Overload! Overload is what can happen to a highly sensitive person while in a mall, hospital or room full of people—an overload of noises, emotions, irritation, and an inability to concentrate. Carol Brown takes on this sensitive subject in this book Highly Sensitive: Understanding Your Gift of Spiritual Sensitivity. Carol writes from a wealth of experience as she struggled to recognize and realize for herself that being emotionally and spiritually sensitive was indeed a gift that could be used for God’s glory—a gift she admits she was not too happy with at first!
This is Brown’s second book on the subject of spiritual sensitivity and is a companion volume to The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity. However, if you haven’t yet gotten the first book, there is enough information here so that you won’t feel lost as you read this one.
Highly Sensitive is about how empathetic burden bearing affects the individual; how to recover and repair damage from negative responses to your high sensitivity on the emotional, spiritual and psychological levels. It gives principles and guidelines to help reign life in so that it is manageable. It deals with five growth areas common to the highly sensitive. 1) Hearing God, 2) Confidence in what you hear, 3) Trust, 4) Boundaries, 5) Identity and destiny. It will encourage you—and maybe help you be less hard on yourself. You are learning a spiritual language, and that takes time! Other books present how to intercede, how to hear God, but never address the issue of high sensitivity. A certain amount of sensitivity is necessary to connect with and sense the heart of God. You need to know how that very sensitivity affects those who are wired to be highly sensitive!
The author distinguishes her two books in this way:
The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity is primarily about GOD’s domain, what He did/does for you, and your reactions. It gives voice and vocabulary to how you experience life, to give you hope and comfort as well as understanding how the LORD designed you to bear burdens. You are not crazy, but you are different from many—and that is a good thing!
Highly Sensitive: Learning to Live with the Gift is about your domain—about the things you can choose to work on under GOD’s direction. It is about spiritual fitness—building in the structures, habits, and disciplines that will enable you to do ‘the good works that were designed for you to do from the beginning’ (Ephesians 2:10)….This book is about the issues highly sensitive people wrestle with and the inner structures you need to build to live a joy-filled life as a burden bearer, before the ‘gift’ kills you!
Once The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity was in reader’s hands, the loudest question was, ‘Now what? Where do I go from here?’ This volume attempts to answer that question.
As Brown came to understand her God-given gift, she soon became a lighthouse for others who were struggling with the same gift. Numerous personal experiences dot the landscape of her prose. Added to that are the experiences of others she’s come to know as a pastor’s wife, mom and educator. Without exposing them, she shares their hurts and healing, so the reader can relate.
Drawing on data from brain research, spiritual and emotional healing, and Biblical truths, the author carefully covers in-depth what a person needs to know to enjoy the way God made him or her. In her relaxed writing style she unfolds unexpected revelations and wonders. It is an enjoyable read—like when you stroll around a corner and you are pleasantly surprised by what you see or hear or smell.
Brown shows how we can, indeed, learn the language of the spirit when we embark into the disciplines of bearing burdens rightly. As we each become more deeply acquainted with ourselves, we will more readily know when our Lord has laid on us someone else’s load that would overwhelm that person. When we come alongside in such a way, we can choose to go to the cross or wear that burden as our own. Four ways are suggested in the book of how we can tell if we have unwittingly chosen the second method. The author goes on to explain that a close walk with our Lord requires a sound approach to hearing God and knowing how He speaks to each of us uniquely. Numerous ways that our hearing can be blocked are discussed; and how we can pray to bring about the lack of restriction Jesus waits to give. Thorny issues of trust and boundaries are also tackled: “You need people who truly know you and can give you feedback when you are not acting like yourself….Once you create boundaries that reflect your values, you can develop gracious and appropriate ways to hold or defend them.”
Brown explains that about 20% of the general population has high sensitivity—a quality that uniquely prepares them for the work of “bearing one another’s burdens” as we are called to do so in Galatians 6:2. Hence, “burden bearers” are gifted to intercede in a particularly important way for others.
Brown takes readers by the hand, sympathetically and carefully, and walks them through the process—defining the gift, experiencing healing and redemption, and eventually joy being careful not to rush or overwhelm. In summary, they are encouraged to “be who we are,” related to being who the Lord made each one to be.
If you are looking for information about sensitivity—why you or someone you know acts (or reacts) the way they do, plus what to do about it—then this is an especially important read. If you seem at times to be filled with emotions and you don’t know where they are coming from, or if you know someone like that (crying easily or angry for no discernible reason, for example), this book will be an eye-opener. Are you counseling or praying with people? Are you a student of people—wondering why they act the way they do? Are you wondering why you act the way you do? Whether you are a professional or lay person, this book can give help and answers. Get a cup of tea or coffee, put your feet up and immerse yourself in this revelatory book about how God made you uniquely you.