The halls at school are a study of opposites.

They are either filled with people walking, running, talking, bumping along — a sea of humanity with differing currents.

Or they are eerily empty and quiet.

Notice how your life reflects this same dichotomy of hustle and hush.

And notice where you encounter God in both.

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They won’t be frightened at bad news. Their hearts are steady, trusting in the LORD. Their hearts are firm; they aren’t afraid. In the end, they will witness their enemies’ defeat. They give freely to those in need. Their righteousness stands forever. Their strength increases gloriously.

Psalm 112:7-9

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This passage reminds me of the late great Rachel Held Evens. When talking in an interview about how to respond to criticism, she recalled a time when she told her husband Dan that she was just going to have to toughen up if she was going to make it in the world.

Dan responded, “You’re right, you gotta grow thick skin. But whatever you do, please don’t ever lose your sweet tender heart.”

Rachel goes on, “I gotta grow thick skin, I gotta be this strong. But I want to keep my tender heart. Because if I close off the part of myself that can be hurt in an effort to protect myself… I’m also closing off the part of myself that can feel compassion, that can be moved, that can be changed… and I’m not willing to sacrifice that.”

Psalm 112 describes a steady heart, a firm heart, but not a heart made of stone. When facing your enemies, remember Rachel’s mantra: “Thick skin, tender heart.”

Lauren Holder

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God of justice, strengthen my heart to withstand my enemies so that I may love boldly. Amen.

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Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

Dan Schutte in “Here I am Lord” (1995)

Lauren Holder

The Rev. Canon Lauren Holder is an Episcopal priest at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia. She loves exploring the world with her husband through the eyes of their small children, and sharing good food with good friends.

Be Still My Soul

Rodrigo Rodriguez

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