What would be the purpose of healing if we didn’t first experience pain?
Like the shift in perspective between seeing the glass as half-full or half-empty, faithfulness is a drastic shift in perspective from faithlessness.
Pain is arguably the most universal source of faithlessness. We blame God for our pain and then deny the existence of one because we refuse to accept the idea of a God who allows suffering. Many people attempt to obscure their response to pain with the facade of apathetic immunity. Some are convinced they have overcome pain with a numbness of heart, but they live in disillusionment; their attitude towards pain weakens their ability to handle the rest of their life adequately, and consequently, they have not overcome pain, but have been submersed in its misery while trying not to blink an eye or shed a tear.
When I notice the stoic personality of someone near me, I feel for them. I understand their expression of pain, as well as their apathetic countenance—the numbness of heart may seem like the appropriate response when it appears to give us strength, but in actuality, numbness is only the mirage of strength. What really lies beyond its scintillation is the schism between bitterness and acceptance.
Similar to the pain-covered stoicism is the numbness associated with faithlessness. There are an innumerable amount of people who live life giving off the impression that they are capable of taking on anything alone. The catch, however, is that they’re not one-hundred percent involved in the role they’re portraying. They are tenacious in that they choose to endure, but they leave their truest feelings, and their humanity, at the front door: They enter inside, walking on pins and needles with clenched fists and gritted teeth, just to walk back out and scream into a pillow. This is the immunity of stoicism of the faithless—those who say they don’t believe in anything, but are so disappointed that there seems to be nothing noteworthy to believe in that they feel defeated. This is how I was when I was an atheist, and this is the same malady I see so many others suffering through as they deny faith in Christ, all because they automatically and inaccurately associate the message of Jesus with the piousness of so many strict and misguided churchgoers who preach that rules and rituals (which inhere to religion) are essential to faith, while minimizing—or leaving out entirely—the importance of receiving and accepting the love of God in our heart (as in the walk of faith with Jesus).
Like me, there are many others who have survived, although barely, by believing the numbness of heart is a strength. Personally, I have come a long way since living in that mindset. I would heavily argue its weakness in the way numbness completely contradicts our humanity. Basically, humans are designed to feel. Like the way we are designed to have desires (i.e. food, relationship, purpose, etc.), we are also designed to feel, and when we choose to pretend that we don’t have feelings, that doesn’t turn them off—we just live in denial—which contradicts the reality that our feelings are being compartmentalized in a place where they aren’t managed properly, where we don’t learn from them or with them, and where their negligence undermines our innate desire to live passionately; the very opposite of a numbness of heart.
I write this so that you can know, if you’ve ever been in a situation in your life where you’ve believed the compartmentalization of emotions on the back-burner of your mind is a helpful choice, it isn’t. Not only that, but the numbness we drown our emotions with also turns us against faith because the home of our emotions is our heart, where faith and hope also reside. When we lock the door of our heart from the inside, hope and faith are trapped on the outside, and we have then locked ourselves away from embracing the full human experience—comprised of feelings, experiences, and the passion to serve the God who gave us both.
If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, you will receive no judgment from me. I would only like to send you a message of hope that feeling numb about life won’t help you find any joy. Feeling apathetic towards life will certainly damage your attitude towards pursuing the purpose of your life, and even the process and journey of discovering what your purpose is. I lived this way for many years, and it made me beg for death. Please don’t let it do the same for you! Learn from my experiences; turn away from the numbness in your heart and embrace life’s experiences in full, and, if you’re ready and willing, take a step forward to surrendering your stoicism to Jesus, asking Him to meet you where you are, and to show His face to you. Ask Him to speak to you in a way you will listen for Him. If you’re uneasy about the idea of praying, just say a simple, “Jesus, show me who you truly are,” He will not leave you without a response.
Feeling numb is not uncommon for people who have experienced heavy trauma, as their traumatic experience seems to leave them without an explanation for all the “why?” questions. When we live long enough without an explanation for our pain, our hearts become harder and more difficult to soften because the constant jabs of life causes bruising; sometimes we feel we’ve been battered to the point of no return. But I would argue that Jesus will never give us anything we cannot handle without His divine intervention. Ask Him to intervene, command it in Jesus name, and watch His power come into fruition with your reality. Believe in Him, and let Him show you His unlimited, accessible power through faith.
My hope for you is that you will come to understand the reason why stoicism isn’t a healthy way to live, and that you will choose to walk away from that path, entering the path where Jesus is standing and waiting, instead. His love for you is unending, and I imagine you would rather feel your heart overflowing with the unconditional love of God, rather than a numbness of heart, which often times feels like we’re laying on our deathbed, watching out the window of life into a still image of nothingness—weary of the rhythm of our heart stopping, promising us our life is over. Numbness of heart is a waste of existence, and we all have so much to offer. You are conscious (you are reading this post, after all), and most importantly, you are loved. Loved by Jesus.
We all experience pain, but the reason for pain is not to dwell in it, but to learn from it. Sometimes what seems like such a complex concept is really the most rudimentary life lesson: How can there be any healing if there is nothing broken? We are all broken, in one way or another. We all need healing, whether we admit to it or not. The solid truth behind pain—and the excruciating conversation about the purpose of suffering in our world—is that there would be no such need for healing, or for God—if their was no pain, and if there was no sin to cause so much pain. This life is a test to see if we will rely on the love, joy, hope, and strength of God above our own, if we will be willing enough to admit one actually exists in the first place. In Him, and only in Him, can we find healing for our pain. Would we not rather find healing in a loving God, than to live life feeling numbed by the world’s inability to fix what only God can?
May these words reach you and inspire you to feel again! Don’t spend another waking moment feeling dead inside, but instead, wake up and remember you are loved beyond words. Don’t just take it from me, though—talk to Jesus, Himself! It would be beneficial if you did not pray to Him as if believing He’s trillions of miles away on a throne. No—He’s right there beside you, listening ever so intently to every word you say. He cares so much to know how He can help you to feel closer to Him. Stoicism builds chains to trap your heart in numbness, but feeling His love fills in the space between numbness and self-doubt, exposing the mirage of strength for what it truly is; a mirage—and fulfilling our deepest desire to feel accounted for; to feel like we matter and are seen.
Jesus never takes His eyes off of us, we are precious in His sight. Remember that, and move forward with your day. You are loved, and your are precious. May you feel these truths in your heart! In Jesus name.