I’ve always been told I need to have thick skin, that I shouldn’t take things to personally or let stuff ruffle my feathers so much. Yet after 34 years of life, my skin feels thinner than ever.
Every word of criticism I am told, every product I create that doesn’t sell, every race I don’t win, every rejection letter I receive, every “we-don’t-need-you-right-now” still hits like an arrow straight to my heart.
It hurts and I cry. In fact, you saw me crying the other day, didn’t you? I’m sure it won’t be the last time. I always thought I would never cry in front of my kids. I wanted to be the strong mom, the mom who held it together and only did that in private, in the shower or in my pillow.
But I’m finding it impossible to go through life without getting wounds, feeling the sting of rejection, the pain of failure, or trying to avoid grief.
I’ve given up on ever getting thick skin. We are thin-skinned women my sweet girl, of this I am confident.
When we try to sweep things under the carpet of our soul, pretend like they didn’t happen, or brush it off like a little fly on our shoulder, we are doing a dangerous thing. We are denying our humanity, something that Jesus never asked us to do.
Nowhere does He direct us to curse our emotions or kick our feelings to the curb. In fact, He does quite the opposite. He whispers to us words like,
“In your weakness I am strong…
my grace is sufficient for you…
in this world you will have trouble…”
I’ll never get over the truth of how Jesus calls struggling fisherman, orphaned young women, forgotten men, broken people to follow Him then and now.
Zoe, I want you to know…it’s okay to say failure crushes your confidence. It’s quite acceptable to admit that rejection is defeating. It’s perfectly fine to confess that you feel left out or lonely. You are free to tell me how upset or saddened you feel over the world.
You are human. We are human.
Sometimes life beats us down and is too much to bear. It’s enough to make us shut down and sink into our bed for days.
I won’t always have the answers for your experiences, but here’s the deal sweet girl…
When you have those thin-skinned days where you feel fragile, your heart feels shattered in a million pieces, when there’s an unreachable ache in your heart, and you want to give up on your dreams and abandon this adventure with God, will you remember this picture pretty please…
Remember your mama crying at the dining room table as she talked to papa.
Remember how she blew her nose and wiped her eyes with tissues for an hour.
Remember me there, broken, discouraged, weary, wondering, and doubting.
Because I don’t ever want you to be afraid to cry in front of others. You don’t have to apologize for your humanity, your questions, your pain, your crushed spirit, or the delay in your dreams. If we let them, thin-skinned moments like this, have a profound way of drawing us into community with others and into the healing care of Jesus.
But also remember your mama smiling and dancing in the kitchen, laughing at the dinner table, getting up early to pursue her passions, and spending her spare moments to make her ideas come to life.
Remember her celebrating with friends, getting giddy over her victories, singing at the top of her lungs, and kissing your papa long and hard.
Remember me there too, joyful, exuberant, radiant, and bursting with hope and happiness.
We don’t have to push aside our excitement over a newfound joy, fulfilled longings, answers to prayer, a thankful heart, or a goal reached. Being thin-skinned and sensitive means God’s goodness and mercy effects us deeply too, we respond quickly to His pursuit, and we let happy tears flow without shame.
Dear girl, you will have both, sadness and celebration, in life. I don’t want you to favor one over the other. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you need to develop “thicker skin.” Don’t listen when they say you can’t be happy or you shouldn’t let that hurt you.
The fullness of life you were made for, that glorious, freedom-dripping, wild and intense adventure that God has for you is found as you allow yourself to experience all the flavors life has to offer.
You need not run from heartache and pain, tears are like water that helps our souls to grow into who we are called to be.
But we also need love and laughter, they are like sunshine, bringing warmth and lightness to our days and health to our bones.
I guess what I’m saying is this my sweet Zoe: give yourself permission to be thin-skinned; the ability to jump into life with both feet instead of tiptoeing on the sidelines is a gift!
The ups and downs of life will both hurt and heal you, bring happiness and heartache, but don’t run from the rollercoaster- ride it…screaming and shouting, giggling and grinning the whole way! Death means dreams are being birthed. Tears are a sign of a turning point. On the feet of failure, there’s always a celebration. With pain comes the revealing of a new purpose. At times, laughter and sorrow will dwell closer together than is comfortable for you, as do dancing and discouragement.
Let’s be thin-skinned our whole lives long sister… letting God’s presence press up against us with full force so we can hear, see, taste, smell, and touch Him without a barrier between us. Let’s wear our humanity with beauty and grace, meeting Him at the table with our trials, or in the streets with our singing, and pointing others to a God who is alive in all the crazy twists and turns.
With all my love,
Your Thin-Skinned Mama