There’s not a Jesus girl I know that likes being called a tool of the devil.
Yet that’s exactly what I got called back in the spring when I took the step of posting something on Facebook with a biblical foundation but a political slant. There were lots of supportive comments, but I didn’t like being called a tool of the devil. Nope. Not one bit.
With shaky hands (warning sign #1) and a pounding heart (ahem… #2), I hammered a response on my keyboard. I’m telling you people, my reply was rich. It was based in Scripture, filled with facts from the news and let my attacker know in no uncertain terms that I considered her a BULLY. I finished my response. I proofed my response. After a deep breath, I hit “post,” and I was PROUD of how spiritual and smart and strong I was.
Until the next morning.
Actually, the reversal began in the middle of the night as I tossed and turned. As I fumed and agonized. Slowly…very slowly… I began to feel the pinpricks of regret and then conviction. In the midst of God changing my mind, I remembered a social media interaction that I had celebrated on my page just weeks before, and my heart broke.
There was a Twitter feed that went viral in which Sarah Silverman, a comedian, was called the foulest name a woman can be called. Her response was stunning. A woman who is known for her sharp wit replied with grace and opened a dialogue with her name-caller. By the end of the interaction, Sarah had found medical help for the man who was in tremendous pain. Just weeks before I exploded on my name-caller, I had pointed to Sarah’s response as the way Christians should act.
A woman known for her eviscerating humor passed the test while this Jesus girl failed miserably.
During my blogging break, I’ve been thinking, praying and talking to friends. I feel such a passion for addressing the issues of our culture, but God is whispering to me to prepare correctly first. The weakness He keeps pointing to is my heart. I need a tenderized heart. So before I dive into the deep of policies and philosophies, I know I’m supposed to join Him in a work that only He can do.
What is the anatomy of a tender heart?
That’s what I asked two of my neighbors, Crystal and Cookie, as we walked last night. From their wisdom and my reflections, three elements have risen to the top:
A tender heart is a listening heart.
As we listen to God’s whispers… as we listen to the stories of those around us… as we’re more concerned with people’s pain than gathering facts, casting blame or affixing a judgement, our hearts grow tender.
I’m learning to listen, and it’s hard. I want to add my two cents so badly. Instead, God is teaching me to open my ears, shut my mouth and work to understand even when I don’t agree. (Turns out that understanding and disagreeing can co-exist peacefully. WHO KNEW?!) These practices are tenderizing a self-centered, opinionated heart, but they’re really hard for a reforming perfectionist who values deciding what’s right about every issue under the sun!
A tender heart is a feeling heart.
Just yesterday I began the study of Psalms in the First 5 app, and once again I was reminded that David, a man after God’s own heart, expressed his full range of emotions alongside an unshakable faith. The two weren’t mutually exclusive for David.
Truthfully, I’m a little afraid of my emotions. I’ve already confessed to you that within the past six months my tongue has gotten me in trouble over and over as my passion ran ahead of wisdom. The heartbreak of sinfulness makes me wary of the way I feel since I so often get swept away by those feelings.
But doing work that comes from God’s heart requires passion. It necessitates joy and sorrow. God’s work means entering into other’s suffering and bringing the love of Jesus there. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to feel. He just wants our feelings to follow Him.
A tender heart is a meditating heart.
As we walked and talked, my neighbors and I agreed on one key element of a tender heart. A tender heart is immersed in Scripture. That’s the place where God holds up the mirror, shows us weakness and need, and moves us to repentance.
And so we pray like David, “Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life.” (Psalm 119:33-40)
Do you long to use your voice for God in our culture? Me too. In order to walk into that call,we have to start with tenderizing our hearts so that we can represent Him as He is. Not with an equally loud argument, a political party’s talking points or a stronger philosophy but with LOVE. That’s where I’m going, friends, and that’s where I’ll be leading here from only 1/2-1 step ahead.