Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tender Heart

(***Warning*** I am not a trained psychologist, but I do like to self-reflect.)

You know those personality tests they always want you to take in psychology classes and staff development workshops?  Whether it's colors(Blue!) or letters(Feeling!) or animals(Golden Retriever!), mine pretty much come out the same way.  I score pretty equal on logic and creativity.  I score a little lower on the adventure/spontaneous side of things and a little higher on the loyalty/take care of details side of things.  I'm about equal introvert vs. extrovert.  But I always score highest on anything that asks if I'm driven by emotion/relationships.  Because that's simply me.  Emotions are big.  And I love people.

I could always see some of the value in being made up this way...having a strong empathy for others means I go above and beyond to get along with people.  I have always been passionate about...well....everything and everybody.  So I am driven and do my best at work and at home and at church.  Good things, right?  But in the back of my mind I always thought that this was kind of an obstacle to overcome.  Because I am also easily overwhelmed by...everything and everybody.  Cry when I am sad, angry, happy, inspired, tired, sick, scared, excited, hungry.  I used to cry when people won on the Price is Right. (Ok, I still do that.)  There are simply many books and movies I have decided to stay away from altogether because I will be either terrified out of my mind or I know it will cause a black hole of sadness.(A healthy tender heart needs some boundaries.)

So many times I have consciously and unconsciously asked God to make me less emotional or at least more emotionally tough.  It would be cool to be more adventurous and bungee jump for God or be an EMT and save people's lives without passing out because I heard the word "lipid."  It would be awesome to be a person of boldness who freely speaks their opinions without fear of what it would do to the relationships with my 433 facebook friends.

And YET.  I think it is counterproductive and even against God's will for my life when I try to be somebody else's personality.  Yeah, there's a long list of weaknesses that could use some work.  But I'm starting to find out that there's a lot more value in embracing the personality that God has given me and striving after the person I was made to be...instead of trying to be more like somebody else.  And I have been given a very tender and passionate heart.

So...what do I DO with that?  Well kids, let's form a circle and sing Kumbayha around the campfire and then watch Steel Magnolias and cry our eyes out.

Noooo.  Just kidding.  But I do have some clues:

1. I have recently ventured into territories unknown for the past decade- simply singing at church, in front, without having a large instrument to hide behind.  If that isn't scary, I don't know what is.  But if I have a lot of passion and emotion...if I am being sensitive to the message...the congregation...the music...the Holy Spirit...this will make me a better equipped to lead others in worship.  As a translator almost. (Not being crazy emotional just to be crazy emotional.)  But taking what was heard from the Bible and turning that into an honest and edifying emotional God  You get it.  I'm still a little guarded...a bit awkward I'm sure.  But I'll get there.  I'm so thankful to have others around me with large hearts to learn from!

2.  God has used my tender heart to make me a person who prays constantly.  If I'm broken hearted over people, their sin, or their situations, I will pray about it.  Sometimes there's not a lot I can do physically for someone or about something, but I can pray.  Sometimes I'm broken hearted about myself or my own situation, and so I helps to keep the emotion in check and not turn it into self-serving stuff like pity or bitterness.  Sometimes praying has shown me that I do, in fact, need to put my compassion into a clear course of action.  Sometimes it gives me peace that God's got it, and I over-reacted, and it is not my personal responsibility to save the universe...or at least all the doggies and kitties that come on the screen when Sarah MacLachlan sings a sad, sad, song.

3.  I am a good balance to those on Team God who have other gifts.  I admire those who are great at managing money, who have vision to see where the church is going, and who love serving in rooms full of babies.  Those are all strengths I simply do not have.  But if you need me to get to the heart of the matter?  I got that.  I will remind you that hard hearts need to go.  It's also a gift that's beneficial to my family.  I need my strong and stoic husband to pull me back when I go off the deep end.  He needs me to know it's ok to venture into deeper waters.  Our kids can learn from us both.  (Although I wish that Angry Mom and Angry Wife made less appearances.)

So, do you have a tender heart like I do?  Do you see it as a strength or a weakness?

Psalm 51:17
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.



Rachael Phillips said...

A tender heart is a gift from God, esp. when so many people, unlike Oz's Tin Man, throw theirs in the trash. But you and I both tend to go over the top. You cry watching "The Price is Right." I pray for guys on commercials falling off cliffs. We both need sane people (aka, husbands) to keep us on track.

Laura said...

I definitely have a tender hear. I find myself struggling with this daily. Lately I've been trying to find a purpose for my tender heart. I have a family of "robots" so it's hard for me to find anyone who shares my views on compassion ! And by robots I don't mean cold hearted...they just see the world very logically ...which is hard for me to understand.