It happened about three weeks before we left for the field. My husband and I were lying in bed chatting about the day’s events. I casually rolled over and unexpectedly felt a pop around my collarbone. For a moment I thought I had dislocated something and I was terrified to move.
My fingers moved along the ridge of my upper chest, shoulders and neck only to find a protrusion underneath my collarbone. I looked in the mirror to see a very visible lump. A very visible, unexplainable lump.
My heart pounded. My hands and fingers went numb. My mind raced.
After some coaxing from my husband I got back in bed. Stiff as a board I lay there until I simply could no longer stand it. I went into the den of my grandmother’s house where we were visiting and proceeded to search the all knowing WebMD.
My husband knows that for me anything to do with my health is a trigger for fear and anxiety. I’ve now been banned from WebMD for this reason.
A few days later I told my husband that I had to go see a doctor. The lump was still there and with time waning before our big move to West Africa I had to get a clear assessment of the matter. I was a crying, anxious, full of doubt mess as we walked into the local urgent care. X-rays, blood work and an exam later we left the building with the knowledge that it was an infected lymph node and nothing to worry about.
I breathed easier, but something more than a lymph node had come to the surface as a result of the scare.
My fears about the lump went far deeper than simply a worry about my health. That bout with fear had me doubting God’s plans and His goodness. Fear is never as simple as a casual worry. Fear digs it’s roots deep into our souls.
I know that a lot of us struggle with fear and anxiety. It can sneak up at the strangest of times and in the strangest of places. Up to this time in our journey to West Africa I had been focused on packing and enjoying my last few days of fast internet, but in an instant fear took over. I operated not out of confidence in God’s plans and purposes, but out of a fear that God had left us.
If you are struggling with fear you are not alone. Maybe you are heading to the field and there are lingering worries about health, family relationships or uncertainties about the road ahead. Perhaps you have been serving for years while silently battling the demons of anxiety. Sister, look up, there are sisters all around you white knuckled with worry for the same reasons.
We need to step into each others lives and unclench the fists of fear together.
No one is more or less spiritual as a result of this struggle. The struggle that fear brings is real and it doesn’t exclude you from loving and serving well. However, unaddressed it can debilitate you and keep you from fullest life and service.
The enemy knew right where to find me.
Fear is a spiritual struggle. Sometimes it is a very physical struggle and there is no shame in exploring if that is the case for you, but I beg you to please also look at the spiritual dimensions of anxiety and to holistically treat the roots of fear in your life.
Again and again Scripture shows us folks who fought huge fears and again and again God made it clear that His power and presence were enough to cast out all anxieties. The enemy knows our Achilles’ heel. He is never above attacking us in our weaknesses.
Some of us feel weak and defeated by fear. Fear has kept us from serving opportunities. Fear has threatened our marriages. Fear has made us believe lies about God and we have walked in those lies until we have forgotten the truth of who God is.
The way out of fear is to remember the truth about God.
Jesus said to us that His love, perfect and pure, casts out fear. He said to cast all our cares on Him. Cast your cares, sister. Cast the heaviest load you carry on the back of the Savior who carried a cross up a hill along with your sorrows and who bore your sins and says that there is nothing to fear.
Can you feel it? The fists unclenching. The heartbeat slowing. That’s the fear draining right out.
What lies have you believed that keep you fearful and anxious? How has fear held you back in your walk and work?