I’ll never forget what my mom once said to me as a kid after another epic fight with my brother. “I don’t know who I am madder at…him for what he did or you for your reaction!”
For the record, my brother didn’t get in trouble for whatever it was he did, but I walked away with two distinct pieces of information.
1) There was no justice and, 2) my emotions get me in trouble.
Throughout my life I would absorb messages like:
- You’re too sensitive.
- You’re too dramatic.
- No one likes unhappy people.
- Why can’t you just get over it?
- Because you are emotional, I don’t want you.
- Because you are emotional, I can and will pick on you.
- You are easy to ignore.
- You are hard to love.
As if my feelings rooting around inside me weren’t uncomfortable enough, my external world told me my feelings made others uncomfortable, too. Maybe people thought telling me would make me respond something like, “Oh my gosh! I am so sorry I made you experience emotion, too. These darn feelings of mine keep getting out but don’t worry. I’ll stuff them way down inside, so you can start liking me.”
I never said those things out loud, but I repeated them in my head. I’ve spent the better part of my life treating myself like there is something profoundly wrong with me. We live in a world that rewards toughness, so I tried to be tough and I would succeed just enough to make me feel like my striving was working. I would think that if I could only strive more, work harder, stuff deeper, then I would finally experience love and friendship. You know what happened next, right? Epic failure.
I don’t understand why or how sensitive, tender, emotional people became the villains of so many stories. Somehow, these qualities became synonymous with weakness, but the more I think about it, the more I think we’re just perceptive and passionate.
It’s the feelers of feelings that are the most in tune when something is wrong and are then in the best position to warn others. It’s the emotional of us whose hearts break for what breaks God’s heart and offer help when needed. We both sound the alarms and ring the bells of hope.
Think about it. Every single hero in every movie you love is motivated to help others from a place of caring! They are the brave, fearless, and totally hot! When they get knocked down, they get back up. When they get discouraged, they motivate each other. And when they are facing certain doom, they hold tightly to their faith that in the end, everything will be okay.
I am sensitive, emotional, and proud to be a passionate about all the feelings!
I have to believe that every human created by God has an emotional side, but some are better at hiding it. Maybe they are worried that if sensitive people become heroes, no one will need them. I’m not sure. I should probably say I am all about grace for them because I, too, was misunderstood, but that might be disingenuous. There’s a tiny part of me that would like to watch them eat a big bucket of crow for dinner. (I am confident you would never do this because you are a kind soul.) They can have grace for dessert.
I’ve come to discover that sensitive people, especially women, are some of the strongest people I know. There is nothing weak about us. I think we’re kind of cool. (High fives all around.)
The only thing I needed to stop being sensitive about what how sensitive I am.
I am learning to love and respect my feelings, even when they go all Tasmanian devil on me. I’m a work in progress because there is a lot of toxic thinking to undo, but I have never felt freer.
How about you?