Why I am Banned From WebMD

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?

Photo Credit: Maëlle Caborderie via Compfight

14 Comments

  1. Elisa March 4, 2014

    What great truth you’ve shared here!  Any thoughts on practical application?  I would love to know what kinds of questions we should be asking one another or how we can really root out fear.  🙂  Great topic and sadly worthy of our time 😉  So thankful we serve one that tackles fear head on and has victory! 🙂

    1. Jessica Hoover March 5, 2014

      Elisa, I’m so glad you asked about practical application. If there is one thing that I know it is that every woman I know (make that “everyone” I know) has fears. Some of us are serious fear strugglers. I am raising my hand to that. I have three things (more than that really, but I will stick with 3!) that I think we can do to apply the truths of who God is and what fear does to us in our lives.

      1) We have to come clean about fear with each other. I need other women to see the imperfect woman that is me; fear and all! I have seen it first hand that if we start getting real about fear in front of other women then others feel like they can too. It is that very real moment when you realize that you aren’t the only one that struggles in that way- even if our fears are expressed differently.

      2) I am a firm believer that fear is part of the human struggle, but it is also a sinful mindset. Simply put worry and fear are sin. Most of the time we don’t see it as that, but it is a direct rejection of the promises and provision of God. It is trusting in our own flesh over trusting in God. I have seen how my selfish desire for control in my life has caused fear. Let me say here that  I realize that anxiety is a real issue and that some people utilize the gift of medicine to deal with it’s affects. I DON’T think that is wrong nor do I think that every fear struggle is a sin struggle, but I do think that we need to be careful to make sure we deal with the roots fear in our lives and always draw near to God to heal the very real spiritual implications of fear- that is a HUGE topic that there is no way to cover in a comment!

      3) When you encounter a situation and have to make a choice, whether big or small, it is always a good measure to ask yourself if the decision you are making is based on fear. Are you making the specific choice because you are afraid of the outcome if you make another choice- even though the other choice might be the best. I can’t tell you how much I have seen my own inclination to make decisions out of fear by stopping to ask myself this question.

      Ok, I said 3, but I am adding a 4th and this is by far the most important.

      4) God knows that we are prone to fear. It is no secret to Him and in fact that is where all this trouble started- Eve was afraid God was holding out on her. He filled the Word with words to calm our fearful hearts. I have made it a practice to put Scripture that speaks to my fear struggle all around me. It has done wonders in my heart and mind.

      I am in NO way a fear fighting expert. I am a reluctant struggler on this journey, but I do believe that we can practically encourage one another if we are willing to get honest and fight back. Letting fear rule us is the easiest way to live a mediocre life- overseas or otherwise.

    2. Jessica Hoover March 5, 2014

      Oh and a 5th thing- I told you I could go on and on! Gratitude. Other than the word there is no single thing other than the practice of daily gratitude that has revolutionized my struggle with fear. If you learn to be grateful in the moment for each and every thing then suddenly the gifts of God become bigger than your pile of fear. I’ve been blown away by this practice and it is a super practical way to fight fear.

    3. Elizabeth March 5, 2014

      I’m just going to chime in here with my favorite verses to combat fear. Fear of health problems, fear of money problems, whatever the fear is, I’ve used these verses over and over again, sometimes just meditating on them, sometimes memorizing them. I consider them my life verses, I love them that much. Matthew 6:25-34 (yes the whole passage is my rock!). Also over the last two years overseas, Psalm 139:1-12 has helped hugely in the comfort that God is WITH me always. Maybe those verses don’t do anything for you, and maybe it’s not practical enough, but I thought I would at least share what helps me me 🙂

  2. Elizabeth March 5, 2014

    Me too! Anything about health really freaks me out, even though I know this about myself, and even though I’ve talked to God about it a lot. It comes out in the strangest places, like dental problems, and even if the problems aren’t my own but are my husband’s or my kids’. I will start acting really strangely, saying weird things, and then my husband will recognize it, oh, this is a health thing, remember, these things really freak you out?? It’s better now than it’s been in years past, even though that’s when I used to live in nice, developed America. It’s been a long process to get here and be ok with being here on the health and safety front! But it is much better to know this about myself now and be able to confront it each time, sooner rather than later. Glad to know I’m not the only one though.

    1. Jessica Hoover March 5, 2014

      Elizabeth, you are definitely not alone! I am doing much better in that area, but I had a period of time (as the post indicates) that it was a real trigger for me. I’m so glad God used it to expose my battle with fear. Thankful to be traveling this road with you.

  3. Kimberly Todd March 5, 2014

    This morning on my way to class another teacher waited for me as I parked my bike to walk me to class arm in arm and in hushed tones caution me not to take my children into crowded places without their father. She referenced the tragedy in the Kunming train station. What happened in Kunming? I thought. And for once my imagination wasn’t as awful as the reality, but I can really put my mind through its paces experiencing horrors that I never would have to but for my incredibly creative fear. This post was timely for me today.

    1. Jessica Hoover March 5, 2014

      I am glad to hear that this post was on time when you needed to hear it. Our imaginations can run rampant can’t they? The Word tells us to take every thought captive and there really is a reason. I’ve been there!

  4. Rachel March 5, 2014

    I have struggled with health challenges for the past decade.  When that roof actually collapses (so to speak) and the fears are realized it’s a long road back to feeling secure and even loved.  I’m not there yet.  Community can be a beautiful part of that process, but it’s also easy for otherwise harmless comments to add to the struggle.  I’m thankful for people who have taken time to listen and think through issues with me.

    1. Jessica Hoover March 5, 2014

      Rachel, you make such a good point. I lost my parents as a child and that feeling of insecurity never quite leaves you, but those who take the time to listen and understand the raw places of fear can be such a balm to the heart. I’m depending with you on God to fill in the gaps that leave us fearful. He is worth trusting even when our fear feels very real.

  5. HisFireFly March 5, 2014

    Brilliant!

    We need to confess fear, bring it out of the darkness.

    In the light it shrivels, while the enemy whines a dying gasp…

  6. karen March 6, 2014

    My very favourite phrase in Scripture is: “…but the reality is Christ.”  (Col 2:17). This alone has chased fear, anxiety and doubt away… The “but” overwhelms all that comes before (the manmade rules, the confusing laws, the burdens of daily living) so that all that remains is Christ. 

    1. Kimberly Todd March 6, 2014

      Oh, this insight is RICH. Thank you for that, Karen.

    2. Jessica Hoover March 6, 2014

      Oh, I really love that…One of the things I often think on and recite to myself is the phrase “But God…” we sit in many times in the Word usually followed by the phrase “rich in mercy” or “full of compassion”. It is the “But God” moments of our life that really show us His care and provision. Thanks for offering these words. Such a good thing to cling to.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.