"We're are gentle, needy, soft, sensitive little buttons who deserve special handling" -- SARK
Have you heard the phrase “hurting people hurt people?”
I would like to that change phrase that so it simply says, “people hurt people.” Because, as humans, we’re intrinsically flawed and imperfect and aren’t immune to the blows and stings of life; therefore we lash out at others, are rude, insensitive, make cutting remarks, give the cold shoulder, and generally act like meanies.
It’s a fact of life: people are not very nice to each other, from country wars and violence to the little, seemingly insignificant ways we hurt each other on a daily basis. It’s stupid and sad, but true. Those of us who are extra-sensitive (Note: not soft or weak, just naturally sensitive) have to take special care to not let life’s hurts bring us down and make us feel that the words and actions of others are an indictment on our being.
It’s a life-long learning curve which can be even harder when people tell us to “stop being so sensitive” and “develop thicker skin.” Okay, I’ll stop being so sensitive just like I’ll try to stop being blonde or blue-eyed or have a type B- blood type (I’m just guessing. I don’t actually know my blood type) or an astigmatism in my left eye. Let me just go ahead and ask God why He made me this way. These things can’t be helped.
HANDLE WITH CARE!
How do we proceed? How do we live, day-to-day, with the knowledge that our interactions with other people may, in some way, hurt us? This is especially difficult for those of us who work with the general public; while some people are awesome, encouraging, and kind, there are those who make you want to crawl into a hole and hide.
I recently read a quote by Louise Erdich in The Painted Drum which I thought was interesting and in a way, contrary to what I believe. Here it is:
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love and you have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes real, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
I wrote this down in my journal, but it’s a quote I don’t agree with 100%. I’ve had a friend give me advice similar to this and while it sounds liberating, there’s something about it I can’t quite support. He said something like, “It’s better to have your heart broken and damaged than to play it safe … life is about experiencing things and getting hurt and doing it all over again.”
That’s one way of looking at it. The other is to “play it safe:” protect your heart, guard yourself, be cautious, and prevent heartbreak at any cost. I suppose it’s a fine balance between what I view as recklessness (Louise Erdich’s advice and that of my friend) and cautiousness. I am drawn to the former but usually retreat to the latter when I’m inevitably hurt or heartbroken.
Perhaps what we’re supposed to do is live in the middle of the spectrum: allowing ourselves to be open to others and to love, but not to the point of giving it away recklessly just for the sake of “experience.”
Like most things in life, living in balance is key. It’s tough, but it’s key. I’m a big fan of SARK ever since I saw her poster, “How to Be an Artist” on the door of my high school friend’s older sister and have read nearly all her books and own two. One of the things she says, which is a philosophy I’ve adopted, is that you should give yourself what you need so you don’t expect it from others, but can then extend it to them. I’ve mentioned it before, but the notion of self-love and self-care (Note: not selfishness or narcissism) is definitely underrated. I believe that if you give yourself all the nurture, support, and positive affirmations that you require, you won’t go looking for it in other people, therefore not getting hurt and disappointed when they inevitably fail you.
Whether or not you choose to be care-free or care-full, treating yourself and others with dignity and respect has the potential to change your life and possibly soften life’s hard knocks.
play nice, boys and girls!
I’m going to vow to be the following to myself and others: gentle, kind, supportive, nurturing, loving, forgiving, honest, listening, sincere, careful, cherishing, honouring, accepting …
I’m choosing to drink out of the cup of kindness with the knowledge that we’re all, as Marvin Gaye says, “sensitive people, with so much to give.” I’m going to try to model my life on these words:
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honouring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other […] Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone […] Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Tall order, but not impossible.
I’ll leave you with Jack Black channelling Marvin Gaye in my favourite scene from High Fidelity: