Hi, my name is Amanda and I am a highly sensitive person.
I can’t tell you how long it has taken me to be able to write that & not cringe. For most of my life, I have lived with a deep-seated annoyance with who I am because I am so sensitive. Many “HSPs” are labeled over dramatic and too emotional. Not only do we have overactive mirror neurons in our brains that help us empathize with others, we also have sensitive nervous systems that absorb external stimuli (like sound, sight, smell, etc) in an intense way. Elaine Aron coined the term “highly sensitive person” in the 1990s. Extensive research has been done on these types of people, who make up around 25% of the population. So this term “HSP” isn’t a way of deflecting responsibility for people who can’t handle their emotions.
Highly sensitive people are actually wired differently.
Once I realized I was one of “those people” I fought the gift like crazy. Being sensitive was not a term that made me feel strong. Sensitivity does not come with a positive connotation in American culture. For many people, sensitivity means living a life demeaning your feelings so that you can be “like everyone else”. Sensitivity means enduring overly loud music and obnoxious lighting so people don’t label you overdramatic. At the extreme, sensitivity can mean denying your God-given gifts and humanness so they don’t rub up against others the wrong way.
Because of those harsh realities, I want to say this: Being a highly sensitive person is only possible because our God is highly sensitive too. I think what the secular world calls “highly sensitive people”, The Bible calls “the gift of mercy”. (1 Corinthians 12) Sensitivity is actually a gift and it comes directly from the heart of Our Father.
All the other gifts like prophecy, discerning of spirits, healing, teaching, pastoral care, etc are possible because The Holy Spirit empowers people to prophesy, discern, heal, teach and care. So, if those gifts are directly correlated to the nature and character of God, then gifts of mercy are too. One thing we know for certain is that we have a merciful God. He is slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and always concerned about taking care of those in need (Jonah 4:2, James 1:27)
He is love incarnate. He is mercy itself. So, if we are extraordinarily compassionate people, it is because we reflect His loving, tender heart. My ability to weep with someone who is weeping is only possible because Jesus did the same. ( Hebrews 4:15; John 11:33-36 )
If you are an HSP, you need to realize your sensitivities don’t make you weak. They make you human. All humans are capable of showing compassion. All humans can feel. But many of us don’t like doing so. And we don’t like it for the same reason many HSPs hate being sensitive.
It makes us feel weak.
The great struggle for the HSP then is being willing to be Gods heart in the midst of a cold, closed off world. Sensitive people get to represent the literal heart of God to a world that’s terrified of vulnerability. We get to be the person who says to the lost, confused & broken, “I get you”.
We feel what others feel.
We mourn with them in way many others are afraid of doing.
THAT is a gift.
Being the friend many people can’t or won’t be is a gift, no matter how frail it may make you feel. Carrying the heart of God into a situation & showing compassion for the broken-hearted is the greatest gift a person could have.
So, I’d like to flip the script on the perception of sensitive people. Instead of being seen as overly emotional, may we see ourselves as deeply empathetic & caring?
Instead of being labeled weak, could we be labeled brave for carrying the gift of vulnerability to a hardened world?
And most importantly, instead of seeing ourselves as less than others, could we take enormous pride in our ability to represent Gods heart to a hurting world?
I think we can. I think we should.
I pray we never again demean the privilege it is to feel and to share Gods heart with those who need it!
🕊♥️ Beloved Rejoice