Have you ever had a morning when all the music you heard, every conversation you had, and everything you ran across conveyed the same message? Sometimes, I guess, it’s in the hearing… you have something on your mind, so that’s what you pick up on. But sometimes, I think it’s God trying to shake something loose in your heart. This morning, all the music said, “Jesus’ name has the power to heal. He has overcome even death – He can overcome your hurts too.”
If you were at 5twelve in person this morning, you may’ve noticed that I was a MESS. I cried from the moment I walked into the building until we were on our way home… and not that quiet, mostly-dry weeping either. I had the whole water-works going. Even before we got there, though, I was physically hurting and emotionally down-trodden.
The “old me” would’ve been pretty embarrassed this morning. I didn’t like to cry in public – it felt like attention-seeking or just weakness. But this morning, I couldn’t have held it back even if I’d tried with everything I had. But it was OK. One by one, my church family came with hugs, prayers, wise words, and encouragement. And I didn’t feel self-conscious; I just felt loved. I saw Jesus in their eyes and heard Him in their words. I can’t express how grateful I am for this church family.
This morning’s sermon was titled, “Connecting the Dots: When Those You Love Hurt You the Most.” If ever a message has been written just for what I was feeling the day it was given, this was the one. I could’ve been the only person in the room. Jurie talked about being thick-skinned but soft-hearted – hard to offend but still able to love well. We all know people who are soft-skinned and soft-hearted; they are messy to handle because they’re always offended and always upset. The thick-skinned and hard-hearted seem to keep everyone at arm’s length and be indifferent to (or frustrated by) the emotions of others. The thin-skinned and hard-hearted are not only easily offended, they also have no regard for the feelings of others; it’s a rather narcissist way of being. If we’re honest, I think most of us have journeyed through phases of being each one of these types of people at one point or another.
I was once told that I feel things more strongly – more viscerally – than a typical person. I don’t know if that’s true, but maybe. I used to be one of the soft-skinned and soft-hearted. Every challenge was overwhelming, every perceived insult or reprimand was heart-breaking, and the emotions of everyone around me mattered too much. I wanted to fix everything, so concerned that everyone be OK that I sacrificed my own sanity.
I’ve grown up a lot since then. I’m pretty hard to offend nowadays, but if you’re in my inner circle, my concern for your wellbeing and our relationship can still overwhelm me. Last week, Jurie sat down and had a heart-to-heart with us. He talked about some of the challenges 5twelve, and the Kriels personally, have faced in the past few weeks and months. He was real with us – vulnerable. How he could sit in front of a room full of people he loves and share his hurt without breaking down, I don’t know. I couldn’t have done it.
So let’s talk about today’s sermon… This sermon was planned months ago. We had no idea that the challenges we’ve faced the past few weeks were coming. But God did. He knew we needed this message – Jurie needed to plan for it and dig deep into his heart to prepare it, and we needed to hear it. If you didn’t hear it, or if you heard but didn’t hear, go back and listen again. On the way home, my husband said, “Even if this talk were given in a secular context, the audience would still benefit. People need to learn to just let stuff GO. Everyone is so offended all the time.”
He’s not wrong. In some contexts, I just keep my mouth shut because I know that whatever I say, someone will take it personally and get their “lil’ feelers” hurt. I’ll write more about this later because there’s a lot to say about the way this super-soft-skinned approach affects the church and society as a whole.
But for me, today’s message was more about the heart than the skin. Even if you have a thick skin, having a soft heart opens you up to some very deep hurt. Right now, that’s my biggest challenge. I’m not a “people-er.” I can “people” really well for a while, but then it takes me a long time to re-charge. Partly, that’s because I feel your emotion with you, whether you express it or not. Partly, though, it’s because I adopt people. Once I love you, you’re mine. I care about you so deeply that if you leave me, it hurts. And I’ve been hurt this way a lot of times… so there’s always this little bit of fear that you’ll leave too. Because it is my family, I feel this way on behalf of 5twelve as well. Once you’re part of our family, I adopt you – I claim you as my own. So when people leave, it hurts.
This morning, Jesus kept saying, “Hurting people hurt people. You’ve been hurt a lot of times. But I will never leave you nor forsake you. I’ll hold onto those who have walked away, so you don’t have to. I have placed you here, with this family, for your healing and theirs. Lean into me, and I’ll carry the burden of those who have chosen to leave.”
Maybe you need to hear this today. Even if you are hard to offend, maybe your soft heart is hurting. Hold that soft heart out to Jesus and let Him comfort you. Right now may hurt, but in Him, your joy is found.
No one ever cared for me like Jesus
His faithful hand has held me all this way
And when I’m old and grey
And all my days are numbered on the earth
Let it be known, in You alone,
My joy was foundNo One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus, Steffany Gretzinger
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