Posted by: Kara Luker | September 8, 2021

Toughened Layers

Audio version available here.

It had been a long while since I’d tended to my feet. I mean, ages since I’d even bothered to slather some lotion on them. Since I usually wander around barefoot or in flip flops (which is basically barefoot), it’s no wonder that my heels developed cracks that rivaled the grand canyon, caught on our sofa fabric when I stretched out my legs and brought about some good natured teasing by my husband. When my feet were propped up on the coffee table, Chase pointed out several letters formed by the cracks, emphasized by the dirt deeply embedded in them. T, U, V and S, I think.

Is it the Grand Canyon or my heels?

When Chase wondered aloud what caused this phenomenon, I told him they were calluses. “My body created them to protect my feet from the things I’m stepping on all the time, like hot concrete and prickly pieces of mulch,” I said. “Remember how my fingertips hurt so much when I tried to play the guitar last week?” “Yep,” he replied. “Well, if I keep playing the guitar, my body will create calluses there too so it won’t hurt so much anymore.” He seemed to understand so we stopped reading the words in my heels and moved onto better things. 

I did a quick search to see if my understanding was correct. The Cleveland Clinic said: “Calluses develop from repeated friction, rubbing or irritation and pressure on the skin. The hardened layers of skin of calluses are actually your body’s way of protecting the underlying skin from the irritation and pressure.” They said it better, but I was pretty much right.

The reason this (very gross) topic matters is because of the friction and irritation that has been rubbing up against my heart, this past year and a half in particular. Daily doses of strong opinions, contradicting “truths,” fierce judgments and a good deal of fear mongering have, I realized, created the perfect environment for thick calluses to form, protecting myself from conflict (a primary aversion of mine) and my convictions (and opinions) from erosion. 

The hardened layers have mostly done their job, keeping the tender tissue of my heart pretty much unscathed, but they have also created a layer of separation between me and others, some of whom I love dearly. And since calluses don’t protect you from the burning concrete while allowing you to feel the soft grass, I’m guessing I’ve been missing out on some really sweet experiences in this world – even in its current state – with the same people I’m protecting myself from, and probably even from the Lord who, being the gentleman He is, will not force Himself past self-erected protective measures.

So, just as I am doing the work of grinding down the tough skin on my feet and moisturizing the heck out of them, I am making the choice to grind down the layers on my heart and make it vulnerable again, with the belief that loving people is more important than agreeing with them and a trust that the Lord will guard my heart (or heal it) from anything damaging in the process… because, let’s be honest, the tender places can get hurt sometimes. Neither the literal or figurative calluses happened overnight, so I’m not expecting soft, lovely skin to appear in a flash, but I am confident that it will come as I release my justifications for division and step into the heart of God who loves big and wide and without reservation, no matter what side we are on, how loudly we declare our beliefs or what kind of fear or judgment we might be harboring. I think that kind of love is exactly what the world needs right now.


  1. Oh my! What a great analogy. This is a winner. I am sure that I will be “borrowing” this at some time in the future. Thanks for the wonderful object lesson!! Just connected with Kenn! Praying he can fully complete his mission here!!

    • Thanks Paul! Fee free to borrow anything. 😊 So glad you connected with dad. He is making progress on his book which is very exciting!

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