The first time my faith was tested scarred me for life, literally. What started off as the best day ever ended with my face scalded. I was 23 years old and naïve to hardships when I was suddenly thrust into this moment of chaos and uncertainty.
It was a warm summer afternoon in 2004. I was dressed in my favorite blue and white halter top (that bared my flat belly) and white linen pants. My hair was in a light, bouncy bob that evaded the evil clutches of Mississippi’s humidity. Feeling gorgeous, I hopped in my car, turned up the radio, and started my day. I was headed to an important work event. It would be my first public appearance since my promotion to midday personality. I was very excited! There was going to be music, food, and cute guys. There was no reason to anticipate disaster.
As I was driving, I noticed a little smoke coming from the hood of my black Toyota Camry. This wasn’t a surprise. The car was an older model hand-me-down. It had a notorious oil leak, but the smoke was new. What else could be wrong? Why now? I called a family member for advice. After describing my car’s symptoms, he surmised that the radiator needed water. His explanation for quick repair sounded simple enough, so I decided to replenish the water as I’d done with my oil many times before.
I took a quick detour to my grandmother’s old house to manage it. When I arrived, a family friend who was renting the home was there. He was in a wheelchair, so he waved at me from behind the screen door. I returned the sentiment and made my way to the water hose. It took less than two minutes for me to drag the hose to my car and pop the hood. All I had to do was fill up the radiator to resume my day. Unfortunately, I was too distracted to notice how hot my car was. Before I could ‘lefty-loosey’ the radiator cap one good time, I was blasted by a fiery surge of water.
My face began to burn raw in the summer sun. I panicked. I screamed. Questions flooded my mind. What is happening to me? What am I going to do? How do I get help? How do I stop this burning?
My greatest fears answered back. You have been burned and you are dying. There is no one here that can help you. There is nothing you can do. Your life is over.
Thankfully, the piping hot water missed my eyes. I spotted the hose I’d dropped, grabbed it, and doused my face. The water was warm but not soothing at all. The neighbor yelled for me to come inside the house and rinse my face. I shot through the door and straight into the restroom for relief. As I cooled my face, my skin felt weird. I looked in the mirror to find my skin melting off my face. I cried out in horror. My skin is falling off! My skin is falling off! He tried to reassure me from the other room. I stepped out of the restroom to prove it, and I saw his face drop. He saw what I saw: wide, pink strips across my cheeks, nose, and chin where my dark brown skin used to be.
As I returned to the restroom, my mind sunk into hopelessness. My life is over! My face is ruined! Why, God? Why did You let this happen? Then it was as if my mind changed the dial. I asked myself: Why are you crying and screaming? What is this helping? How can you help yourself? Before I knew it, I’d dropped to my knees. With tears in my eyes, I prayed. I don’t remember exactly what I asked of God, but I assume “peace” was mentioned because it filled me. After a while, I got off my knees with emotions intact, took one more look at the damage, and left the restroom.
There was no way of knowing my fate in that moment or throughout the healing process. Would I be scarred for life? How long would the pain last? How would I be able to look at myself again? The level of faith and peace that situation unlocked within me carried me through. I am still amazed at how I made it through that difficult time. It also armed me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to overcome challenges that would eventually shake me—but fail to break me.
When was the first time your faith was tested? How did you get through it? How has it helped you push through other challenges?Leave a Comment