I wish it didn’t matter to me. I wish I could say I don’t care.
I want to be liked. When I am not, it hurts. I wonder what I must have done to cause this perceived dislike, and return the favor – certain it is the other person’s problem anyway.
The skin thickens.
I heard a story once. A priest speaking at a retreat compared us to cups.
The larger our cups get, the thinner the sides. The thinner the sides, the more others can see Christ through us. We pour ourselves out and fill ourselves with Christ.
A woman excitedly responded,
So we want to have a bigger cup size!
The priest smiled and replied,
I choose not to answer that.
Laughter erupted in the room and the woman blushed,
She is right. We want to have a bigger cup size and thin skin.
I could sit and tell you how tough I have been.
When I was pregnant with our fourth child my husband was deployed. Our oldest child was four. His eczema had gotten so severe that he did not sleep during the night and could not bathe for 3 months. His hair and his nails stopped growing. He scratched his skin into piles on the floor. I swept the piles and changed his sheets every day. He scratched, and bled, and suffered. It was torture.
After our fifth baby, my husband was again deployed. Winter had arrived. Two unusual snowstorms blanketed our home with 50 inches of snow for months. Home with five kids under the age of eight, I pulled myself up the snow-covered basement stairs to shovel a path for our elderly dog.
Two weeks after our sixth baby was born, my husband deployed for the eleventh time. I was home alone with six children, a newborn, no sleep, and homeschooling.
Through every one of these deployments I was petrified my husband’s plane would crash, or a mortar would fall in the wrong place (if there is actually ever a right place for a mortar to fall). I would be left here without him.
There is a tough skin every military wife knows. The days and weeks and months go on, while we raise children alone and worry for the safety of our husbands.
There is a tough skin every mother knows. We toughen up for battle against mean kids, mean parents, and less-than-understanding teachers. We armor up for the fight with insurance companies and those who leave us on hold for the next available attendant (who seems to have left the country).
We grow up and toughen up. Our once thin-skinned innocence grows calloused. We think this is the way it has to be. We are mothers and have much to bear, so we get tougher.
What if we softened just a little bit? What if we let our cups grow, stretch, and thin at the sides? What if our shells became transparent enough to see more of what is inside?
What if we became thin-skinned… on purpose?
We would likely get hurt here and there.
We might lose an argument or two because we know being right isn’t as important as being friends.
We might ask for help, though pride wants to firmly root itself in our souls. Pride may have been taking up all the space, leaving no room for something beautiful to grow.
Grace may slide into this space and fill us from the bottom up.
What if we emptied our cups of the baggage, burdens, and burnout?
What if we emptied ourselves, and stretched our souls to make room for just Him?
This over-sized, thinned-skinned shell of who we really are could then give Him some room to move. Fill us to brimming. Brimming to pouring… all that He has.
As for me, I want a bigger cup size.
How about you? In what areas are you stretching and thinning?