There’s a product I remember from when my skin-scraping was far more literal than heartfelt, called Second Skin. Perhaps it’s been replaced by something far more efficacious nowadays, perhaps it’s still around, but Second Skin provided a flimsy temporary barrier while your new, healed skin became strong enough to face the world. It was ok. Sometimes it tore, sometimes it did its temporary job.
I confessed to a friend recently that my skin is abnormally thin in some places.
The thin skin is easily pierced, scratched or wounded. Other times, it’s covered over and compensated by other bits of far tougher skin.
These thicker sections of skin seem impervious to painful barbs, but I’ve found they can be quite thin, too.
The thin skin lashes out when prodded or pierced by the occasional side remark and is equally capable of repaying like for like.
Just because I can identify people who are more debilitated by their ‘thin-skinned ness‘ than me, doesn’t make mine any thicker. Rather, it puts me in a place to empathise and give encouragement.
I’d go further and say that it’s more than likely that the person who seems to pierce your skin so easily is struggling with insecurity in different places as well. Maybe the very same places. Hurt people hurt people, after all, but people who have discovered freedom have the liberty to testify to that freedom. Not necessarily a testimony to thick skin or immunity to any form of criticism (perceived or real), but a realisation of the bigger story beyond this. The realisation of new skin and a new creation altogether.
Our faithfulness, coupled with the boldness and courage that this faithfulness encourages, equips us to go places that have the potential to leave us vulnerable and exposed. Places where we realise, suddenly, that we are a shag on a rock—standing out like the sore and broken thumb we always knew we were, but without the comfort that a degree of anonymity afforded us.
To varying degrees, I feel this every time I speak, write, run or do anything with some form of ‘audience.’ Not paralysed by a lack of ability necessarily, but suddenly aware that I am the ‘deer in the headlights. It serves as a great moment to remember all over again, and quickly, the hands of grace by which I’m always held.
To deny giftedness is to deny God’s creative work in you. It’s what took you to that place of exposure in the first place. Once you realise you’re in that hot seat, though – on that rock, under that spotlight, at that starting line, behind the empty page, whatever that place is – the time arrives to remind yourself again of where your identity lies. Not as an ‘insert professional title or skill here‘, but as a child of God. A friend of Jesus. A follower and co-inheriter of the Kingdom of God with Jesus.
This truth may not be an antidote to every shadow of self-doubt, but it sure shoots some adrenaline into the soul and fortresses the backbone. It puts on a second skin that is far more glorious than any other because it’s been gifted by the author of life. The one who put on skin to be with you. Emmanuel.
Walk into that. Run into that. Speak into that. Write into that. Live, move and have your being in that.