About the Author

Amber C Haines, author of Wild in the Hollow, has 4 sons, a guitar-playing husband, theRunaMuck, and rare friends. She loves the funky, the narrative, and the dirty South. She finds community among the broken and wants to know your story. Amber is curator with her husband Seth Haines of Mother...

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  1. Oh Amber!
    I really needed to hear this today! I too struggle with being tenderhearted. We have severe floods in my country at present and I see the flood waters and weep. I go to the supermarket, and the pain in someone’s eyes HURTS. And so I lift my eyes to our Lord and pray for them. I think I am understanding better these days that this is how the Lord made me, and that I can distinguish between a healthy, holy grieving for this world and and unhealthy projection of my emotions, or taking their emotions onto myself. But I still find others, even those who know me well, find that hard to see sometimes – that just because I am weeping over the pain in someone’s life, doesn’t mean that I am spiritually ‘on the rocks’ but rather that I am hidden in the Rock, expressing the heart and insight He gives me. Do you struggle with this? How do us mercy folk try to explain? Or shouldn’t we? Should we just take it to the Lord and not worry about what our much loved brothers and sisters think of our tears?

    • Zoe, I make myself so uncomfortable when I get emotional that I’ve rarely given myself the opportunity to explain.

      People have made fun of me, but that just helps me to giggle, and giggles are good.

      I’m glad I’m not alone in this.

  2. Amber, What a beautiful, insightful post. I loved especially this:

    “I confuse a depressive nature with the nature of the Spirit to bear the burdens of others with honor . . .”

    That is real food for thought. Also, rich is the idea that we fight against the parts of us we don’t like, oftentimes without remembering that God is the parent saying, “I like that, especially, about you.”

    • Laura, sometimes I think the enemy tries to tell us that the beautiful things aren’t beautiful. Like getting gray hair – can’t getting older be beautiful?

      The trouble I can get in, though, is letting my emotions rule over me. The truth still needs to be able to stand as the truth.

  3. As a task-oriented oldest child who wears responsibility and the forever need to be strong for others, I want to say how thankful I am that God made women like you! You bear a burden of the heart, for sure, but your ability to recognize the hurt in others gently reminds those of us without that gift of the work God wants to do in our own hearts and helps focus us on places where our strength can be used to bless others.

    • Strangely, Jamie, I’m the oldest task-oriented one as well.

      I do have to work to not overly empathize so much that I get off course.

      Thanks for encouraging me here.

  4. “He never said, follow me, and you won’t feel a thing.” i love this. make sme feel better about weeping over people. i cry in wal-mart often.

    • Kendal! Today is my day to go to Walmart – every Friday, and low and behold I cried.

      It was only a little cry, though. An older mom and dad were walking slowly down an isle with their daughter with Downs. They were all three laughing so hard together about how much ranch dressing the daughter eats. Once I got past them, I couldn’t help it. I cried because they made me happy.

      Sheesh.

  5. Excellent post! I, too, am an emotional person. Can’t see or hear of things without crying.

    God said for us to bear one another’s burdens.

  6. Wow, thank you for this today. I’ve actually asked God to take it away. It’s embarrassing! When my husband asks why I have tears in my eyes I say “I don’t know, it’s a sickness”, but I won’t say it anymore! I know that God gave me a tender heart for a reason. Thank again!!!

    • I totally understand saying that, Julie! Oh well, I do joke about it. Sometimes things do need to be a little more light-hearted. It’s when everything feels heavy that need to examine things.

  7. And this “I want to let it be that way, let my love be tender like His, our fragility like glass centered in calm Creator hands.” hurts our hearts to feel His heart, His hurt for His people. And I don’t want to run from that, the fraility that could rupture and embarrass me when the tears won’t stop. In the past, I avoided this, at all cost. Until I came back and was made new again. I’m still learning it.

    • I’m still learning, too, Tammy. Sometimes I do want to run, would rather choose numb. Pregnancy has actually helped me embrace it a little more. I seriously can’t help it right now!

  8. Oh wow. I needed this today. (and might have to save it and come back to it time and time again.) I have cursed my personality so many times it’s not funny…too sensitive, too emotional, I care too much…my heart is missions but it nearly breaks in half while I’m serving. I wonder why so often…how can I be a friend and help carry their burdens when it is tearing me up inside? Yet…I know Jesus did. Anyway, I could ramble on and on…thank you for sharing. It probably goes without saying that this post made me cry. 🙂

    • Ha! That’s funny, Candace.

      It is embarrassing when you’re crying for someone that you know is feeling more pain than you are.

      Often I’m feeling a weight for someone that needs me to come along side. I feel things deep, and I pray. I’ve seen so much fruit from it and felt such intimacy with Christ. I wouldn’t trade that part of it for anything.

  9. I read this last night, just before I went to bed. I wondered if it made me cry because I was so tired. But I’m reading again this morning and feel that lump in my throat once again.

    Your words are beautiful. Your heart is beautiful. You are a beautiful soul.

  10. I think that Jesus wept easily too. It is a precious gift to see others with His eyes and feel with His heart. Your tender spirit is a gift Amber.

  11. I rather feel deeply and painfully so than not to feel anything at all. Numbness is plain frightening, seems deathly, even, but this sweet tender heart you’re speaking about? That shows life and beautifully so.

    xo

  12. i’m grateful for hearts like yours like feel enough to share, and drag my often self-armoring heart back to the reality of the world outside my head and home.

    beautifully said.

    • Thank you, Abbyleigh : ) Sometimes I really am overly emotional and have to have people like you to tell me to toughen up or remind me that being emotional doesn’t have to mean that I fall completely apart.

      It needs to be all in love – and all in balance as well!

  13. Oh funny, I just wrote about being a “weeper” this week! I have the same “illness” but it just is a part of me. And it gets worse as you get older. 🙂

    I often think about something my pastor once said: “If we could hear the prayers of the brokenhearted in God’s ears, it would be like listening to the grass growing.” Your post made me think about that again. How good is He to keep listening and not cover His ears?!

  14. God loves tender hearts. And I love that yours is tender, mine is tender and so many here, too. There’s a reason, and I can’t say I speak for God, but I think a tender heart is a reflection of God’s heart, in us.

    So when we cry, when we feel pain or empathy, I think that’s God showing us what He feels for them, and us.

  15. my breath caught on “that’s how I like you.” – the tears started forming on “The skin, the heart is tender, and there the impression of Christ bears down.” thank you for this – thank you for reminding me there is a reason for my tears.

  16. Empathy is Jesus. To feel deeply and broadly, the heart of another, is a gift – and a little bit of a curse – but is always a blessing – and always Jesus. Today the cold stings my face – and these words “squint my eyes”. Thank you.

  17. Hi Amber. .
    Over Christmas I was shopping at a local shopping center and I listened to the hard rock “holiday” music and I looked at people spending money they didn’t have on “stuff” no one needed. .. . and moments passed where my eyes would meet these strangers and I could see they were so lost. .lives empty. . .and I thought about Christmas. . what we’ve allowed it to become. . well, I just walked around outside and cried. Bought nothing. Felt everything. I am like you. Thanks for this post. It is so real. You are not alone. I pray God “likes” me this way too. . . . Lots of love to you!

    • Tank y, Danelle. This one is hard for me. Seeing emptiness is an especially hard one for me because I lived there myself for too long. Lots of love to you, too.

  18. Beautiful. I can relate to you, as one who has been labeled “over-emotional” and cries when I see any hurt or injustice, and wonders if it ME being over emotional or me sharing in their suffering….

    Thank you for this.

  19. Thanks for this beautiful post. It’s funny how we get embarrased about our tears…no one else is crying, so why am I? Good sermons, beautiful songs, someone else crying or telling me their problem…even a peta advertisement, let alone those sponser a child commercials will get the waterworks going.

  20. This makes me think of what I realized the other day –

    The more I love, the more it hurts.

    But if it was worth it to Jesus, I’ll try too.

  21. I’ve often felt the same, and put it down to my being an emotional wreck…. that was until I was chatting with my small group leader after a particularly emotional ministry trip to an old peoples home. She told me to recognise the gift of compassion that God had given me, and that my tears were simply as if God was pouring out his love for those people who were suffering, through me. This revelation changed my life! The situations that God has placed me in have been surreal, but an amazing blessing. When we turn the gift back to the giver, he can use something as small and maybe insignificant as our tears to bless others.

  22. I wasn’t a cry(er) until I made the decision to live a life of complete surrender. Now, I see my Savior in everything, and everyone. I weep because that is the only expression I can muster. His love is intense.

  23. My friend and I were just having a conversation about this today. I think that empathy is a gift from the Holy Spirit and something to be treasured. Although ti wears on us sometimes, it is always better to feel too much than nothing at all. A sensitive spirit is a gift from God–even if it’s hard to have at times.

  24. Oh my you have know idea how much this has touched me. I have felt the same way for as long as I can remember. I can’t help the way I feel for others, a stranger, a friend or a loved one. So often I am told I am “too empathatic”, but I know no other way. I am so happy to be able to relate. I also love to write, usually poems, lots of letters to loved ones gone, some really crazy thoughts all jumbled into paper…but also a book of our past. I lived a very traumatic childhood and with the help of my mother, I am slowly writing. It will take me longer than I thought to write, and I am not sure why I am doing it…other than a pull to do so.
    Just to know that I am not alone…thank you

  25. Wow – thankful I found this today. I am like this – and just realized my son is too. At first – I let myself believe it was a fault, but through my son (and this post), I’m learning it can be a gift.

  26. Amber, I enjoyed reading your article but what I find most difficult about being so emotional is when I want to pray outloud in a group and I can not make it through the prayer because my emotions takeover. Do you have any tips for how to deal with this? Once or twice is Ok but I get frustrated when I do this on a regular basis with the same group of ladies. I pray for strength to make it through because I do want to share and lift up others.

  27. I like your post. I was googling how God can use someone who is emotional or tenderhearted. I cry with others in their joy and sadness even though I may not know them. I was picked on badly for this growing up and my family still laugh at me. It got to the point I wanted to avoid movies that would make me cry. I wanted to avoid being in church cause I cry. I am back in church even though I cry but I want to know how God can use someone who is so emotional. I try to pray with others or talk about God I get emotional and I dont know how I can spread Gods word or encouraging others if I cant speak or pray because of emotions. My family and I do devotions and prayer most nights and its so hard for me to keep it together. Today on way to church I saw a house on fire. I teared up all the way to church. My son prayed for them all the way to church because I couldnt compose myself to do it. Tonight while doing devotions and prayers with my kids they had to wait for me to compose myself during my prayer because I was thanking God for using my daughter to Praise him about the cool weather to Glorify him while the rest of us were grumbling about the weather. Anyway thanks for the post.