• Kristen Hepner

Post 3: The Dust that Settled

Unfortunately, I have this perpetual habit of twisting my ankle. They say that once you have twisted it, the ligaments loosen and it’s much easier to mess it up again. This is probably true, which is no good for me. Not only did I initially twist my left ankle, which did indeed has caused me problems for years, recently I also twisted my right ankle. You would think that I would be doing something cool like CrossFit, kickboxing, or even running, but no. Each time that I twist my ankle, I am just walking. Like casually strolling along when all the sudden I am on the ground, writhing in pain, and completely frustrated that I did it again. Each time, I gather my wits about me, get up, hobble to the car, get home and put some ice on it.


I have never been an athlete, so this procedure of putting ice on my ankle is forced upon me by my athletic husband. I hate it. It hurts. Until it doesn’t. Because eventually it becomes numb. And the numb is sorta nice. I don’t feel the pain of the sprain or the burn from the ice. Honestly, I kind of forget about it completely. The cold has frozen over any feeling that previously existed. When the ice has sat there long enough, there is no way I would be able to feel even a gentle rub, let alone the throbbing pain. And while all the science says that reducing the swelling will aid in the healing, numbing the pain is just masking the injury. Only time, rest, and maybe some stretches are the only thing that will actually heal the ligament that has been stretched out.


Numbing things seems like an easy fix for so many of us. Life is hard and difficult and leaves us with lots of strains, sprains, wounds, and scars. The temptation to numb the feelings comes at us in ways that we don’t even realize. While my younger years took me to substances to numb, my older and wiser self knew better. Once the enemy realized his tactic wasn’t working anymore, he lured me back into numbing with the alure of entertainment, business, and feelings of productivity. All these forms of numbing are acceptable in society, even in the church. However, each of these “idols” was robbing me of my joy and pulling me away from the Source of Life, Jesus.


The dust that settled over my soul in those days and months following the explosion of the box (Click here to read about "the box") was an incessant urge to numb.

“Get busy!”

“Be productive!”

“Just give yourself grace to sit down and watch this show!”


So I did. I got busy, found things to do, or just vegged out to “turn my brain off”.


And then as the dust started to settle, I saw cracks in these ways of thinking.


I was miserable…and I knew there was more.


In my reading, research, and soul searching, God began to show me many things. I read this one day; a quote from Brene Brown, “We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” Something in me knew this was true. God created us to live and feel…to be alive…and even to thrive! I think for years, I was just trying to survive. Not because my life is hard, but because life is hard.

Think about that quote for a moment and see if it makes sense to your heart…if you are able to really hear it…


Sometimes, there are truths spoken all around me that I don’t really hear…but that day, reading that book, I heard it. Numbing patterns in my life were stealing my joy! The things I was turning to were draining me dry. Just like the enemy to fool the restless places of our souls. Just like him to make life loud, busy, shiny, and alluring.


Often, I have wondered why some people could laugh so easily at everyday life because I don’t always have that ability. Others that I watch are able to love out of a place of abundance, something I have often felt too depleted to do. Some people seem to walk through the deepest valleys of despair and maintain a joy that can only be from the Father. How do they maintain this connectedness?


In John 15, Jesus talks about this connectedness using a beautiful picture of a vine and branches. “I am the vine; you are the branches, If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Yes, I want this type of dependence on the Father. Dependence comes from trust. Trust comes from going through hard times. Trust comes from going through hard times, which means feeling those hard times.


Feeling your feelings. Sad feelings, happy feelings, and everything in between is part of the human experience. Jesus lived it. Jesus felt the feelings. And He remained connected.


Part of my work in clearing the dust of numbing was to recognize the danger in numbing those hard feelings. Sitting with those feelings, and being kind to them, is much more productive in spiritual and emotional health than pretending they are not there by getting super busy or vegging out.


I believe that a real tragedy of the church today is the social accepted-ness of numbing behaviors. Clearing the dust away and feeling my feelings, sitting in silence and solitude, and learning to trust in Jesus in deeper ways has been one of the most freeing experiences of my life.


What about you? Can you relate?


Opening your eyes to see the dust of numbing patterns and behaviors is not an easy task and it takes courage. However, I believe that it is the only way to real freedom and healing.


May He become more...


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