One of the after effects of having a c-section that I wasn’t prepared for was the numbness that has lasted weeks after surgery. I’ve read that some women actually never regain feeling in parts abdomen post-c-section because of nerve damage. It’s a strange sensation to know that you literally can’t feel pain or any sensation, but this is not a purely physical phenomenon.
Anesthesia is administered to a patient in order to allow a medical procedure to occur in which the pain would prove too intense for the person to experience. The anesthesia administered during the medical procedure and then slowly wears off, so that the patient can pay attention to his or her body’s need to recover and take it slow. The idea behind anesthesia is not to leave the patient in a continual state of numbness, but rather to offer a temporary way to deal with pain.
I think to some extent, we all experience this numbing sensation emotionally when we read about another mass shooting or when we read about how many mass shootings we have had to date in comparison to the number of days that have passed this year (so far in 2015, we’ve had 274 days and 294 mass shootings). There is just no way that our minds or our hearts can comprehend the pain and hurt of the news of so many deaths and so much pain.
What I fear is that as we approach this Advent season, we will be tempted to ward off the pain and reality of the tragedies we hear about with the messages of hope, joy, love, and peace numbing ourselves to the pain of living in a broken world, a world in need of this very message. It is tempting to take these messages as a way to alleviate our pain, rather than offering this gospel message to a hurting world. In order to make this transition, we have to fight off numbness. We have to feel hurt. We have to feel pain. We have to feel broken for the people who are broken by senseless death. We have to hurt with those who are hurting. We have to think of others before we think of ourselves.
We have to believe Advent is about the Christ child coming to change the world rather than Advent being about our comfort and our peace. Only when we fight off the temptation to numb ourselves and pretend that the world is full of joy all the time can the transformative message of the Advent season really come alive.