As a Highly Sensitive Person, I’m always some degree of overwhelmed.
No, I’m not talking about crying at dying squirrels or sad movies. I’m not that type of sensitive, although I tend to feel all of my feels deeply. I mean Sensory Processing Sensitivity, “an increased sensitivity of the central nervous system and a deeper cognitive processing of physical, social and emotional stimuli”.
To break it down, it’s a psychological trait that refers to the inclination to stronger responses to mental, physical, and emotional stimuli. Loud noises. Bright lights. Busy schedules. Time crunches. Crowded rooms. A conflict with a friend.
When someone close to me is feeling really any emotion whatsoever, I don’t just perceive it, I feel it.
A highly sensitive person (HSP) is characterized by greater depth of processing information (shoutout to all my internal processors), easy situational overstimulation (I prefer small groups of people for a reason), empathy (I can quickly pick up on the mood of a person or room because I feel it), and sensitivity to subtleties (we can tell when something is out of place).
Imagine some with Sensory Processing Sensitivity going about their normal day. They’d be craving some sort of repose or refuge, right? This is why HSPs are commonly introverts, or mistaken as introverted. (Extroverts can be an HSP, too!) Because after having our central nervous system overloaded by all the stimuli that an average person encounters every day, we are exhausted.
I’m sure you can imagine why my preferred type of social interaction is hanging out with my small group of friends, at my house, with low lighting, in my pajamas.
And why my favorite time of day is the quiet morning. The time when I find refuge beside God, in the midst of a whirlwind of stimuli. I can finally catch my breath and rest in the presence of the God who knows me best. Who accepts me as I am. Who is gentle and kind.
But what happens when the Lord asks more of me? When He asks me to take a step out of the comfort of my home?
Imagine trying to trust God in unknown situations, as He beckons me into deeper waters. To accept the change I usually resist. To choose to move into a new season, when I dread going somewhere I’ve never been before, having to process everything for the first time.
The nudges always come. He’ll inevitably whisper, “Do you want more?”
I’ll cringe but slowly orient myself in His direction, silently hoping for mercy.
“Yes, Lord, but you know me,” I shrug.
“And you know Me,” He’ll say.
And I’m moved to ponder the ways of God.
He formed me, of course He knows me. He knows my weaknesses, my fears, my tendencies. So what does that mean of Him? That if He’s calling me to more, as I am, He’s doing it kindly and gently. So as He is kindly and gently asking me to go deeper, I know that He’s thought it through. He considers me. He doesn’t bulldoze over my temperament, rolling His eyes. He acknowledges the cost it’ll require and asks me to trust Him still.
I thank God for this trait, for this predisposition to seek safety with the Lord because it gives me more reasons to trust Him in all circumstances and to choose to seek Him in the chaos of the day.