About the Book
The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity: In a society that values production and performance, highly sensitive people struggle to make sense of the overwhelming data stream that daily bombards them. The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity was written to give voice and vocabulary to how highly sensitive people experience life, to help them understand the dynamics that wounded them and caused them to hate the way are, and to bring healing to those wounds. It also touches on how this high sensitivity can facilitate and/or muck up marriage and parenting relationships.
It explains why God made some 20-30% of the population this way—to be His burden bearers who continue the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus began. Highly sensitive people are wonderfully and uniquely designed to be His “special forces” in a spiritual war they do not realize they are in.
Many highly sensitive people struggle with issues of self-esteem and worth because of feeling that everything they sense and feel originates within themselves—this of course, is not true, but that is how it feels. Their responses to what they feel can make them feel crazy and others willingly confirm it! I am happy to say the “half the craziness you feel may not be your own!” Highly sensitive people are not crazy, just different from many—and that is a good thing!
Chapter One – Perspective
Jesus dear friend Lazarus fell ill. John 11:1-44 His sisters sent word to Jesus, but rather than quickly going to heal his friend, Jesus stayed where he was for two more days. Lazarus died. When he did finally arrive, he walked into a cloud of grief. “When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” (v. 33) Scripture clearly states in verse 35 that Jesus wept. Then in verse 38 Jesus, was “once more deeply moved.” Jesus had no reason to grieve his own tears; he knew Lazarus would rise from the dead. Indeed, earlier He said, “I am glad, for your sake, that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Vs. 14b Jesus display of emotion is most likely burden bearing. He came alongside His friends and drew some of their burden into His spirit and soul, thus lightening their emotional load. He felt what the sisters and friends were feeling—He was fully in sync with them. He felt their grief and sadness, and was moved to tears. Always in touch with the Father’s heart, He was able to speak God’s response of life to Lazarus. So what, exactly is burden bearing? Let’s back up for perspective.
“But I say to you”
This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit (look after) orphans and widows in their distress . . . James 1:27 ASV
Giving alms to the poor, providing for orphans and widows, and the blind and lame have been accepted as appropriate ways to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)—ways to come alongside, to lighten the loads we all face from time to time. The Lord began to teach a deeper level of understanding of the scriptures in Matthew 5:17. He said He came, not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He said that your righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees. Throughout chapters five and six, He offered examples that went beyond the currently accepted righteousness: “you have heard it said that . . . but I tell you . . .,” challenging every Christian to go beyond what is normally accepted.
In this same spirit of expanding upon that which is already right and good, I would say that all material and tangible means of lightening a person’s load please God. But, He does not want you to stop there. Rather, He designed you and me to be highly sensitive, with a remarkable and quite human capacity to share in, carry, and thus relieve emotional and spiritual burdens as well. This is empathy, the foundation for the kind of burden bearing explored in this book.
This kind of “burden bearing” is a form of intercession that begins in the heart of God. The burden forms in the heart of God as He sees a need in someone’s life. Rather than barge in and do it all, He respects a person’s free will and asks you, His servant, to be part of His solution. He wants you to be the person through whom He draws the pain of a hurting person to Himself. He asks you to be His hands on earth to relieve physical suffering, and to stand for Him as an emissary of comfort and freedom from emotional and spiritual bondage. To this end He designed your body, not only to be an instrument of praise, but of prayer. This kind of “burden bearing” involves the body, the emotions and senses all working together. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he said, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” Col. 1:24 Empathy is key. Without empathy you cannot sense the heart of God where burden bearing originates.
Sadly, most are not aware of their capacity for empathy, nor imagine in their wildest dreams God’s purposes for it. Most live unaware of the extent to which others’ troubles affect them, and vice-versa. Everyone bears burdens because that is how humanity is designed, but do it wrongly. The way God designed burden bearing does not harm a person—since sin entered the picture human kind has been turned around, upside down, operating somewhat according to design, but with something missing and to our hurt.
There is much to be gained for the Kingdom of God when you bear burdens rightly, and much error and suffering when you bear burdens wrongly due to lack of knowledge. In your lack of knowledge, you live out only a portion of your “design capabilities.”
God’s design for humankind and you individually, is perfect. His plan for your maturity is perfect. I believe burden bearing is an important part of this plan. You bear burdens because that is who you are, much as a gifted composer composes because he must. You are highly sensitive; you empathize and bear others burdens because you cannot do otherwise.
About the Author
Carol lived in a farming community in Iowa for the first 16 years of life. The family moved to Minnesota where she finished high school and then pursued academics. She met her husband, David, during his seminary internship with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They married in 1969, and have ministered together across the U.S., Australia, Germany, Finland, and Canada, David as pastor, counselor, and trainer, Carol as educator and helpmate. They have two daughters and five grandchildren.
As an educator Carol has taught 1st grade all through to graduate level classes in English As A Second Language. As an administrator she has organized and administered training schools for Elijah House Ministries, developed curriculum and internships. Carol enjoys nature, music, knitting, crocheting, painting and playing the piano. Her latest adventure is writing. They live in western Michigan and attend house church.