I’m a pretty sensitive person. I notice small things. And I am easily touched by them. Little things can excite me; they also can bother me. Sometimes I am tempted to think sensitivity is more cross than gift. I say to myself, “If you weren’t so sensitive, you wouldn’t be feeling this pain.”
Even though sensitivity can cause pain, it is still a precious gift—a gift absolutely essential for Christian living. After all, most of the good done in the world is the direct result of someone’s sensitivity. We have ramps for entering buildings because someone was sensitive to the needs of those in wheelchairs. We recycle our paper, glass, and plastic because someone was sensitive to the basic health of our planet. Women vote in this country because Susan B. Anthony and others were sensitive to the injustice of denying women this right.
Carlos Valles, SJ, calls sensitivity “the art of the small.” I think he’s right. Ordinarily sensitivity is not expressed in sweeping movements but in little gestures: the attentive look, the kind interpretation, the simple word, the small token, the gentle touch.
Jesus was sensitive. He worked his first miracle at a wedding reception just to save a young couple from embarrassment. While being mobbed by a crowd, he was sensitive to the tassel-touching of the woman with the hemorrhage. And of all the people standing outside the temple treasury that one day, only Jesus seemed to notice the poor widow depositing her two small coins. And only he was instantly able to assess their real worth.
Yes, we can be overly sensitive and take offense at every little thing. Somewhere along the way we must learn there are some things we should overlook and forget about. At the same time we need never apologize or feel bad for being sensitive. Jesus himself was master of the art of the small.
Am I sensitive? If so, is sensitivity a cross or gift for me?