Nancy, a professional cellist, actually started out with violin when she was a girl. The violin teacher told Nancy’s parents, “She’s so intense. Why don’t you try her on a cello?”
I can be too intense, too “me,” too I-don’t-know-what. Just too much—like a cello in the hands of a violinist.
In my intensity, zeal, and even joy, I forget sensitivity. I forget others. Instead of selfish intensity, I want sensitive intensity. Life as one in the Body of Christ means I cannot, should not, be “all me.” I must be me with others in mind…yet somehow remain who I am.
It’s tricky, finding the right voice when I’m so intense. I think the trick is in two parts. I need to be:
- selfless in intense suffering, and
- sensitive in intense joy.
Selfless in Intense Suffering
While I try to untangle fears, while I weep in throat-tightening sorrow, while I linger in the trough of the wave, I still need to think of others. To be selfless.
I’d say it’s impossible, but David somehow pulled it off:
So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him. (1 Samuel 22:1-2)
David in Distress, Captain of the Downcast! In his own turmoil, he did not forget that others, too, were in distress, in debt, discontent. He was even able to lead and encourage them. Though David himself was in deep trouble, others were drawn to him—four hundred men!
When I suffer, I want and expect my friends to come to the rescue, to console, to minister to me, me, me. Selfish!
David’s tears did not blind him to others. In suffering, I can still be an encourager.
Father, help me to respond well to intense suffering—with selflessness and awareness of others.
Sensitive in Intense Joy
I’m trying to figure out how to be as intense as I am, yet not to the point of harming others. (Yes, I’ve done it before.) A good thing that becomes too strong, too intense, can be a burden or can damage. Several examples come to mind:
- A comforting campfire out of control wipes out the forest.
- A dash of salt is tasty, but a handful burns.
- A quick-fun tickle draws glee, but a pinned-down, prolonged tickle is disguised torture.
- A good cup of coffee, when too strong—um, strong coffee is…er… (Okay, so coffee’s a bad example.)
But I don’t want my joy to turn into someone else’s burden. Just as it’s easy to be so sad that I forget others, I can also be so joyful that my eyes, seeing only my own blessings, are blind to others whose cup does not (for the moment) overflow. I think of this:
A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse!
(Proverbs 27:14 NLT)
An intensely joyful “morning person” celebrates the DAWN, yes, SIR! Let me share my explosive joy in this glorious 5:00 Saturday morning hour, woo-hoo!! Then, the neighbor who was up past midnight (visiting blogs) will count it a curse.
Of course, the matter could be more serious than wanting to sleep in. Others could be mourning, or in deep suffering. I rejoice with those who rejoice, but I also mourn with those who mourn.
The Proverbs 27:14 principle extends to other matters. I need sensitivity not only in intense joy, but in my charging zeal for good things—for things of God, for ministries, for the advancement of the Kingdom, for the building up of His church. For even in these things, I can be too pushy, too hasty, too impatient. Too intense. I should not lose my gentle touch on the need of the moment.
And then, there is a kind of rejoicing that can be intense in stillness:
There will be silence before Thee, and praise in Zion, O God (Psalm 65:1)
Father, let me have not the intensity that tramples, but the good zeal that remembers love.
This week Bonnie Gray encourages the community to share about the topic: Finding Your Voice. Click on the Faith Barista badge below to read more community posts on Finding Your Voice!