I want to take a few moments to share in response to a question that I get quite often. I get this a lot in sessions I do with people, in group sessions that I do, and also in teachings. It’s the issue of a numb, shut down, checked out, disconnected kind of heart. I run into this over and over again. It’s become a primary mechanism that people are falling into and they’re looking for help. It’s a major subject that we’re dealing with today. We live in a society where the Bible talked about this. Jesus said the love of many is going to grow cold. I don’t think we understood what the full effects of that could look like but we’re already seeing it.
What happens is when you have a numb or a shut down heart, what you’re really experiencing is a response to pain. We get to this point where life has been so difficult and we’re in a day and age where people are going through deep disappointment, deep discouragement, there’s trials, there’s struggles that are going on. On top of it, we have these crazy experiences that we’re going through. I call them the dramas and the traumas and I don’t mean that lightly.
There’s some heavy duty stuff that people have gone through in their life and historically, what most people have done in response to their pain is they shut down. They don’t deal with pain. I mean, my ancestors, whenever they experienced pain in their own life, they would just completely turn the switch off. It seemed like it was a good response at the time, but really, in the long-term, it was a deadly response.
What happens is when the pain seems to overwhelm and overwhelm, we get worn out, we get worn down. The Bible even talks about in the book of Daniel where the adversary, the enemy, comes to persecute the people of God. That word really means to wear them out, to wear them, to get them to a place where they’re just worn out. What happens is we hit this tipping point and sometimes we just need a way out and we’ll take the easy way out. What we do is we hit the shut off valve. We pull the breaker in our heart, we pull the breaker in the heart valve switch to the pain. We say, “Enough is enough. I can’t deal with this anymore.” The problem is whenever you turn off the breaker, you turn off pain, but you also turn off your heart to everything else. You can’t choose what you become numb to. What happens is people become so overwhelmed by the pain they shut off, they become numb, it becomes the best viable option they can think of, because we’ve not been equipped on how to deal with pain.
How many of you watching this have you been thoroughly equipped on how to deal with pain in your life? Do you know how to nurture yourself? Do you know how to encourage yourself? Do you know how to bring yourself back to life when you’re going through struggles? Do you know how to increase your self-talk to be honoring and loving and positive? No. Most of us just fall into victim mode or we fall into feeling sorry for ourselves, self-loathing, or we just numb out. You know, we check out in Netflix, we check out in Hulu, or we just thumb through our Facebook feed or we just get busy and we just go back to life.
The majority of people I worked with and I work with today have never even grieved. They’ve not grieved the death of loved ones, they’ve not grieved the loss in their life, they’ve not grieved things that they should have experienced, but didn’t experience. They’re now experiencing the repercussions of the lack of love that they’ve processed through in their own life.
One of the things that love does that we’ve not been trained in is love comes in to nurture us. Nurture is something God deposited heavily in our mothers, our fathers also carry it but the mothers carry it in a special way. The mother heart carries nurture in a way that helps us to heal and process through hard times and difficult days. Nurture is the language of everything is going to be okay. You’re going to be all right. You’re going to get through this. Nurture says it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel weak today. Instead, because of the absence of nurture in our lives, when pain comes, we get overwhelmed really easily, we don’t know what to do in the times of trial, and so our traumas kick in and then we’re just checking out. We’re just pulling the heart valve switch and going, “I can’t take it anymore.” So we shut off to pain but what we don’t realize is we’re shutting off to life, we’re shutting off to the life of God, we’re shutting off to the life of relationships. We want to shut off to the dangerous people but then we’re shut off to everything else in life.
There’s a couple simple things that I’d like to just share with you in dealing with and healing a numb, checked out, disconnected, or shut down kind of heart. First thing you got to do is you have to get a sense of urgency in this. I don’t mean in fear. There’s no sense in fear and panic attacks over this. I think we need to have a sense of sobriety. I like the word sober. The Bible uses it because it speaks of being awake, alert, aware, aware of how things affect life. When you’re sober, you’re aware of how your heart affects you, how you feel, how you’re thinking. You’re also aware of how it affects other people.
Become sober because you need to recognize when you pull that heart breaker and turn it off, you are hating on yourself, you are putting damage on yourself. We have to get a sense of urgency that says, “No, it’s time to love myself. It’s time to love myself in the way that God loves me. I can’t add to the pain in my life with a greater pain of pulling the shutoff valve.” Now, we see it as a best viable option but it’s not. We need to become sober to the fact it wasn’t a good option. It was the best thing we need to do at the time. Don’t beat yourself up, but it wasn’t the best healing, fruitful, whole solution for our life and for our journey. Realize too that when you shut down … Moms, if you shut down, you may shut off to the pain of your ex-husband or whatever, but it’s going to affect you, it’s going to affect your kids. Dads, you may be able to go back to work and be numb, but you’re going to be inaccessible. The first thing I tell people is get an urgency.
Second thing is begin praying and asking God to help you to turn the breaker back on. Just a simple prayer from your heart, the best that you’re at. “God, I turn the breaker back on. I turn the heart switch back on.” Because there’s only one. There isn’t one little breaker for pain, one little breaker for sorrow and for rejection. No, there’s one breaker. When you turn it off, joy and peace and all that get turned off as well too. Renounce. Say, “God, I just renounce that I turned off my heart and numbed it out.” You may not even know when. Sometime back. I ask to turn it back on, which leads me to the next thing. I advise people of this constantly.
If you want to see healing begin to happen, you’re going to have to begin to access pain in a new way rather than running from it. We spend so much of our life running from pain and towards comfort as quickly as possible. I hate to break it to you, I know this in my own life, you can’t run from the pain. You can’t run from it. It will follow you. Whatever pain you shove down and stuff down, it’s going to come up somewhere else. I encourage people, in a safe environment, process out. You may need to cry the tears you’ve never cried. You know, I don’t get it. We look at crying as though we’re like failures, as though we’re like weakness. Man, crying is amazing. It’s the body’s emotional detox. It gives you an opportunity to exchange with God, give him your sorrow, and allow him to give you back joy, give you back healing, give you back your peace.
Isaiah 61 talks about this. He gives you the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, the oil of joy for sorrow, that he’ll give you beauty for ashes. Well, how’s he going to give you beauty if you don’t give him the ashes? How do you give him the ashes? By making the exchange from your heart. God, I give you this pain. I invite you into this pain. It may involve forgiving someone. It may involve forgiving yourself. See, in that pain is not only going to be your healing, but it’s going to allow your heart to come alive and it’s going to allow you to help others. What good are you if you shut off your heart and someone else next to you is going through the very same thing you’re going through? What are we going to offer them? Well, hey, you shut down. I’m shutting down too. Let’s all shut down and go numb together. I mean, that’s what we’re living in today is we’re living in a generation that’s just lights are on, nobody’s home. Let’s just numb out. Let’s just find whatever way we can just alleviate the pain and then we have no life and we’re wondering why we’re so depressed and anxious and why we’re struggling to feel.
We have to stop avoiding pain and I would say it’s time to start allowing yourself to feel what you haven’t allowed yourself to feel. You know, many of you have gone through divorces, you’ve gone through loss of loved ones, you’ve gone through rejection, you’ve been in abusive relationships, you’ve gone through tragic sickness or you’ve experienced things with your children. Maybe your child’s been diagnosed with something or maybe you’ve been diagnosed with something and you’re just in a place of heartache and turmoil and you haven’t let yourself feel the pain and process through it.
I’m not talking about this lightly. You guys have been through heavy duty stuff. You’ve been through heavy duty pain. You’ve been through heavy duty heartache. I think that we need to allow ourselves to feel what we didn’t allow ourself to feel before that caused us to shut off. We’re so afraid of it. Man, dive in because God is good and he wants to meet you there and he wants to heal you. He didn’t cause it, but he doesn’t want you to run from it. He’s equipped you and wants to walk with you. In that, you’re going to learn new things about God you never learned before. The best thing you’re going to have is you’re going to have an awakened heart that comes out of it on the other side.
I remember when my son was diagnosed with autism, on the autism spectrum. My wife and I, it was the most painful experience of our lives. I mean, we went through every spectrum of painful emotions in the book. We just made a decision that we’re going to go through it, that we’re going to have some sleepless nights. We’re going to have nights where we have no idea how we’re going to get through it. We had nights where we couldn’t even see our future anymore and what it was going to look like. We decided to go through the pain and in that, God has met us. He’s given us strategy. He’s given us ways that we can help ourselves help others.
You know, when I went through my own breakdown over 12, 13 years ago and I made a decision that whatever pain I got to face, whatever I got to get healed from and it helped bring me to the place where I was free from chronic anxiety, where I was able to have tools to overcome depression, where I wasn’t suicidal anymore, I wasn’t overtaken by the crazies in my life because I moved toward the pain. What happens is when you move toward it and let God meet you in it, you develop a new response to pain. Instead of running from it, you lean in to, “What do I got to grow in?” You lean into becoming a warrior. You lean into becoming so much stronger. You may have some new reactions you need to have. Some of you guys, you may need to start having a new response to talking out your emotions. You weren’t taught that. You don’t know how to do that. You’re going to have to make room for that. You’re going to have to stop suppressing them and find time to have relationships with people where you can talk it out.
Whatever it takes, find avenues where you can process through the pain in your life so that you can also process through with God and begin to see some transformation happen because how’s God going to heal our heart if he doesn’t have access to it? That is the mission and assignment that Jesus came to bring is the heart of the Father to heal our hearts, to continually heal our hearts, and set us up for transformation.