Pastor Charles Swindoll always talks about the importance for us to develop a thick skin while cultivating a tender heart. Yet this type of personal make-up seems to require our living in an uneasy tension between two very different natures.
A thick skin provides the ability for unimportant and potentially damaging emotional input to our systems to be quickly dissipated from our minds and hearts. We process the information and consciously decide that it is not worth any level of investment, action, or ownership on our part. That is the end of it. The input and the people it came from are not allowed to affect us or infect us. It is not simply burying the information so that it sits below the surface eating away at us until it erupts and spews its poison at some future time. It is just summarily deposited into the waste bin and is really and truly gone from our consciousness.
A thin skin implies that we are sensitive or, in some cases, hypersensitive to criticism (whether real or imagined) from others. We are easily upset, affected, and afflicted. Feelings of anxiety or despair can overwhelm us, leaving us in a state of depression and negativity that can last for days. The way our body and mind react to such input, even when we acknowledge that there is no reason or basis for us to feel anything or to let ourselves get entangled in any feelings of negativity, implies that our reactions are subconscious and run deep into our very being.
(Part 1 of 2)