Tough skin, soft heart.
This was the first bit of wisdom one of my mentors shared with me over a decade ago. I’ve held onto it ever since.
It was the first time in my adult life when I was hurt by someone close to me. My natural reaction was to get this the other way around.
My response was to allow my heart to grow hard — a defense so that I wouldn’t be susceptible to being hurt like that again.
Life is messy and hard and filled with opportunities to be misunderstood, let down, hurt and betrayed.
Times when I wasn’t intentional about guarding my heart, my heart has suffered greatly.
But, when I resisted the temptation to keep people out or to “create healthy boundaries” which was code for—I’m not trusting anyone like that again so that I don’t get hurt, God has made a great exchange with me.
He gives me the courage to love like I have never been hurt and to trust like I’ve never been let down.
We cannot allow our hearts to grow hard. We cannot allow ourselves to become cynical or bitter.
Our hearts are needed to bring change and hope to our world that is suffering. We cannot love well when our hearts are sick.
“Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.”
Hebrews 12:14-17 MSG
So, how do we do this?
I heard someone say, “Unforgiveness is like drinking a deadly poison and wishing the offender would die.”Harboring unforgiveness in your heart will only make your heart sick.
2.Walk in humility.
Pride will get the best of us every time.Choose to lay down your perspective, your position for the sake of being right or to justify how you feel.Ask God for forgiveness and to reveal to you your blind spots, areas where you need strengthening, wisdom and better understanding.
3.Get to the root.
Don’t only address your emotions. But allow your emotions to help you identify the root issue. Identify what it is that is causing you pain.If you don’t identify it you can’t address it and if you can’t address it, you won’t be able to uproot it.
4.Listen to your words.
Your words are a great indicator of the health of your heart. Are your words critical of others? Are you words angry? Or are your words hopeful?
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
Anytime I am faced with opportunities to get this wrong, I pause and place my hand over my heart and repeat, “tough skin, soft heart” as many times and I need to!
So, let’s choose today to keep our hearts healthy and wide-open to people and to God! Who’s with me?