First Blog Swap – Six Reasons to Rejoice that Christ is Enough in Our Suffering

I’m excited and honored to participate in my very first blog swap with Michelle Lesley, a Christian author whose writing is encouraging, and more importantly, theologically sound.  Up until now, I haven’t written much about theology.  Let’s say that I try to exercise great caution when I recommend someone’s teaching to others.  Michelle’s writing has encouraged me and challenged me; and I hope you will have a similar experience!

christ-is-enough

Michelle’s post, Six Reasons to Rejoice that Christ is Enough in Our Suffering, really spoke to me, as an Highly Sensitive Person.  It serves as a wonderful reminder of the hope we have in Christ, even in the midst of deep pain – especially when we seem to feel this pain with greater frequency and intensity than most.

Be blessed by Michelle’s post, and be sure to follow her!

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HSP ENFP/J ISO: Balance

Now that you’ve had your alphabet review for the day.  haha.

The further I go on this journey of understanding this part of me that is a Highly Sensitive Personality, the more paradox I discover.  As we know, only about 20% of the world’s population is HSP.  Then, about 30% of that 20% is extroverted.

Guess who falls into that teeny, tiny, imperceptible crack in the personality pavement?

I’ll give you a hint:

It’s me.

I fall into the crack.

The first time I took a Myers Briggs type test was in high school, over 20 years ago.  (Oops!  Just told on myself.)  Since that time, I have consistently scored as Extrovert iNtuitive Feeling, usually Perceiving, sometimes Judging.  Hence, ENFP/J.  Of course, I have never needed any old personality test to tell me that I thrive off of being around people, socializing, and talking.

For the most part, I spent my childhood years as an only child, so I always wanted to be out, playing with friends.  In college and afterward, I remember very few spans of time where I was alone, without plans of going somewhere or hanging out with friends.  That is, unless I was sleeping or studying.

Once, as a young Christian, I decided to offer to God a fast of my social life for several weeks.  I only participated in church activities and bible studies during that time.

To this day, I get much more done around the house when I have a guest or am talking on the phone.  To be sure, no one rushes over here to watch (not even help! just watch) me clean, but if they would, my house would be a lot cleaner.  🙂

In the past several years, I do feel that I’ve become more of an introvert.  I can’t imagine that I will even completely “convert, ” but I appreciate more and more the need for some alone time.  Some quiet time.

A Sliver of Hope: I’ll take it!

The other day, I was in an unfavorable situation that has made me cry a few times in the recent past.  I was with a group of people, who, because of some cultural differences, make me feel left out when I am with them.  What I mean to say is that the cultural differences make it appear as if they are trying to leave me out, but that’s not their actual sentiment.  However, I still have to be in this situation from time to time.

On this recent day, some of the cultural differences were in play, and I noticed their behaviors were pretty much the same as usual.  But something was different:

It didn’t make me cry.

My heart didn’t feel like it was being ripped out and stomped on, by an evil group of me-haters.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!! 

I don’t take this to mean that I am no longer an HSP.  But I do take it to mean that I can have victory in situations that seem hopeless.

It was several weeks ago that I learned how this particular cultural difference meant that this social distance would exist with this group.  It just took me a while for my mind, heart and nervous system to come to terms with this fact – and also not to be angry or resentful in light of it.

This little milestone gives me so much hope!

Have you had any similar milestones? 

Loving One’s Enemy: HSP Style

This is what the Bible has to say about loving one’s enemy:

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”e 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21

The Lord is very clear in his Word about how He expects us to respond to those who would try to harm us, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  As someone who is – by the strength of the Holy Spirit – trying to conform my life to the Word of God, I do not see this passage as an area of exception.  I know that this instruction is one that I must follow, and thus, want to follow.

A few months ago, I was uninvited to an event, at which my presence had previously been expected.  There were two guests of honor; and one of them did not want me there.  End of story.  I got crossed off the list.

When the friend who wanted me there broke the news, I actually cried a little.  I felt hurt, humiliated, bitter, angry…lots of negative.  Truth be told, I did not feel very close to the other guest of honor, but being there for my other friend was important enough to me to be able to put that aside for a day.

I very much wanted to complain about this to anyone who would listen.  I did not keep this slight all to myself, but I was delicate in my discussion of it.  Tried to be, anyway.  However, I’m also trying to do a better job of following the Bible’s commands about gossip.

In the months leading up to the event, I grew more and more angry, all the while knowing that the right thing to do would be to forgive and move on.  This would be especially difficult, given the fact that we all have very similar social circles.

In spite of my anger and hurt, I did not want to address the situation until after the fact, because I didn’t want to spoil the happy mood of the event.  A few weeks following the event, I decided that enough time had passed, and our paths had crossed enough times.  It was now time to make my feelings known and somehow clear the air.

So, I contacted the person who had revoked my invitation.  I told them how I felt, and that I didn’t think it was necessarily fair to exclude me.  As a guest of honor, it is that person’s prerogative to invite or un-invite whomever; but it didn’t seem that the decision was well-grounded this time.

This person responded to me in a way that might not have been intended as condescending, but it definitely came across in that way.

“Angry” doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt.  “Hatred.”  That’s a more accurate, if not entirely biblical, word to use here.  My current job can be done without a great deal of thought.  This is a blessing and a curse.  It’s great when I need to obsess over process something that has happened.  I can just do my work and stew over my emotions.  It’s awful, well, for the very same reason:  too much time to think.

The day I got the response, while at work, I (inwardly) yelled out to God about how much I hate this person.  I know that God can handle my emotions and my honesty.  Between my mental yells, I was repenting and begging Him to help me not react so strongly.

Here would be a good moment to note that this episode was one of the catalysts that caused me to learn more about HSP.  

I still knew that I had to forgive.  I also knew that the time would come when we would be in the same setting, and that I’d have to be cordial, kind, and friendly.  Just the thought made my eyes start to fill with tears.  This seemed like an impossibility!!

Learning more about Highly Sensitive Personality has helped me feel less horrified by the intensity of my reactions in uncomfortable or harmful situations.

The problem is that this awareness does not actually diminish the intensity.

Though I’ve started to really heal from the hurt of that situation, something remains:

There will always be something that hurts me or makes me feel uncomfortable.

And my body will produce tears, which will roll down my face.

Whether I like it or not.

  (For the record, I don’t like it.)

Just yesterday evening, I was thinking of a change of scenery that I may need to make.  While there will be some positives associated with this change, there are still some unsettling, upsetting aspects.

Again, with the involuntary, unnecessary tears at the mere thought of putting myself in that situation, which would actually be quite innocuous…

Guess what, people? The shaky voice and tears streaming down your face do not do much in the way of winning friends and influencing people.  Actually, that’s only halfway accurate:  people are influenced – to stay away from you!

In moments where I feel uncomfortable, angry, lonely, unwanted (whether rationally or irrationally), the slightest “hello, how are you?” from a well-meaning person will bring on the tears.  This has happened many a time.

Trust and believe:  these tears are not a plea for attention, nor sympathy.  I now understand better that they are borne out of having a nervous system that’s cranked up a few notches higher, even on a normal day.

So, back to the original issue:  how can I love my enemy, when standing there with tears running down my face?  I guess the answer is just that:

Love my enemy while the tears are running down my face.

This is a terrifying prospect. Absolutely terrifying, particular for a person whose sun rises and sets according to what others think of her.  And people who are crying for no apparent reason don’t get held in very high esteem, it seems.

But back to God’s Word:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

He made me this way, though I cannot imagine why.  Therefore, He also knows that I can somehow honor and obey him, even with this unusual chemistry that He has built into me.

Will it be tough?  Yes.

Will it be embarrassing?  Definitely!!

But “His power is made perfect in my weakness.”

“Wounded Puppy” post script

As I was composing my previous post, I came to a disappointing realization about myself.  Even with all of my “preaching” on the topic of avoiding troubled men, guess what I did this very evening?!

That’s right.  I went straight on down to the check out a new puppy.  This is one that I’ve actually known for a few years.  I’d rarely seen him sober until recently.  And even when he was, he barely spoke two words to me at a time.  And those words were coaxed out by me. I was never interested in him.  In fact, I kind of had a lot of disdain for him.

Anyway, he was at the same event that I was at this evening.  He spoke more words to me – and more kindly – than he has in the whole time I’ve known him.  It was basically small talk about his job, going back to school, things like that.

Because he was being personable, I ventured to ask him whether he still smokes.  He said he doesn’t.  Okay, then…let’s take this a step further.  I asked whether he still drinks.  Also, stopped.  Why?  Because God doesn’t approve.  He said he’d stopped both five months ago.  He pointed out that he’d lost weight, as a result.  True enough.  He had.  And I do hope that he was being honest with me about the reason.

So, assuming that he was telling me the truth, he has been making efforts to be obedient to the Lord and seek healing.  That’s good.  Still, that doesn’t mean that I need to be all open-hearted-y and stuff toward him, does it?!

Of course it doesn’t!!!

Does that stop my heart from being opened-y?

Of course it doesn’t!!!

My heart is on its own schedule.  Occasionally, it checks in with me to make sure that I’m still there, but then it goes off and does its own will.  (I should start calling my heart “Old Testament Israel.”)

It is incomprehensible to me that I could be writing warnings against something, and at the same time be feeling the very things I’m warning against.

 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25

I am pleased to see the change in this man.  Truly, I hope and pray that he was being honest with me.  For his own sake.  However, I know my heart.  I have little control over my heart, but I know it.  It’s doing that thing.  You know, that thing.  It’s that thing that’s telling me that I need to keep a safe distance from this guy until I know I can handle it.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of guys with whom I can relate without “that thing.”  However, when I recognize it, I know it’s time to take shelter.

Easier said than done.  Easier said than done, my friends.

I think what got me going tonight was that this is the first time I saw him as a person with an actual heart.  As I said, he never really talked to me before – and certainly not politely.  So, that was the entry point for me.  That was the point of “now I know you have a heart, let me know all about it!”  Fortunately, I maintained a semblance of self-control as far as trying to steer the conversation and ask him a ton of questions about where he is now, spiritually speaking.  No matter what the situation, with males or females, I tend to steamroll people who express to me the very slightest bit of interest in the things of God.  I did ask him a couple of questions, but I don’t think I went too far, nor did I become too preachy.  (that’s a bad habit of mine.)

So, back to the point: as aware as I am, I see how I can still be taken down fairly easily.  Maybe that’s why the Lord chose this very evening for me to finally write that last post.  He wanted me to see my conversation with this guy under the glaring light of what I already know to be true.

 

 

 

 

Let the (HSP) Buyer Beware: HSPs and “Wounded Puppy” Men (Part 3 of 3)

I’m thinking I can only eke out this one more post on this topic.  So, let’s get to it.

Most of what I’ve read about HSPs includes that we are very sensitive to other people’s emotions, as well. Very empathetic.  It’s mentioned that HSPs seem like we are psychic, because we can perceive others’ emotions so well.

I won’t go much into being “psychic.”  However, I can see why this would make us susceptible to these types of troubled guys, the “wounded puppies.”

First, we see the surface.  Ohhhh, this guy is trouble.  Then, we talk for a couple of minutes.  Or maybe more.  In between all of the rough, tough and rude, some little phrase or personal information slips out.

That tiny crack in the veneer is not a “tiny crack” to an HSP.  It’s a wide-open door, with a sign that says “look into my heart. Rescue me.”  It probably doesn’t actually have a sign, but we create that sign in our imaginations.  We want to know who hurt him.  When?  How can I make it better?

“Project!!!”

These guys very well may need help.  But guess who should not be the one to give it?  You got it:  the HSP female, who will fall in love with his wounded-ness.  In romantic love.  An actual canine puppy? No problem.  We can cuddle it, we can nurse it back to health, but we will never envision a relationship with this puppy. Because, well, it’s a puppy.  That’s why.

On the other hand, Puppy-Man should not be seen as a potential mate.  Puppy-Man may not even know that he needs/wants our help.  He will probably be resentful and push us away.  And what will that do to our tender hearts?

So, HSP sisters, back away from Puppy-Man.  You can’t fix him.  You can – and should – pray for him.  You can – and should – seek out some strong Christian brothers who might befriend him.  However, this must NOT be with the goal in mind that they will fix him, and you can date him.

This is not to say that Puppy-Man is 100% undateable.  It’s just that it can never be your goal.  If it ever comes back around to the two of you, that’s wonderful.  But please, PLEASE do not date him during his healing time.  And if you don’t date him, don’t sit in the waiting room, while he’s in the Puppy ICU.  I can’t decide which of those two actions would be worse.

I’ve realized that all of what I’ve said has come from a place of protecting your HSP heart.  Let me also talk about Puppy-Man’s heart.  IF he falls in love with you in this state, it will not be a healthy love.  It will be a selfish, needy love.  He’s too mired in his issues to truly love you in a godly way.  He may not even truly have a relationship with God, that is based in love, fear and obedience.  That’s why he’s in the state he’s in to begin with!

Anyway, there will come a point where you’ll discover the unhealthy nature of his love codependence for you.  You will decide that this is not what you desire.  And you will want to leave the relationship.  (Worse yet, you’ll be like me and stay, anyway.  Two years ago.  Not with this one.) If you leave, his heart will be broken.  Puppy-Man can neither give healthy love, nor respond to it.  So, when this love is withdrawn, it will cause him further damage.

What is the most loving (and healthy) way for an HSP to handle a Puppy-Man?  Kindly back away from even a friendship.  As soon as it becomes clear that he is in such a condition, and is not doing anything to seek help, you need to end the friendship.  Please trust me on this.  If you don’t, you’ll both fall in love for all of the wrong reasons.  You will not be able to be “just friends.”  Please trust me on this.  I’ve been through it too many times.  And no, it won’t be “different” for you.

Every, single person you will ever meet has issues, hurts, insecurities and sins.  No one will be fully healed and sinless until they are with the Lord in heaven.  But look at how the wounds are being treated.  They are being treated in one of two ways:

1.  He is licking his own wounds, using alcohol, drugs, fighting, and/or rudeness.  Or he may be licking his wounds with good old denial that they even exist. There are countless other “home remedies” that may be employed, but these are the ones I usually find in my Puppy-Men’s cabinets…

OR

2.  He is rushing to the only One who can bind his wounds.  He is giving up all of his “over-the-counter” meds and tossing all of his home remedies.  He is repentant and ready to follow the “Doctor’s orders.”

Only the men from the second category will be able to truly love you and receive your love in a healthy and honest manner.

A Little Setback

Well, today kind of got derailed.  It started out okay, even though there were a few unexpected things this morning that could have brought me down.  Fortunately, I had a bit of time after my morning errands to get in a quick, nerve-soothing nap before getting ready to go to work. The start of the work day was decent.  Then, I saw that a certain person had posted something on Facebook.  Enter downward spiral.  This is a person who would really not be healthy to have in my life, yet I want them there.

Anyway.

I started thinking of “why” I am so drawn to this person.  It’s because my heart goes out to them, and it wants to save them.  Why am I saying “them?!”  It’s not a “them,” it’s a “him.”  Anyway, wanting to “save” a person and mend their broken places is not the same as actually having feelings for a person, with whom I could actually have a healthy relationship.  It seems that I fall into that trap a lot, without realizing it.

Well, now I’ve realized it.  But guess what?  That doesn’t mean I just stopped feeling like that.  However, it does mean I’m in a place to begin to work on getting past this tendency!  But it still doesn’t mean I just stopped feeling like that.  (Thank you, overly-active nervous system.)

Later in the evening, he sent me an inbox message out of the blue.  It was casual, but then I asked him about something that I guess he didn’t want me to ask.  It was just something I’d observed on his Facebook page.  At that point, he stopped answering me as quickly, and really wasn’t answering at all.

Do you think for a second that I was just like, “Well, whatever”?  If you do, you might want to reread this.  🙂

What did I do?  I felt horrible for the rest of the night.  As has usually been the case lately, I completely rationalized the situation.  There was no need to be surprised at his behavior.  And anyway, why should I be worried about his behavior, since I don’t want to communicate with him in the first place.  I want, but you get the picture…

From this point on, my only thought was: “get home, get on sofa, feel sad.”  I did force myself to finish loading the dishwasher and then started running it.  Major accomplishment, since the sofa was singing its siren song.

I did land fairly quickly on my sofa.  Even before we started exploring HSP, my counselor had asked me to keep a daily record of feelings and issues that come up each day.  So, I wrote about this.  Immediately, I started to feel better.  Then, I mindlessly watched some videos online, which honestly, also made me think less about this.  I realize that there is pretty much no spiritual value in these activities.

And here I am now.  I have forced myself to write, because I want to be consistent here.

So, my issue in all of this:

Why can’t I just bounce back?  Why does it take this whole feel awful forever thing?  What if this would have happened much earlier in the day?  Then, how would I have found the wherewithal to function for the rest of the day?

Lord, I need your strength.  I need you to help me push through from day to day.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

Please tell me:  how do you respond when there is no chance for “downtime”?  How do you manage to “push through?”

Coping Strategies

There are several strategies for coping with HSP.  Since I’m fairly new to this, I haven’t tried out many.   So far, though, here is what has been working for me:

Sleep

It is said that HSPs need to make sure they have at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  Here it is, 2:00 am, and I’m preaching about sleep!  Anyway, I have found that when I have a very good night’s sleep, I am a lot more resilient the next day.  If not, I’m just an exposed nerve walking around.

Downtime

This one is a challenge for me, because I am an extravert.  Still, I’ve realized how very, very important it is for me to pull away from stimuli and relax.  I find that when I bounce from activity to activity, I get over-stimulated and it’s difficult to relax again.  So, I have started trying to space out my activities more.  And I try to plan ahead to rest, before entering a situation where I could potentially get hurt easily.

This approach makes me feel very lazy, but I know it’s necessary, in order for me function well when I do need to be out and about.

Telling People

I’ve been slowly explaining the HSP trait to friends and some relatives.  I cannot lie, I worry that people won’t take this seriously, or think I’m just saying, “poor me…”  Up until now, no one has said that.  I think telling trusted people is helpful, because I now have the confidence that they will understand some of my reactions to things.  They may, or may not, change their way of relating to me, but (as was the case today) they may kind of tell me that my impressions of their communication style are not a reflection on me.  As I mentioned in another post, worrying about what people think of me is a huge issue.

Prayer

Okay.  I will be completely honest on this one.  I have not really begun to adequately involve the Lord in my HSP journey.  He is involved, but not because I’ve turned to him on it.  I’m the kind of person who has a running dialogue with the Lord throughout the day.  So, there are times that I do ask for strength to handle certain situations.  I also feel that the Holy Spirit is helping me to have greater insight into recognizing when things are amiss.

**I will talk more about the spiritual aspect of my coping as it continues to develop and evolve.

I know there are so many other things I can do to replenish myself and to regain resiliency after it has been worn down on a given day.  However, these are my starting points.  They are really helping, and I can now see the negative difference made on the occasions that I do not implement these measures.

For the record, I don’t have to be at work until almost 3pm tomorrow.  So, I will get to get a good night’s sleep!  Let’s just hope that I can stay asleep, once I get there.

How about you?  How do you cope?  Most importantly:  how is God helping you along this journey?