I was 18 years old when I moved to New York City to follow my dreams. I felt from a young age that God wanted me to pursue a career in arts and entertainment, so I graduated early from high school and moved from a small town in Texas to the Big Apple. Although I am a natural optimist, I expected the move might be a little tough. However, in the first few months, I had no idea just how hard it would truly be and how much shaping God would have to do in my life.
In John 15, Jesus says the following: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
I longed to live a life pleasing to God and to be fruitful for Him and His Kingdom, but little did I know how many dead branches I had that needed to be cut off before He could truly use me. It is unpleasant to be “pruned” both physically, and for your pride, but how sweet the fruit is when God trims the dead and barren branches from your life. How free you feel from the weight and burden lifted that you were never meant to carry. How sweet it is to abide with the Prince of Peace. Although there were many ways He pressed and shaped me, this is one that stands out in my mind the most.
I was backstage at my first fashion week at Bryant Park, everyone was rushing around trying to get all the models ready and last minute details completed before the show started. I was called to a makeup station, and I noticed the girl who was getting her makeup done before me had really irritated, broken out skin. I had always prided myself on a clear complexion and rarely even got a pimple throughout my teenage years. I thought “Yikes! Why doesn’t she wash her face better?” The makeup artist completed the girl’s look and then proceeded to start doing my makeup with the same brushes she used on that same girl. I was polite and never wanted to cause a fuss so I didn’t say anything, but I remember how gross I thought it was that she didn’t clean her brushes before starting on me.
A few weeks later I woke up with some flat, raised bumps on my chin. I thought it was probably just a rash or something, but just to be sure I went to the dermatologist to get it checked out. After looking at my chin, she told me that I had contracted HPV on my face, which is commonly spread by makeup brushes that are not properly cleaned. Basically, I had warts on my face! Can you imagine my shock and horror? The doctor said that they could try and treat the condition with creams, but my body would probably just have to fight the infection naturally which could take months or even years.
I tried the creams. I tried home remedies. I tried everything, but nothing seemed to work, and the HPV kept spreading to other areas of my face. I was devastated. I would cry out of humiliation and shame every time I had to go get polaroids at my modeling agency or go to a casting. I basically made a living based on my appearance way so that I could afford to live in NYC. “How could God lead me here and then allow this restricting virus to spread, which could be there for an indefinite amount of time?” The most unbearable part was that I knew God could heal me at any point, but as much as I prayed and begged, the warts still remained and grew worse over the course of a year. I was so self-conscious that I didn’t even want to go outside and would try to hide under sunglasses, scarves, and tons of makeup.
I asked God to just take away modeling and allow me to do something else that didn’t require “beauty.” But miraculously, He kept opening doors and jobs to model even with my skin condition. I did several big print jobs, runway shows and even booked a part in a Maybelline commercial during that time. I realized that God was showing me that He was strength in my weakness and I wasn’t booking jobs because of my own talent or beauty or ability, it was all His favor and sufficiency and grace. I finally truly surrendered and prayed that even if I was stuck with this skin condition for the rest of my life, that He would use it for His glory. I gave the situation to God, knowing I had no control and it was all in His hands. It wasn’t until I accepted the lot that I had no control over and chose joy in the midst of my trial that He healed me. I woke up one morning (about a year after I first went to the dermatologist) and discovered that all of the warts were gone. Overnight! I have never felt so much joy or thankfulness and had a new, deeper sense of humility and dependency on Christ that was not there before. I also was able to empathize with people who suffered from severe acne or other skin issues.
God taught me through all of it that my identity was not in my looks, which come and go and will eventually fade away, but in Jesus Christ. He reminded me of Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Even in the times when I felt ugly, and ashamed and hopeless, He was the lifter of my head. God had to take away my beauty on the outside to make me more beautiful on the inside. I can relate to what Paul said in Romans 8, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Remember, girls, that diamonds have to go through extreme pressure and heat and a harsh process of cutting and polishing to finally reveal their inner beauty and value. God has to do the same in our lives and is using our trials to make us more beautiful and fruitful for His Kingdom. He says in 1 Peter 4:12-19, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.”
Let us remember this during our “pruning” stages. God is using everything for our good and His glory.
Kalyn is originally from Texas and now lives in Los Angeles, CA. She began performing in theatre and modeling at an early age and moved to New York after completing high school to pursue modeling, acting and singing opportunities. She has appeared in numerous TV shows and commercials and you might recognize her as the winning model from Project Runway and Model of the Runway Season 6.
Kalyn is on the leadership team for Models for Christ in Los Angeles, loves volunteering with Red Eye Inc. and is passionate about raising autism awareness, as both of her brothers are on the autism spectrum. Kalyn also enjoys traveling, anything outdoors, singing, dancing and laughing until it hurts. Psalm 37:4