Choosing Faith Over Your Fear

We’re tested most when we face something difficult. But perhaps holding onto faith over fear is what we need more than anything else.

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FINDING A FAITH GREATER THAN 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).

OR

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.

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.

So how do people choose faith over fear, even in the most difficult situations? Let me share a few stories from my own life with you.

6 TIPS FOR CHOOSING FAITH OVER FEAR

1. STOP GOOGLING AND READ YOUR BIBLE

I love to be 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. 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.

5. GET A SUPPORT SYSTEM

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.

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, knows you, and loves you. Trust him in your storm. Let him fill you with faith greater than your fear.

FREE PRINTABLE FOR YOU!

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Let me encourage you to choose faith your own trials in my Fear + Anxiety Workbook. It’s Bible-based and walks you through verse studies on fear, peace, trials and mindset. It also includes verse coloring pages! You can order it in my shop:

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You are not alone friend, He’s got you!

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How I Went From Survival Mode to Living Intentionally

In my own personal journey with Lyme Disease, here are the things I learned about moving from survival mode to living intentionally.

Living intentional

DROWNING IN DESPAIR

When hard things hit you in life, they either make you or break you. For a long while I let life break me, until I decided this was not who I was or who I wanted to be. I wasn’t going to be defined by the worst thing that happened to me, I was going to be refined by it. Because what choice did I have? It was happening whether I liked it or not.

In 2018, I decided to pick a word to define the new year ahead of me. I had just been through the worst year of my life, trying to figure out what was happening to my body as I found myself stuck in bed and bound to a wheelchair because of intense pain and debilitating tremors. I couldn’t go to the bathroom on my own, drive for almost a year, take care of my own children, and I was in a constant state of panic and anxiety.

When we finally figured out after two years that late stage Lyme disease had taken over my life, I was depressed and didn’t see how I could ever get better. I felt like a burden to everyone around me and was exhausted from simply living.

At my worst, my symptoms ranged from migrating pains, tingling and numbness, extreme crawling skin, nonstop twitching and tremors, night sweats, body aches, dizziness and weakness, fainting, seizures, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, rashes, blurred vision, brain fog, panic attacks and paranoia. At one point I was taking over 80 pills a day.

Living intentional

FOCUSING ON LIVING INTENTIONALLY IN MY HARDSHIP

My life was messy and complicated and I was blind to the goodness that surrounded me on all sides. Family came and lived with us. Friends drove over to cheer me up. Strangers brought us food. We hired a nanny to take care of the kids so my husband could keep his job. Donations for medical expenses poured in. Church leaders prayed with us. Advice was given daily, optimism was overflowing. It was irritating. I was a grump. I cried every day, multiple times a day for months.

A week before Christmas, I finally had relief. My pain was diminished and I was walking on my own. Eventually my seizures were managed and the possibility of driving again was a reality. The twitching remained as did my weight gain and night sweats, but it was all about perspective at this point. I felt like I had just escaped a nightmare. That Christmas was filled with laughter and joy and lots of hugs and kisses. We even let our nanny go and I began staying at home with the kids again.

We celebrated the New Year and I picked my word for 2018–INTENTIONAL.

I was going to make the most of this second chance I’d been given. I didn’t know what the future held, I just hoped that it was Lyme-free.

Living intentional

LEARNING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE LIVING INTENTIONALLY

But when February rolled around, our joy was deflated as my husband started showing his own Lyme symptoms. I had “Lymie” friends going through relapses of their own and friends of friends reached out to me to help diagnose their own health problems. As the stress piled on, I lost my view of being intentional and slipped back into my own relapse. I was devastated. I ended up back in bed from pain and seizures, and asked my parents to fly back out to live with us.

My year of living intentionally stopped before it could even start.

My joy was all circumstantial. It was like I had a toolbox ready to go to help me get through the year but I hadn’t put any tools in it. If things were great, I was happy. If things were miserable, I was mad.

I wanted to succeed, but I didn’t know what living intentionally looked like for me. I didn’t know how else to live except for survival mode. My relapse only caused me to slip back into fearful, paranoid living. If I wanted to live intentionally and with any kind of joy, I was going to have to learn how. It wasn’t going to just happen.

CHANGING MY MINDSET TO LIVE INTENTIONAL

My symptoms improved again with time and medication changes, but my life was stagnant. I had been living as if I couldn’t do anything until I got better. Completely stuck in survival mode, I was basically telling myself I was useless as a sick person. What if this was the best it was going to get? What if I didn’t get better? Was I okay with living the rest of my life on pause? Of course not.

So I invested in the self-help section at every bookstore in my area. Reading book after book, highlighter in hand, notebook at my side. I filled out self-exploration journals, flipped through meditation magazines, devoured books on how to find hope during a hardship, and read memoirs of people overcoming their own hardship.

This time I was going to live as if I was already healed, and create daily habits of working on the health of my mind. If I could anticipate what I needed, then maybe I could deal my symptoms and anxiety in a healthier way.

Repeated over and over were habits that people would form to better themselves. Exercise, meditation, journaling, making their bed in the morning, waking up early–all things that I wanted to be doing. But first I needed to start with getting out of bed.

Toolbox for lyme

FILLING MY TOOLBOX

If I was going to be intentional this year, I had to make some plans. Give myself some ways to cope instead of living in survival mode. So I started filling my toolbox. And as I did, I felt my mind become clearer, my body more energized and my life more meaningful. It’s now six months since I last had a tremor and even longer since I’ve taken a trip to the hospital. I am happier than I’ve been in years and more prepared for the future than ever.

When Lyme doctors would tell me to try and lower my stress level, I would laugh. I truly believed it was impossible…unless I sat in a bubble and didn’t have bills to pay or children to take care of, and a body that obeyed my every command. I thought it was about control. Turns out it was about letting go.

I’m no longer obsessing about symptoms that may reappear because I’m living as though I’m excited for tomorrow, not fearful of it.

So I hope that this blog will be a helpful resource for you as I take you through some things I have learned about creating healthy habits and finding joy in the every day. Getting through a hardship is not easy, and you have to let go of perfection, but you can do it. I’ve got my toolbox in hand and I’m ready to fill it. Let’s do this thing!

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We all have been through survival mode at one point or another. I would love to help encourage you in your journey!

The place I started in my own path to intentional living was through Goal Setting. This is the process I used to give meaning to my days and ultimately my life’s purpose! You can download it here:

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You’ve got this!

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Discovering Your Hobby (and Why it Will Improve Your Mental Health!)

Learn why finding a hobby that’s right for you is not only good for passing the time, but is good for your mental well-being.

STUCK IN SURVIVAL MODE

I called my husband once again, this time laying down in the middle of the hallway. “I need you to come home.”

He raced home and tucked me into bed with some Advil and a heating pad. Sitting down and looking straight into my tear-filled eyes, he said, “I know you think you can, but you can’t do this anymore. We have to get some help.” I knew he was right. I just was having a hard time admitting I was no longer in control.

Getting a nanny/care-taker was the best decision we made up to that point with my illness. The more I pushed through the disease and ignored it instead of taking care of my body, the worse I became. Over the course of the next two years we hired two 19 year old girls excited for the possibilities ahead of them, and each head over heels in love with their boyfriends.

They reminded me of my younger self: full of joy and life and creativity. One girl was ahead on her college credits and working on big life goals, living out her future exactly as she planned it. The other was more of a fly-by-the-seat of her pants adventure type, jumping from one creative endeavor to the next.

I was inspired both by the girl who knew exactly what she wanted out of life and the spontaneity of the other. They didn’t just let life happen to them, they lived it. If they wanted to travel, they traveled. If they wanted to double major, or do hair for a living or get a tattoo, they went for it.

I hadn’t done much besides obsess about pill schedules and plan doctor appointments for the past four years, so I had no plan–my plan was to survive.

what hobbies should i try

REMEMBERING THE PAST

One day my nanny was working on a school project and asked if I had some glue. “What kind do you need?” I asked, and opened the guest room door. I pulled out a big box filled with tacky glue, glue guns, Elmer’s glue, glue dots, fabric glue and glue strips. Her eyes lit up as she peered into the closet, bulging with rows of fabric, paintbrushes, ribbon, glass jars, wooden signs, buttons and sewing machines.

“I didn’t know you had all this in here!” she said. I pointed to the other side of the room, where stacks of bins were labeled with more arts and crafts supplies. There were stacks of books on how to knit, sew and start your own craft business. Another shelf had embroidery thread, rings, yarn balls, hooks and looms.

“Do you know how to do all this?” she asked. I hadn’t thought about these hobbies and treasures since I’d been sick. Over the next few days, I showed her how to create her own custom embroidery by hand and gave her a few paint tubes and instructions on how to make her own coffee table tray.

Later when she was taking the kids to their swim and gymnastics lessons, she said to me, “Hey you are doing so much better, why don’t you go out and take some of your own classes?”

These words lit a fire under me. I hadn’t considered doing something fun for myself in a long time. I was just trying to make sure the kids were living a normal-ish life while I got better.

It had been over 12 years since I switched majors, leaving behind my dreams of becoming an art teacher after one of my college professors discouraged me during his figure drawing class.

what hobbies should i try

EMBRACING A NEW FUTURE

Having survived the misery of the past few years, I was blessed with a new outlook on life and signed up for a weekly adult art class. I stocked up on fresh paints and new brushes and a cloth roll to store them in. Over the next few weeks, I explored different drawing materials and papers and tested out new techniques.

Later, I discovered online art courses I worked on with my son. After dinner, both of us got ready to go with paper on clipboards, a set of drawing pencils and erasers.

I was working on art every night.

Eventually, I had trouble keeping up with my assignments because there were so many projects I wanted to do! Each night, I would lay everything out on the dining room table, start the videos, and do my best not to rinse my paintbrush in my coffee cup.

And suddenly, I realized I was no longer “sick Amy”, I was once again “Amy the artist”. I learned how much I missed drawing and creating on a daily basis.

In that moment, I didn’t need a professor telling me I was terrible at figure drawing. What I needed was the encouragement of a young girl reminding me how to find my joy and in turn, my life again.

what hobbies should i try

LOCAL PLACES TO FIND A HOBBY THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU

Prefer an in-person experience? Try these venues in your city to discover your hobby:

  • Local Art Classes
  • Recreation Centers
  • YMCA
  • Library Classes
  • Arts & Craft Stores
  • Craft Fairs
  • Writer’s Conferences
  • Group Painting Venues
  • Community College Courses
  • Church Classes
finding a hobby that’s right for you

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If you prioritize time for finding a hobby that’s right for you, I promise you will discover joy in your day to day.

Not sure where to start? I’ve created a Goal Setting Workbook that walks you through discovering what it is you want out of life and how to get there (including a section about including hobbies into your routine!). Order it here:

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You’ve got this!

finding a hobby that’s right for you
finding a hobby that’s right for you

WANT TO LIVE YOUR DAYS WITH MORE INTENTION? SIGN UP HERE TO GET INSTANT ACCESS TO MY FREE PRINTABLES: