I am hardcore. I nearly broke my hip skateboarding. I eat burgers with my hands and not a knife and fork. Spiders don’t freak me out. I can jump-start a car. I love hardcore music too – the likes of Underoath, Blessthefall, The Devil Wears Prada, and Pierce the Veil, I could eat for breakfast. I drink beer. My electric guitar is black.

I don’t lose my cool (if I do I chuck on my aviators). I am stubborn, perseverant, persistent. I don’t give up without a fight. I work hard. I get the job done. I don’t let on how I really feel. I don’t get over emotional. I’m not easily swayed in opinion. I’m always OK no matter what insults are hurled at me.

I am strong because I am hardcore.

Hard gives me an edge – it allows me to stand when things get tough, when the ground shakes a little. Hard lets me lead and make tough calls. Hard helps me carry on when I don’t feel like I can withstand another blow; I do. Hard allows me to support others when their foundations are crumbling – mine is strong, mine will stand. I am hardcore.

Hardcore. Hard core. Hard to the core. Hard. Core.

Walls are hard – they keep people in, keep people out. Fists are hard – riots, bar fights, broken bones. Streets are hard – you lose face when you fall and scrape skin against them. Here’s a wake-up call truth: hard does not mean strong. Some of the hardest trees are the most brittle. It is the soft wood that is flexible – it folds but doesn’t snap under pressure. Hard wood burns easier, burns faster – it does a good job at shedding light but burns out better too. Soft wood may be more difficult to set alight, but it burns steadier and longer.

Being hard makes me feel safe – untouchable. It’s a true feeling: I am untouchable when I am hard because no one can approach me, no one can come close to breeching the barricade around my heart. Being hard makes me feel in control – on top of things. Nothing is further from the truth; I have no control at all, and this is why I make myself hard. It’s more convenient to shut down on all levels than to admit that I haven’t the slightest clue how to navigate this life thing.

The problem is this: when you’re dealing with people, you’re dealing with hearts – hearts that have already been so battered by a hard world that they can hardly recognise any sign of compassion or love or even flexibility. You can’t be hard without crushing people in the process. You can’t expect to be hard without propelling hurtful shards into hearts.

Soft is hard too you know. In fact, soft is probably the hardest. Soft lets people in. Soft unnerves people. Soft disarms pretences. Soft is vulnerable and honest. Soft is teachable. Soft is compassionate. Soft loves. Soft shows that we are all equal in our quest to find truth and acceptance. Soft sees how Jesus would see. Soft is really hard.

So I’ll rephrase my first statement (despite the fact that it may now be a little long-winded): I am hard-outer-but-soft-core-as-I-allow-Jesus-to-guide-me-in-the-way-of-being-steadfast-and-unwavering-yet-yielding-to-the-work-of-His-hand-and-open-to-being-broken-by-a-world-that-needs-healing.

Shae Leigh Bloem has a blog that is definitely worth spending some time in

to see my good mate Bruce’s take on PEOPLE as his Strength Weakness read on