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The Tension of Numbing Out

I don’t know about you, friend, but there is a lot going on in the world right now that I would like to not have to think about so intensely. The war in Ukraine, the fighting and wading through the endless cycles of the pandemic, personal fatigue, making dinners daily, and death. It all melds together and feels so…





And the waves of things just keep coming. For example, my grandma died a few weeks ago. She was 101 years old. She had lived a full life and was ready for eternity where her body wouldn’t ache and her heart would no longer miss her husband. As I rejoice for her, I also hold the tension of my personal grief. Tensions. A desire to numb away tensions is what I am feeling these days. But this isn’t healthy.

A Question

What do we do when our emotions and our lived lives feel full of tensions? How do we hold to our theology of the goodness of God in the face of such evil in the world? This too, is a tension. Theology is always neater and clearer when our lives aren’t interacting with it. And yet, if our theology is not actively impacting and influencing our real life, we are merely on a quest for head knowledge or right answers. And this sense of disembodiment or disconnection is, well, a tension (but not a good one J)

As a spiritual director I spend a lot of time working through and with areas of tension. I see them in those I meet with, and, as I have described, I see them in my own life.

I don’t know what helps you, but I do know that numbing out is not a productive solution. More Netflix or more wine or more trips or more books are not the solution to what my body and emotions are telling me.

A Practice

As all of this was swirling around and inside of me, this week I spent some time creating space to live into and with the tensions I am feeling. I named moments that felt too heavy. I invited others to join me in my grief and exhaustion by saying things out loud to trusted people in my life. I also made space before God to feel them, and to invite the Divine to sit with me in these places. This wasn’t a long process but rather quieting down and saying prayerfully what my heart already knew to be true. Sometime journaling helps me as my fingers almost always know what is true even when I struggle to admit things with my voice.

In that space I was reminded of others who have gone before me who prayed in these moments, who cried out to God, who named their emotions, and their messy and often tension-filled lives. The Psalms are full of these voices. “But in my distress, I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayer to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)

“Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.” (10:17-18)

And then, like the Psalmist, I trusted that the Lord heard my cries. I trusted that the Lord is hearing the cries of those in war, poverty, brokenness.

“Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice.” (55:17)

“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.’ (28:13-14)

So in the midst of all of the tensions, I will wait on the Lord. I will wait with the Lord. I will wait for the Lord. And as I do, I will pray.

Lord hear my prayers.

Lord hear our prayers.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.


PS – If you need to say some words out-loud to a trusted someone, please reach out and book an appointment with me. As a Spiritual Director, we are trained to hold space for people who are wrestling with tension in any area of their lives. I am available via video or for in-person meetings this spring.

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