an issue of sensitivity

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

I heated up some leftover soup that my mom had sent home with me, giving him a deep, steaming bow of it for supper.  He leaned over it, stirring and studying.  Occasionally stopping to sniff. 

This kid was a student of food.  He had grown up watching his mom cook southern food, and one of my favorite parts of his time living under my roof when I cooked.  He would sit at my table, watching, asking questions, and offering suggestions in an overly bossy way.  I had learned to just go with what he suggested – the dish was always better when I did. 

But I hadn’t made this soup.  He stirred and watched it, stirred and smelled it.  Finally lifted out a spoonful, blew carefully on it, and tasted.  He was thoughtful, searching as he ate.  After a few bites, he started listing what spices were in it.  I had seen Mom’s recipe.  He was dead on with each thing he listed. 

I don’t have that skill.  I use a lot of spices when I cook.  My mom adds spices and then decides mostly by smell, somewhat by taste when she’d done enough.  I have no sense of smell most of the time, and unlike that kid eating soup at my table, I can’t just taste and immediately pick out each bit of nuance.  So I follow recipes, and if I’m cooking without a recipe I just dump stuff in until it tastes good to me…but still not really able to sort out which thing is slightly lacking. 

I thought about that this weekend, when I was serving on the tech team at church.  I run the computer that puts up song lyrics and videos and such.  Next to me is the sound guy.  They had to fuss A LOT with the sound this time.  I’m always in awe, watching that process.  I love music, but I can’t pick out things like pitches and tones and and keys and ringing, unless they are so far off the mark that every cat within hearing distance is probably howling in retreat.  My ear is just not that discriminating.  I’d blame it on the hearing loss I’ve inflicted upon myself from a lifetime of excessively loud music, but that’s not it.  I grew up watching my mom describe things to my dad like “the car is making a pinging noise” and I never could hear what the heck she was talking about.  Just like I don’t smell subtleties and I don’t taste subtleties, I also don’t HEAR subtleties. 

I don’t get all bent out of shape about that.  After all, I’m the friend around whom you don’t have to be self-conscious if your car smells like old farts, or you are impaired in the breath odor department, or if you can’t sing on pitch, or if your ratio of oregano to basil is not quite right in your pasta dish. 

Anyway, I think we probably each have our own specific set of more developed sensitivities…some with which we are born, and others which in which experience has instructed us.  That’s part of the beauty, I think, in how God made each of us so very unique.

As for me, I suppose some of my more finely tuned areas include:

Gentleness.  I will go to the furthest possible lengths to be gentle with you, almost always.  I don’t “accidentally” run over people.  It takes massive amounts of prodding and working myself up to any behavior with others that might qualify as less than gentle.

Sarcasm.  How’s that for an ironic follow-up to gentleness?  LOL  But I do have a deep, richly developed pool of sarcasm from which I draw regularly.  Get me and my kids in a room, or me and my sister in a room, and holy COW stand back if you don’t like sarcasm.  I generally only do this in non-abrasive ways.  Fun, not passive aggressive meanness, if that makes sense.

Grammar.  You wouldn’t know it from all my rapidly written first draft wonders that I post here, but I am an extreme grammar queen.  I can use commas like a cowboy uses a lasso. I can take your so-so essay and use the magic of grammar to rearrange the words to something more compelling or at least far clearer.  It’s like I hear it as a separate language or something. Yo.  I got mad grammar skillz, homie.  

Humor.  I can see the funny in a whole lot of situations where others can’t.  I laugh at myself easily.  I have a very developed sense of the ridiculous. 

Empathy.  When the newer Star Trek featured a character who was an “empath”…that character was my favorite. Because I thought…she’s me!  Even if I think you’re totally wrong, I can put myself in your shoes enough to get why you are persuaded you are right.  I can listen to your story and feel your pain overtake me. 

That’s the short-and-easy list of my sensitivities.  I love it that mine are different from those of the kid who could take a bit of soup and say, “thyme.”  And different from yours.  It’s pretty neat, the way He made us each strong in different areas, isn’t it?

Parting thought, on this one:  I think we get mad a lot, get offended a lot, JUDGE a lot when the only difference between me and other guy is he was born with a very different set of sensitivities.  What if we just each treasured the other for the gifts in place, and stopped trying to insist that “your gifts should work just like mine?”

What if?

What are your special sensitivities?

Are you able to imagine a world where we’re not offended by the differences with which we are created?

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