If I’m Happy and I Know It, I Don’t Write (But I know I should…)

(clap, clap)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

That title has been rolling around in my mind for the past few days; and I’ve been waiting to have enough time and focus to park myself and write.  Part of the reason I’ve kind of slacked off is that I’ve been feeling better about several things lately.  I don’t think I’ve had as many strongly HSP moments as I had been having.  So, it seems that I’ve been subconsciously believing that I don’t have anything of worth to say, if it’s not about being a Highly Sensitive Person.

Hopefully, that is not the case!

It is also helpful to remember that, although the HSP trait is a huge part of who I am, it does not define me.  Though I often feel like an exposed nerve walking around, my life is not meant to consist of merely existing from one HSP “event” to the next. And neither is yours, fellow HSP!

Since the last time I posted, the number of views to this blog exceeded 1,000.  It took nearly a year, but I’m still pleased.  Many people have ended up here by way of search terms such as “Christian HSP,” or “sensitive Christian.”

As a matter of fact, this blog was birthed from my doing the same types of searches.  When I couldn’t find much biblical information on being an HSP, someone suggested that I write something.  So, here we are.

As always, it is my prayer that whoever finds their way here – HSP or not – will find some sort of encouragement, will be able to relate.  (I really hope someone will relate, so that I won’t so feel crazy!)   Hopefully, in some way, the Lord will be glorified, too.

My greatest and only hope is in the Lord Jesus.  And to be sure, I would be a completely broken-down wreck, if it weren’t for Him and a desire to live as He did.  Though the high sensitivity is still very present, having an increasingly biblical perspective on life and circumstances definitely takes the edge off.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

Perhaps that’s why I have felt that I didn’t have anything to say.  On second thought, I think that this hope and joy should provide even more to say.

How have you sought the Lord in dealing with a highly sensitive personality?  

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!

Thinking and More Thinking

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭3-5‬ NASB)

Taking thoughts captive.

Not exactly my strongpoint. I imagine that it’s not the strongpoint of too many other HSPs out there. However, as a Christian, I have the power of the Holy Spirit, by which I can overcome.

Tonight, I had started on a downward spiral. Really, it’s been a spiraling kind of weekend, because of a few pieces of bad news that I had received.

I recognize that my tendency to overthink often gets my brain tied in so many knots. Those knots are so difficult to undo! Not only do I retrace my steps and consider sins that the Lord may be now disciplining me for, but I also spend time thinking about how He might be allowing my current difficult circumstances to take my life into further despair.

This is not how God has called me to live my life!

He has said that I can do all things through Christ’s strength. Philippians 4:13

He has said that I should not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow has enough worries of its own. Matthew 6:34

He has said that I must forget what is behind and press on toward the goal – that is, eternal life and Christlikeness. Philippians 3:14

I don’t mean to say that I will never have trouble. Or that I must not learn from my mistakes. However, I must not get bogged down in trying to figure out God’s mind and his plans.

God gives us what we need for each day. He gives us a lamp for our path, not a floodlight. There is such a level of trust required! Second-guessing and trying to become omniscient is not really a display of trust.

Again, it is a real struggle for me not to overthink. But knowing that my thoughts are more than likely irrational is a definite help in digging myself out of the pit of obsessive thinking.

Sometimes, I do need the help of a friend – as I did tonight. I needed someone to tell me, “Hey, these thoughts are not from God. You do need to work on some circumstances in your life, but the nighttime is not the time to do it.” She mentioned that our thoughts tend to take us more into a frenzy at night. How I can attest to that!

She reminded me that God’s mercies are new every morning. At that time, I will hopefully be able to see more clearly.

Turnaround

I’ve had lots of great days of embracing my HSP traits lately. Today is not one of them.

Today is a day in which I’m grateful to work alone in a small, locked room where very few people enter or exit during the day.

My nerves are poking through my skin like a 5 o’clock shadow right now. Cannot handle anymore stimuli.

I need the Lord so much. And I repent of having looked everywhere except to Him for comfort, reassurance, and healing this morning.

Torn: Highly Sensitive and Highly Self-Centered

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

 Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker…  Does the clay say to the potter: ‘What are you making?’ Isaiah 45:9

While reading and learning more about HSP, I have noticed that it is considered to be a gift to be grateful for.  After all, the Lord made us this way. Just days into starting this blog, however, I composed an entry in which I expressed doubt that there could possibly be anything positive about being an HSP.  The only use I could see for this trait was to make me cry or become very angry and tense at what would appear to be inopportune moments.

Much of the literature I’ve read on Highly Sensitive Persons mentions that HSPs are very in tune with other people’s feelings and thoughts.    Intuition and insight into others’ feelings and thoughts are part of the gift.  This is why HSPs often find themselves in helping/human services, I’d imagine.

In all my reading about HSP, my life has basically been flashing before my eyes.  So many aspects of my life started to make sense through the lens of my Highly Sensitive Personality.  Hurts, heartaches, mistakes, embarrassments…

There was a glaring exception, though:

The bits about being sensitive to what others felt and needed did not resonate with me.  At all.

How could this be possible?!  I am a model HSP in so many ways!  How on earth did I miss out the empathy part?

Then, it came to me.  My greatest downfall in life has been self-focus, or self-centeredness.  Let me be clear:  I never, ever had the thought, “I’m more important than everyone around me.  Therefore, I will put all my needs first and expect them to do the same.”  That may have seemed to be the case, but it simply is not true.

Looking back at my childhood, I can see some ways in which I could have become this way.  Though I am not an only child, I was one for several years before my mother had a second child.  As an only child, and after my brother was born, I was given most of what I wanted.  I was taught to think highly of myself from a very early age, with regard to physical appearance and intellect.

(side note:  if I ever have an academically gifted child, this child will not be made aware of high standardized test scores and percentiles.)

These circumstances are a breeding ground for conceit and self-centeredness.  Let’s also not forget that every, single person living on the planet is a sinful human being who, to some extent, is inherently selfish.  It’s just that some of those humans grow up in situations that teach them to think more highly of the needs of others.

I didn’t.

But can God redeem that time?  Of course, he can!

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten….”  Joel 2:25

In hindsight, I only remember very few situations in which I was very open to sense another person’s feelings.  Mostly, I remember being so wrapped up in my feelings and needs that I (unknowingly) built a wall between myself and the other person.  This wall prevented me from recognizing their needs and/or intentions on deeper levels, and possibly prevented me from being able to speak life to a person who may have needed encouragement.

Again, God can and does redeem our lost time!  Even before I began to learn about HSP, I’d been working to be less self-centered and to focus more on others.  It is a work in progress, let me tell you!  Still, God has been changing me step-by-dying-to-self-step.

How can I make the most of this part of my HSP “gift”? And if you also experience the sensitive/self-centered dichotomy, how can you? 

I’ve actually composed a list in answer to that question, but I’m going to take my own advice and pray before posting it.  It just doesn’t read right; and I want to step back and think it over.  Maybe even rewrite.  Let’s see.

 

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.”

Gift or Torture? Hard to Decide

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with who there is no variation or shifting shadow.  James 1:17 NASB

One of the spiritual gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit is the gift of discernment.  So, I suppose that’s one way it manifests itself: through HSPs.  But I would like to know how some of the other aspects of HSP can be used to God’s glory, and not as personal torture devices.  Am I the only one who sees certain traits as tortuous?

From where I stand right now, I’m failing to see a lot of this as anything other than that.  I’m just sayin’….

Getting all worked up and not being able to settle down – even when I know perfectly well that there’s nothing to be worked up about?  Crying at the drop of a pin?  Feeling like I need to retreat every 20 minutes, in order to recalibrate?  It’s like the birthday gift where several boxes and a lot of tissue are nested inside of each other.   The gift is way down inside in a teeny-tiny box.  “I know that gift’s in there somewhere!!! I just haven’t dug deep enough yet.”

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh,a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions,in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NASB

Ah, ok.  Well, I guess God just answered my question.  I just wanted to include the “I pleaded with the Lord…sufficient grace…” but when I looked up the passage and read it all, I was convicted with the answer to what I had said before.  Maybe this will be my thorn.  But Lord, please  don’t render me unable to cope with life, because of this!  Being on edge and wanting to cry a lot of the time is not  conducive to functioning well in society, I’d say.

In what ways have you seen your highly sensitive personality as a gift and/or burden?

 

Unbelievable

I am completely overwhelmed right now.  At least it’s in a good, let’s-marvel-at-God’s-timing way!  Recently, I became acquainted with a young lady who reminds me a lot of myself at her age.  So, I thought I might be able to give her some valuable advice, so that she might not make the same mistakes I did.

I had a chance to speak with her again this evening.  She said a couple of things about herself that completely resonated with me.  Then, she asked about my MBTi.  We compared, and are almost the same.  Shocker.

Then, I started wondering if she could possibly be an HSP.  I have not been around her nearly enough to formulate such an opinion, but we were running parallel on some many other things.  I didn’t ask, but I did ask if she felt like was sensitive.  Just sensitive.  No bells and whistles. Just that word.

Here is what she said,

“I’m currently reading a book about HSP, so…”

Did I almost fall over!?  Yes!!!!  I think it may manifest itself differently for each of us, but I couldn’t believe how we made that connection.  Well, I guess one HSP trait is being extremely intuitive and tuned in to other people’s feelings.  A lot of times I’m not, but then, there are times like this.  Wow, Lord.