Note: I've posted the entry below here at my caregiving blog because it has to do with fear, and for most caregivers, learning to deal effectively with the discomfort of fear is a necessity. Fear arises because of uncertainty regarding the the future. Most of us have had to grapple with fear of falling to the same disease that has incapacitated our loved ones, and we fear being so overwhelmed by responsibility to others that our own hopes and dreams are smothered. The story below is, essentially, the story of my life as a fear filled person, and of how God has been so gentle with me. I am being gently led to freedom from fear.
I am afraid of anesthesia. The fear goes outside the normal realm of dread that precedes surgery or a medical procedure requiring sedation. I experience a physical sensation of pressure reminiscent of the feeling of the mask that was pressed over my 7-year-old face a half century ago for a tooth extraction. The hallucinations I experienced with that mode of anesthesia were so horrendous that in the months following I suffered what we now call post traumatic stress.
Since that time I've struggled with fear, and not just fear of medical procedures. Fear can't be kept in a tidy compartment; it is just extremely difficult to manage. I started out with fear of the dentist, and this expanded to include all things medical. After awhile the list of things that frightened me grew.
I've managed over the years to appear relatively calm when circumstances force me to a hospital or the dentist for treatment for myself , but the story was different when the procedures involved my children. I'll never forget my daughter's first (and thus far only) filling. She was not quite seven-years-old, approximately the same age I had been when I'd had my own negative experience in a dentist's office. Sitting in the examination room with my daughter as the dentist's drill whined, I came as near to fainting as I ever have. I was seated on a stool that had casters on the bottom, and as I lost consciousness the stool began to roll out from under me. I regained control just in time to keep myself from hitting the floor, and no one noticed my gymnastics. To make matters more interesting I was largely pregnant at the time. The office staff at that dental office never knew how close they came to having to deal with an unconscious pregnant lady blocking traffic on the examination room floor.
My children were mostly healthy growing up and neither of them needed anesthesia for surgeries or dental procedures, thankfully. But next week my 3-and-a-half year old grandson is scheduled to have his adenoids removed and ear tubes inserted.
I am amazed at the intensity of the fear I'm experiencing on my grandson's behalf. Fear does not take the Almighty God into account. I've walked with the Lord long enough to recognize the difference between a stop He's placed in my spirit and the Holy Spirit's nudge to to move forward. When I have a "move forward" signal from the Lord but nevertheless stand frozen and paralyzed with fear, I know I'm off base. That's what has happened here. Everything from expert advice to my own deep awareness of God's nudge to go ahead with this procedure have been in agreement. The only discordant note is my fear.
Shortly after my daughter told me my grandson would be undergoing this procedure, I became extremely ill with a stomach upset. The oddest thing happened as I lay on the bathroom floor in between bouts of illness; as I drifted in and out of a semi-conscious state between sleep and awake, I once again saw the terrifying hallucinations I'd suffered as a child when given anesthesia. I did not give way to fear, but held to the sure knowledge I've gained over the years that God is with me no matter what. My head hurt horribly and at one point I wondered if I was having a stroke from the stress and strain of being sick, but even that thought did not bring panic. When the illness had passed, I felt the Lord's gentle approval. I had not turned back. He'd shown me that even in the midst of suffering that I could remain true to Him. I understood that He was saying, "It is time to give up this fear that has tainted your walk for so many years." Not only is the time right, but I've finally been strengthened to the point that I am able to give up the fear. A hidden lesson here is to be very gentle with those who are afraid and weak (even if that person is you!). Being strengthened takes time, even when the strengthening process is being directed by God's hand.
As I convalesced, the Lord led me to watch two current superhero movies. I just felt this persistent nudge to watch these movies and so went ahead and paid the rental fee to watch them on pay-per-view, which I rarely do just for myself. The first, The Green Lantern, contained a quote that spoke to me, paraphrased here: "You were not chosen because you are not afraid, but because you have the courage to overcome your fears."
For the Christian, faith in Christ overcomes the power of the enemy. "This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). Our courage comes from belief in who He is.
I then watched Captain America. Before the hero is zapped into a buff and strong superhero type, he is short, skinny, and physically weak. As a test of character, a dummy grenade is thrown into a group of soldiers in training of which our hero is a part. The soldiers scatter but this tiny little wimp of a person falls on the grenade, curving his body around it, motioning everyone away. When I saw this scene the Lord spoke to me, "I know you are not strong, but I will enable you to contain this fear and keep it from poisoning anyone else." And so I've prayed for strength to do that. It has been hard.
A few days ago my daughter called and her voice was trembling a bit as she asked, "Do you think we are doing the right thing, Mom?"
"You are being courageous to do the right thing for Daniel although it is difficult for you," I replied. "This procedure could help him to breathe better and may prevent him from learning problems that can arise from sleeping poorly. God will bless him whether he undergoes this procedure or whether he doesn't, but the only thing that would keep us from choosing the path of greater blessing is our fear. How much better to place our trust in the Lord and move forward."
When I hung up my heart was pounding and I felt physically ill. Spiritually I'm a 98 pound weakling. But I am a 98 pound weakling who knows in Whom she has believed.
Scripture: “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture" Malachi 4:2, New Living Translation