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At any given time, there are a surprising number of hostile comments about the intertoobz and even entire blog posts directed my way that are not very nice. Many of them are from Christians or at least people calling themselves Christians. I say “surprising” simply because except for a few forays into politics, I don’t think of myself as writing anything particularly hostile or controversial.

This truth was really driven home to me once when I wrote a tongue and cheek post about kale. Yep, kale. Let me tell you, some people take their kale very seriously.

It’s kind of blogging 101 or just writing in general. There will be critics. Many of them will be flat-out off the wall. Life is like that too, I suppose, there will be critics. Some of that is a good thing, iron sharpens irons. However, as my blogging friend Paul used to say, a lot of it is just background noise, chickens scratching in the yard, the peanut gallery. Ignore them.

kaleI miss Paul, he passed away a while back. He was a good blogging friend. Once I was lamenting to him about a blog post calling me the whore of babylon. I was a bit frustrated, don’t they understand that’s a metaphor, don’t they know what that means in context?! They do not. People can be downright ridiculous sometimes. Paul, knowing of some of the abuse I’d experienced over kale, posted this picture. Cracked me up. A toast to Paul, you are missed but not forgotten.

So, sometimes I address the critics and sometimes I ignore them. Sometimes I speak up in the face of outright abuse and sometimes I just let it go. Regardless, I actually have a lot of mercy and a lot of patience, for the most part. It’s the internet, kommunication is hard, everyone has issues.  And I have a thick skin.

Having a thick skin came up again 3 different times yesterday and kind of annoyed me, because some people were letting the mean words fly pretty fast and furious. I was objecting to that kind of abuse and the problem was not their viciousness, it was my alleged lack of thick skin. Huh. Nope. Not working for me. I’m pretty sure people are not supposed to be making false accusations and heaping abuse on others. The thickness of someones skin is not the problem. The heart of those throwing spears is the problem.

I got to thinking about this idea of having thick skin and thought, wow, that is so kindergarten. That is like the warm milk of faith. That is level one of the video game. Having a thick skin is kind of easy peasy, baby steps. Piece of cake. You want to really be big, bad, and bold, go forth in the world with a soft heart.  Love takes genuine courage. It’s not for the faint of heart by any means. It can be painful. It costs you something. Love takes some genuine skillz to handle, big people skillz. Meat.

In this Divine comedy we call life, often those whining the loudest about how OTHER people need to grow a thick skin, tend to have have the thinnest skins of all. It’s like trying to walk delicately across a trail of egg shells.  Just for the record, I am not a hen. I will break all the eggs and crush the shells.

Anyway, in faith we are not trying to build thick skins and hard hearts.  We are trying to cultivate soft hearts full of grace and love. That’s actually not weakness at all, it’s power and strength, probably the hardest thing we’re ever called to do.