Thursday, November 21, 2013

thoughts for a thursday afternoon

pan5 copy

There is a celebration of “toughness” in society these days. I see it everywhere—an attitude especially prevalent in women, who have been brought up by a feminist generation determined to throw off the typecasting of being soft, compassionate homemakers who genuinely care for those around them. Even in people I know to be capable of deep feeling, there is an exterior prickliness that holds the rest of the world at arm’s length.

I have met several women who take pride in their hostile outer shell. There are certain bragging rights that accompany the ability to intimidate men, manipulate other women, or strike fear in children. I, too, have been tempted by the benefits of such a heart-fortress: the outward appearance of strength, the ability to detach, less of the pain that comes from really caring.

It’s easier. It doesn’t require the resilience of an oft-broken heart. It doesn’t demand us to lay our lives down by day or pray through tears by night. It draws a neat blindfold over the part of our heart that really sees other people—the part that is courageous, the part that is compassionate, the part that protects the unprotected and defends the defenseless. When I allow this wall to go up, I can see my my actions become selfish and hear my words turn cold.

And through a haze of clouded vision, I read:

“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, ‘See how He loved him!’” John 11:33-36

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” Matthew 23:37

“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:33-34a

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

The strongest Person I know didn’t have to prove His strength by being tough and stiff-necked. He proved it by laying down His life—daily as well as literally—to invest in the hearts and lives of people who were hopelessly lost without Him. He saw the needy, the sick, the broken, the sin-dead—not with eyes of cold indifference, but with eyes of compassion, of unconditional love.

As a human being, I am created to follow His example (Genesis 1:27). As a woman, I am called to live out His precious gentleness in the home and everywhere else (1 Peter 3:3-4). As a follower of Christ, I am commanded to be an accurate representation of my Savior (John 13:34-35).

Hardheartedness is certainly trendier, certainly easier—but Jesus Himself is proof of the power of soft hearts. It’s the heart that loves, breaks, and forgives that, beyond the nondescript thresholds of family homes and churches, can truly change the world.

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