• Category Archives sensitivity
  • Reader’s Question

    Mystery Book CoverRecently a reader asked about how spiritual gifts fits in with being highly sensitive. I thought it was a very good question that perhaps many people have. So I turned it into a blog post! Here’s my take on the question…

     

    People who are highly sensitive are also spiritually sensitive–spiritual sensitivity is just another manifestation of high sensitivity. If you are highly sensitive, you are sensitive across the spectrum of experience—to light, sound, touch (texture), taste and environmental things like heat, cold, pollen in the air, or smog and food sensitivities, chemicals, etc. Your high sensitivity is also what makes it possible for you to hear from God.

     

    Being highly spiritually sensitive is not a Christian thing exclusively. There are highly sensitive people who are secular, atheists, and practitioners of other faiths as well. They tend to be the artists, poets, writers, the “religious,” witch doctors, shamans, etc. When these people come to know Jesus and are born again this sensitivity can be dedicated to The Most High and as you partner with Jesus to do Kingdom work, Holy Spirit guides you.Highly Sensitive JPEGThe issue of “spiritual gifting” is a real problem for most highly sensitive Christian people. Being HS means you are generally very itelligent and highly creative as well as empathetic.  So there are many things you can do, interests to pursue, and you are probably quite good at whatever you put your mind to. One caveat to that is how incredibly sensitive some Downs Syndrome and folks on the autistic spectrum are.

     

    I admit to you that I had the same problem with figuring out where I fit and who I should be. People would say, “You should be a counselor,” “You should be a teacher,” “You should sing,” yatta, yatta! For a long time, my bottom line was, “If I did all the things I should do and all the things I could do, I would never do the things I want to do!”

     

    The Lord finally came to my rescue. He told me that at times I will prophesy, at times counsel or teach, other times bear burdens, write, paint, do music, be a mom, grandmother, wife, etc. Other times the Lord and I will spin tales and weave yarns, but at all times I will be His friend. We don’t have to wear labels or feel we have to do one thing exclusive of all the others. He wants us to be fully developed—just like Jesus was.

     

    In your job you may speak prophetically to a colleague…but you won’t do that everyday. At times you will need to discern spirits, so you will…when that is needed. There is that scripture in Romans 5:3-5 that says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” There are times when being highly spiritually sensitive can cause you to suffer. It may come as a result of bearing someone’s burden, your own internal angst over who you are and where you fit, or as discrimination or rejection in the work place. When that happens, it is no fun. But please, do not hate the way God made you. He smiled and said, “that’s good.”

     

    As you see in the list of character traits above, one character trait is added to another. Fathers are admonished to teach their children line upon line. In other words, God wants us to build character a bit at a time. He wants us also to build spiritual character in the same way and to add relational skill sets, rounding out our personalities. So as we develop, God will gift us again and again. The more you work with God to mature and become skilled at hearing Him and prophesying then He will start working on another aspect—maybe training you to have razor sharp discernment. Then He will begin to work on developing another aspect without dropping any that you already have under your belt. There is also the passage in Hebrews 5:14 “who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” He expects us to put ourselves in positions to receive training. You need to practice each and every gift you have so you become good at it.

     

    Don’t be disheartened or think that you have to have just one “gift.” Although, just as we are predominately right or left-handed, there will probably be one gift that will be dominant. Jesus had a whole fist full of spiritual gifts. We are to strive to have the full stature and character of Jesus. The “full stature” means that you will need more than just prophesy, or discernment. Spiritual sensitivity will lead you to develop the full potential of your design. One man I know tried on each one of the spiritual gifts for a whole month. Some of them he quickly learned were not his! This is one way to narrow down the list so that you can settle on what you need to learn and practice.

     

    So, I would say that your calling first and foremost is probably to be a friend of God. You may exhibit any number of the spiritual gifts at any given time. He designed you with a highly sensitive nervous system. You take in more sensory data than most people—this is what allows you to sense the Holy Spirit’s guidance and tell the difference between good and evil. You sense what is going on in other people’s experience—that is to inform your intercession on their behalf. Some highly sensitive “Pre-Christian” people may use the information they gain about people’s vulnerability to control or manipulate them. God gave you that ability for purposes of burden bearing and intercession, for encouraging and building up the saints, not control and domination.

     

    You will find that He places you in “assignments” where you will be able to either learn or hone a skill set or a spiritual gift. These assignments will change but there is something to learn, develop, or solidify–so I would just advise you to enjoy the journey and not be overly concerned about gifts. The enemy has a ploy to push you to do more, be more and drive you into burn out or to so focus you on one aspect of your walk with God that he can distract and trip you up. Just enjoy God’s presence and let that be your focus. Be the very best you, you can be. Along the way He will guide you to fully develop your potential and that will bring you a great sense of fulfillment.

     

    If you would like to learn more about spiritual sensitivity from a Christian perspective, check out The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and its companion volume Highly Sensitive. Both are available from my website.

    Hope this helps.  Blessings, Carol Brown, shedding a little light!

     

    Wilderness-cover-B P.S. The Wilderness, my next book, a devotional/memoir is with the        publisher now. It is a memoir of my recovery journey after a major attack of multiple Sclerosis–I was catapulted into my wilderness. We are hoping to have it out in out in May. We will keep you posted.


  • Identity #4-Forming the Image

    I asked my friend, Dr. James Wilder to talk to me about how identity was formed and he put it this way: “First, for an infant and child the development is focused on an individual identity and from adult on it is focused on group identity. All aspects of identity only become developed and solid when you see them reflected in the “face” of another. It only really becomes “me” when it is the way that you see me.”

    “The common way to establish identity is by the cumulative history of what I have done. That makes me the sum of what has gone before. Since most of that is malfunction and sin, my identity becomes the sum total of my errors to date–as they are seen by others and reflected to me.

    When I am seen through the eyes of heaven as who I was meant to be and not what I have done, then my potential defines my identity!

    The second point would be that “belonging” is more a characteristic of identity than a requirement for identity.

    Individual Identity — What you see reflected in the faces of the people you relate to during the formation of your “individual identity” creates a picture of yourself. That picture is confirmed when you see it reflected in the faces of the people in your “group”–it solidifies; it becomes real. “You” are what you see in those faces. You are what others say you are!

    Your emotional response to the picture others create for you is where the sense of “belonging” and the sense of “worth” come from. It is a sense of a feeling of worth and belonging. God designed the family to show you the truth about yourself and the truth about God. If what you see in the faces around you is in reality, other people’s brokenness and sin, you may not learn the truth about yourself. You may feel that you are broken; you are the sin that you see in the face(s)–awful, disgusting, and worthless. You feel you are what others tell you with their faces, words, and body language. One friend put it this way: “When people treat you like a couch, you begin to feel like a couch. They talk about you, over you, ignore you, abuse you, shove you around, use you, throw you away when they are finished with you, but they never talk to you. You feel like a piece of furniture.”

    Here is another example of a person emotionally responding to the picture others present. For several years when this man was a child, his two brothers, two and four years older respectively, called him “Stupid.” “Get out of the way, Stupid. Let me do that.” He finally concluded he was indeed stupid and proceeded to do poorly in school, act out, and otherwise cause trouble for himself and others. However, he also received other messages, messages of worth and belonging from other family members. These same two brothers would also quickly come to his defense when defense was needed. Consequently, he had an unstable, fluctuating picture of himself. When he finished his tour of duty in the army, he registered for college, took a couple courses and received “A’s.” That was all he needed. He proved to himself and anyone who cared to ask that he was not stupid!

    Feeling Different — Because of your sensitivity, you may feel so different from other family members that you wonder if you were adopted. Another fellow I know would listen to stories his siblings told and wonder what family raised them–certainly not the one in which he grew up! The family reminisced of wonderful adventures, fun, and laughter, whereas the family my friend was familiar with was much darker. Actually, both pictures of the family were true! The siblings did have wonderful adventures; there was much fun and laughter. There was also much pain in some members. My friend was more sensitive than others; therefore, he felt the unexpressed pain. It colored all his family experiences a much darker tone. Being aware of the unexpressed pain, he did not perceive the fun or experience the laughter and adventure.

    You also may have felt the unexpressed and unresolved trouble of family members and it colored your experience of life. Your sensitivity may have made your experience of life in the family much darker and more somber. You may feel you do not belong to this family; you are that different from the others.

    Your perception that you are different may not be wrong, but your conclusion may be! You may have a very accurate perception of the darker reality within your family. If they are not as sensitive as you, they may not have felt their own troubles as acutely as you. You may be quite accurate when you perceive dark and somber emotions of disgust, contempt, and rejection. That may be exactly what a family member was feeling! However, if you assume that every feeling you have originates from your own being or that you caused them to have disgust, contempt, or rejection toward you, you can arrive at a false conslusion about others, God and yourself. You may conclude that you are “wrong,” that there is something about you that is flawed or undesireable. You withdraw to the fringes of the family and wonder if you really belong here. You question your worth.

    What you have perceived is not the ultimate reality that God created you to live in, nor is it God’s reality. God’s reality is the one He designed you for, and the one in which you want to live. God chooses to look at the potential He designed into you rather than the sum total of all you “malfunctions and sins,” as Dr. Wilder said! Perhaps that is why He is so patient! He knows what He built into you and that you are capable of doing and being what He has call you to do and be. He knows you can be the person He designed you to be. God looks at an accurate picture of you. You may be looking at a distorted or false picture of yourself.

    The next post will be about our “group” identity. My suggestion is to ask the Lord to see what He sees when He looks at you. And, how does your potential–which God sees–differ from the image you have of yourself. And then we will look at things we can do to correct the self-image that we have received.

    These posts on identity are taken from the book Highly Sensitive, published by Destiny Image. It can be purchased from my website, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or Destiny Image.


  • WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT!! The winner of the John 3:16 Blog Hop drawing on this blog is:

    Amanda Stephens!!!

    I thank you all for entering the drawing. Those of you who did not win I am hoping that you are intrigued enough to consider shopping on Amazon or locally for the set of books you were hoping for!

    Today I am interviewing myself about the John 3:16 blog hop:

    “In retrospect, how did the blog hop go?”  At the end of the first day I felt like I had been standing in front of a couple of those huge 5 foot tall stereo speakers and both were emitting intense subsonic frequencies all day! Every part of my being was vibrating! I have learned not to take seriously the proclamations I make during such times because they are expressions of the intensity rather than the direction I will take. I rarely if ever follow through with such emphatic statements.

    “What was I saying?” Mostly, “I will NEVER do another blog hop, EVER!”

    “Why do I think I was feeling that way?” I had never done a blog hop before so I had no idea what was involved. I assumed I should check in on every single blog each day. Now, that was not stated as being manditory, it was just what I assumed. One of the dangers of being highly sensitive is that you are easily overstimulated. By the time I got to blog 35 or so, every nerve in my body was on fire and jangling; my eyes glazed over and I was mumbling incoherently! My poor husband had to get his own supper. When I could finally talk straight the first thing I said was, “I’ll never do that again!” But folks, that was the first day!! There were six more to go and I was already fried!

    Responsibility kicked in–I had made a committment and I was going to keep it. So on the second day I started at the bottom of the list and worked my way up. Some wise lady on day two made the observation that there was no way under the sun that a person could get through all 55 blogs in one day. She divided the week up and allotted 12 or so blogs per day and workrd her way through the whole list in the week, visiting each blog once. Brilliant!

    Another reason I think I was jangled is that I am very highly sensitive to light and color and of course, one cannot control that on someone else’s blog! Some blogs were soft on my eyes and others not so much. Hmmm, why didn’t I think to have my sunglasses handy? Other blogs were information dense and would take you from level to level. They were more like a maze or labrynth; when all systems are on overload already, little energy is left for comprehension! However, I did come away with some wonderful ideas for developing my own blog and some important marketing information that will be helpful in the long run. I say “long run” because it takes me longer than most to implement anything remotely associated with technology!

    “What impressed me the most about the blogs I visited?” The creativity! My goodness, the Lord has blessed us with marvelous multifaceted, varigated gifts. And secondly, I am impressed with the love this group has for the Lord and their willingness to work to get out to the world the words that God has given them to share whether it fills their pockets or not! For many of us writing is a ministry, the calling of the Lord!

    “What have I learned about blog hops?”

    • To pace myself. I will prayerfully decide the number of blog hops I will participate in for a year
    • To pace myself within a hop; i.e. be up front with how many blogs I will visit in a day
    • When I find myself being overstimulated to leave a blessing and move away
    • A blog hop is a good place to find good books. I found a big stack of good books to read–a really big stack
    • I believe that blog hopping is to be a butterfly activity–alight upon a blog, sip and flutter off to the next. It is not a prairie dog activity–I need not burrow down and ferret out every bit of information from every page of the blog
    • But statistically speaking, this blog had 7 followers before the blog and there are 25 now. That is a measure of success. I have no idea how book sales will be affected. That is entirely in the hands of the Lord.

    So thank you readers for stopping in and following. I take seriously the Lord’s calling to share His words with you. Now I will continue with the “God Thoughts” until some life happens and I will blog on that from my perspective. The Lord has been very clear that my assignment is to stay one step behind Jesus so that I am close enough to hear what He says and write it down. And so I shall.


  • What Does It Mean…

    …to be highly sensitive? It means that your central nervous system is very finely tuned; you take in more sensory data than most people. And it means you have the necessary neural hardware to be a natural burden bearer.

    …to be a burden bearer? You are able to know or understand something of another person’s inner state of being in some sensory way, carry the pain or trouble to the cross, and pray passionately, inviting Jesus into the situation or circumstance based upon what you have sensed from the person and from God’s own heart. The Holy Spirit within you gathers up the burden from every place in you that it has gone, draws it through you, lifts it up and out of you, and places it on the cross of Christ. Natural burden bearers are highly sensitive. (From the front matter of my book, Highly Sensitive.)

    The term “natural” is used in the sense that we say someone is a natural…baseball player, runner, pianist, teacher, parent–they are good at what they do and they do it with ease. They are a natural! For highly sensitive people it is so easy for them to sense what is going on with another that they are often surprised to learn that everyone else in the world does not experience life this way! Yet many live their lives with a sense that there is something different about them. Below are some symptoms of high sensitivity or characteristice of a burden bearer. Do you:

    • Have difficulty with bright lights, loud noises and large crowds (over-stimulation)?
    • Need recovery time away from stimulation, noise or activity?
    • Have a vivid imagination?
    • Stay  attuned to family needs and try to help actively or passively in any way you can?
    • Are attuned to and affected by others moods?
    • Have times of excessive emotion–responses seem extreme, whether it be grief, anger, sadness or  tears over physical hurts?
    • Have times of uncharacteristic behavior when you don’t “act like yourself?”
    • Have tender feelings that are easily hurt
    • Appear shy and quiet?
    • Feel vulnerable to sadnes or depression?
    • Feel you lose your individuality around strong personalities or intense inner turmoil?
    • See, smell or sense things others cannot see, smell or sense?
    • Know things ahead of time, or things others did not tell you?
    • Cut the tags out of your shirts and sweathers because they irritate?

    If you answered “yes” to a number of these characteristics you may be coping with a highly sensitive nervous system which is core to burden bearing and sensing the heart of God. It is a good thing! For more on how to live with the “gift” and thrive, see my book, Highly Sensitive.