Sensitivity is good. Callousness is not. The Book of Mormon is very clear on that point:
- After sharing a spiritual dream with his children, Lehi “did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent” to keep the commandments of God (1 Nephi 8:37).
- At the end of his life, Lehi spoke to his family “according to the feelings of his heart and the Spirit of the Lord which was in him” (2 Nephi 4:12).
- Jacob tells us that God is pleased with the “tender and chaste and delicate” feelings of many of the women and children in his audience (Jacob 2:7).
Twice in the Book of Mormon, people are described as being “past feeling:”
- Laman and Lemuel were unchanged by a visit from an angel. Nephi tells them that they could not “feel his words” because they were “past feeling” (1 Nephi 17:45).
- Mormon wrote to his son Moroni about some of the horrific acts of brutality committed by his people against the enemy. He wrote that “they are without principle, and past feeling” (Moroni 9:20).
A person without feelings is unable to empathize, and is therefore more likely to harm other people. A person without feelings may find it hard to connect with God, because God speaks to our hearts and our minds by His Spirit (D&C 8:2).
How does a person become unable to feel? I think it is a gradual process. Building up a resistance to more and more extreme sensations can desensitize us to the more subtle and quiet feelings of our hearts. After the sign of the Savior’s birth, the people were convinced of the truth of the gospel—briefly. But only a few years later, “the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds” (3 Nephi 2:1).
The remedy is to eliminate the noise, find a quiet place, and focus on becoming more attuned to the quiet feelings of our hearts. Jesus began His ministry by going into the wilderness “to be with God” (Matthew 4:1, footnote a). After John the Baptist was killed, Jesus “departed…by ship into a desert place apart,” and “he went up into a mountain apart to pray” (Matthew 14:13, 23).
We may also need to repent. The guilt associated with unacknowledged sins can crush our tender and delicate feelings and harden our hearts.
Today, I will strive to be sensitive to my feelings. I will remove barriers to awareness and will open my heart to feelings of empathy for others and to feelings of love for God. I will remember that my actions can make me more sensitive or less sensitive. I will choose to become more sensitive, so that I can more fully love others and love God.