Birthdays are always fun; but I feel I have reached the boring milestone in celebrating and getting older. Needless to say, I was most excited that I was one step closer to renting a car without being charged a daily surcharge for being under 25 (if only they knew that I drive like an 83-year-old and have been pulled over for going too slow). As much as I tried to avoid my birthday like I avoid matching socks, I was surrounded by so much love and surprises from people who mean so much to me. My birthday celebration was capped off by my boyfriend, Paul, surprising me with a getaway in downtown Houston.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have become obsessed with podcasts from a church in Denver thanks to my amazing friend Carol. The latest podcast took a spinoff from Friday Night Lights with the theme: Tough Skin, Soft Hearts, Can’t lose. I had to listen to the podcast twice to let the message sink in that as Christians we will be thrown into the lion’s den, given trials and tribulations, and ridiculed for our faith. But through those times, it is where we are able to glorify the Lord that much more by having soft hearts for those who ridicule, hurt, or defy us. Jesus is the truest example asking God to forgive the people who were persecuting him—while at the same moment they were driving nails through his body.
Back to my story, while Paul and I were walking around Houston, my heart ached for the amounts of homeless people that lived in the downtown areas. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 “"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' My heart was called to action that providing one meal gave me an opportunity to share the gospel with a man/woman. *** I am not writing this to toot a horn about helping people, because truly I walked away with so many blessings. ***
Sunday morning, we went to a grocery store and bought some sandwiches in hopes to bridge an opportunity for the gospel. After walking around and being denied by a few people we saw an elderly man hobbling down the main drag. We called out to him and he turned around startled that we wanted to talk to him. We asked if he was hungry, and it was as if we had asked him if he would like a million dollars.
After handing over the food, we stood on the corner of Lamar Street and began to feel God work all around us. This man was named Michael and told us of how he had spent 3 decades in a jail; this in fact being the place he found Jesus. He proudly showed us his bible that was falling out of the binding and praised the Lord as he told us he had a new job starting the next day.
Though this man’s exterior was rough, it showed his past of struggle, loss, sin, and living in the elements for some time. His skin was tough, it had to be to help him survive. He told us that he would pray for others, even when he had nothing to give—even asking if he could pray for us. His heart was soft and full of true love from Christ; as he walked away he handed some of the food we had given him to another man who was sitting on the street. Even when he had little he gave so much.
Michael told us that we were the first people to acknowledge and see him as a person in two days. This broke my heart because he was my brother in Christ and the God that I love with all my heart knows every hair on his head and every desire of his heart. But I think we all go through a season of having to form that thick skin, and the true beauty comes when we have a soft heart through the struggles.
Even opening up The Brave Co. was a feat of courage as I am being vulnerable and trying to start a business while finishing my undergrad. My goal is to be transparent and show just how perfect my imperfections are in God’s eyes—in hopes to help other women (maybe men also) see just how wonderfully created they are. I am not perfect and even in the last few weeks I had to grow tough skin from ridicule of others and myself. But just like Christ, I need to have a soft heart against those trials and focus on being his hands and feet through this entire process.
It is okay to not be okay. Trust me, I drive the struggle bus to school most days and surprised that I have made it this far in “adult-land”. What is most important is that we see people and ourselves as children of God, and know that no matter what our day throws at us, we are HIS. Trust me you are not alone in this crazy life; if you need prayers, help, or a friend the struggle bus always has an extra seat—and not to worry about crashing because I drive like an 83 year old.
So through the next couple of weeks I would LOVE for you to share your stories of #ToughSkinSoftHearts on social media and tag me in them. Whether you are having a hard day, sharing the love of Christ, or even serving others, I would love to rejoice with you through the process. You may even see a discount code coming your way (:
Love each and every one of you! Have a great week!
I am wearing the Navy is my neutral top in my picture!