For anyone who is reading this and has had surgery, you have probably been under general anesthesia. It certainly beats the alternative – feeling the pain as the scalpel cuts into your skin and moves to cut more. Then come the feelings of the area being stapled or sewn back together. And I didn’t mention the pain that lingers after the surgery. Either you have an extremely high pain tolerance, or you need general anesthesia.
What about emotional pain? While surgery has a specific type of medication that is used for general anesthesia, we use a plethora of things to anesthetize emotional pain. Alcohol, toxic relationships, pornography, and gambling are among the many things we use to dull emotional pain. In medicine, general anesthesia is a temporary thing that is used while a root cause of a medical problem is being removed. The aforementioned things to dull emotional pain don’t get close to touching the root. In fact, these things cause more problems.
I believe many of you can relate to this. Maybe you used some “general anesthesia” to deal with the pain of divorce. Maybe you used it because you were struggling with the after effects of trauma related to sexual abuse, the loss of a loved one, or the devastating loss of a career. You wanted some relief – a distraction from the emotional pain of something you couldn’t control. These things will only provide temporary relief when we avoid the painful work of addressing the root cause.
I have found in my life that there is such a thing as “Christian anesthesia”. You may ask, “Matthew, what is that?” It can be in the forms of listening to worship music to drown out the noise caused by your root problem, which could be a “root of bitterness” as described in Hebrews 12 that grew from unaddressed emotional pain. Maybe your Christian anesthesia is in the form of listening to sermons or hanging out with other Christians who will help you avoid rather than address your problem. We often use Christian noise because we are afraid of what God will reveal to us in the silence.
Please take advice from someone who has a Ph.D. in avoiding emotional pain – Talk to someone who will help you process the pain and call you out on your bad habits. Even as a victim of someone else’s sin, we can develop horrible coping strategies post-trauma.
My friend, are you anesthetizing, or are you working through your pain? If your answer is the former, I pray you see where that is going and find the strength to get the help you need. This brother in Christ is cheering you on!
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