Like a Screaming Kid at the Store

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

I spend a lot of time with people from a culture where saving face and not offending or inconveniencing others are the most important things a person do. How many times has someone told me, “I have to buy that for her, or she will cry,” or something very similar.

Though I don’t have children of my own, I did grow up in a culture where parents don’t necessarily bow to the children’s wishes. So, I often mention to these other parents that if the child knows that she must only cry, in order to change the answer from no to yes, she will do that for everything.

(I don’t want to get into whether or not I should offer unsolicited parenting advice. It is what it is, and I’m just using it as an illustration.)

Just a moment ago, I was reading another Christian blog. The blogger was writing about the Gospel message and its sufficiency in a believer’s life.

It is no secret that I deeply desire to be married, and feel very disappointed that I will be 40 in less than three months, but still single. Though I will not sin in order to have a relationship or to get married, I am concerned over the idea that marriage may be more important to me than my relationship with the Lord.

The blogger also cited the verse above about God being the one who gives us all comfort. This made me pause a moment. I had to consider whether I turn to God in my disappointment over still being single.

Do I turn to Him and allow Him to comfort me, just because of who He is?

Or will I only be comforted by Him, when (or if) He answers my prayers for a husband with a yes?

Like the child in the store, will I just scream until I get what I want? Or will I calm down and trust what my Heavenly Father has in store for my life? Up until now, I think I’ve mostly just been screaming.

Don’t get me wrong: my desire to be married to a godly man, with whom I can serve the Lord, has not diminished in the past 20 minutes. I do hope, however, to be able receive the comfort and love that He so freely gives me. I want to accept Him for who He is, not for what He can give me.

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New Year’s Eve Revelation

i started this post on New Year’s Eve, but was not satisfied with it. Truly, I still am not satisfied. However, I have not posted nearly as much as I’ve wanted to. So, here is my somewhat incomplete offering.

As I have done for the past several years, I took some time today to pray and reflect on my year with a journal entry. Usually, the entry turns out to be a list of events and changes (and more than likely, heartaches) that occurred during the year.

This year, as I writing, I noticed something different. I wasn’t describing events. I was describing lessons learned. I was charting my growth in the Lord.

This, in and of itself, became another evidence to me that God is with me and is growing me.

True, there have been many instances of deep, deep pain. (Happily, very few of them were romantic.) Still, God has revealed so much to me through this pain. Unfortunately, most of what has been revealed to me have been areas in which I have sinned and fallen short.

Later today, as I was driving, I was listening to a call-in radio show. The host was asking listeners to call in to share praise reports and give glory to God for what he had done in their lives in 2014. I started thinking of all of the ups and downs of my own year.

I thought about how every year has come and gone and has never transpired in a way that I could ever predict.

Still, through all of that, God has been there. He has been right beside me.

Today, I realized that I’ve always imagined the Lord as looking down on me from afar. I’ve (unintentionally) imagined him caring and directing what happens in my life, but also being detached in some way.

When I realized how wrong I am about that, I felt a new excitement. I felt a new motivation in my walk with God. Realizing that he is walking beside me through everything helps me know that I can handle everything! Sure, it might be through a flood of tears, but I recognize even more the extent of presence and power in my life.

I truly dislike falling into cliched-sounding statements, but fear that I have. Still, it’s very exciting to me to have finally grasped something that I have always known, but apparently have never truly apprehended.

Post of December Past (see what I just did there?!)

If you’ve made it past my lame title for this post, thank you. Currently, I have two blogs. Really, I have more than two, but I want to keep them separate.

Anyway, I’m hoping to the two which fall under the username “Mi Pwin.” That would be this one and Mi Pwint.

(Don’t follow Mi Pwin, by the way! I don’t plan to really post there anymore!)

When I started that one a few years ago, it didn’t really have a specific target, like this one does. When I started this one, my target was very specific: my experiences as a Christian who is a Highly Sensitive Person.

Well…I’m ready to meet in the middle. I want to keep a focus on HSP, but also want to share some other topics: life, spiritual growth, the mess that runs through my head quite regularly.

Without further ado, I’d like to share a post from almost three years ago. This was from December 28, 2011. It’s interesting to read this and see what has changed, and be slightly disappointed over the things that haven’t, but really need to.

I was about to name this post “Slack-tacular,” but I realized that one of my other recent posts was called “Slacker.”  Don’t want to create such a negative trend, when I would like to become a more positive person!

So, Merry Christmas, fellow Pressers!!  I hope you enjoyed a refreshing time of reflecting on Emmanuel, God with us, in recent weeks.

It has been lovely, to have several days off – both before and after Christmas.  I should like to have more such vacations throughout the year.  The Europeans really get it right with their liberal amounts of vacation time.  I’ll bet people are so much more productive in their jobs.  I wouldn’t mind working long hours for a several days, then being off for 3 or 4 days.  With 2 days, you barely get time to catch your breath before it’s time to start getting back to work.  So, this current vacation has been all about catching up on the chores I don’t have time to do when I’m working.  It kind of makes me sad to think that the next time I’ll be able to clean really well again is when I have a vacation.  Or the next time I want to kill a weekend.

(I had no idea that this post would take this direction.)

As I gripe, I think of how the Lord gave us SIX days in which to do all of our work and ONE to rest.  So, technically, we get a good deal by having two, whole days to rest.  Man.  I guess I have to quit complaining now.

Lord, please give me the strength and energy to live the work-rest pattern that you have planned for me.  And the grace for when I mess it up anyway.  

In this New Year, I really want to focus outwardly much more than I usually have in the past.  That will require MUCH more energy than I currently possess on any given day.  Earlier, I’d asked the Lord to help me with my diet and change the types of foods I crave into healthier choices.  I should have post-dated that prayer till 2012.  I mean, come on, people: it’s Christmas!!  It’s cake, egg nog, cake, chocolate, cake, party time.  Did I mention cake?  I know that you can (and should) also make healthy choices when social gatherings abound.  Yeah, right.  Maybe by next Christmas, I’ll be so used to my amazing new healthy way of eating that this won’t even be an issue.

I did eat lots of fruits and veggies at a party today!  Yay! Then drank sweet tea with dinner.  Boo!

This will really be a baby-step type of deal.

For me, this isn’t an issue of losing weight.  It’s an issue of wanting better control of the mess and chemicals that go into my body.  I’m sure that all of those things counteract anything healthy I consume, which makes me sick more often than I’d like to be.  Also, it’s a matter of discipline.  I am somewhat of a slave to my taste buds.  The problem with that is that, well, we should only be slaves to Christ.  Also, if I get it into my mind that I want Wendy’s, pizza or whatever tasty treat, nothing else will do.  Especially not some boring stuff I whipped up at home.  (Not that everything I cook is boring…) And, while I’m pretty happy with my weight right now, I know that my metabolism has slowed down slightly, and will continue to do so as I get older.

So, yeah. This was supposed to have been a reflection on Christmas and an update on my wonderful (not really) adventures of the past couple of weeks.  I also had wanted to share my heart on some stuff.  Instead, you got – this.  That will come soon.

HSP High and Praise Report

I can’t sleep! I am full of energy and wide awake. I’m in bed, but not the slightest bit inclined to fall asleep.

There is a wonderful reason for this, though! This evening, I went to a bible study within a particular immigrant community that I spend time with. There was a guy there, who the last time I saw him was at a community event. He was beyond drunk and was hitting on me. It was creepy, not just annoying.

Tonight, however, he was there as a brand new, baby Christian! I had heard there had been someone to come to faith in Christ recently, but didn’t know who it was. Since I knew the story behind it, I easily put two and two together.

He had such a peaceful countenance tonight. He seemed to be listening attentively. Actually, he used to be in religious service in a different religion. Someone else from that religion, who became a Christian a couple of years ago, brought him tonight; his first time to ever be in a church setting.

Secondly, there was a girl that sat beside me who seemed to have a kind of breakthrough. Not a breakthrough driven by loud, emotional music. But a breakthrough of the mirror of the Word of God held up to her and her seeing her reflection.

The talk was on different types of “Christians,” from nominal to truly born-again. He divided them into four groups. As he described the groups, she said to me, “I think I’m in the wrong group.”

Oh, this blessed me! This was a statement of contrition. I pray that this evening ends up being a turning point for her! Please pray for me to have grace and wisdom to guide her, as the Lord would see fit.

What does that have to do with my sleeping? Well, in true HSP fashion, I’m just totally overwrought right now. I can’t calm myself down and just go to sleep. This happens somewhat regularly, if I’m excited or nervous. The physical response lingers long after the information has been processed.

Why can’t we just put a lid on these responses, once they have served their purpose?!

I have a very long day ahead of me tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be another day of seeing God’s work in people’s hearts and lives. At this rate, I just don’t feel close to falling asleep at all.*

Do any of my fellow HSPs ever experience this?

What I Want

I want to travel the world and live in different countries. I want to be unencumbered from stuff.

I want to have a lovely home. I want to decorate it and take care of it. I want to bake things and cook things. I want to host people in my home. And let people live here for a time, if they need to.

I want to blog professionally.

I want to teach English for a living.

I want to learn a particular language to a near-native proficiency level.

I want to learn every language that enters my ears.

I want many friends.

I want a few friends.

I want quiet.

I want lots of interaction.

Most of all, I want to be inside of God’s will for my life. There is no converse of that statement.

I just have no – NO – idea how all those other things will fit inside His pleasing and perfect will for my life.

Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

**This post was inspired by the thought that I would like to have a rolling pin. Then, I thought that I won’t need a rolling pin, if I move to another country.**

A Letter to My Face

Dear Face,
I am really trying to rejoice in the Lord, even in the midst of very difficult circumstances. Heart can praise Him and make music to Him. Even Voice can speak of His wonderful works. To be fair, Voice is not doing a great job either. With every word, Voice pushes a few more tears over the brink.

So, Face: I really need you to get on board with everyone else! Your drooping eyes and frown are not doing much to conceal my pain, nor bring glory to my God. And you already know that when people ask how I am doing, I’m inclined to tell the truth. Please, for the sake of everyone involved, could you make some sort of effort to look cheerful, without coming across as totally fake?

I thank you in advance for your prompt cooperation.
Sincerely,
Highly Sensitive Christian

My Prayer

Last night, I prayed that God would let me not be an HSP anymore.

I know he made this way for a purpose, but to me, it just feels like I can’t have a productive life:

Feeling exhausted, because I lying awake all night from sheer excitement over who knows what.

Not being able to eat, because my stomach is tied into a knot. Again, for no reason that deserves that much stress.

Not being able to hide or turn off emotions in public places. This is fine when the emotion is a good one; but being in heart-wrenching pain does not wear well on the face, I’m realizing.

How am I supposed to work, feeling like this? What kind of job allows you to come in earlier or later, depending on your previous night’s sleep? Which job allows for interaction with others, but gives enough space for unwanted tear leakage?

The Lord will give me strength to get through this. The Lord has an answer to all of my questions.

I must trust Him more.

Job Questionnaires

In the past, I’ve had jobs where I taught people skills they need to search for and get a job. One thing that we always taught:

Leave your personal problems at home when you go to work.

Although this was before I’d ever heard of HSP, I felt like a complete sham when teaching that to my students!!

I mean, really. You’re asking me to compartmentalize my feelings? If something is bothering me, it magically stops bothering me, just because I’ve changed my geographical coordinates?!

You’ve got the wrong person.

To be clear, I understand that a level of professionalism is needed, particularly when a job requires interaction with coworkers and/or the public. I understand that you can’t spend your working hours on the phone arguing with a boyfriend, family member, or whomever. I get it.

The problem for me is that what is in my heart and mind is also plastered across my face. There is not a lot I can do to change that – try as I might. I can (and started to) avoid discussing problems with coworkers. However, my face will reveal my problems, whether I want it to or not.

So, today, I was completing an online job application for a seasonal retail job. The application included a questionnaire that asked the same questions about 3 times each.

Easy, right? I used to teach people how to complete these questionnaires!

The difference is that I was teaching them how to answer with their personalities, not my own. So, when the questionnaire repeatedly states things like

My coworkers cannot tell what I am feeling;

I hide my feelings;

I do not become emotional at work,

What on earth am I supposed to say, to avoid looking like a lunatic?! In the interest of being honest, I put “disagree.”

Unfortunately, “disagree” is not actually honest, either. There were also options for “strongly disagree” and “completely disagree.”

So, I don’t look like a lunatic, but I did withhold the truth a bit. I did misrepresent myself.

In addition to being an HSP, I’m also pathologically honest. I don’t know too many people who are as honest as I am. I mean, I even read skim the Terms and Conditions before I check the box that says “I have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions.” This may be a bit obsessive, but it is a misrepresentation, if I assert that I read something, but didn’t even look at it.

By the same token, how can I say that I disagree that I am emotional, when I truly know that I completely, unequivocally, adamantly disagree?!

I pray that the Lord will point me to jobs that don’t ask that question!

I tried to go back into the questionnaire to change my answers, but it wouldn’t allow me to do so.

So…in order to prevent lying, what am I going to do?

I’m not going to submit the application at all.

I suppose another alternative would be to delete what I have completed of the application so far and start a fresh one. Then, they can make an informed decision as to whether or not to hire me.

Recently, I’d started writing a post about my job search. It’s been pretty limited, because I am looking for a job for which I am qualified and that won’t exacerbate my HSP tendencies. Those are few and far between, let me tell you. By “few and far between”, I mean “non-existent.”

I came upon an administrative assistant job yesterday, too. It’s not something I’d be terribly interested in, but I really need the income. There was a section that described the type of supervision this position received. It said:

Responsibilities do not usually require using independent judgement.
Requires direct supervision.

Um. To me, that basically says, “Check your brain at the door.” Honestly, I don’t see how any job doesn’t require some sort of decision making.

Job search is not easy; and being a pathologically honest, HSP extrovert, who does not do well in jobs that don’t require thought, is making it that much more difficult!

I need to trust the Lord to provide.

Closer to My Lord

Today, I started out feeling fairly good.  Then, that changed.  I just started feeling down and wanted to cry.  There was a reason, but I won’t get into it, because it truly wasn’t a reason to want to cry.

With about 40 minutes left before time to leave for work, I started to cook something for lunch.  I’m horrible at just throwing ingredients together and coming out with a delicious meal.  So, I knew that whatever I concocted today would stand a pretty good chance of missing the mark.

I tried to throw together a curry, using tomato paste – from a tube – and a spice mix someone shared with me.  At no point did my bootleg curry ever taste like any kind of curry, no matter how stuff I threw into it.  Oh, and my rice turned out a bit mushy.

With almost no time left, I packed up my lunch and prepared for the disappointment of eating it later.  This made me want to cry even more.

At that point I did two things:

1.  I just begged God to help me trust Him more.

2.  I texted a particularly encouraging Christian sister and asked her to pray for me.

Sure, these are two things that I do with some regularity, but today was different somehow.  When I cried out to God today, it came from a place of really knowing that He heard me and knowing that He would be my comfort.  I would like to think that’s where I always cry out from, but after today, I could tell it hasn’t been.

The friend whom I’d asked to pray for me is a person who, after a double surgery, is praising God and praying for another community member in the ICU.  She is an amazing encouragement to me for many reasons.  Facing another possible surgery, she says, “I know my Jesus has a plan for my life.”  She always says “my Jesus,” and I do believe that she treasures her relationship with Him.

This prompted me to think about the depth of my relationship with the Lord.  How much do I trust Him?  How much do I want Him more than anything else?

When I got to work, I  saw that I’d received a reply to an email I’d written earlier.  The person mentioned the word “idol” as it related to my view of marriage, not once, but three times.  This was slightly frustrating, because I’ve never really heard an understandable, practical definition of what it means to idolize something.  I’ve only heard, “an idol is something you want more than God.”  Oh, really?  Well, how am I supposed to know whether I want marriage more than God?

This is something I may discuss further at a later time.

Anyway, this idol thing caused me to just do a Google search for “How does one know if marriage is an idol?”  I did find more frustrating definitions, but I also saw some good ones.

As I was working, I just realized that my heart was wide open and full of worship for the Lord.  It’s been like that more often lately.  And it hasn’t been like,

“Okay, now…feel worshipful.  On three.  Go!”

Believe me, there are those times.

I wondered why my heart has been feeling so much more open and excited about the Lord.

This may seem silly, but I’m sure this is why:

I haven’t been on Facebook in almost a week.  Well, I’ve been on there twice, but for a very short time each time.  I’m not doing it as a spiritual exercise; or at least didn’t start out with that in mind.  It’s just that I’ve got a lot to figure out in my life right now.  When I get on Facebook, I get sucked in fairly easily.  Then, my mind gets over-stimulated from all of the information, and I feel like I don’t have the brain power for anything else that I want and need to accomplish.  So, I thought that logging out of Facebook and Instagram for a week or so would help me refocus my mental energy.

Even the night that I made this decision, I felt more calm somehow.  My brain didn’t feel like it was going 1,000 miles per minute.  Usually, when I decide not to use Facebook for a day, I still feel like I just really, really want to check it.  I haven’t been feeling like that these past few days.

Not being on Facebook has not fixed my life.  But it sure has added a level of peace that I didn’t at all expect!  In that peace, I’ve been able to sense and appreciate God’s presence and His love in new ways.

For me, this gives new meaning to:

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.  1 Kings 11-12

God does call us to still ourselves at times.  I am the worst one of them all, when it comes to this.  But what joy and love have I found by finally making a decision to do so!

What Happened Today?

Looking back over the past several days, I’ve realized that I haven’t been quite as emotionally susceptible or raw lately. I’m not sure why that is.

Maybe taking care of myself has become more habitual. I’m also glad to note that I don’t think about HSP quite as much as I had been. I really didn’t think that day would come.

Today, however, I’m feeling that familiar, icky susceptibility again. I feel like I could burst out crying at any moment. I feel particularly low-spirited.

This morning, I was really wrestling with something that I wasn’t sure whether God wanted me to do. Then, when I got to Bible study, someone was sharing a very sad, but encouraging, testimony.

After those, I came home to find out that a friend had been in the hospital recently. She will be okay, but it was still upsetting.

So, here I am. Time to go to work. Feeling on edge. Still confused about God in this particular decision, which, trust me, is very minor.

I pray that the Lord will strengthen me and heal me enough to make it through my shift at work without falling apart emotionally.