As you peel back the layers of numbing behaviors, you might notice new feelings that surface—vulnerable feelings that may be uncomfortable or unpleasant. There’s a reason we numb.
Don’t be alarmed. Those painful feelings are presenting themselves for healing. Look at these feelings as an opportunity to take a You-Turn and gain insight into your soul:
- Focus on these new feelings—even the ones you don’t like.
- Befriend these feelings as you would a strange new friend.
- Invite God into whatever you’re experiencing. He may not take the feeling away, but he promises to be present to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.
Here are 7 painful or vulnerable feelings that may surface as you reduce your numbing behaviors:
- shame (I’m a bad person.)
- fear (I can’t do it.)
- self-doubt (I’m not good enough.)
- a sense of being unseen, unappreciated, or overlooked (I don’t matter.)
And as a bonus—sometimes anger will surface. We’ll get more into that later.
Once you notice these feelings, you might be tempted to pick back up that numbing behavior. A bag of chips can certainly drown out the sorrow—for a moment.
But remember the words of the wise King Solomon (or as quoted by Kevin Bacon in Footloose, for my fellow 80’s friends): there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Eccl. 3:4).
There’s a time to feel your sadness. . .your loneliness. . .your fear.
If you numb these feelings, you’re depriving yourself of deep nourishment your soul needs. And you’re missing out on important insights about your longings and your vulnerabilities. A wise mentor once told me, “Lean into the pain.” As you lean into the pain that surfaces, you’ll discover new life on the other side.
So try to stay with it. Be gentle with yourself.
Over these next few weeks, I’ll walk you through some strategies for caring for and unburdening these painful, vulnerable emotions. They may feel like enemies, but they can become your most prized treasures— channels of empathy and world-changing grace.
Suffer what you have to suffer; don’t suffer what you don’t have to suffer.
As you connect to these vulnerable parts of you with compassion and invite God to be with you in them, you create more spaciousness in your soul. When God joins you in your pain, he “won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.” (Matt. 11:28–30 msg). God knows how to be with you. Deep breaths start to flow more easily. That candy. . .those fries. . . that show. . . they’re cheap imitations compared to breathing in more of him.
How’s your Lenten un-numbing going? What’s 1 feeling that’s surfaced that’s surprised you?