“A thick skin is a gift from God.”
― Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967)
Recently, as I strode into my workplace – how wonderful; a church – I did detect the presence of fear (from where does it come from, I often ask?). Suddenly, I was thinking thoughts I shouldn’t have been – “What do people around here think of me?” and “What insurmountable challenges will this moment bring?” etc.
When we have thick skin we are more or less impervious to the unintended (or intended) hurts thrust against us by others; we resist fear with aplomb.
But, when we regale against the negative things we experience – by either aggression or submission – we find ourselves compromised, vulnerable, and dangerous even. When we find ourselves compromised we tend to think the worst. When we find ourselves vulnerable, fear takes over. Sometimes when an inner compromise and vulnerability combine we find ourselves unconsciously attacking or defending because we feel attacked or defenceless.
Our opportunity is to revert into a thinking pattern that reminds us that a thicker skin response is possible by perceiving threats differently.
When we would insist upon responding well, regardless of how we feel, we have the ability to superintend ourselves. This means we would go beyond our feelings when we are compromised, vulnerable, and liable to damage people in response to the damage they have foisted upon us.
Responding well is a very simple thing. All it requires is awareness of the fear and then an obedient action to choose for faith. We can respond despite ourselves and still be in agreement with ourselves, because God quickly shows us the blessing in a good response. Of course, beyond awareness is the modality of faith. We must show faith, which is a risk. But, with no risk there is no return.
It is true to say that two wrongs don’t make it right.
We cannot please God by responding to others in the hurt that they have propelled towards us. God does not empower us to respond in harmful ways, but we are empowered to respond obediently – to get above and beyond the hurt.
It is up to us to go against ourselves and enough that we might see the truth, and abide by God in following by truth, and therefore be freed by the truth.
Having a thick skin requires a soft heart toward others, where we would not hurt people just because we have been hurt. When we go forward in trust – giving people grace through the benefit of any doubt – we will often find people reciprocating. Simply put, a thick skin is a wiser and more joyous way of living life.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.