One of the most common problems is that many of us search for an escape from pain through different coping methods. We’ve chosen to numb what we feel, and have not learned the right way to deal with our pain. In this message, we learn three steps that can help us to stop numbing and start healing during this defining decade.
Let's go! It is good to be back speaking at The Porch with all of you. You guys are my favorite. I'm so excited to be here. I want to give a quick shout-out to our friends, our live locations tuning in live. We have Porch Houston, Porch Sweetwater, Porch Missouri City, and Porch Cedar Rapids, and of course, a big hello to my friends in the room tonight here in Dallas, Texas.
Hey, if we haven't met, my name is JD, and I am so excited. We're going to get right in, because I have 30 minutes. I got in trouble last time for going too long, so we're going to stick to 30 minutes. Here we go. Sophomore year of high school, there I am. My little brother, who you need to know is a lot bigger than me…
A lot of things happened, and the point is a very brother-on-brother situation happened where I had the remote, he wanted the remote, and he came over to me with his manly self. At this point, I'm like this tall. He walks over and says, "Give me the remote." I'm like, "No." He was like, "Give me the remote," and he starts to do that thing where you start to bend back someone's finger. I'm like, "Nuh-uh!" He's like, "Let go of the remote."
I look at him and say, "You are not going to get this remote. You're going to have to break my finger. If you want this remote, you're going to have to break my finger." He looks down at me right in the eye and just snaps my finger. I pull away, and I'm like, "Oh! Take your stupid remote!" I throw it, and I walk into my room and look down. I could not believe it. My finger is facing this way. He literally broke my finger.
I walk in, and I'm like, "Oh my god!" He's like, "Oh!" We're like, "Oh!" I run in to my mom, and we're like, "Oh!" She's like, "Oh!" She's like, "Get in the car! Get in the car!" My brother is like, "Can I come?" and she's like, "No, you've done enough!" We get in the car, and we get to the hospital, and I'm thinking I'm going to walk out of there with one of these guys. Anyone ever had those finger splint things? Because of the nature of the break, I had a cast to my elbow.
Imagine walking to high school the next day, and all of your friends are like, "What did you do? How did you break your arm?" and I'm like, "My little brother literally broke my finger with his man hands." That's what I had to tell people. It was embarrassing, humiliating. I had to walk around with a big ol' cast for six weeks. Six weeks came, and the doctor said, "Now you have to do the hard part. That was the easy part. Now you have to do physical therapy."
If anyone has had physical therapy… No one likes it, especially when it's your little finger. "One and two and one and…" It's just not fun, and it's painful. So what did I do? I was a drummer. I liked volleyball. I was very active. I wanted to get back in the game as soon as I could, so I would just pop the pain meds, deal with a little bit of temporary pain, get back in the game. I never really actually did physical therapy.
Because of that, my finger can't function how it's supposed to. I literally cannot bend it in. There is too much cartilage built up because I did not do physical therapy. This is how it's supposed to be. This is how it is. My finger will never, ever be able to fully function the way it was intended to because I was not willing to put in the work for a season, although painful. I wasn't willing to do it. I just ignored it. I didn't address it, and now my finger won't bend.
I start there because, in a lot of the same ways, you and I know we're broken. We know we're messed up. We know there are things that have happened in our lives that require maybe a spiritual therapy, that require us to step into a season of maybe short, temporary pain, because let's be real: it's hard to address really broken things. Instead of using our decade of decisions to decide to actually deal with these things, we turn to numbing and coping mechanisms.
That's what I want to talk about tonight. I want to talk about how you need to make sure this next decade is defined by you taking the time to experience spiritual therapy, now not later, because that is what your young adult years should build upon: you taking the time to get healthy, to get healed, and to get free. So many of us waste our young adult years, and we turn to things to numb the pain and to cope with things, to get through a season, and we limp the rest of our lives because we never dealt with our pain.
So I'm going to talk about God's plan tonight, because so many of us are walking around dealing with things like depression, fear and anxiety, insecurity, guilt and shame, disappointment, loneliness. All of these things make us so broken and leave us with so many questions, because the world we live in is broken. Can we just be real for a moment and acknowledge that we live in a very messed-up time? The world is crazy. I don't even need to know anything about politics to know the world is crazy. You can see it everywhere.
What I have come to realize, though, is that because being a young adult… No one really gives you a manual. Like, college needs to work on teaching you actual things that are applicable to life. Can I get an amen? You get the piece of paper and get chunked into society. The world is savage, and you just get chunked out there with no manual. They just expect you to know how to do things…how to pay for taxes, how to get your debt covered, and how to fend for yourself. It's a lonely, lonely place.
Because of that, we search to find any kind of escape through avenues like numbing and coping mechanisms. That's what we're talking about tonight. Tonight, I want to talk about how we can stop numbing and start healing, that we can use our roaring 20s, that we can use this decade, as we are deciding to do so many things, to make the time to put in the necessary work, although painful for a short season, to actually heal so we can function how God always intended for you and me to function.
He did not intend for us to walk around with a limp and live life partial. He meant for life to be full. God has something to say about how we're meant to live and how we're meant to heal. So, just a quick preview. Tonight, we're talking about three steps to stop numbing and start healing. I want you to remember these. I made them really easy for the note-takers in the room. Three A's: admit, allow, address.
What you don't want to happen is you don't want to keep turning to coping, because one day you're going to wake up and realize it's too late. You're now that weird 40-year-old man at the bar by himself, reminiscing on the glory days with guys who don't care. You don't want to be that mom who is wearing inappropriate clothes, and you're like, "Oh, please, cover that up," because she's trying to get some attraction from younger guys. You don't want to be that person. Those people became those people because they never dealt with their pain in their young adult years. You don't want that to be your story. God has a better story for us. So let's talk about it.
1 . Admit that you're numbing. It's not really rocket science. A lot of us have not been able to find a way to stop numbing because we haven't even admitted to ourselves, "Hey, I think I'm numbing." I don't want to assume everyone here knows what I mean when I say numbing or coping, so here are some examples really quickly. You might be numbing or coping if you can't wait to get home from work to drink that glass of wine every single day. Your credit cards are maxed out, and somehow, you're still managing to buy that drink every single weekend.
You work out again and again and again, and you're so anal about everything you eat because you think, "Man, if I just looked like so-and-so." Just a quick list of other things. You might be buying things you know you don't need. You might be actually going through cutting. I know you can get to such a place that you're like, "I just want to feel something," so you resort to self-harm. I don't mean for this to be light. I don't mean for this to be just a quick thing on a list. This is serious stuff we're talking about. There's a way out of these things.
You might be numbing with pornography, popping Xanax or Adderall constantly, hitting a quick blunt every morning, eating disorders, Instagram, getting drunk and living for the weekend, having sex, zoning out literally. If your life has zero silence in it, if you can't stand being alone so every time you're alone at a red light, at a stop sign even, you're just checking your phone or you're playing video games for hours, anything to allow you to zone out, that is numbing. That is coping, because you're not wanting to face reality.
So, some of you, to be able to admit you're numbing, first have to come to grips with understanding what numbing is, and then if you do anything in this wheelhouse, anything you look to as an escape to avoid reality, you're numbing. Others of you are like, "Yeah, I know this stuff isn't good for me. I know this stuff isn't what I'm supposed to be doing, especially if I call myself a Christian. I know these things aren't right, but my pride will not let me admit that I'm numbing or coping."
Here's why: you don't want to admit you're numbing because you know that actually means you will have to admit something is wrong. No one numbs for the sake of numbing. If you don't want to admit that you're numbing, like, "Yeah, I know these things aren't good for me, but I'm not going to admit it. I'm good. I'm just having fun" or "This is just what you do when you're young…" If you're so afraid to admit it, it's because you're so afraid to admit that you're weak and that you have a need.
We would rather, as a generation, laugh about these things. Literally. I was just looking up all of the things about numbing and coping, and what triggered in my mind was these really popular memes people made around this topic. This first one: "Therapist: 'And what do we say when we feel like this?' Me: 'More espresso, less depresso.' Therapist: 'No.'"
Next one: "What's your unhealthiest coping mechanism? Listening to depressing songs when I'm depressed to increase my depression." Anyone been there before? You're like, "I don't know why I'm listening to this. I don't know why I'm doing it. I know I shouldn't." It's like we just do it. The next one: "Therapist: 'And what do we do when we feel like this?' Me: 'Download Tinder to feel validated by strangers.' Therapist: 'No.' This explains a lot."
This isn't new information to most of us. We know it so well. We know we do these things. We are so aware of it we literally make memes about it. We literally are like, "Yep! This is me. I know coping mechanisms. I'm the guy. That's just me." I would say to you, although we can laugh and joke, how long? How long are we going to laugh at the fact that there are people in our generation, there are people our age who are coping because they are searching?
Wisdom would say you can laugh and you can reject and you can dismiss the idea that you're numbing and you can be prideful all you want, but it will only lead you to more hurt. Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty [or arrogant] spirit before a fall." Pride comes before the fall. Literally, if you keep this up, it'll only last you for so long.
If you're someone who's going, "That's not me, man. You don't know me. You don't know why I do the things I do. You just need to chill out," I would say: check yourself. It looks like you're going down a path that leads to destruction. It's only going to end up badly for you. The thing about being a Christ follower, about being a son and daughter, that's so cool that I've come to realize…
I used to be this guy who didn't want to admit I was dealing with things. When I started to read the Bible, I started to see that Paul actually tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God says, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore [we can] boast all the more gladly [in our] weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon [us] ."
Here's what Paul is saying there. Your weakness needs to be on full display, because when you're weak, that's when the world gets to see just how strong he is. The best thing you can do is quit trying to put up this image that "I'm all good. I'm not numbing. I just like to have fun. It's just the things I do." No. I'm weak. I have a problem, and I need Jesus.
For some of us, the most courageous thing we can do… Listen. The most courageous practical next step you can take is to go and be alone as soon as you can or look yourself in a mirror or get in your car and put your hands on the steering wheel and say to yourself things you have suppressed and denied for so long that you know are there.
Some of you might need to say things like, "I don't like myself. I really struggle with self-loathing, and I don't like what I see when I look in the mirror." Some of you need to say, "I blame God that I'm still single." Some of you should say, "I think my dad will genuinely never be proud of me and give me that 'attaboy' like I've craved for my whole life until I'm really successful."
Or maybe it's, "I don't actually know where I'm going when I die. If I were to get in a car wreck on the way home, there's something that keeps playing in the back of my mind that I don't know what's next; therefore, I escape, because I don't want to think about that. That scares me." So, step one is to admit that you're numbing, because that is the first step to admit that there is a deeper problem going on, that you're weak.
When you start to do this, I don't want you to think, "Oh, I admitted it. It's out there. Things are going to get easier." I would actually argue now it gets harder for a little bit. It's actually going to get tougher when you start to admit these things, because these are feelings and thoughts and lies you've suppressed for so long, and when you begin to speak them and say them, you start to have all of these feelings and emotions, especially for you men who aren't used to expressing feelings and emotions.
I would say I'm a very hyper-emotional guy, more than most, but when you do it, it starts to come out of you, rush out of you, and you start to feel things you never felt before, and you start to go, "Wait. This is really hard. I don't know what to do with all this," and you begin to go, "What do I do? I'm freaking out! I'm freaking out!" which then leads to the perfect setup for step two.
2 . Allow others in. God never intended for us to do this life alone. He never wanted you to deal with these things in isolation. He saw from the very beginning that it was not good for man to be alone, so what did he do? He gave him woman. God made us in his image. He is three in one. He literally exists in togetherness. You and I crave and desire to be known and to be with other people. So stop trying to carry these things alone.
Stop trying to do life alone. It's so much better when you do life together with people. Here's why. You're searching for healing. You're searching to get away from these problems you're running from. You're searching for true freedom. Here's what I've come to find in the past eight months: healing requires revealing. Why? I'll tell you why. Literally, God says so. James 5:16: "Confess your sins to one another…" Why? "…so that you may be healed."
We're all looking for prescriptions and medications and drugs and alcohol, girls, relationships, marriage, kids, success, so many things to provide healing and freedom from all of the things we're running from. He's saying right here, "Confess your sins to one another…" Why? "…so that you may be healed." Allowing others in when these things you've admitted are surfacing allows you to share that burden, and God has built up people to carry it with you.
Proverbs 18:1 says, "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment." Proverbs 28:13 says, "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." If Scripture is constantly pointing us to allowing other people in, why do we forsake it? Why are we so quick to withdraw and be like, "No, I've got this. I've got this. Look. I've got this. I'm fine. Everyone see on Instagram? Look at me. I'm fine."
We do all of these things to make the world convinced that we're fine, and we know we're not. Why is that? Maybe it's because we're embarrassed. Maybe it's because we think, "I'm too much. This is too much." Like, "Man, I'm too far into this friendship, and if I randomly start to let out all of these feelings and my past, they're going to run. I don't want to be alone." Maybe you think, "Man, if I tell them, it'll change everything they think about me."
I would just tell you from personal experience: that's not true. What you want to look for is people that when you start to tell them your stuff, they will actually lean in, not run away, not pull back, and here's what they're going to be able to help you to do. They're going to be able to help you separate truth from lies.
They're going to be able to help you decide next steps and plans for actions, and not only help you decide it but keep you accountable to it. They're going to be able to put healthy parameters and boundaries in your life to say, "Hey, I don't think that's a good idea. Hey, I don't think that relationship is best for you. I don't think you drinking this much is God's best for you." Ultimately, they're going to just be able to love you.
That is the best feeling: looking someone in the eye, getting down to level, and saying, "Hey, here's everything, everything I've done. The worst thing about me that I have concealed for so long, here it is," and they look at you right back in the eye and lean in and say, "Thank you. I love you." There's no better feeling than that. I think, ultimately, it's what we crave, because that is what the Father does for us. So that's the benefit of allowing others in.
When I got to Watermark back in July, it was the first time I really experienced something like this. I had kind of thought, "Okay, just confess your sins to one another. So, one person knows my stuff. I'm good." I actually started to see what it looked like to walk in freedom and walk in the light in this place. I was shook.
I was getting here, and leaders were getting up on this stage. Women were getting on this stage, looking at this room full of people, saying, "I struggle with masturbation." I was like, "Did she just…? In front of…" Then guys would get up and be like, "Yeah, I'm on staff here, and I struggle with same-sex attraction." I'm like, "Oh my gosh! He just put that out there for everyone to hear. How could he do that?"
I started to wrestle and go, "Why can't I walk like that?" I started to go, "Okay. I think maybe I can do this, because look. All they have around them is love. Fully known, fully loved." I started to confess and say things in front of groups of people. I started to confess a past of sexual sin and addiction that I have kept covered up for so long, and I've experienced freedom and what it looks like to walk in the light. It's the best decision I've ever made.
So, whatever you're concealing, you will never find healing until you start revealing. So just start revealing it. Start allowing others in. The last thing I'll say is a lot of us do not want to admit there's a problem, we don't want to allow others in because we know what that means for us. We know that means they're going to actually lean in more and more, and they're going to make us do step three.
3 . Address the roots. Some of you maybe have heard this language before, and you're already like, "Uh-oh." This is not fun. This is the source of all of the problems. This is why we cope. This is why we numb. This is why we run to different things. This is why you run away and try to get that moment of escape: because you are so afraid to address the roots.
Here's what I mean by addressing roots. I mean really making yourself surface and think and deal with the things that have deeply wounded you, the things that have really hurt you or the thing you have never told someone or that you're most ashamed of or you're most hurt by. You're going to have to actually think about those things, and that is not fun.
Let's be real. It hurts to think about the things that hurt you. Can we all agree? It hurts. No one wants to sit there and think about the time they were cheated on. "You want me to what? You want me to think about that?" It's like, "Yeah, I do." No one wants to think about the things that hurt them, but it's what you have to do. If you want to experience healing now, if you want to stop running to numbing and coping, you have to address the roots.
So what do I mean by that? What do I mean by "addressing the roots"? Here are some examples of what I mean, what it really looks like, practically, to address where you're numbing and how it's because you're trying to escape because you don't want to address roots.
Some of you, after you eat, go into the bathroom and make yourself throw up. You've convinced yourself here's why: "I just want to be skinnier, and I just want to be more attractive, and this is how I do it. It's just a quick way to be skinnier." No. That's not why. You do it because that is the one time in your life that you have total control of what's going on in your world, and that's all rooted in your parents' divorce in junior high that you had no control over.
You've experienced such instability all of your life that has produced so much pain that now you're a control freak, and you choose to throw up because it's when you actually have control. Throwing up is not your problem; you've made it your solution. Your problem is that you need to address that your parents' divorce deeply hurt you and that you felt rejected and not thought of, and it created something in you that is now producing something you never wanted to do.
For some of you, you're the weekend warrior. You live for the weekends. You're the life of the party. You go out and get high. You get blackout. You hook up. You're on your game. You've told yourself, "That's just what we do. That's just who I am. It's just fun. YOLO." That's not why. You do it because you moved to Dallas pursuing to climb the corporate ladder, and you thought in the end it would result in you being validated and having some kind of significance to your life.
You have to know the reason you do it is because you're miserable Monday to Thursday, if you're honest, so your weekend is the time where you shine and where you escape from how pathetic you feel Monday through Thursday. Alcohol is not your problem. Partying is not your problem; you've made it your solution. Your problem is that you are searching for significance in a job and in a position and climbing a ladder that has no end.
Pornography, something we talk about a lot here. So many of us struggle with pornography. Some of you can't even remember when it began. It's everywhere. It's such an epidemic, and it is ruining… It's a plague across this world. We tell ourselves, "Everyone does it. It's casual, man. It's not hurting anyone. It's just me. It's just a quick fix. It just feels good, dude." No. That's not why.
You do it because you're insecure about maybe your body or the fact that no one has ever asked you on a date or because every time you ask someone on a date you get rejected or whatever it may be that produces that insecurity in you. In that moment, you have control, you have pleasure, and on top of that, you feel more masculine or, if you're a woman, you feel more desirable. That's why you look at it.
Pornography is not your problem; you've made it your solution. Your problem is that you are searching for satisfaction, you are searching to be validated by something that will never satisfy. You're looking for it in all of the wrong places. Right now, some of you are like, "Oh, that stings." I know, for me, there are still deeply rooted things going on in my life that hurt that I need to address, but if you want to actually experience the healing and freedom Christ offers, you have to start with addressing the roots.
The way you do that, the way you get healthy, the way you can address roots is to know truth. When you know truth, you're able to identify lies. You're able to identify things that aren't actually happening. You're able to go, "Hey, these aren't actually my problems; these are my problems, because I know truth." Jesus literally said in John 8:32, "…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." You're looking for freedom? Know truth.
We're walking around with a bunch of people right now who don't know truth. They don't open up their Bibles, so they're believing lies. They're being fed what culture says. "This will satisfy. This will bring you what you want. You want a way out? You want to escape? We have it for you. Take it. Take social media. Perform for other people. Drink alcohol. Have sex. Watch pornography. Take it." And we take it, because we don't know truth.
If you actually opened up the Bible and believed what it said, you would know there is nothing but death in those things, but there's nothing but life in Jesus. In a world with so many false narratives, so many things, so many mixed messages, we need to be a generation that opens up our Bibles and knows and studies truth. When you know truth and when you read it, here's what you're going to know: the truth is, above anything else, God is in the business of restoration. He is looking to restore you.
He wants to restore these things that are deeply rooted in you. When you begin to open up your Bible and read the story, here's what you're going to read. You're going to read the greatest story of all time, that a Father God saw the need of his children, saw the brokenness that was coming into your world, and he sent his one and only Son to earth to bear your sin, bear your shame, bear your anxiety, bear the things that happened to you that you couldn't control. He bore it.
He bore all the darkness, all of the lies. He bore it, and he died. He was the perfect sacrifice for me and for you. Not only did he die, but they buried him, but they could not keep him there, because three days later, he rose victoriously from the tomb, conquering sin, conquering shame, conquering your mess, the thing you are running to numbing and coping and all of these things for. He actually died so you could stop running to those things and start running to Jesus, start running to him.
We, as people, are spending our young adult years, the most formative years of our lives… You are spending your years running to something that has nothing for you, even though you know truth. I'm telling you truth. You can run to Jesus, because when he died and rose again, it was paid in full. Here's what Isaiah 53:5 says: "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."
In summary, here's what I want you guys to know: because of the blood of Jesus, because of the sacrifice he paid for us, you are able to go home tonight and first admit that you are weak and you have a problem. You're able to admit that because Christ in his sacrifice for you allows you to be weak. He goes, "I know you're weak. I know you're broken." Father says, "That's why I sent my Son."
You're able to then allow others in, because God said, "Hey, I am so good, I love you so much that I never wanted you to do this alone. You have me, and then I'm giving you my people." Then you're also able to, lastly, address the roots, the things you've believed for so long, the things that have wounded you for so long. You are able to actually experience… Some of you don't believe this still, no matter how much I tell you, but let me tell you.
You are able to experience actual healing and freedom in fullness. You don't have to walk around, like my finger, partially healed. You don't have to walk around with a limp all your life, wounded and addicted and enslaved. I'm so tired of people saying they are image bearers of Christ yet walking around limping and weak. He did not die for that. He died so you could be strong and victorious. He bore physical wounds so your spiritual wounds could be forever healed. By his stripes we are healed.
Do you want to find freedom? Do you want to make the decision to stop numbing, stop coping? Stop running to the things of this world. Start running to the Father. I don't care how many times you have to run. Keep running and keep running and keep running, because his arms are open for you. He's sitting here saying, "Hey, you're searching, and I've already done everything. It's not about what you do; it's about what I have already done. I have borne the stripes so that you may be healed, so that you may be free." So may we walk out of here tonight not enslaved people but free people. Let's pray.
Father, I know the things I have done, and I know where my heart is prone to wander and not want to address what's really going on. I don't really want to admit that I am so broken and so lonely apart from you. So I come here with my friends just saying, "We need you, Jesus." We need you, Holy Spirit, to come and change our hearts and to remind our minds that in you, in you alone is freedom.
When the course of this world is throwing things at us, saying, "Here, taste this, taste this," and we just go again and again and remain thirsty and searching, may we remember tonight… May tonight be the night that we decide, "I am going all in with the sufficiency and the satisfaction that is in the fullness of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and I'm never going back. I am taking a drink of the living water, and I am never going to thirst again, in Jesus' name."
If there are people here tonight who don't even know what it looks like to have a relationship with you, I pray they would first allow themselves to come to you, confess, and receive all that you have for them, but for the rest of us who know you but don't live like it all the time, we come here tonight, saying, "We need you and we want you, and we're going to keep running to you." No longer running to the things of this world but running to you. It's in your name I pray, amen.