was my decision to unapologise to a friend I had earlier apologised to at length, telling them now that I was not sorry and that everything was their fault. As impulsive and emotionally immature as I was, I wrote this down in the form of a letter, which I then trust into their hands in the university library.

My bold not-sorryness — commended by the drunkard I considered my closest confidant — lasted about half an hour. That strange confidence could only sustain itself briefly. Soon, I’d be marching back across Holborn and up Cromer Street, back to our halls of residence on Pentonville Road, consumed by my ravaging guilt and regret. That would be when I smashed up my own face with an old glass bottle, first brandishing it by its neck like a club, then shattering it into scattered fragments.

By the time I mustered the courage to return to university and attend my lectures again, my face was just one big grey and black bruise, crisscrossed with scabby scratches. But none who saw me said anything to me, or asked if I was alright. I guess they were embarrassed seeing me like that. My drinking-partner had already concluded it was self-inflicted, but instead of trying to work out why, merely told me not to do it again.

I suppose that was a turning point for me. That’s when I realised that no matter how much I cried out for help, nobody would. I suppose that’s why I set out on the path of reform, seeking the One. I suppose I realised then that God was my only refuge for the conflict which raged inside. There was something wrong with me, I was so certain, but I could not explain why or how. I would have to wait several more years to discover what that was.

Though I once despised my face, I can credit it with one thing: it set me on a better path. Without this face, I am sure I would never have pursued this relief. Glory to the One in whose hand is my soul, today I’m content with my face at last. It’s no longer the face I once despised.

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