I posted this on my personal blog recently and thought you'd enjoy it too.
I was standing in my kitchen when I worked up the courage to tell my
friend Tracy (not her real name) that her words had hurt me. I imagined a
heart-felt apology. I would forgive her without hesitation then, after
shedding a few tears together, we would drop everything and go out to
lunch. Instead, Tracy pointed out that her words probably hurt me
because I was a very sensitive person.
She had a point; I was very
sensitive and she was abrupt. We both knew that going into the
friendship. But as I stood there feeling weak and spineless, I longed to
be more like Tracy. When would I learn to toughen up and let harshness
roll off my back?
I hated being sensitive. Every time someone
attached the word to me (“I know you’re very sensitive”), even if I knew
they didn’t mean it as a put-down, I saw myself as a wimp.
When The Passion of the Christ came
out and I chose not to see it because I knew I couldn’t handle the
violence, I felt like a weak Christian who didn’t have the strength to
take in the suffering of my Savior.
When, on the last night of
choir practice before leaving Reno, I couldn’t stop the tears because it
looked like I might miss out on singing one final Sunday, I felt like a
big baby. (Things worked out so I did get to sing with the choir before
leaving town. Yay!)
It didn’t matter how many people reminded me,
“If you weren’t sensitive, you wouldn’t be able to write the way you
do.” I still prayed for a thicker skin.
One thing stopped me from
giving in and turning rock hard: I kept remembering that talk with Tracy
and how her response made me feel. I did not want to be a person who
could hear “Your words hurt me” and not apologize from the bottom of my
The other day I saw a link to the article, “16 Habits of a Highly Sensitive Person.” I immediately read it and started mentally checking off boxes. Feels more deeply: yep. Emotionally reactive, cries easily: guilty! Often hears, “Don’t take things so personally”: definitely
in touch with that one. I have a low tolerance for violence, overthink
things, take a long time to make decisions … pretty much everything on
the list applied to me except the one about preferring to exercise
alone. I also don’t mind noise or crowds. But a beautiful thing happened
as I felt this connection and shared the link on Facebook—I did not
feel at all ashamed of my highly-sensitive status.
How refreshing to know that sensitive is simply the way some of us are wired.
is so wrong with being sensitive anyway? I realized that some of the
habits listed in the article were very nice traits. Isn’t it wise to
take time before making a decision, and shouldn’t we be a little
bothered by violence? The Bible says to weep with those who weep, so
crying easily is really a good thing (although it would be helpful to
not burst into tears over little disappointments).
While I do
still feel the need to work on my tendency to take things too
personally, and I’m thankful that I have grown a thicker skin in many
areas, I no longer wish to be like those who have been hurtful.
David spewed out every emotion and thought to God.
And God created each of us exactly how He wanted us.
we do occasionally need to rise above and toughen up a little. No,
being sensitive does not give us permission to get out of difficult
things, act immaturely, or cower at challenges. What it means is that we
have tender hearts, and that is a gift.
Are you a highly-sensitive person? How has God used it for good? What challenges have you had to overcome because of it?