by Cathy Baker 

Be careful what you proclaim. 

Within a brief time period last year, I distinctly remember hearing myself repeat the same eight words at least three times: “I’m not easily offended. I’m thick-skinned.” I couldn’t help but wonder if my repeated proclamation might come back to taunt me.

For several years, I served on a programming team for a past church where six to eight people, along with the pastor, met on Tuesday afternoons to throw out numerous ideas for our services, stages, and series. If you didn’t have thick skin, you’d either (1) never share original ideas or (2) run out the door after someone crunched your toes through unintentional criticism. Not being overly sensitive continues to help in the writing realm as well. How else can I grow without honest feedback? 

These experiences bolster my ability to allow concrete words to crumble before ever reaching my heart—that is, when they’re expected. It was when hurt showed up as an unexpected guest knocking at the back door that my thick-skinned proclamation was tested and deemed a failure. 

This particular “testing” didn’t come in the form of a curt word or action, but rather, an overall sense that something just wasn’t right between us. This person had (nor has) any idea that she tested my thick skin and won. I’m usually quick to slam the door on the enemy’s ability to wedge himself between Christ followers but this time I sensed I needed to remain silent. It was something I needed to work through,not her. Regardless, forgiveness was released—for her, and also for myself, as God revealed how I’d contributed to my own testing. 

The heel that strikes the violet is oft unaware of its misstep—and so are we. 

At times, we’ll be the one to unknowingly tread upon another, and vice versa. The question is, when this happens, will we choose to diffuse the fragrance of Christ in the form of forgiveness or not? If a violet can do it, surely we can too.

“When it is just me who has been wronged,
my lips should most often be silent.
And I must see to it in the hidden person of the
heart there is always the gentleness of Christ.
Words of complaint can be so destructive.
Let this be my rule: Silence, unless the reason for
speech, still bear the searchlight of Eternity.”
-Amy Carmichael, His Thoughts Said… (Joni’s Favorite Quotes)