When Fear Is Crippling...
So -- it's been an interesting two months. I feel like I've experienced most of the spectrum of emotion in this time frame and look forward to sharing more with you in the coming days about what has been going on and what God has been teaching me through it, but for today, I'll just share one piece of the story.
About two months ago while getting ready for bed, my hand brushed against a mole that I've had for as long as I can remember on my back. It caught me off guard. For some reason it felt different than it had in the past, and it scared me. Now, I NEVER go to the doctor. NEVER as in I don't have a general doctor in Nashville and I've been here for 5 years, but this time I felt urgency. I called around until I found a dermatologist who had just had a cancellation for the next day. Sign me up.
Nervous would be the understatement of the year as I sat in the waiting room. Of course, they were running a tad bit behind and I had arrived a tad bit early, so I sat there for an eternity. Then, I went back and it didn't take long for the doctor to say, "Yes, this spot does look a little abnormal. We are going to need to take that." Well, ok. What does that even mean? Needles and a biopsy. Awesome. I'm a child, so that was an experience.
About a week later, I got the call for another visit with my new BFF, my dermatologist. Please note that I decided dermatologists ranked above dentists in the "Doctors I Don't Like" spectrum after the biopsy. She's sweet, but she should really keep her scalpel to herself. Nonetheless, my pathology report came back atypical. This is not a set of words I'd really ever like to hear together again. Needless to say, scalpel round 2 will be happening a week from today.
Insert extreme freak out mode here. I got the call on a late Friday afternoon, and the lady who called was simply a scheduler, not a doctor. She didn't really tell me what level of concern I should have, so of course, I chose the highest level. My mind was racing with worst case scenarios and fear absolutely gripped my life. I was a blubbering mess. I was so afraid of what might come back on the next pathology report or what treatment might be ahead of me that I was crippled. It seemed like the trust in the Lord I had that I thought was so strong was wavering, barely holding on by the fingertips over a canyon of insecurity.
It seems so trivial to write about it now, but I was so scared, and also really disappointed in myself that I was scared - after all, I am a Christian. I have eternal hope of ultimate healing. I should be trusting Jesus, even to the point of death, but words like cancer and surgery were being thrown around in my mind, and it made it harder to rest in Him. After a hard weekend, Monday rolled around. I called the doctor, and heard from her that this is largely precautionary.
Whew. Slight relief. But still, the adage of "It's minor as long as it's not happening to you" is true. I can't say I don't have moments of fear anymore, because I do. It's been a roller coaster of fear and peace over the last few weeks, but I'm praying that peace is here to stay this time as I rest in Psalm 56: "When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid," and "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
So.. All that to say, you who fear, you are not alone. Fear is a normal response to situations and suffering is a normal but not fun experience linked to the fall. I think so often I want to be immune to suffering simply because I am covered by the righteousness of Christ... somehow, I think that removes me from the brokenness of the world. I'm encouraged to remember that a day is coming when suffering will no longer reign and all creation will be restored.
Over the last few weeks, God has used this situation to mold me. I've realized that my fear isn't the problem; it's my forgetfulness of God's faithfulness to me. Fear can be a healthy response, but it is not healthy to live there. God has lovingly reminded me that I can trust Him and I can ask Him to replace my fear with trust. Christian - hear me say that your fear is not unvalidated, but you can't dwell there forever. The Lord is calling you to trust with abandonment and with all of you.
Now, I'm to the point where I just want this thing off. Give me those stitches! I'd go today if they had an opening. The Lord has called my attention to a need to treat sin with the same intensity. Why do I not feel the same urgency to root sin out which maligns the spirit rather than the body? So although this situation has not been a fun one, I know that it has not been without purpose. May I understand the intensity with which God views sin, the grace with which God views me, and the perfect provision that only He can work. So, here's to one more week of learning as I await the appointment. I pray that you will also be encouraged by the loving hand of the Father as He quiets your crippling fear and molds you to become more like Jesus.