Don’t Be So Sensitive
Prior to enlisting in the Air Force and enduring boot camp, I used to be very sensitive. My feelings could get hurt at the drop of a hat. Even if someone wasn’t talking about me, but merely mentioning something, I would find a way to make it about me. I would assume they were putting me down in some way, and I would contemplate their statement and then try to figure out what I had done wrong, or what was wrong with me that made them say what they said. It’s a pretty exhausting way to live.
Briefly, I will mention that since I grew up in an abusive, alcoholic environment, I developed an unhealthy way of thinking that there was something inherently wrong with me that caused the people in my life to drink or be mean. And while I now know that I was a daughter of the Most High King, and that people drank or were mean because of sin and their own choices, sometimes, I would still slip into old patterns of thinking.
Granted, boot camp pretty much scared my sensitivity away; I couldn’t get upset every time the training instructor screamed 1 cm from my eyeballs; if I did, I’d never make it through the day. Besides, tears are not tolerated at boot camp. The criers and complainers got sent back home to mommy quicker than the speed of light. I learned rather quickly not to take what they said to me at boot camp personally. They weren’t yelling at me, per say, they were yelling at the scared civilian within my physical body. They needed to scare the civilian within me to my breaking so that they could rebuild me from within; the goal was to build a soldier from the ground up who could stand firm under fire – and not shed a tear. They were preparing me for war; I learned later, that they helped prepare me for everyday life as well.
Boot camp was a great growing experience. I learned a lot about myself. More importantly, I learned that God was always near, and that He was especially near in my fear and despair. But still, years later, there were traces from my childhood that seeped into my thoughts and behaviors.
Last year, I was standing in the kitchen doing dishes and my husband said, “Someone didn’t put the remote away.” I immediately got defensive thinking, “I didn’t touch the remote. Well, maybe I did. Great, here we go, I’m going to get blamed for the lost remote.”
I got sidetracked about the remote, and then I got mad, and then I got my feelings hurt because I secretly thought that I was responsible for every detail and everything that occurred in my home. I slipped into an old way of thinking that everything was about me, it was my responsibility, and it was my “mess-up” if things went wrong.
My husband was nonchalantly looking for the remote, lifting up cushions, and I was standing in the kitchen having a mini little break-down. I had so many feelings running through my head that I thought I’d snap, and go yell at my husband for not being able to handle looking for his remote by himself! Just at that moment, God said, “Don’t be so sensitive.” To which I said, “What are you talking about? Me? Sensitive?! Why doesn’t he just be quite and look for his remote; why does he have to make comments and invite everyone in the house into his dilemma?”
To which God replied, “This is not about you.” As I stood there with my dish towel, drying the water off of the top of the coffee-cup, I felt a new kind peace come over me. All of a sudden, I realized that it wasn’t about me, and it wasn’t my responsibility to make all things right with the world. It may sound kind of funny, and I may sound like I think way too much, and that maybe I’m way too sensitive, but I felt better the next day when I heard the radio host tell a story about his wife:
He discussed how he works full-time and his wife is a full-time stay at home mom so, she manages the home, the children, and the millions of things that go with it. He said that his wife got so mad at him the day before because he got home and said, “Has anyone seen my orange t-shirt?” To which his wife got very mad and said, “Why do I have to do everything around here? Can’t you find your own t-shirt?!” She said a few more things, and then, I think she cried.
He was talking about the incident on the radio like his wife was an alien from another planet, and he had no idea what made her so mad; he was merely asking if “anyone” had seen his orange t-shirt. I cracked up, but then, I cried tears of relief. It hit me that me, and his wife, and probably a million moms across the globe feel the same way – as if we are responsible for harmony, joy, and maintaining a state of utopia in our homes – which by the way is not possible!
It’s a lie that we’ve listened to for so many years that when someone says just one little thing that might be minutely related to us (such as we used the remote once or twice in the last year, we happened to wash the orange t-shirt, or bought the soap that washed the orange t-shirt, or bought the batteries that were in the lost remote….) we get defensive, mad and overwhelmed by their comments. I also realized that men and/or people say things that are in no way related to us. They might just be thinking aloud for crying out loud! I’ve been married for almost 18 years now, and I’m just now coming to understand what my husband has said to me for years. “Kristina, why do you always think everything is about you? I was just making a comment.”
I always thought he was being insensitive and rude, but now I realize that I was just being too sensitive about everything. I must add, however, that people sometimes actually do say things on purpose to hurt us or irritate. Sometimes, it’s not just the fact that we are too sensitive, but rather, someone actually says or does something that is extremely insensitive. It is important to be aware of when people are being insensitive or we are being too sensitive, but it is even more important to not allow such insensitive instances to disable us.
Who’s with me? Did I hear an Amen? Do you see yourself in me or the radio host’s wife? I tell ya, it was cheap therapy for me to hear the radio host talk about his wife because I didn’t feel so alone. It also reminded me of the pressures us women put on ourselves. Now, I truly understood what God meant when He said, “Don’t be so sensitive.” He was trying to remind me that this is not about me, and to make it about me means that I will get angry and hurt because I think it’s all about me, and it’s not.
God has shown me that I am a vehicle through which He works. I love this lesson because the pressure is off of me. I also focus less on my inabilities and weaknesses when I focus on God and His strength. It’s such a relief. I have now learned to apply this concept to other people’s comments as well. If I remain focused on myself, I will constantly make other people’s comments about me. Then, I will get my feelings hurt, but if I remain sensitive to the Savior, I will be able to pause long enough to respond in love rather than out of insecurity and self-blame. I believe this new truth will revolutionize my home! I now know that by me being too sensitive, I have helped the enemy set traps for me, and I have ignorantly walked right into them like a mouse taking the bait.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
The more sensitive me remain about or own hurt feelings, the more we make things all about us. The more we make things all about us, the less likely we are to be sensitive to the Savior within us. “Having lost all sensitivity” [to the Savior], we then become highly sensitive to ourselves, and we walk around angry and hurt, ignorantly falling for the enemy’s traps. Tense home environments, fragile and/or broke relationships surround us, and we feel victimized by all the “mean insensitive” people around us.
Let us say, “No More!” to these type of mindsets. No More!
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Kristina Seymour loves to encourage and equip women through the Word and through community. She is the author of The Warrior Mom Handbook, The Warrior Mom Leadership Manual, and The Warrior Wife Handbook; they are available at Amazon.com. Kristina's Bible studies are for women who desire to live by faith in the midst of their everyday lives. She has learned that women can't survive on caffeine and animal crackers alone; women in the Word and in community are united and able to stand firm. To learn more about Kristina, please visit her website, https://kristinaseymour.com/. God loves to share His story of love and grace through us all, and Kristina believes that everyone has a story to tell.