Soft Heart, Thick Skin
Soft Heart, Thick Skin. There I was standing on the playground, underneath the monkey bars, 10 years old, two long braids hanging down my back. This image is burned into my brain as one of the very first times my feelings were truly hurt.
I was standing there with two other girls waiting to find out which one of us would be chosen to be the girlfriend of the new boy in school. Needless to say, I wasn’t chosen that day. I walked away feeling hurt and embarrassed. Twenty-eight years later I could look back at that little girl and tell her it doesn’t matter in the long run, I could tell her that same boy would be her first kiss and once again break her heart 5 years later. I could tell her she would meet the man of her dreams in just a few short years and none of this would matter for her future. I could tell her all those things, but it wouldn’t ease her pain.
This was the moment that something shifted in me, it was the beginning of learning how to deal with an offended heart.
Once I felt myself become offended and hurt it would have been easy to avoid any other situations that could potentially hurt my feelings. I could have chosen to avoid friendships or relationships where I might experience pain. I however believe that life is meant to be lived with people! People were so very important to God that he chose to send Jesus to die for all of them.
If we want to live a life where we are not offended easily by the very people God has placed in our lives to make us better and stronger, we have two choices. Harden our heart or thicken our skin.
It is not an enemy who taunts me— I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me— I could have hidden from them. 13 Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend.
14 What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.
David knew the pain of betrayal. He knew the heartbreak of losing a friend. Offenses can often be unexpected, so we have to be prepared to handle them, David gives us a good example.
Instead of keeping his heart hard toward people he found his hope and healing in God. Offenses will come (Luke 17:1), but when they do come we have to choose how we are going to respond.
Here are a few ways we can choose to live unoffended
- Forgive easily
When we forgive easily we keep our hearts free from offense and release others from the trap of offense. We can give grace, even when we are right and they are wrong, even we have not received an apology. It doesn’t hurt me to extend grace to another.
- Communicate your feelings
When we communicate our feelings we can begin to hear what the other person is going through, we can have meaningful conversations and relationships can be strengthened through the conflict.
- Let Jesus be the center
When we let Jesus be the center we realize it isn’t really about us anyway. Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20, “it is not I who live but Christ who lives in me” We are dead to our own way of thinking and doing, we are now made alive in Christ. So our offenses pale in comparison to the mission of the gospel.
When we see our offense with a view of eternity, we begin to realize how little it really matters. Offense keeps us from doing what God has called us to do and that is exact trap of the enemy. If Satan can get us to focus on what is around us rather than who is above us, He wins.
Bruised hearts heal, hard hearts break. God is concerned about our hurt and our pain, let us choose to take the pain to him and let him heal us rather than holding onto it and letting it stop us from moving forward.
During the month of April I will be the featured Voice with Women of Faith Ambassadors, I would love to encourage every woman present to keep a soft heart even when it’s hard! We will focus on some of the areas I’ve touched on in this blog, as well as others as we take a look at our own hearts. It is so important to self assess so God can reveal truth and move us forward.
Carrie Erikson is the co-pastor of Mercy City Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, alongside her husband Matt. They planted Mercy City in 2015 and have seen radical growth in the church, launching a second location at the beginning of 2018. Before moving to Lincoln, she lived in Macon, GA, and Rockford, IL, Carrie and Matt served as campus pastors and youth pastors for nearly 14 years. Matt and Carrie have been married since 2001 and have four children, Cooper (15), Elijah and Emery (13), and Lilah Jane (8).
Carrie is a graduate of Liberty University with a Bachelor's Degree in Christian Counseling. She is a Voice with Women of Faith and regularly teaches Women of Faith Ambassadors. She has been blogging since 2012 and is currently working on her first book.
Carrie’s heart is to see people find hope in Christ, no matter what their circumstance or situation. It is her greatest hope that people can find freedom in God’s faithfulness. She has traveled all over the US and internationally in 7 other countries bringing a message of hope. It is truly her heart's desire to see every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.
Learn more about Carrie at CarrieErikson.com