God made you insensitive when He made you sensitive!
For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? – 1 Corinthians 4:7
Everything we have we receive. From our spiritual gifts to physical attributes, there is nothing that is not given. It also includes the fact that we are not equally sensitive to the same things. Meaning, you might be more sensitive to light or cold, while others are less sensitive. Yet we are neither superior or inferior… just different. The important thing to recognize is this diversity is God ordained. So celebrate both yourselves and others, since when God made you sensitive He also withheld sensitivity.
While not all insensitivity is of God, we were made to be different. Plenty of insensitivity comes from our selfishness and generally dull hearts, which God is in the process of redeeming. Yet there is a purpose in God to, in a way, make us less responsive to one thing and more to another. This is a God ordained insensitivity! It can sometimes appear like a lack of caring, when it simply means God has increased our ‘caring’ elsewhere.
Consider for a second how sensitivity can limit us. I once had a haircut from an extremely sensitive person. She gingerly touched my head and moved my hair so gently I could hardly feel it. Later when washing my hair, she could not be persuaded into applying more force. She later told me she was so sensitive to touch on her head, she could barely make contact with mine. Digging her nails into my scalp was out of the question, making the ‘scrub’ very unsatisfying. Her sensitivity dictated everything.
Conversely, my wife does not have this problem. She seems to be impervious to pain at times. A message regularly underscored when I step into a shower after her. The scalding heat, unbearable to me, is a comfort to her. Unfortunately, it means I can never give her a satisfactory back scratch. My sensitivity, though not on the level of the hairdresser, will not permit me to do the violence her itchy back demands. My sensitivity, like yours, can create appropriate empathy, but it can also be a limitation.
Borders and Barriers
Sensitivities help streamline our focus. They allow us to understand someone’s pain, but also create an invisible line we find difficult to cross. In some cases, that line can be a restriction which can keep us from helping someone in need. Consider some of the things required of surgeons.
The work of a surgeon cannot be done by most people, for the simple fact that we would cringe to the point of paralysis. Most of us are simply too squeamish. Imagine my hairdresser trying to set a dislocated shoulder.
For the most part, this kind of work requires a unique insensitivity. Sensitivity to someone’s comfort level is a barrier as well as a gift. Surgeries, especially reconstructive, are intrusive and violent, to the point where sensitive people are unable to perform them. Yet that same empathy in a nurse, whose role might be to assuage pain, is golden. We need both!
The truth is that doctor is not any more insensitive than a nurse. However they are sensitive in a way that focuses on a different point in time. The surgeon has an ability to focus further down the road. For them it is a matter of exchanging more pain now for less pain later. The exchange makes sense giving the courage to cause some pain now, to avoid much more in the future. The surgeon is not insensitive, he or she is simply sensitive to your future comfort.
The same thing can be said for some of the typical difference between mothers and fathers. When I polled an audience about this most indicated their mothers were their destination for comfort. Why? Because generally speaking moms emote empathy. The nurturing softness of mom made them the right candidate. Fathers are more likely to give you insight on how to avoid hurting yourself next time.
At the same time fathers are generally more suited to applying discipline to growing children in a way that makes a mother cringe. Is it because fathers do not care? No, but because God has made them more sensitive to future outcomes. They can be harsher in the short term to help you avoid suffering in the long term. This is probably the reason children with fathers are statistically more likely to succeed in life.
The point of saying this is because, while there is much ungodly insensitivity, there is also a godly insensitivity. God gives us insensitivity as much as sensitivity. He designs us purposely with various magnitudes of each in order to move us toward our respective destinies. So the next time you are inclined to accuse your father, friend or teacher of not caring, consider that their insensitivity might just be the gift you need. Hold whatever sensitivity you have as a gift given to serve others and not the evidence you are superior.