I have a distinct memory of sitting in the backseat of the car as a child and my grandmother shooting her head around with an angry scowl.
“Why are you crying?!”
She was upset because of my tears. I couldn’t tell you as a 40-year-old woman why in the world child-age me was crying, but I can tell you how I felt when my tears were chastised.
I can tell you that my tears felt somehow wrong.
I honestly don’t blame my grandmother for her reaction. As an adult, I can think of times when I’ve felt this way toward others, whether they were children, adults, or even pets. I would wonder, Why are they crying? Why are they so sensitive?
Why are they so much?
But what I know now is that more than likely I was crying in that backseat because I am, what others would call, a “highly sensitive person.”
It wasn’t until my late teen years when I had a spiritual experience and was told, “God hears your cries. You are an intercessor,” that I learned there was a place for my tears.
My tears were actually a good thing.
But even with having this gift of tears, I still needed to mature in it.
This week I’ve been under the gun. I’ve been back and forth to the ER three different times, and my precious BJ is now being tended to by vets to help him recover from an obstruction in his urethra.
Upon my first visit to the ER, I was asked, “Is BJ highly sensitive?” to which a smile crept along my lips. I didn’t know cats could be labeled highly sensitive. But what I did know, was that pets tend to take after their caregivers, and so the answer was more than likely, “Yes.”
But what I told my friend through this saga, which we are still walking through, is that I can’t expect BJ, who is now three years old, to ever mature and develop in his sensitivity. It is like 8-year-old me, never developing. Never maturing in emotional intelligence or self-awareness. Never learning to be responsive instead of reactive.
I am now learning a greater level of patience and empathy being a pet parent.
One of the benefits of highly sensitive persons is their ability to empathize. For years I knew I could feel what others felt. Additionally, their feelings felt like they were my own. In my faith journey, I‘ve learned that that ability is used to pray for others. It is used for me to intercede. But if you’re not aware that that is the purpose of this gift, then you can very easily act out on these emotions and think that they are yours.
Even more recently, I left an environment overwhelmed with anxiety and heaviness. I was reminded of a time in college when this happened, and a sister revealed that I was feeling what someone else was feeling in order to pray for them.
So, this time, I had to ask, Father, is this me, or is this for someone else?
As I cared for my cat this week, my level of empathy was stretched. I returned from a trip a couple of weeks ago and know from experience that BJ normally battles separation anxiety. Based on the video footage my friend who was house-sitting sent, I could tell his anxiety was higher than normal. It took him a whole week to bounce back, as his appetite had decreased, and he was crying and whining for attention more than normal. Usually, it only takes him a couple of days to recover. But this time he was extra needy. It was truly like having a child. Now I understand why they call them “fur babies.”
I thought once he was back to his normal self we were out of the woods. But then this obstruction occurred. Did you know that if young male cats are stressed, they can develop an obstruction in their urethra? That obstruction prevents them from urinating, and an animal must release urine, or it will die. This obstruction was news to me and even some friends who’ve been cat-owners advised they had never heard of such a thing. What I’ve since learned is that this issue is quite prevalent.
But what could my cat be stressed about?
“This cat lives a very plush life!” I told the ER vet and she laughed. But I was advised that cats are pretty sensitive. I knew this because I’m around my cat so much. He watches everything. He is taking in so much in our day-to-day and I’ve used his monitoring me and our home to train him. He is a very well-trained animal. And even better, he wants to obey and please me.
The benefit of being around him so much, and maybe also because of my own sensitivity, is that I was able to notice when something was wrong. All three times I took him to the ER and the vet; I knew something was wrong. Even when others tried to tell me otherwise. I don’t blame those others. They were only going off the information they were given, especially when it was me giving it to them. But ultimately it was God to alert me, and speak to me in the way He does, that caused me to rush BJ, once again to the ER pet hospital.
Growing up, my tears seemed to be a liability. They surely are in the cutthroat society of corporate America. I won’t lie. I have some no-nonsense, sharpness to me as well. Especially when it comes to business. And though hypersensitivity and taking things personally and all the other downsides to sensitive persons can be nuisances at times, the beauty is, at others, it can be lifesaving.
I learned this with my BJ whose very life was saved this week due to a few divine circumstances, my combined sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and BJ’s behaviors.
While I believe we need to be balanced in our emotions and developed in our character, we should never diminish the gift that is inside. It is truly a diamond in the rough. And once rubbed and polished and cleaned by the Maker, oh how that diamond will shine!
So regardless of what society says, or what others may say, our tears are always valued by our Creator. So much so, that He keeps them in bottles and records them in His book.
If you remember, please say a little prayer for BJ. We are not yet out of the woods.
In other news…Did you know that I just dropped my debut novel When Love Wins? You can check out more here! This time around there is an audiobook in addition to the eBook and paperback versions. Make sure you are subscribed to my email list to catch special offers, discounts, insider information, and more!
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