Ever find yourself saying, “I’m just numb right now,” or “All I feel like doing is checking out.”
It’s become one of the most common symptoms facing people today; recognizing they have a numb or “checked out” heart. It causes feelings of disconnection and emotional shut down.
Those in this kind of situation may know something is off, but struggle to know how to break their heart free.
Jesus prophesied that the love of many would grow cold (Matthew 24:12). In order for this to happen, the heart needs to shut down, get numb and disconnect. But before any shut downs take place, we need to become aware of pain in the heart that has not been addressed in a healthy manner.
If you find yourself manifesting a numb or checked out heart, there is hope for you. But it’s going to take some intentional steps to move towards freedom.
The Heart’s Response to Pain
When you have a numb or a shut down heart, what you’re really seeing is patterned response to pain. You get to a point where life has been so difficult, you’ve been stretched in your emotional capacity and you don’t know what to do. Your pain threshold seems to be maximized.
Look around. Everyone’s going through some type of discouragement, trial or deep struggle. Traumas and dramas seem to surround us. In working full time with people in the trenches of life, it’s clear to me that what they face behind the scenes can be intense.
A common response to very painful events in life is to shut down. Sometimes that can be a human response to a tragic event that you are protecting yourself from. Sometimes you can operate in forms of denial for the moment, to simply get through the event. But at some point soon, you have to face the pain of what happened and begin the healing process.
Many people suppress issues of the heart. We long to move towards comfort and away from pain as much as possible. but over time, running from pain can lead you to become numb . . . not only to pain, but to everything in life. You may find that you are just not as present with your spouse, your kids or friends around you. Things in life don’t move you as much anymore.
Recognizing the Pattern
For many of our ancestors, they endured excruciating life events, with little cultural guides to move them into spiritual and emotional health. Because of this, many of them turned the heart breaker off. They shut down to pain and cut off connection to unbearable memories they encountered.
It may have seemed like a good response at the time, but in the long term, it became deadly.
If you find yourself falling into this pattern, don’t be condemned. I get it. When pain gets to an excruciating threshold and you don’t see lots of options, it can be easy to shut down. The overwhelm factor can really mess with you.
You also need to know that your adversary and his army spend a lot of time seeking to wear you out. In the book of Daniel, it’s called persecution, a word that speaks of wearing someone out. Your enemy’s goal is to simply wear you out, taking every heart breaking situation you face and keep you from healing and building resilience.
When you hit a tipping point emotionally, it’s actually a key moment to invite God in, heal and stretch your growth to new levels. but most of the time we “tap out” and believe the thought that says, “I cannot take this anymore.”
Physical fitness experts often say that when you feel like your body cannot take an exercise anymore, it’s often the moment to press through one step further, to discover muscle strength you may never have experiences before.
This can often be true in the spiritual. But we often come into agreement with, “Enough is enough. I can’t deal with this anymore.” So we turn off the breaker. We shut it down.
The problem is that when you turn off the breaker in your heart and shut down, you shut everything down. You cannot chose what you are numb to. You eventually become numb to everything. When you hit the breaker and turn off to pain, you will also find you cannot connect to joy, laughter and overall enjoyment.
Not Being Equipped
I meet very few people who know how to deal with pain effectively.
How about you. Do you know how to nurture yourself, encourage yourself and talk to yourself in a way that allows healing to flow? Do you know how to welcome the life of God into your heart so that you can gain refreshment?
Most of the time, we check out to Netflix, eat something, have a drink or mindlessly thumb through a Facebook feed. Many people just get super busy so they don’t have to think anymore.
We know there is a better way, but we often lack the references and tools to walk it out. So here are a couple things to understand when it comes to healing a numb, checked out, disconnected, or shut down kind of heart.
1. Gain a Sense of Urgency
If you were having chest pain or some kind of unusual heart palpitations, anyone would advise you to get immediately medical attention. But when we have spiritual and emotional issues of the heart, it can be so easy for people to ignore it or simply do nothing to heal.
But if you have any chance of restoring life to your heart, you need to develop a sense of urgency to what is at stake. Without taking action, you will end up falling deeper into spiritual and emotional numbness. This will hinder your potential and impact all the relationships around you.
Taking Back Sobriety
So you need to have a sense of urgency, enough that it leads you to become sober about the condition of your heart. I like this word sober, because it speaks of being awake, alert, and aware of what’s going on in your life. When people numb out, they lose their sobriety. You can certainly do this by over-consuming alcohol, but I watch people lose their sobriety and numb out in many other ways.
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.
When you numb out, you lose your sobriety and come into agreement with self-hatred. Loving yourself gives room for feeling pain, grieving and healing. Self-hatred teaches you to numb out, keeping you in a stew of darkness with no freedom. It imprisons your heart from engaging those you truly love with a free heart.
Getting a healthy urgency is experienced best when you do it as an act of love towards yourself. God’s love says, “You can face this with Me. My love in you will carry you through this and grow you throughout the journey.”
2. Make an Important Decision
The second step is to make a critical decision to “turn the heart breaker back on.” This is not to be done lightly, as it is a decision of the heart. But when you are ready, it can be a powerful moment to awaken you to life.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be a firm decision. Simply come before God and say,
Father, I come before You and realize that my heart is numb, shut down and checked out. I don’t want this in my life anymore. I no longer want to live this way. I realize that pain has taken a toll on me, leading me to shut down. I no longer want to engage that response anymore. I choose to live as an overcomer. I want to come alive again. I want my life back. I want to feel and embrace my life again.
So I make the decision to turn the breaker of my heart back on. If it means I need to feel some pain, grieve, weep, it’s ok. God, You are here, with me through this whole time. You are big enough to carry me in this time and help me as I allow my heart to heal and awaken.
Today, I ask that You help me to turn the switch back on in my heart. Reconnect the breaker. I renounce turning it off and I turn back on to life. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
3. Face Pain Instead of Running from It
If you want to experience dynamic healing, you need to learn how to face your pain productively. This takes learning and often re-leaning, because of our conditioning to run from pain all the time. Yet it is through the pain that we can press into life changing experiences with God and with others.
So you will need to face pain with a renewed perspective, rather than running from it. Stop denying it. Quit pushing it away. Face it allow God to become real like never before.
Pain will follow us until we deal with it, so its a lie to think we can run and avoid it all our lives.
So I encourage you to find moments where you can safely navigate through pain. You may need a trusted person to process with, but you will also need to learn to develop your own dialogue with God.
You may need to cry the tears you’ve never cried. That weeping may last for a season, but the Bible teaches us that joy is available on the other side.
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
The goal of healing is to bring your heart back to life. But in order to do that, you need to allow yourself to feel things you never faced. You were made to feel an experience a whole spectrum of emotions. That’s part of life. Facing pain allows you to feel what you have been avoiding, but also opens you up to newfound life.
4. Make an Exchange with God
God’s healing process comes down to an exchange. Isaiah 61 talks about this.
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)
So here’s the important question: how is God going to give you beauty if you don’t give Him the ashes? The exchange is ready. You just need to make a decision.
Many ask me, “But Mark, how do I give God the ashes and pain of my heart?”
The first step is making the intentional decision to give God your pain. I often have to say it verbally, “Father, I give you this pain of my heart. I give you this hurt. I give you this ache. I invite you into my brokenness and give you all the pain. In exchange, I receive your healing. I say yes to what You say about me. I invite Your comfort, Your truth and love.”
In the process, you may need to forgive someone. You may also find that you really need to forgive yourself.
Have some honest dialogue with God. Learn to worship. Pour your heart out, verbalize it. Grieve. Journal your thoughts. But don’t skip over this.
Whatever it takes, find avenues where you can process through the pain of your life with God and begin to see some transformation happen. That is the mission and assignment that Jesus came to bring. It’s the heart of the Father to heal your heart, continually heal your hearts, and lead you into a healing lifestyle.