When I was a teenager I had to get my wisdom teeth pulled. The dentist prepped me on the procedure and explained that I’d be drugged up and knocked out. “Cool,” I thought. It was my first time being anesthetized and a part of me couldn’t quite believe that it would put me to sleep like he said it would. I decided that I would use my will-power to resist the anesthetic. I would simply stay awake (easy enough, right?) and the dentist would be amazed. No anesthetic would work on my mind-over-matter-teenage-super-powers.
The joke was on me. When the dentist asked me to count backward from 100, I was fast asleep somewhere around 97. I woke up an hour later missing a few wisdom teeth and quite astonished that my will-power couldn’t stand up to the potency of the anesthetic. Anesthetics are potent.
Anesthetics exist in more places than a dental office. Daily we are offered technologies, activities or products to distract us when something in life is painful. We each have ways to numb life’s disappointments, frustrations, or sadness. Sometimes we just need a big pizza and a Netflix marathon to unwind, and often that’s ok. Our anesthetics, however, can numb us in ways we didn’t expect. What began as a stress-buster can, over time, turn into something more. A few grade five students at Prairie Waters School recently made a presentation to their fellow students about the pitfalls of video game addictions. These students found that in some cases, video games are used in unhealthy ways. They can be a numbing anesthetic that many kids turn to and that could interfere with relationships and harm their physical and emotional health.
But here’s something surprising: the opposite of anesthetic is aesthetic, or beauty. Interesting, isn’t it? When life is hard or stressful we are all drawn to activities that can help numb the pain, or close our eyes to the hurt around us. But it’s opening our eyes to the beauty in our life that saves the day. Beauty can take many forms; maybe it’s a walk through the neighbourhood, a back yard BBQ with friends, or a livingroom dance party with your kids. Maybe we take a picnic down to the beach, plant a new flower bed, or plan a special date with our spouse. Finding and enjoying the beauty around you, in your family, and in your neighbourhood, may be the most wakening, and life-giving posture you can take.
What does ‘beauty’ mean to you and where do you find it in your life? Next time you want to close your eyes to the hard things in life, consider the ways that God might be opening your eyes to the beauty he’s created all around you.