“Well, we all know that you’re a little sensitive,” a family member said to me one day.
She may not have meant it that way, but that word stung.
Sensitive. It implies someone who’s out of control of their reactions, someone who overreacts in a childish, self-centered way. And sure, I can be that way sometimes. But God, in His kindness, has helped me see how being sensitive is a potential superpower.
I remember dragging myself through the chapters in Exodus where God instructs the Israelites to build the tabernacle. His attention to detail — from material choice, to whom could walk where, wearing what, and when, to the ding-dang measurements (by CUBIT, y’all?!) — I couldn’t stifle the yawns!
But God woke me up: You, Aarti, are also my temple. If I was this exacting about a temporary temple in the wilderness, how much more exacting was I in making you, a walking tabernacle of the Holy Spirit? And if I made rules about who could cross from threshold to threshold, perhaps you ought to use your sensitivity to consider what you’re letting walk willy-nilly across yours.
Oh, that’s a good point, God, I thought. (At which point, I imagined Him smiling and saying something like, Would you expect anything less from Me?! And then I’d smile and give Him a spirit high-five because I love when He’s sarcastic.)
Memories flooded my mind: Red flags I’d ignored in some friendships; New Age books I’d read because everyone else did, even though they made me uneasy; or that time I’d sensed something awry at my church but couldn’t put my finger on it (I’ve since learned what that was about, and yup, I was onto something).
Why do we need to be so careful about what crosses our threshold?
This line struck me as I read 2 Kings the other day. It’s listed as a reason that Israel fell from God’s grace:
And they followed false idols and became false.
2 Kings 17:15 (ESV)
Or, as one commentator puts it, “And they worshipped emptiness and became empty.”
What started off as an allowance for and then a curiosity about Canaanite worship and celebration (when King Solomon allowed his many foreign wives to bring their idols into the kingdom) turned into the Israelites building temples to those very idols and forgetting Yahweh altogether.
Similarly, I’ve invited the seemingly benign across my threshold without giving them a once-over, only to find them eventually running roughshod over me. The Real Housewives pantheon comes to mind. It started with Atlanta, then New Jersey, and soon I was watching hours every night. My obsession grew like a weed, guiding my reactions, even the way I treated my loved ones. One day, whilst fasting, I turned on an episode, and call me crazy, but I saw a cloud of malevolence hurtling toward me from the screen. It looked like a grey murmuration of tiny flies.
I decided to stop cold turkey.
Listen, we should be cautious not to be legalistic or judge-y about how others feed their minds, but we certainly do need to take an accounting of our own consumption. I still watch the Housewives on occasion but with my spirit-eyes wide open. When I allow shows, an influential friendship, makeup videos, cooking, even something like the Enneagram into my temple, I must do so in an exacting fashion because I’m fallible! I can easily become enslaved to it and put it on a pedestal, which looks an awful lot like worship, right?
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”— but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT)
Every single thing on this side of heaven has the potential to either pull us away from Christ or make us run toward Him. Paul called our bodies temples, not libraries or hospitals or laboratories. He chose a holy building, somewhere God Himself descended to dwell. Now, in Christ, we are holy ground!
So yes, I am sensitive. I’m working on seeing that being sensitive can lead to discernment, like a canary in the coal mine. The Holy Spirit helps me examine anything that steps onto my doormat, twirl it around, and look at it from every angle, capturing its potential for sanctification and distraction before that thing rubs the dust off its feet and steps inside.
Over the years, the Lord has strengthened my sensitivity to the tug of the Holy Spirit, not just to turn from emptiness but to run towards abundance and pour it out into what’s empty. Oh what a tremendous gift to fill the darkness with His light! We carry precious cargo, and we’ve been assigned a precious duty, my friends. Let’s not squander our time here by letting emptiness into our temples. Emptiness takes space, and we can be filled with emptiness. Let’s use that God-given discernment to keep our temples full of His truth, so that when the tired, weary, and lost draw near to us, we can invite them in, prepare them a feast, and introduce them to the One who is the source of every good and beautiful thing.
For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
2 Corinthians 6:16 (ESV)
Thank you so much for this. I too have struggled with seeing my sensitivity as a God-given strength. Thank you for the reminder that He made us this way for a reason and for his glory.
So beautifully written. I pray that I become even more sensitive-sensitive to the still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit and not the loud clanging gong of the world.
Terri J. says
Thank you Aarti,
What a blessing to read your post this morning! I so appreciate you honesty and clarity in matters of the heart. I haven’t always recognized my sensitiveness as a gift(more of a fault) and you have opened my eyes to what an amazing gift God has blessed me with.
Have a blessed day!
Wow, I said that audibly as I was reading this. I wish I could take this and show it to teenager and college me. But I can at least have it now as a great reminder of what and who we are as believers. Thank you for sharing this.
Ack! I found out earlier this year that I am a Highly Sensitive Person and it blew my mind. It explained SO MUCH (including – as you stated in the blog with your own experience – the times I ignored my instinct thinking “I’m just being overly sensitive. It’s not what I feel really”). It also explained why I seemed to have this spot-on, highly tuned discernment about people. And I, too, have learned to have the Holy Spirit guide me when I “pick up on stuff” about a person and pray for them rather than succumb to my go to response and be inwardly judgey. Also, I hadn’t thought of our bodies as a temple in quite the way you described. I’m going to keep that perspective in mind. Thanks!
Daughter of the King says
I would agree that being “sensitive” makes one more discerning! And also, it makes you a better artist… I like your thoughts on what we let across the threshold of our “tabernacle.” I’m taking online art classes from a teacher whose beliefs are decidedly “new age” – so I mentally change the words when she talks about self-love, or “mother nature” to truth – “God is my provider”, I am made in the image of the Creator God, I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST, etc. And if we are all made in the image of God, He’s also sensitive…it’s not a character flaw! How we react can be a weakness, but be thankful God made you sensitive!
Maura Michael says
A great post from how it is when reading the Old Testament to being perceived as sensitive. Lot to think on today.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Aarti well written. Love what you said about you being a sensitive Person. God yes can use that part you being a sensitive Person. For his glory. As I think I am sensitive. As I take words to heart and things people do to heart that are not good or nice. More so if at me. Plus I take them to heart over people. Like Afghanistan I heard on the news all the way from Enniskillen Co. Fermanagh. N. Ireland Even though it was the English news first on the TV. Before our N. Ireland news came on. That people to especially the Mother in Afghanistan to feed themselves and the rest of their older kids. Having to sell their babies and a soon as they can walk they are taken away. To live with a stranger. Then Married if girl to the person who bought them the man they say. I took this heart and went into prayer for it. As I listen to the news. That the Mother saidI can’t get upset. I saw one lovely we baby girl fast asleep that a Mother had sold for food for the next few months for her family and her. I was so sensitive about it. I said I don’t have kids. Because to scared to give birth. I said how could you give what you conceived and carried for nine months and given birth to away. It so sad. It broke my heart and still does. Just to feed you and your family for the next month’s. You have to be desperate. But I not in that situation. I am thankful never to be. What will that baby be thinking it even though when it walks and the person that bought it. It is a toddler. It will have feelings. That Child a toddler if ever gets to see it parents again. Might not like it’s Mother and want to know her again. May never understand. No matter how bad things get you have to sell me for food to feed yourself and the rest of the family. Never be able to forgive it Mother for doing that. I pray to God about. I said I can’t let it get to me. But I was so sensitive about it. I said God why why just to feed her family and herself. She had to sell her beautiful Baby. Why do people in Afghanistan let this happen. Plus people are scared for their lives and the lives of their families. I thought why can’t others from other part of the world help. To bring food into Afghanistan. So as Mother would not have to sell their babies for food. I then thanked God. It not me in that situation. But it must be so heart braking. People not saved to could say we’re is God that he lets this happen. Mother’s having to sell their babies for food. Why would I get saved. But in God’s word it say you will have poor among you. You have to not let it get to you. But pray for them. I am very sensitive about things people do to me and say. I might not tell you to your face what to said or done. Has hurt. Even if they didn’t mean it. I will go and ponder over it. As I do sensive. It will annoy me for quite a time. When my Husband says don’t let it get to you. Your too sensitive. God has said to me in the past. Don’t ponder of what was done or said to you. Pray for them forgive them for it. As the person might not be saved. They could have meant no harm in it. With not being saved if they are not saved they probably didn’t know that what they did or said hurt you. So you have to let it go. If saved they might be a bit more sensitive about their words and think before they say or do anything. So as not to hurt people. Especially if like you. God has said to me in the past. Hand them over to me in prayer and forgive them. So as it will not eat you up. Especially when you have sensitive side too you. By doing my that I not as easily offended. Then my sensitive side does not come out as quickly. As it then with God’s help does not annoy me as much. As I now go into prayer for people like that. Thank you again for sharing your heart. I loved this message. Keeping you all in prayer incourage Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Grace and Mercy 🙂 A beautiful dove
This is so powerful! Thank you, Aarti!
Well done, Aarti! I will pray for “sensitivity” and discernment in choosing what to let into my mind, my heart and my life. I want to be God-filled, not empty or filled with rubbish! You have given me food for thought.
I needed this. Too many times I have been told in a certain tone by different voices that I was too sensitive.
By the way, I too found it a battle to keep my eyes open and mind focussed through those details. Thank you for sharing that perspective, so uplifting!
Melissa Ens says
Thank you for this reminder, Aarti. About 15 years ago I wrote a similar article for my denominational magazine about “making wise choices at the all-you-can-eat entertainment buffet”! And that was even before social media was what it is today and before high speed internet brought us non stop streaming options! I need to remember and practice discernment even more now than I did then, but it’s so, so easy to forget. Thank you for this Holy Spirit reminder. May we have ears to hear.
Carol L. Gonzalez says
First of all, let me say I enjoy watching you on Guy’s Grocery Games! I dislike this time of year because I don’t like seeing the way some people decorate their properties for Halloween because I believe they may be allowing darkness into their lives-same with a daytime show that years ago did a storyline about a character possessed by the devil and whose writers have chosen to do this once again. I am not perfect in what I watch but am trying to be more cautious about what I see on the screen.
Loved this, and it is so true!
Terry Law says
Wow! This was so good and so timely! Thank you for sharing this.
Oh wow this spoke to me! I’ve been called sensitive more than I’d like or boring and after reading this I can now think differently not so much childlike but discerning! I think deep down those comments hurt because I knew it wasnt always the case…I love that! Maybe the sensitive parts of me are not so much a weakness but a strength that God is calling out in me
Jacque Weeda says
YEESSS!!!! I, too, am sensitive. And I’m not going to ever lose the way God made me! I love the canary statement. I’m also a rainbow unicorn in the world of brown horses. I am a Christian bookstore manager, and I am not like the others. I speak out, for the good of my store, my customers and my associates. I cover my office in sayings and verses to remind myself daily who I am and who I am here for. Thank you so for this incredible sharing!!!
Julie Garmon says
Nancy Lynn Ness says
Aarti, I’ve loved you since I saw you compete on the Food Network. This article really hits home for me. Thank you for sharing what you’re thinking and what God is telling you.
Gail Noe says
Very well said! Thank you! The Lord has been correcting me the same way including the food I put in His temple
Karen Knowles says
Excellent post, Aarti! I loved it!
Thank you Aarti for your article. I know that I am very sensitive too. I like being the way I am, and I would not trade ways with anyone !!! I just got word from someone a couple of days ago that they couldn’t help me; we had planned it a couple of months ago. I was disappointed yet again…but tonight I told God- thank You for protecting me from all of those who are no good for me. I know it will be okay…God is my real Provider !!! Take care.
Thank you for this reminder to use/exercise Godly Discernment in what we let enter our Gates (eyes, ears, nose, & mouth, feet, hands). There is an old, Children’s Christian Song, this fits: “Oh Be Careful”. Verse 1: Oh be careful little eyes, what you see. (repeat) For the Father up above, is looking down in love. So be careful little eyes, what you see. Verse 2: Oh be careful little ears, what you hear. (repeat) For the Father up above, is looking down in love. So be careful little ears, what you hear. Verse 3: Oh be careful little tongue, what you say (repeat). For the Father up above, is looking down in love. So be careful little tongue, what you say. Verse 4: Oh be careful little hands, what you do. (repeat) For the Father up above, is looking down in love. So be careful little hands, what you do. Verse 5: Oh be careful little feet, where you go. (repeat) For the Father up above, is looking down in love. So be careful little feet, where you go.
Ruth Mills says
I’m hanging onto the boundaries of the temple equating to the boundaries of our being as God’s holy temple for discernment for myself but also when I teach about the exactness, yes in cubits, to my 3rd & 4th grade Sunday school class next year! I love that God gave the exacting measurements for the construction & then the people obeyed! May we too be so obedient!
Bill Bowman says
Amen. Thank You for Blessing Lord.
Thank you for these words of encouragement. I’ve always wondered what was God’s purpose for the sensitivity that I experienced. You’ve helped me to see that purpose in a different light. I really appreciate your written word today.
I just watched a short YouTube video of Samuel Rodriguez speaking about who we are. He says our identity is in Christ and not as a result of anything else. It was a good follow up to what Aarti wrote. Well worth the 2-3 minutes.
Aimee Feldman says
God has really been working on me as well, with what I allow to cross my threshold. I love this analogy. Isn’t the Holy Spirit amazing? He speaks to us and makes spiritual connections about things that are seemingly boring or meaningless in the Bible. Thank you so much for sharing!
Theresa Boedeker says
We do want to be sensitive to the holy spirit and what it is telling us. When we start ignoring it, we are hardening our hearts towards God’s small voice. As another sensitive soul I have to be very careful with what I watch. Listen to. Or read.
Beth Williams says
I, too, am a very sensitive person. TV shows, commercials, & songs can make me cry. Yes I have a small bent toward thinking malevolent thoughts at times-usually when I’m tired & upset. Lately I’ve been working hard to put Christian thoughts, music. etc. into my head & heart. That way when I sense ugly thoughts popping up I can quench them by saying “No that’s not the Christian way to act”. I’ve seen a big change in my attitude. Make myself sensor what I see, hear or watch on TV. Anything I think would distract me from Jesus I say no to. Don’t want to make idols of anything but Jesus & Him alone.