I wanted to be numb. It hurt so bad that I couldn’t process. I just wanted to shut it off and be numb.
When the dentist told me that my child had four tiny cavities where teeth touch, I felt like a bad parent. Of course, my five-year-old didn’t really comprehend what cavities were or how they were fixed. He was perfectly happy to see his brother dropped off at daycare and spend the day with me. After the procedure, he was visibly loopy. I had promised Waffle House, but he clearly wasn’t up for that — and I wasn’t ready for a bitten cheek or tongue. He demanded food, insisting he was NOT sleepy and was dozing by the time we made the short drive to the store. Hours later, he asked me why his mouth was sore – completely unaware of what all he’d undergone.
Numb. No Feeling. Ignorant of the pain.
. . . . .
I remember sitting on my kitchen floor, tears pouring, and texting one of my closest friends “I just want to be numb.” The weight of the emotion was too heavy. I wanted to magically feel nothing instead of the pain – not forever, just until it stopped hurting. I was viscerally aware of why trauma can be a precursor to substance abuse and addiction. Numb sounded better than feeling.
Being numb is actually dangerous. Pain is the signal to your brain that something is wrong. My child could have hurt himself by biting his cheek or tongue while he had no feeling, but that’s not too serious.
There is a rare physical condition that can come from a handful of medical problems where the person feels no pain. Those who have this condition often experience serious health issues or death in childhood because injuries and illnesses go unnoticed with no pain to warn of their existence. Small treatable problems become unstoppable when left untreated.
Fact: We need pain.
Fact: Pain protects us. It propels us away from things that hurt us.
But when you want to be numb, facts seem so small compared to our feelings. We don’t need facts — or do we?
Shouting at God
Job is a familiar name to even non-Christians – one of God’s faithful servants who lost seemingly everything. Then his friends pile on and gave less than helpful advice. Nevertheless, he refuses to curse God.
But when I think of Job, I think of a man who questioned, and a God who answered.
Job’s pain was immense. He asks bluntly why he didn’t die at birth – for at least then he’d be at peace. (Job 3:11-13). None of my broken hearts have ever driven me here. But Job was there. Job didn’t just want to be numb, he wanted to be dead.
He didn’t hide from it. He asked why some had very little grief while he was weighed down with the load. (Job 3: 20) He was as raw on the outside as he was on the inside.
. . . . .
God won’t break under the weight of your pain or your questions. Tell Him about your pain. Ask your questions.
But know that God responds to emotions with facts. Facts give context. Feelings cloud our vision. Facts clear it. Feelings drive us from the path. Truth reorients the wanderer.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?Job 38:4-5
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
Then the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
God sees Job’s emotion and meets him head-on. He doesn’t minimize Job’s pain. Instead, He points to the truth. This might seem less than compassionate — especially as facts in the hands of humans quickly turn to weapons when wielded without compassion. But God isn’t attacking Job; He’s reminding him. The truths aren’t “Life is hard. Get over it.” His truth is, “I am in control, and I know what I’m doing.
I remember being wheeled into an operating room to deliver my first child without a soul that I knew, terrified, but trusting the skill of the doctors. If I can trust humans I don’t know with my child and my life, I can trust God – all-knowing, ever-present, and powerful beyond limit.
God is God. He made the world and everything in it. Don’t gloss over that. He created EVERYTHING. He made you – planning every detail.
And you can trust Him. You can trust the Creator with His creation.
I never got to be numb. The pain was intense – debilitating at moments. For someone who’d never really experienced anxiety, I felt broken.
But I held onto truth. Truths I read from scripture. Truths shared from the pulpit and commentaries. Truth pushed into my heart by trusted friends. Each truth pointed me to God. They weren’t magic. They didn’t take the pain away. Truth pointed me to God – all-knowing, ever-present, and powerful beyond limit.
When you want to be numb, what you need is truth.
Truth is better than numb.