“I look ugly,” I said, staring into the mirror in disbelief.
Gazing back at me was the same right eye as always. However, covering my left eye was the worst black eye I had ever seen.
“It’s not that bad. Really,” my friend Emily said unconvincingly.
I rolled my good eye at her and put the ice pack back on.
Only five minutes earlier my left eye had received an accidental but well-placed whack from my friend Janna’s elbow. Immediately my hands flew to my face, and I tried to stop myself from falling. Janna apologized. I could hear my friends surrounding me to find out if I was OK.
Though I was in pain, I didn’t realize what had actually happened until I moved my hands and heard every person in the room gasp.
“What?” I asked. No one answered.
I ran to the mirror. Within seconds of the contact, the skin around my eye had swelled to four times its normal size. Bright red blood filled the bruise.
“How am I going to face everyone?” I said, grabbing an ice pack from Janna’s hand. She bit her lip and apologized for about the hundredth time. I held the ice firmly to my eye, hoping the bruise would go away by the next morning.
Unfortunately, while some of the swelling did go down and the redness disappeared by the next morning, the puffy bruise had turned to a deep rose color. I looked ugly, and I felt even uglier.
I tried to cover my eye with makeup, but it just made the bruise look purplish. And nothing could help the swelling. I finally threw a hat on and wore it so I could just barely see from under it.
That day at school, I felt as though everyone were staring. I refused to look anyone in the eye. For days I couldn’t think about anything else, despite my friends’ attempts to cheer me up.
On Sunday I was grouchy because I couldn’t wear my hat to church. But everything changed during a lesson in Sunday School.
“Pray to see yourself as He sees you,” the teacher said, speaking about the Atonement and individual worth.
I touched my bruise, thinking to myself, “He sees me as a girl with an ugly black eye.” Then, as I stopped pitying myself, my perspective changed, and I wondered, “How does Heavenly Father see me?”
Tears filled my eyes as I reflected on the love He has not only for others but for me. “He sees me as His daughter, who is worth the life of His Son,” I realized.
I felt the Spirit testify of the great worth of my soul as a daughter of God. I remembered a scripture I had learned in seminary. I opened my scriptures and found it in 1 Samuel 16:7: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; … for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” What I looked like on the outside was not as important as who I was on the inside.
My mind-set changed again as I looked around the room and felt an immense amount of love for the people I saw around me. The warmth of Heavenly Father’s love filled me, and for a moment I think I saw my classmates, in a small way, as Heavenly Father sees them—as His children.
I felt peace and comfort the rest of the Sabbath day, now not caring what others were thinking. I loved them, and I looked them all in the eye—with both of my eyes.
A Truth Fixed Deep in Your Soul
“You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make as you grow into mature womanhood. There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations. And He knows what you can become through faith in Him.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “To Young Women,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2005, 28.
Illustration by Julie Rogers