Confident Vulnerability

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I heard a young woman say, “I guess if I’m going to be a writer, I’m going to have to develop a tougher skin.”

I used to think that way, chiding myself for being too sensitive, apologizing for getting my face in the way of someone’s hand. Then I stopped. Well, at least I decided it was time to change my mind on that subject.

“The world doesn’t need more tough-skinned people,” I told her. “Look around. There are plenty of tough-skinned writers here. You can tell by the number of people scurrying for cover when the tough ones start hammering on their keyboards.

The world needs more courageously tender people. The world needs more risk-taking, gentle, loving people whose fearlessness comes from a deep relationship with God. They know his love for them never fails. He is always for them. The result is betach – confident security. People who know they are loved unconditionally can afford to be vulnerable.”

Hmm. I think I need to put that on a sticky note above my desk.

Why Are You So Sensitive?

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“One of the most beautiful ways for spiritual formation to take place is to let your insecurity lead you closer to the Lord. Natural hypersensitivity can be an asset; it makes you aware of your need to be with people and it allows you to be more willing to look at their needs.”

– Henri Nouwen

Sometimes I feel like a raw nerve ending. It’s more than being an introvert. Visual and auditory distractions seem more demanding and hurtful words seem to go deeper for me than for people who can shrug them off and get back to work with a what’s-your-problem glare of disapproval. It’s not only my own irritations that slow me down, I seem to pick up other people’s emotional stuff and without always realizing that it’s not mine. Merely sensing the atmosphere as I enter a place can make me want to scurry back from whence I came. I may not be constantly overwhelmed, but I am, at the least, perpetually whelmed.

Do you know what I mean? If so, have you ever thanked the Lord that he made you that way and for the privilege of being able to hurt deeply?

I’ve not always been happy to be a sensitive person. Sometimes – no, quite often – I run from it, or try to shut it down, or hold it at arm’s length for scientific evaluation, forgetting the promises Jesus gave of provision to meet not only my needs for consolation, but to give me the ability to comfort others and point them to the One who loves them perfectly.

Self-protection leads to self-absorption and puts distance between us and others. Jesus’ love encourages us to connect, first to him, then to others. Sensitivity makes us capable of experiencing deep joy as well. When I quit blocking out the pain I also quit blocking out the joy – and I hear the Voice of comfort I most need to hear.

It’s our weaknesses that can propel us to the Lord, and it’s his kindness that turns them into strengths.

And by his grace, I am still subject to change.

I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong. (2 Corinthians 12:11 The Voice)

Thank you, Lord.