Yummy Numbness

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I’m not sure exactly when it happened or how. Somehow the Minnesota reserve, that diffidence born of snow and ice and too many layers of winter clothing has seeped into my body and made me more frozen, less capable of giving and receiving warmth. Maybe it was the accident. Maybe it was getting laid off. Somehow, though, it seems to go way back, back to my childhood when I idolized Mr. Spock and schooled myself in emotionless detachment.

Yet I am neither emotionless nor detached. I get angry about things that used to oppress me: credit card companies that charge exorbitant interest and then have the nerve to tack on fees for late payments or exceeding your credit limit, phone companies that cheerfully allow your children to rack up hundreds of dollars in messaging fees because all you wanted was phone service, and the kids knew better than to send texts—or so you thought. These things make me angry now, which I find in a way freeing. Because I used to feel guilty about them. I used to think I was the one being irresponsible because I paid insufficient attention to the fine print, because I didn’t check my balance every day or carefully meter my cell phone usage. But the anger is fleeting, and when it is gone, I miss feeling so alive.

My leg was injured in the auto collision in March. It still hasn’t healed. It improves but not with the speed I had expected. For weeks there was a patch of skin next to the wound that felt numb. If I touched it, I could feel the pressure of my touch in the underlying muscle, but the skin was as numb as the head of a drum. It never itched. It never hurt. It never felt at all.

I find my soul has numb places too. Near places where the wounds are recent, numbness sits side by side with injury. So I feel oddly detached from my own efforts to find a job. In the same way, my prayers feel like calls left on an answering machine, and there is a part of me that seems to prefer keeping a certain distance from God, as if he had somehow wronged me.

Yet I have not been wronged, and I have nothing to accuse God of. He seems to expect unlimited trust. The funny things is, I do trust him. I just don’t have the same expectations of that trust that my friends and family seem to have. My leg is healing, but it’s not already healed. I haven’t doubted for a moment that it will eventually be restored completely to health. Yet I haven’t been able to believe in any instantaneous or remarkably accelerated healing. I don’t know why, and I don’t much care. I’m not sure if God is offended by my lack of faith or rejoicing in my childlike trust. I’m not sure I can tell the difference.

For now, I’ll just keep on being numb until my soul grows healthy enough to feel things as it ought again. My leg is improving steadily.

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One Response to Yummy Numbness

  1. Lani says:

    Chip,
    Thank you so much for this post. You are gifted to put into words what so many people of faith experience. Or perhaps I should say only that I experience exactly what you describe.
    I love you and am united with you in prayer.
    Love,
    Lani

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