There are some nights where the silence is deafening and the darkness feels eternal. There’s something about our darkest days that is like gasping for air, yet devoid of oxygen. I’ve been there many, many times in my life, especially when my anxiety disorder was crippling and consuming me. The pain can often feel as if it’s on constant repeat – a broken record. The darkness whispers fictitious rumors about a never-ending heartache.
Art is the language of the soul, which is probably why much of our music, literature, film, and social commentary revolve around the matters of pain and heartache. Whether it’s a country song, an impressionistic painting, a book about human suffering, or even the Psalms in the Scriptures, we find ourselves fixated on the matter of pain and the longing for a cure.
“Nothing in the cage of my ribcage
Got no heart to break, like it that way
Nothing in the cage of my ribcage
Emptiness is safe, keep it that way”
– Andy Black, “Ribcage”
“Emptiness is safe”…How often have I embraced a feeling of emptiness over the pain of facing my brokenness? Feeling empty is the drug for the soul that leaves us numb, reeling through our days as if we are the walking dead.
Numb. Empty. These words may give us a false feeling of “safety”, but they are ultimately words that lead to our demise.
Over the years, I have found that healing comes when we face our brokenness and pain, not when we choose to become numb to life.
Most of you know that I have wrestled with an anxiety disorder for most of my life. It’s not easy to admit to anyone, especially friends and family. I disguised it for many years as if it was just me being a very “concerned” and “responsible” human being. The truth was, I was suffering alone. Healing didn’t come when I became empty and numb. Healing began in asking for help – the right help. Healing began when I chose to hope for a better future, even when I couldn’t see it in that moment.
I’ve taken both paths in my journey. I’ve hidden in the emptiness of being numb to the pain. I’ve also faced my pain, choosing to hope and to fight for better days. This isn’t me preaching to you from a high and lofty place of perfection. I get it. I’ve been there myself. So, please trust me when I say that feeling empty and numb is NOT going to fix anything.
The truth? There is hope for a better future. You are not alone. You can face your pain and come out on the other side stronger than you could ever imagine.
If you’re hurting and you just want the pain to go away, know that it’s OK to not always feel OK. You don’t have to feel great all the time to live a meaningful life. Choose to seek healing, choose to embrace hope, and choose to fight for your life.