the struggle is real

struggle is real

Flying down the dirt roads on my parents’ property on our Honda Odyssey go-kart are some of my favorite childhood memories.

There was a time in the field when I landed in a ditch. As hard as I would try, I couldn’t quite get the go-kart out of the ditch without flipping it. I had the knowledge of how to do it, but I just couldn’t achieve that goal. So there I sat, upside down, protected by the roll cage and seat belt, as I struggled to remove the go-kart from the ditch.

While not having anything in common with those fun times on the Honda Odyssey, yesterday, I faced another real struggle.

Having broken a tooth, I sat in the dentist chair for an emergency dental appointment. Sure, I had prayed myself up, asked my family to do the same, and had spent time with the Lord that morning, resting in His unfailing peace.

I reached up and placed my earbud in one ear and adjusted the volume. I needed to be able to hear both my playlist on my phone and the dentist. The songs from some of my favorite Christian artists flooded into my mind.

Yet, as they numbed me up and the dentist arrived with the needle that would inject the anesthetic into my gums, fear and trepidation rose within me.

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If you guessed that I am not fond of needles, you are correct. I join 50 million other people who share the fear of needles.

Doesn’t make it any easier that I am in good company.

This isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to dental work or needles. I’ve been going to the dentist since I was four years old. I’ve had orthodontic work, wisdom teeth removal, and a gum graft. I’ve had my appendix removed and spent a large part of my first pregnancy connected to IVs during a long stint in the hospital with hyperemesis gravidarum and pneumonia. Each year, I have a wellness blood draw with my annual physical. I’ve never put off a medical procedure because of my fear of needles.

But the struggle is real.

Scripture verses flooded my mind as the needle drew closer. Verses about fear, worry, anxiety, God’s comfort, His refuge, and the list goes on.

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Verses I know by heart. Verses I have drawn upon many times in my life for comfort.

So why then was I still anxious about that needle? Why was a grown woman struggling with something some would deem minor?

My heart and my mind were in agreement. God would get me through this. I was not alone. He was there with me. He went before me, would never let me go. He created the entire world and everything in it. I knew needles were not a big deal for Him. And yet, I still struggled.

Experts say that everyone has a fear and/or phobia. Many people have more than one (snakes, heights, public speaking, spiders anyone?) Still, I hate the thought of being fearful of an inanimate object. I hate the thought of having to share with the dentist and her team members that taking a needle to the mouth is a hugely stressful event for me.

The procedure was over in an hour and a half. Drowsy, loopy, and starting to feel the pain from the procedure, I staggered out of the room and was driven home by my teenage daughter.

I’d made it through.

In three weeks, I go back for round two, again with another needle (or two). Someday, hopefully long before I enter into eternity, I hope to no longer get ramped up with anxiety at the mere thought of a needle.

But even if I continue to have this fear the remainder of my life, I know one thing is certain. While God’s will may not be that I am fearless, it is His promise that He is with me no matter how many times I have to deal with fears (or anything else).

That His daughter was struggling with the needle at the dentist’s office mattered to Him. I mattered to Him. My seemingly “little” problem in the scope of all of the huge problems in today’s world mattered to my Lord and Savior.

Sometimes struggles are real. Our mind and heart know one thing, but our human selves do not cooperate. During these struggles, God grows us. While we wish He could do it in a less anxiety-provoking and terrifying way, we can rest in the knowledge that He is always with us and everything is in His control.

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what are you afraid of?

What are you Afraid of

The other day when I stumbled across a phobias list that included fear of spiders, snakes, dogs, heights, enclosed spaces, thunder/lightening, fear of flying, and germs.

Sure, we all have fears, but according to the Helpguide.org website, “when fears become so severe that they cause tremendous anxiety and interfere with your normal life, they’re called phobias.”

People can have phobias of just about anything. Some, we hear a lot about, others, not so much. We probably all know someone who is afraid of spiders, heights, or speaking in public.

Some phobias are well known, such as Trypanophobia, or the fear of needles. According to Pharmajet.com, a mere 50 million Americans have this fear.

And there are some phobias that seem a little bizarre, to say the least. For instance, linonophobia, the fear of string, pogonophobia, the fear of beards, phobaphobia, the fear of phobias, or hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, the fear of long words. (Say that fast five times!)

When I was seven years old and walking with my younger sister down a dirt road in our rural town, we came across a snake slithering directly in front of us. I shrieked, and grabbing my sister’s hand, spun around and scrambled toward the trailer on my grandparents’ property where we were living while our new house was being built. My mom, with my newborn brother in her arms, stepped onto the porch when she heard our shrieks. She would tell me later (after much comforting), that I was running so fast down that hill with my long blond braids flying that my sister’s feet weren’t even touching the ground as I pulled her along to safety.

Ever since that day, I’ve had ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes.

As an outdoorsy-type person who loves to spend time biking, hiking, jogging, and power walking, I do, occasionally, stumble across a slithering nemesis.

According to Verywellmind.com, “approximately 10 percent of people in the U.S. have specific phobias, 7.1 percent experience social phobias, and 0.9 percent have agoraphobia.” (fear of leaving one’s home).

Some fears and phobias can be life-altering. People who struggle on a day-to-day basis with these fears know this all too well. There are a variety of treatments for phobias, and some are extremely effective.

The Bible discusses fear often. God knew that His children would struggle with this problem. I heard years ago that the Lord tells us not to fear 365 times in His Word. Wow – 365 times! As someone who struggles with fear, it encourages me to know that God cares about this predicament I find myself in, and not just when I encounter snakes, but also the other fears that crowd my thoughts in this crazy world I call my temporary home.

He reassures me I am never alone in my fear.

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God also consoles us in our fears. He doesn’t leave us there to walk through those valleys alone, but rather takes our hand and guides us through those moments when the panic sets in.

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And finally, He reminds us that He didn’t create us to be fearful, and He doesn’t intend for us to live this way.

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So while extreme phobias and fears may require a treatment plan that includes counseling and/or medication, the most important fear-fighter we have on our side is our faith – and our prayers. The best thing I can do in those moments of fear is to return my eyes to the One who holds my very life in His hands.

The One who tenderly reminds me not to fear.

 

the importance of relying on God

Relying on God

Everyday I rely on God for the big things: every breath, health and safety for my family, food, clothing, shelter, my husband’s job, help and healing for my mom, nephew, and niece for their chronic illnesses and pain; and the list goes on.

But what about the seemingly “small” things? The things that some people don’t even give a second thought to? What about relying on God for those things?

Take, for instance, my fear of needles. I have to prepare myself a week in advance for my annual wellness blood draw, and I have to lie down to avoid fainting during the procedure. It doesn’t help they can never find a vein, and that when they do, my little teeny selfish veins refuse to give up blood no matter how hydrated I am. Or the recent crown the dentist put on a cracked tooth. The several needles she used to numb me was traumatic.

But to others, needles are not a big deal. But for those of us with what I call “glitches in our systems” who have strange, but common fears like needles, relying on God to get us through the needle moments is huge.

Relying on God is an essential part of our faith. We need Him. Everyday. He tells us to trust Him, to rely on Him, that He will supply our needs and strengthen us.

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I’m thankful in a way that I do have needle phobia. When my recent crown was completed (my daughters called this my “coronation,” so I have officially been crowned, lol!) the gratitude and humility that washed over me was immense. Tears filled my eyes, as I praised God for yet again getting me through another “needle moment in life.”

Had I not struggled with the crown or the annual blood draw, or the times throughout my life when I’ve had IVs (pregnancy, appendicitis, and a dental surgery), then I would not have been overwhelmed with the gratitude of God’s provision for the small things as well as the big things.

So how do we show our gratitude to our Creator for all that we rely upon Him for?

  • Praise Him often. For everything we know about and everything that He has protected us from that we may not even have realized.
  • Praise Him with sincerity.  True devout humility to the One who gives us our every breath.
  • Praise Him with worship. Praise Him with a song and exalt His holy name. I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

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  • Praise His name when talking to others. Tell them of His wondrous works and how you relied on Him – and He came through for you.
  • Praise Him through a gratitude journal. Keeping track of answered prayers and the times you relied on Him is a good way to help remember all He has done.

What seemingly “small” things have you relied on God for lately?