What a strange sensation when your foot falls asleep and your fingers feel your leg, but your leg doesn’t feel your fingers. It’s such a prickly, peculiar perception. Your foot is still connected, you’ve just forgotten how to use it. As you try to stomp life back into it, you’re given a bit of insight into patients with paralysis. You’re telling your leg and foot to walk, but the message seems disconnected and garbled. Why? You have unknowingly applied direct pressure to a nerve, cutting off the blood supply to that nerve, causing what doctors call “paresthesia.”

Paresthesia can provide a spiritual lesson. Just as our extremities may feel numb due to lack of blood flow to a nerve, we may feel numb due to lack of connection to the Holy Spirit.
Emotional numbness temporarily immobilizes us, much like a foot that has fallen asleep. When we’re numb sometimes simple tasks seem difficult, just like the simple task of walking seems difficult if we have no feeling in our leg.

Though we may look the same outwardly, as our foot does when it’s “sleeping,” we can feel strangely alienated. Just as our foot seems much larger than it is in reality, our problems can seem much larger. It can seem like everyone is jabbing at us. Likewise, when our foot is asleep, we can feel a jabbing sensation. Our perception can be distorted, being numb to our blessings, our family and friends. Just as we can stomp our foot when it has fallen asleep, we can stomp through our day devoid of delight.

For the type of unhappiness that is transient (much like your leg falling asleep) here are a few remedies that I’ve found useful. Rather than focusing on my own frustrations and hurts, I look around me for others who are struggling who might need help watching a kiddo, a listening ear, a compliment, a smile, a hug or a home-cooked meal.

I remember my Mom saying, “You can’t out-give God.” We find this truth in *Luke 6:38:

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back,
but not merely given back—
given back with bonus and blessing.
Giving, not getting, is the way.
Generosity begets generosity.”

I’m amazed at the ways I receive these “bonuses and blessings.” When I make a meal for someone who is hurting, I’m somehow able to accomplish everything I need to for my own family. God gives me a clarity to move forward, where I might otherwise be drawn off task and struggle. What God returns may not be tangible, but it’s no less real than the things I can’t see but know exist beyond the horizon. While numbness lasts only minutes, love is eternal (1 Corinthians 13:13). The next time your foot falls asleep might you be moved to walk in love?

What I learned from my foot falling asleep

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