I’m a very emotional woman.
I used to think that this was a thing of shame. On many occasions, people have told me that I’m too excitable, too happy, too sad, I shouldn’t cry so much, I should just be happy, I need to calm down, or I just need to quit being so sensitive. I was often bullied at school for being one who cried too easily – and the shame of my sensitivity made me retreat further into myself. For the longest time, I thought that my emotions were a thing to be embarrassed about – a part of me that had to be suppressed and hid. A flaw in my character. A weakness.
Don’t let people know you’ve struggled.
Don’t let people see you cry.
Don’t get too excited.
Don’t let people know you’re affected by what they say.
Don’t let people know what you really think.
Don’t let people see your weakness.
And so I tried to quench my spirit of sensitivity. Yet, the more I tried to suppress that essential part of my character, the more it persisted. I learnt to hide it (to a large extent) around people, my sensitivity lingered in the quiet spaces. It was still there, a part of me I tried desperately to hide – and yet it remained still very much a part of me.
There were always times I couldn’t hide it – and then it came to the point where I simply didn’t want to. I didn’t want to hide. I didn’t want to pretend. I didn’t want to fake emotion or “strength”. I wanted people to see me and feel they could be themselves as well.
And while I know that there have certainly been times in my life where I have been too sensitive and I have definitely had to learn how to harness and control my emotions – I have also learnt that what I thought was my greatest weakness can actually be used for God’s glory.
There is great beauty and strength to be found in emotion. Our emotions allow us to love, feel, speak out, and create. Have you ever had that person try to comfort you but they actually made you feel worse? That was probably not an emotional person. Sensitive people are needed because they truly feel emotions from the depths of their souls. They have a talent they can use for the Lord. They feel the pain of others and care about things deeply enough to act. They are able to really empathise in a way that is genuine and makes the receiver feel like they are truly understood.
Romans 12 tells us that there are actually some who have been given the specific talent by God to be encouragers. These are the ones God has chosen to be the ones who can really, truly weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Who better to encourage, weep, rejoice, and generally empathise with those who need it than those who are naturally emotional?
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them […] the one who [encourages], in his [encouragement…] the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine […] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:6-15).
Emotions are a tool. If we have been given an emotional spirit, we have been given such by the grace of God (Romans 12:6). If we use them and don’t let them overcome us, we will find in them a great strength. It is true that whatever is our greatest weakness is most likely also our greatest strength – and when we work with the gifts that God has given us instead of against them or wishing we had someone else’s gift – we will find our place in the Lord’s body.
The Psalms are full of the outpourings of souls that at times were troubled, ecstatic, afraid, weeping in bitterness, and leaping with joy. The Bible highlights the heights and depths of emotion that we as human beings have. Rather than hiding or condemning emotions, the Bible tells us how to harness our emotions in order to bring us closer to God and to be greater servants to His people.
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Since I’ve embraced my emotional and highly sensitive nature and finally stopped trying to fight the spirit God gave to me, I have found doors opened that were never opened to me before. I’ve learnt to simply laugh through the tears and say, “Don’t mind me, I cry like this all the time,” if I can see people are uncomfortable with my emotions. I’ve learnt to open up about my struggles. I’ve learnt to approach those who are struggling and lend them my sympathies. Sometimes, I’ve learnt that my place is to just be a shoulder to cry on, as tears roll down my own face and no words come from my mouth.
And, although that may not seem like an important role to play, there will come a time when a little bit of understanding and empathy will be everything someone needs – and they’ll need you to give it.
Don’t fight the gifts God has given you. Don’t think of them as a weakness and try to hide them. Reign them into the sphere of God’s control and then stir them up. Become a beacon of light that draws others to praise God’s grace and glory.
What would the body of the church be without warmth, sensitivity, and understanding? How would we feel like a family if there were never those who experience the heights and depths of emotions with us?
That’s where we come in – the highly sensitive women. We were designed to keep the church kind and compassionate. We are the dreamers, the creators, the mourners, the poets, the artists, the nurturers, the rejoicers, the advocates. The church needs people with feeling.
Your emotions are a strength – don’t doubt that. Instead, harness them and use them for God’s glory.
He’s waiting for you to realise His gift and give it to others.