I find the following discussion on tenderness by Brennan Manning in his book Abbas Child to be challenging. Maybe I am afraid of tenderness?
As we experience the tenderness of God towards us, this tenderness, makes us feel secure and we discover that “we are thoroughly and sincerely liked by someone. . . The defense mechanisms of the imposter-sarcasm, name-dropping, self-righteousness, the need to impress others-fall away. We become open, real, vulnerable, and affectionate. We grow tender. 64
“The way of tenderness avoids blind fanaticism. Instead it seeks to see with penetrating clarity. The compassion of God in our hearts opens our eyes to the unique worth of each person.” 73
“The rhythm of relentless tenderness in the Rabbi’s heart makes loving terribly personal, terribly immediate, and terribly urgent.” 164
That last quote does not leave much wiggle room!