Are you soft and tenderhearted? Easily moved? Do you identify with the weak and hurting, and get easily wounded yourself?
Welcome to my family! That's what a number of us in our family are like too. Dad was like that, so was his Dad, and his brother Aaron. Aunt Helena, his sister always had a tender tear in her voice. As does her daughter Brenda. My brother Tom was easily absorbed into another's pain, and of course, I've lived with it all my life too.
Some have that tenderness of spirit too, but have learned to lock it up in hiding.
In my case, a vivid imagination was stirred into the mix that became me.
If you're one of this breed you know the ups and downs of it, right? You're drawn totally into a story or drama, and every nuance in a family relationship or friendship is magnified. Joys are tremendous, but a crisis crushes you and tosses you into a pit of despair!
Sometimes you wonder why you have to experience everything so intensely. When someone hurts your feelings, you really suffer.
I've given this quite some thought at different times in my life, and I've concluded that I'd rather be like this than cold and unfeeling.
On the other hand, as with everything else, I think God wants us to learn to discipline ourselves, and balance our tender compassion with forethought, and a firm kindness toward ourselves and toward others.
"How, pray tell," you ask?
God's favourite method seems to put sharp, irregular people into our lives and even our homes. Maybe you have a friend who is always cutting you down. More likely it is a relative or family member who crushes you at almost regular intervals.
The key is all in how you respond. If you lie down and whimper in pain, you will hurt and your wound will bleed profusely, and never heal. If you keep running off to cry out to the Lord, and tell Him about it, and actually listen for His instructions, God will use that person to build a velvet-steel strength into your fiber. You'll learn to say "yes" to the right things, and "no" to the bad things. You'll learn to love like God! You'll learn to use your tenderness as a gift to bless and help others, and you will experience joy and contentment.
I used to feel sorry for Mom, who suffered so much after the cow gored her and tossed her over the gate. She was in hospital, or at least in bed, most of my childhood and early teens. But when I came home to care for her, after being on my own and far away for twelve years, I discovered that her suffering had embittered her, and made her cold and withdrawn. Getting along with her grated on my tender spirit and tore me up like a harsh rasp. I suffered some because of her attitudes, but mostly I ached for all the lost years and the pain in her life.
But I had learned, while on my own, to run to the Lord with everything, to talk over every little thing with my Best Friend, Jesus, and to spend hours over an open Bible. This turned out to be what saved me from going over the deep end myself. Little by little, as I begged God for help in loving and caring for Mom, I learned to be strong and tough with my love, to persist and never let go, despite tears and pain.
I still find my soft and my disciplined sides slipping out of balance from time to time, but enough distance has come in the past 17 years since her death, that I can see some of what God has accomplished in my character development through that.
Dad was really quite easy to get along with. We seldom had a clash. There are others of course, who can stab me with a word, or just an inflection, but a profound truth has come to me; in Christ I have power to LOVE them and they have no way of stopping me! In fact, I think in making that dramatic resolution, the sting of their hurts can be cancelled forever.
One day I heard that Dr. Billy Graham had once early on, doubted God's Word, but he had it out with God Himself, and came to a point where he announced, "I'll believe Your Word no matter what!" After that he had power and great success in preaching.
A similar power is released upon us when we emphatically decide to love someone who has hindered us from full joy. Since then, (and often afterwards), I made some resolutions to love certain individuals - no matter what they do.
If you have similar problems with people in your life, (and many of the people I know, do!) I'm sharing this solution with you so you can try it as well. Make up your mind that with God's help that wound-giver cannot STOP you from loving her or him ever again!
Actually, Ruthe, the heroine of my novel lives by such principles too. Want to watch her at work in the midst of it?
You can plunge in and read the first eight chapters online right now!
Or, sign up for a free series of emails that will bring you the first eight chapters (out of 77) by email. You can fit in a short reading each day, and not have to remember to go back to see the next installment.
In this book, Ruthe drives around a city block a number of times, feeling compelled to go into a noisy disco, which has loud, noisy music , and flashing lights eminating from it. Eventually she renounces and tells off the fears that taunt her, as if they are the voice of Satan, and jumps out and goes into the building. There she is surprised, in the stinging, smoky haze, to find a young girl hugging her white knees under a coat rack, and sobbing her heart out. She quickly slips her cardigan sweater around the girl and helps her out and to her family car. She is all empathy and tenderness as she absorbs the girl's story, but she also remembers to share the good news that God cares and wants to forgive and heal and love this girl too.
Soon Ruthe is having another tender time as she listens to this girl's mother cry out with anquish over a cancer death sentence.
Her life seems to go from one such help-in-crisis situation to another. But after a while all these new friends being to have an influence on Ruthe too. They start loving her back, and giving her gifts, and asking her advice.
You will observe that being compassionate and tender-hearted towards others does not need to leave you a slobbering emotional mess. When this becomes your character trait, used with self-discipline to help others, you will benefit and grow more mature and gracious and self-controlled yourself. People begin to love you back, and bless you!
If you've thought for a long time that you were disadvantaged by having this tenderness of spirit, you are in for a refreshing surprise when you read this novel! No one may have ever told you, but it is a GOOD thing to have. It probably means you also have a gift for creativity that just needs to be developed. That is, you need to find out what ways your soul best can express the thoughts and feelings you carry so richly and deeply inside, and then use that medium to give out of your heart. Don't let it be a stagnant pool that grows putrid from keeping everything to yourself! Instead, find out whether you can bless others best through the use of words, art, crafts, decorating, building things, planning events, inventing tools, toys, or time-savers. Oh, the possiblities are endless!
The thing is, if your family didn't teach and encourage you in these things, you have to learn them from others. In my case, I learned so very much from books. Fiction books showed me how others did these things, and non-fiction books give advice more directly.
I'm inviting you here and now to get my novel, and watch my heroine, Ruthe, as she learns to use her tenderness and her creative gifts in many ways. Each time she thinks she's helping someone else, but she's growing and maturing and becoming a lovely and wonderful young woman in her own right. I'd love to see her trigger a similar chain reaction in your life!
Come! Don't you want to start right away?
You can buy the e-book, download it, and in a matter of minutes start reading the whole novel right on your computer, enlarging the font if necessary!
You can also order the softcover paperback edition from my publisher, Booklocker, or you can order it through Amazon or any of the online bookstores, and even your local bookstore. Booklocker will just be faster, since it doesn't have to go through as many middle-people.
There is a price difference of course. The e-book is only 5.77, and the softcover is 19.95, and you have to wait a few days to get it. The main difference is in how you prefer to read a book. If you know you can't sit at the computer hours on end and read, then you're better off with the softcover. On the other hand, you can download the e-book to an ebook reader, like Kindle, etc., and read it on your couch or in bed - any place at all.
If you really would like to watch a character with unstoppable love, and learn how to do that, then this book will be very meaningful to you.
I'd invite you to consider ordering my novel, which really illustrates tenderheartedness, and how to use it in daily life.