I picked up drinking hot tea after visiting England for the first time. At first I only tried it to take a cute pic for the ‘gram, ya know? Then I actually liked it and would switch between coffee and hot tea in the mornings. I’m not fancy either. I take either plain pretty much most days. Some say hot tea tastes too bitter or is too strong.
Some say I’m “too” much as well. Dramatic, shy, opinionated, sarcastic, emotional, caring, cold, distant, mean, loud, rude, busy, tenderhearted, weak, impatient, wasteful, hardheaded, stubborn, dependent, independent, and a whole lot more are just a sampling of things I’ve heard over the years that come after the word “too” when they describe me. It used to bother me. Sometimes it still bothers me when that “too” + whatever word comes next is meant to slash at my little tender heart. I have been described as feisty and scrappy, but I’m going to cry about the situation whether I’m happy, mad, or upset about it. It’s my body’s response to things. I’ve tried changing it but God kept me the way He made me.
I would get made fun of for crying to situations too, especially as a kid. My parents tried to encourage me to be tough so I could avoid the taunts and bullying, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me to hide my emotions very well. You can see it all over my face and body language, but I can at least make it to a bathroom before the waterworks start most of the time.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see a problem with crying. It’s the looks everyone gives you when your response is deemed “too much” when everyone else has dry eyes. That’s the issue. I’m also one of those when you ask what is wrong, I’m going to cry harder. I’ve learned how to control it better over the years, but the fact remains is that I feel things deeply and it will be expressed in some way.
When I was teaching full-time, I had a student who responded to Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night, with tears. Many students expressed anger and sadness at Wiesel’s words depicting the horrible, indescribable acts of evil committed against him and other Jews. Her response stuck out to me the most though. She asked to go to the bathroom to compose herself, and after a few minutes I left the rest of the students in the room so I could check on her.
She came out with puffy and red eyes, wiping at her face with a tissue. We stepped into an open classroom and she told me, “It’s just so awful. He was losing his faith in God! He didn’t think God was mighty enough or cared enough to save them.” Out of all the content in the book, this is what gripped her the most, and her words gripped my heart.
She went to the bathroom to hide her heartbreak over something others were upset about but not brought to tears over. Her words, saying the writer didn’t believe God cared enough to save them, reminded me of all the times I prayed to God to make me something I was not.
Asking Him to make me into someone who could brush off emotions and not toss and turn at night. Someone who didn’t lament over another person’s loss, even if I didn’t know the person very well who had died. Someone who didn’t become emotionally invested over fictional characters in books and TV. Someone who didn’t analyze details so thoroughly to make sure no one would feel left out or hurt. Someone who wouldn’t keep every little thing in a memory box over the years, even if it was just a sticky note with the words “love you!”
And when God didn’t mold me into the version of tough I wanted, He showed me how beautiful a tender heart is for others. My student at the time grieved for a writer who was losing his faith in God. It reminded me of Brandon Heath’s song “Give Me Your Eyes.” Here is the chorus:
“Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missin’
Give Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see”
Her response gave me a glimpse into how God must grieve for us when we turn our backs on Him, and when we forget just how mighty He is and how much He DOES cares for us. I thought my “too emotional” tears were just me being weak. However, it was actually preparing me to be sympathetic for others, and to experience a snippet of what God must feel when we sin against Him, and how He feels when one of His children are hurting in any way.
I told this girl whose heart was breaking for another to keep her tender heart, never grow cold against those who God loves, and to keep praying for people to turn to God. As I told this to a very sniffly girl, I felt the Holy Spirit give me a nudge as an “I told you so.”
God answered my prayers, but it was just a no that He won’t take away my tenderness. He won’t take away those big emotions I feel and struggle to hide in expressing them. This time instead of just giving me a no, He showed me why it was so important through the words of my student. I thought I was supposed to be a role model for her, but instead, she was mine that day.
I may be “too” emotional and too much in other ways for other people, but God has a reason for those characteristics He crafted so beautifully just for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying God loves me just the way I am. Everyone in this world is a work in progress. 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” God is still molding and shaping me to walk the path He has laid out, but in order to hear Him, I have to be in His Word so I can be taught and corrected when I fail. I’m a sinful human being and there are things I have done, do and will do that He does not and will not love. When God’s creation makes a choice to turn away from Him and His Word, that’s sin. It’s disobeying our Heavenly Father.
It’s the personality characteristics and physical attributes I was born with are the gifts from Him. That’s what He loves and created for a reason.
My student’s beautiful expression of emotion also reminded me of Jeremiah, the one whose nickname is “the weeping prophet.” Jeremiah’s words from God are recorded in the Bible under the book Jeremiah and the book Lamentations. Jeremiah says “Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations‘” (Jeremiah 1:4-5 ESV).
God chose Jeremiah, a man who would feel things deeply, and whose heart would break witnessing others turn their backs on God over and over. God chose Jeremiah even though some may have said he was “too weepy.” He chose Jeremiah before Jeremiah was in his mother’s womb. God knew Jeremiah’s characteristics before this world would. He knew Jeremiah was going to be the man for the job to preach to His people.
God knew me before someone said I was too dramatic, too emotional, too wild, too shy, too stressed, too loud, too quiet, too moody, and just plain too much. Thank you Jesus I am too much! He knew how I would feel and what I would feel and when I would feel it. God knew every little thing about me and every single thing I would do in my life, and yet He still chose me.
Knowing this doesn’t encourage me to stay exactly the way I am though. It encourages me to dig deeper into God’s Word, the lamp to my feet and the light to my path, so I may grow closer and use what I have been given in a righteous manner, and not let those emotions get the best of me (Psalms 119:105). I want to walk with God so that my flesh’s desires nor this world/society can consume me.
Oh, Heavenly Father, keep breaking our hearts for what breaks yours. Keep us tenderhearted so we do not grow cold and numb to all the evil and sin in this world. Keep me in Your Spirit so this world will not crush me. Keep my heart from hardening and draw me close to Your side. Amen.