When fruits age, they either get really hard or really soft.
I think the same is true of people.
When I was in high school, I learned that one of my best friends' parents were getting a divorce. When I heard the news,I hit my bedroom floor with my knees and I started praying for him. I prayed for a lot of stuff that I can't remember, but there is one bit that I do. I prayed, "Please let him draw closer to You, not further away. Please use this hurt to help him depend on You, and to find You faithful - instead of causing bitterness."
I begged "Close, not far. Love, not hate. Soft, not hard."
Because people who suffer become either very soft or very hard, and I didn't want my friend to become hard.
The thing is, we all suffer. So we all become (at varying paces) very soft or very hard.
The longer we live, the more hurt we experience. That's just the truth of it. The longer we live the more joy we experience, too. We're all in this together! New mercies each morning! There is glorious hope! As Glennon Melton says, "Life is forever tries." But we don't get to cut out hurt, I'm sorry to say.
So as we age in this beautiful, glorious, hope-filled, unjust, hellish world, we ripen, like fruit.
I want to age into softness, not hardness. I want to be the peach. I want to be the kind of person that makes other people feel safe and important in my presence. Not for my glory - Lord, no. But because people ARE important, and I want to be the kind of person that reflects that back to them. I want to listen to people so softly, with such tender sincerity, that they feel heard. I want to allow myself to be moved and taught by people. I don't want to play the devil's advocate. I want to play Jesus. I want all the things my eyes have seen to make me accept more, not less.
This kind of soft doesn't mean mousy or wimpy. It just means gentle, able to be affected - okay with leaking a little bit from around the eyes.
Listen, I am so far from this kind of soft. I haven't ripened enough yet. But I am praying for myself the same thing that I prayed for my friend all those years ago:
"Close, not far. Love, not hate. Soft, not hard."