I was born sensitive. As a man, that’s tough to admit. As boys, we’re taught to:
- man up
- get up
- brush it off
- forget about it
- pull it together
- power through
When we don’t, the world sends us a message: something is wrong with you. But is that true?
My Hardest Eulogy
As a pastor, I’ve spoken at most of the funerals in my family. Since I come from a large family, there have been many funerals. These funerals are always tough for me, but most of the time I can “power through.”
But when I spoke at my grandmother’s funeral, I was shocked by inability to “pull it together.”
After my Mom died when I was 10, my grandmother who lived less than a mile down the road, tried everything in her power to make sure my Dad, brother, and I were OK. She worried constantly if we were eating. She cooked and called us to come and eat all the time. She loved us because we were hers.
In the middle of my message at my grandmother’s funeral, I lost my breath. For about 30 seconds I couldn’t compose myself enough to simply “man up” and finish. I wasn’t blubbering, but the pause felt like an eternity.
I finally made it out alive, hoping my dignity was still intact. After the service, my aunt approached me and said, “Even as a little boy you were always so sensitive. Now I see God using that in the best way.”
Telling a man that he was a sensitive little boy isn’t exactly affirming, especially in the deep south. But I understood what she was saying and realized something amazing. God gave me a wife that is not only okay with me being sensitive, she celebrates it.
My wife, Nancie, would say it’s my sensitive heart that leads me to help hungry kids and struggling marriages, to speak at funerals, to love our kids, and to love her.
I hated being a sensitive kid. I hated being a sensitive teenager. I hated being a sensitive man, until I met her. She made that part of me a good thing even to me.
Some Self Assessment
I recently saw a counselor. I did that extensively about 12 years ago, and have done it a couple of times since. Sometimes I feel like my hyper-sensitivity needs a tune-up.
One of the things the counselor asked me to do was to fill out a self-assessment. The assessment determines how people feel and think about themselves, asking them to rank what was true of them.
As I took the assessment, I’ve never been more aware of how much God has used Nancie to make me comfortable in my own sensitive skin. One statement in the assessment said, “Something is wrong with me. I’m defective.” I was able to honestly check the box that read “That is completely untrue of me.”
Why? Because of my wife’s acceptance of who I am.
Give Your Spouse the Gift of Acceptance
She not only accepts me, she has helped me to understand that sensitivity is a strength that leads to the compassion and courage to help others. Left to my own brain and sensitive heart, I would have missed that without her. What a gift she has given me.
What is that thing in your spouse that you admire but they don’t? Let them know it.
Nothing draws your spouse to you more than acceptance—especially accepting the things they have a hard time accepting about themselves.
Ted Lowe is an author, speaker, and the director of MarriedPeople—the marriage division at Orange. Ted is the author of two books—one for marriage ministry leaders (Married People: How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last) and one for married couples (Your Best US: Marriage Is Easier Than You Think). He served for almost 10 years as the director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with his four favorite people: his wife, Nancie, and their three children.
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