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FAITH OVER FEAR
I’ve been coming across this term a lot lately called Post-Traumatic Growth. It’s where instead of being resilient and bouncing back from a trauma, you are better for having gone through it. You haven’t ended up exactly where you were before, you’ve jumped ahead. You’ve grown from the experience.
Where are you struggling right now? Maybe you feel confused, alone, abandoned. I know I did. After I had my daughter, I still felt sore and tired and weak all the time. Eight months later, I knew something wasn’t right and spent the next two years trying to figure out what was happening to my declining health.
In this time, I was angry, fearful, and anxious to say the least. My faith that had been so strong as a child was tested in real and powerful ways. I was left with moments of uncertainty. On one particular night, I remember thinking that the only way this could make sense with the God that I had grown up knowing was that he was a nice idea, but he didn’t exist. If it wasn’t lining up, it couldn’t be true.
But those fleeting moments never lasted too long, because the fear that this was all for nothing just wasn’t going to be satisfied. All around me were signs that he was there, so it had to mean that if he was real and still good, that there was so much more that I couldn’t possibly understand as a created being.
MY TWO CHOICES
So what could I do? What can anyone do in hard circumstances? As far as I saw it, I had two choices:
1. Be a grump. Be angry at God, at everyone, at this disease and throw a pity party (which I did for a little while).
2. Trust God. Trust that he was present with me and that if I believed he was all powerful and good at the same time, that this wouldn’t be without purpose. That I had to trust and look for the silver lining.
If you are fearful or anxious, being bitter is not the solution. Trust and gratitude are paths that will direct you to a life free from worry and stress.
SIX TIPS FOR CHOOSING FAITH OVER FEAR
I have struggled with Lyme disease for almost five years now. While it’s mostly under control, my symptoms flare up every now and then, causing me to have to go back and treat. This also causes me to go back and trust God all over again. I wasn’t always this way, but here are six lessons I learned when I chose faith over fear.
1. STOP GOOGLING AND READ YOUR BIBLE
I love to feel in control. It makes me feel safe. It took me two and a half years to get my diagnosis. During that time, I was a mess of books and WebMD and Google searches that really just led to more worrying. New symptoms became tumors or cancer in my mind.
One night in particular, I was searching on Google for answers to my right arm pain and tingling. I suddenly felt the need to look up the phrase: “For I am your”. I figured it was a Bible verse and thought, why not?
The very first result was Isaiah 41:13. It was a moment I’ve never forgotten. So much so, that I got it tattooed on my right arm last year.
2. BE PATIENT AND STAY POSITIVE
After a week of being in and out of doctors offices and a trip to the hospital, I was so frustrated that I was still struggling to breathe and throwing up from the pain. I decided that even though I didn’t understand why God was allowing this to happen, I would trust him.
The next day I got outside more, and felt a peace and calm I hadn’t in weeks. I stopped crying about it. The pain slowly started getting better from the steroids I started a few days earlier. My new specialist called asking if I could come in on Monday (six weeks early!) because there was a cancellation.
God was reminding me and my family that whether or not we understand, or feel heard, he is sticking with us and giving us peace when we ask for it. God can do great things through hard circumstances and I am renewing my trust in him every day.
3. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Right before I discovered that I had Late-Stage Lyme Disease, I spent a terrifying week having violent tremors all over my body. I spent a few days in the hospital while they gave me medicine to calm them down, but had no answers for my pain management. Several doctors even questioned the validity of my symptoms because there were so many and tests came back normal.
But because I had kept my eyes open for what God was doing all around me in those terrible days, I focused on the only thing that mattered: his presence. I couldn’t control anything except my mindset.
I wrote on my Facebook page while I was at the hospital that I felt God all around me in ways that I couldn’t explain or ignore. I wrote that I was thankful for friends visiting and help from family. And that I was grateful Fixer Upper was playing on repeat in my hospital room.
4. BE IN TUNE TO GOD’S GUIDANCE
A week before my hospital visit, I decided I needed to start some kind of daily Bible study. I didn’t want to do a generic topical study of the Bible, because I needed encouragement for this specific trial I was going through. I searched “Bible study suffering” and ordered something that looked pretty called Hope When It Hurts. Before I had even ordered my Lyme test, I realized the two authors of this book were two women around my age that struggled with Lyme. One of the women had given it to her entire family through pregnancies.
How strange and perfect the timing and discovery of this book was! The week after I was released from the hospital, I sat in a doctor’s office as he read over my results–positive for Lyme and several co-infections, and then broke the news that my whole family would have to be tested as well.
This book was a light in my darkness and one I still gift and recommend to others.
The day after I ordered the book, my cousin and a friend of my sister’s contacted me within the same hour to let me know they were convinced I had lyme and needed to see a lyme doctor. My cousin told me to find a lyme support group in the meantime while I waited for my test results to come in. I casually looked it up online not really that interested because I probably didn’t have lyme at all.
There was only one lyme support group I could find listed in North Texas. I live in the Bible Belt and there are are so many churches in our area that we are called the Buckle of the Bible Belt. And reading the name, I literally gasped. I had been attending the ONE church for the past eight years that currently hosted this group. Weird.
6. ACKNOWLEDGE MIRACLES FOR WHAT THEY ARE
After a month of boosting my immune system, my doctor’s appointment arrived to discuss if I was ready for treatment. That morning, I put on a necklace my son made for me to calm my mind.
The doctor was shocked I was doing so well on the new meds. He wasn’t sure how I could be doing so well so quickly, and I said “Jesus!”
And he said, “Well whoever you’re praying to, keep praying.”
I repeated, “It’s Jesus!”
GROWING IN FAITH
I found that with trust came gratitude.
And with gratitude came peace.
And with peace came stillness.
And with stillness came his presence.
His all-encompassing, never-leaving-me presence.
I felt like David in the Bible, begging and pleading with God and wondering in agony where he was, and then I would have a moment of trust and there he would be, reminding me of verses that strangely applied to my situation or telling me to pray instead of stress. In wondering how we would afford to hire help, pay medical bills or sometimes even get food on the table, he provided every time. Money, food, childcare, you name it, someone took care of it.
God didn’t take me out of that storm, he walked me through it.
For those of you wondering if God hears you…he hears you. He sees you. He knows you. He loves you. Trust him in your storm.
PRACTICE FAITH OVER FEAR
Print the following poster learn how to grow in your faith. Use it to remind yourself that he is with you and to find strength in his presence.
BEFORE YOU GO…
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