From “Scarlet Letter” to Super Power
My first post, Right Hand Work: Why I am Here, went into detail as to what prompted me to start this blog. The same hard circumstances from three years ago, brought me away for the past six weeks…and also bring me back today. There are many details that are not necessarily helpful to go into. My distractions of late can be described easily by something I believe many of my readers can relate to: my ideals, those things I hold close to my heart and believe to be true and good, are often not the things that are promoted in this world.
I posted an article on my Facebook page recently that really hit home with me – The Gift of Being Overly Sensitive by Rachel Martin. It hit home with me because it deals with my “Scarlet Letter”. If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me, “You are just too sensitive, you need to get thicker skin, you need not let people and what they say get to you so much,” I would seriously not have to work anymore and be able to retire very comfortably. I have spent my life seeing this character trait as a flaw. I have worn it like a giant “S” on my chest for S-E-N-S-I-T-I-V-E.
Sensitive is a cousin to another familiar and not so desirable character descriptor, “meek,” that I have talked about in the past. Meek: “having or showing a gentle or quiet nature; not wanting to fight or argue with other people; enduring injury with patience and without resentment; not violent or strong.” Sounds a lot like being sensitive to me.
So what do you do in a world like ours with these “gifts”? I will assure you that these gifts are not easy to embody. It’s just hard to lead with this, “Hi, I am Kristen. I get my feelings hurt easily. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I care so deeply that I physically hurt when others hurt. My compassion meter is off the charts. I deeply value justice and fight hard for those, including myself, who are wronged. I stand up for what is right, even when it’s not popular. I tell the truth. I love Jesus and all He stands for, even if it means absolute persecution on this earth.” Yeah, “Hi” aaaaand, “Goodbye.” Not just goodbye either – more like, “You need to get thicker skin!” “It was just a joke!” “You need a better poker face, people know how you are feeling.” “Sometimes you just have to play the game.”
The words meek and sensitive make me think of one of those beat up little mice from Saturday morning cartoons. I remember the little fella looking longingly out of his little hole in the wall at the cheese prize across the room. He was determined to get there despite the giant elephant standing between he and the cheese. The tiny hero would release fear and scurry out into the open, his innate inadequacies certainly stacked against any possibility of success. And contrary to what anyone expected, the elephant always fled in fear of the mouse, allowing the tiny fur ball to reach and devour his prize in delight. Why? Live Science says that it is actually more about the elephant’s surprise than anything else.
Let me lead you to a well-known story of the bible. It’s the beloved story of a little guy, a meek guy, a “mouse-like” guy, a guy who took care of sheep, a guy who was overlooked by many – even his own father. A guy who took a whole host of people by surprise… His name was David.
“The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.”
So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.” – 1 Samuel 16:1-13
Saul was king. He was handsome, tall and “impressive looking”. Unfortunately, he was also rebellious and arrogant which caused God to reject him as king and his kingdom was stripped from him as a result. Saul did repent and ask for forgiveness initially, but his evil ways continued to his death as he seethed with jealousy toward David.
David had been anointed as the next king of Israel in a ceremony that took place in the quiet corners of biblical times. It was not done with blaring trumpets and ceremonial rituals. It also was not done in a way where Saul was “dethroned” on earth. He actually kept his position on earth as king until his death! But, God had chosen David and David held this truth close to his heart. David ended up being called to Saul’s house to play the harp for him when an evil spirit tormented him and caused him to basically go crazy. It was in this time that David gleaned many things necessary for leading the nation as Israel’s next king. And he did all of this while Saul was plotting to kill him. What an unlikely and surprising place for a hero of the faith and a king chosen by God!
David then went on to kill 9 foot giant Goliath with a stone and a slingshot. Against all earthly odds, he fought the seemingly insurmountable foe and won! And he did it with a pebble. A pebble and the power of the one true King, God….
Might this be the way God chooses and uses us? He sets us apart as His own. He adopts us into His royal family, anointing us with the blood of Christ. He crowns us princes and princesses of the KING. These anointings are often done in the quiet corners of this life and are based on what is on the inside, the heart, not on the polished exterior, just like David. Most often, the character traits deemed weaknesses worthy of scarlet letter recognition are those traits most valued and most powerful in the kingdom of God.
Though our anointing is the single most significant and noteworthy event of our lives, it often goes unnoticed, unrecognized and even persecuted. Rebellious and arrogant earthly leaders are not torn from their “thrones” and places of power. And we just might find ourselves stuck in very dark places, places where we feel as though our own God-given character traits are put down. Places where it feels as though our own deaths are being plotted! Places that surely cannot be of God!
We have our own pebbles to battle the giants of life. Our little stones may be named “sensitive”, or “tactful, careful, thoughtful, diplomatic, delicate, subtle, finely tuned or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings”. Maybe unconventional in the weapon-saavy circles. But, when used in their best form, traits like sensitivity can break through to a hurting human better than any conventional weapon of psychology or medicine. When sensitivity is cultivated, polished and allowed to shine, compassion spills over onto even one’s greatest enemy, conquers evil and mends the deepest of wounds.
What a surprise it is when kindness wins, sensitivity is seen as a strength, the little shepherd guy beats the giant and our worldly “scarlet letters” are seen as super powers. Let us embrace our God-given character traits and work together to promote heart qualities instead of shiny bold and loud exteriors. Let us use our super powers for good. They are indeed, not, scarlet letters.