Janet and I were neighbors and all around best buddies, our closeness evident by the telltale photo of the matching outfits we sported on our grade school field trip to OMSI. We completed our wardrobe down to the lucky rabbits foot dangling from our Levi belt loop’s. Really, how lucky could that poor rabbit have been? When I think of Janet my mind is flooded with happy memories and funny stories, they are like brilliant stars nestled in a night sky of gratefulness. A treasured childhood friend to share silliness and secrets, whether walking to school, playing together, or during sleepovers; experiencing laughter till our sides hurt brought on by our countless goofy ways we could amuse ourselves.
One of our favorite games was playing Montgomery Wards catalog, in our day (which sounds incredibly old ) you could pick up and return your orders to the Mall 205 Ward’s store. During that age they relied on employee customer service and good old fashion handwritten files to keep track of it all. What fun it was to play after school, setting up shop downstairs on my parents covered pool table. A toy pink phone for imaginary calls… check, a Ward’s catalog… check, files made up with fake names like Frank Frone… check, all the proper tools to ignite our wild imaginations. Why we never worked at Montgomery Ward’s when we got older I will never know. We had serious mad skills I tell you!
Some of our other memories were going door to door collecting money for the Christian Children’s Fund. One time, we chose to clean the handwritten graffiti from bathroom stalls during recess just for fun! Each school week was occasionally mingled with some mischief… at times less than angelic. Rounding out our Friday’s with our hit single we belted out our song, “We’re going home today, today, today!! ushering in our weekend. It makes me giggle at the very thought of it.
One moment we walked to grade school as children, next thing you know we were catching the bus to Junior High with the first stroke of blush applied to our cheeks. Time flew by but the memories linger remaining a steady source of joy. Recently, while at the check stand I was gazing at the outrageous tabloids that slander and exploit people without grace or kindness. I wondered how does one being attacked handle such lies, falsehoods and slander without being able to tell their side of the story? A two sided coin only baring one side oblivious to the other side’s details.
We have all struggled with hurtful and untrue stories told that slammed against the walls of our integrity. Casting suspicion on our foundation we hold so dear. Sometimes, I am guilty of setting my eyes on only one side being represented, believing that to be the whole truth without hearing the other side.
As I wrestle with my own personal pain from untruthfulness spun against me, it presses me into seeking endurance for the injustices. Causing me to mumble this question to myself as I unloaded my shopping cart ” How do they do it God? I gently heard the words “thick skin” rise up in my spirit, and the memories of how Janet and I had a pre-summer ritual.
Before summer arrived we would prepare our tender feet for the freedom of barefoot days by toughening them up. Our solution: A “foot boot camp” without boots. These tender feet that were previously cradled in warm socks and comfortable shoes, barely seeing the light of day, would be exposed not only to the sunlight but the dark hard asphalt and rough cement, going… “all natural”. Quickly acclimating our tender soles to lessen the nuisance of feeling every poke and jab of the harsh ground beneath. Thus, giving way to a foot loose and fancy free summer!
It made so much sense to me back then, and it so applicable to me now. My tender heart and thin skin feels every poke and jab of harshness and disapproval of others toward me, focusing my attention on my wounded soul. Instead, I want to use these opportunities to develop a thick skin of grace foregoing being callous to their deep woundedness. This allows me the freedom to enjoy the green pastures the Lord leads me to. His endless glory stretched out beneath my eager feet. His glowing canopy of approval and forgiveness gives me the strength to say, *1 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” *2 “Being able to throw open our doors to God and discover at that same moment that He has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand–out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praises… with our Tender Hearts and Thick Skins.
1* Luke 23:34 NIV
2*Romans 5 1:2 The Message Bible