Saturday, March 15, 2014

Faith Over Fear

So, I want to share something that has been a big part of my life for the past couple of months and that is the battle between fear and faith. As you can read in my about me page, I have a personal relationship with Jesus. He has been the one to carry me through and to provide for me at exactly the right moments.

Everyone experiences fear at some point in their life. This is a revelation to no one. But there are certainly different levels, and that is something I’ve been learning to deal with lately. I have never considered myself to be an abnormally fearful person. Shyness has always been a part of me, from my earliest memories, but not fear.  At least not the all-consuming kind. The thing is I tend to lower my guard against attacks that I’m not accustomed to and start to think that I am somehow above them if I haven’t yet faced them. I have learned how foolish that is. I have friends and family that struggle with fear on a fairly regular basis and have told me about their experiences. I never felt that I was better than them for not having that struggle. I have plenty of my own for sure and just never bothered to think that I might need to guard my heart against that as well.  Because we all know ourselves completely at the age of 26 (insert eye roll here).  

Anyway, this all started a couple months ago. I started to notice some changes that caused me to wonder about breast cancer.  It was a Wednesday morning while I was getting ready for work. I had noticed the changes while I was in the shower and was now drying my hair, panic running through my brain.  I kept thinking “how am I going to get through my 10 hour work day with this weighing on me?” And then I knew. I got up, walked to the side of the bed and knelt down. I feel like I always underestimate the power of actually getting down on your knees. I don’t think I ever consciously thought “I’m not going to do this” or “I don’t need to”, I just don’t really do it. But the Spirit in me spoke to my heart that I NEEDED to that morning. And I did. It felt much more intentional than a hurried prayer out the door, with everything from my damp sweater pulled from the dryer to my burnt eggs distracting me as I go. That morning I truly surrendered everything to Jesus. My fear, anxiety, dread, whatever the outcome may be if my suspicions were true, everthing. I got through the rest of that day just fine. I told my husband that evening what I had saw and what I was feeling, and other than that it was out of my mind.

The next morning I missed my alarm and had to eat breakfast and put my makeup on in the car only to hit a 2 HOUR DELAY due to a jack knifed semi. I did try to pray in the car during the delay but was feeling distracted and my heart wasn’t as in it as it had been the day before. I made it to nap time and then I did the stupidest thing anyone can do in this situation and started Googling my symptoms. Well there was no doubt in my mind that it was cancer and 15 minutes before the kids were supposed to wake up I started SOBBING and COULD NOT STOP. I mean full blown panic, and at the same time worried that the kids were gonna wake up or my boss would walk in.

As it happened, my co-worker walked in to ask me to cover her room at the exact moment I threw my head down in my arms, the sobs barley muffled. AND I AM SO GLAD SHE DID. She immediately came over to ask what was the matter and I just poured out all the feelings, both embarrassed and relieved. She asked me questions, gave reassurance, offered suggestions, and told me that she wanted to pray with me after work. Do I have the best co-workers or what? It was enough o get me back on track and reminded me that God provides and loves on us even when we put our trust in Google instead of Him.

I had been able to get a doctors appointment scheduled fairly quickly and by this point had told my parents and grandparents (who live 30 seconds around the corner from us) what was going on. As me and my husband pulled into the parking lot we saw that my grandparents had showed up for support. It melted my heart to have my grandpa walking into the OBGYN with me. Just precious. As we sat down, I could sense everybody’s anxiousness. I just wanted an answer and so did they. I needed to KNOW something, just a starting point. I had all these fears piling up from the unknown, from Google and I hated that they were feeling that way too. I am so incredibly loved and I have been so blessed by my husband and family that to think that they were feeling that fear for me, the same I would have for them if the situation were reversed, killed me.

And then I just happened to look up, and framed on the wall was a print of this verse:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

And my heart had peace. I quickly pointed out the verse to them and I could feel the peace that passes all understanding wash over them as well.

We came out of that appointment with two more appointments scheduled for that day, which was both comforting and terrifying. By the time we got home we were exhausted. We had 2 doctors who were unsure to the point where they ordered tests but said that their opinion was that I was fine and an ultra sound tech who denied me a mammogram because of my age.

I received a very reluctant ultrasound during which (I learned later from a second ultrasound with a different radiologist) she pushed much harder on my sore lymph nodes than she needed to (the second one got a perfectly good reading without me flinching once) and she didn’t even bother to label it so that when I actually did get my mammogram and had to show them my results, they had to redo the whole thing. The only information I was left with was to try changing my deodorant or detergent. Both things I had already told them I’d done. I felt dejected, unheard, and embarrassed.

The day after the first ultrasound was hard. The first half of the day I kept really busy. My husband and I cleaned the house extensively which kept my mind occupied but as soon as we slowed down the tears came. I was frustrated, scared, and depressed. Thoughts of "what if the worst happens?" kept running through my head. I sat down with Josh, and as we talked I could see my fear was infectious. We were both in a pretty dark place when suddenly my phone rang. It was my nana. She said she felt like she needed to check on me and asked how I was doing. I could barely choke out "not good". She told me to come over immediately. We wiped our tears and headed over. We were greeted with hugs and cups of tea. They held our hands and prayed over us. We stayed there for the rest of the day, soaking in the love, encouragement, and wisdom and went home that evening renewed for the week ahead.

I ended up with a clean mammogram but still no answers as to what was going on with me. I was frustrated and simply afraid of the unknown. Why didn't anyone have an answer?! I tried to keep up a positive attitude but it was hard. I wasn't myself. I would do pretty well at work with the kids to keep me busy, it was the evenings that were the worst. My mind wondered so easily. I eventually made one more appointment, hopeful that they would give me answers and it didn't disappoint. I'll write more about that later because 1) this post is already massive and 2) I would really like to go into more detail eventually, in the hopes of encouraging others through these issues and maybe offering help and answers as well. 

I was absolutely blown away by the love, and encouragement shown to me during this time. I received beautiful, encouraging cards, texts from friends who I hadn't heard from in years, constant calls to check in on how I was dealing with things day by day, prayers in staff meetings, and my sister and brother in law even made a special trip to deliver a book on fear, worry, and anxiety. The lessons I've learned through this experience are invaluable:

1) My nana has used this analogy before but I've never needed it more. She told me to imagine whatever burden I was carrying, in this case fear, as a heavy load on my back. Then imagine God's throne and imagine yourself kneeling down at his feet and letting that load slide off your back, over your head, and disappearing. You stand up strong and free and full of love and thankfulness towards your savior and ready to continue your journey. The thing is, this is not a onetime thing. We tend to keep going back for that burden, knowing even now how horrible it felt. She told me to imagine this scenario as many times as you need to be it once a week, a day, or in my case a few times a day. A hundred if need be, if it is what gets you to surrender that burden to Jesus and be filled with His peace. I remind myself of this often.

2) Don't go through it alone. I tried to keep my concerns bottled up, afraid to worry others and afraid I'd sound like a hypochondriac and it did nothing but hurt me. I truly found out the depth of support that was around me and experienced how it felt to be the one lifted up in prayer, encouraged, loved on, listened to, and taken care of. I NEEDED it and they so badly wanted to provide it. The people who truly love you want to share in the good AND the bad. Let them.

3) Jesus shows up big when you let Him. As I think back on the whole experience I can see God providing for me each step of the way. A friends support and prayer, family calling at just the right time, a Bible verse popping into my head at exactly the right moment, a card, a smile, a shoulder to cry on. Whatever I needed, God knew and he gave.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long post. I feel that my experience is trivial compared to the sufferings of others but God was able to use it to teach me so much, and I share my story hoping to help someone else. My love and prayers go out to anyone who is experiencing fear right now, It is a heavy, debilitating burden and I pray you would let Jesus take it off your shoulders, He WANTS to.

If you have any questions regarding my experience or how I'm learning to manage fear please don't hesitate to email me. I'd love to help!

Love, Brittainy


  1. Wow, thanks for sharing this story! What a blessing that you have such a supportive family AND a loving God to turn to in times of horrible stress and fear like this! I'm so happy for you that it wasn't what you were afraid of! Thanks for linking up with the Faith and Fellowship blog hop! :-)

    1. Susannah, thank you so much! I'm so happy I found the faith and fellowship blog hop, it has truly been a blessing being able to connect with other woman through this link up. I'm new to this blog thing and it really is amazing!

  2. Wow, you totally had me in tears! My husband has been sick since last May and the doctors have yet to find out what's wrong so I feel like I can understand a bit and you are right, don't Google it, Google always leads to cancer. Isn't it funny (okay, not so much) how we can so easily turn to Google and forget to turn to God, I'm so with you on that. I love the verses you shared and hearing about your great support system.

    1. Chantel, my prayers are with you and your husband. Not knowing is the WORST! Having gone through this experience had enabled me to empathize deeply with anyone going through the unknown. Just know that God can bring healing but he can also bring good out of the waiting. I'm a testament to that. I'm so grateful that He saw fit to equip me with the ability to bring comfort to others going through this. Especially because I received so much myself.

      And OH MY GOODNESS YES. Google is soooo bad. And us know? I KNEW not to do it. The spirit kept saying just pray just pray just pray and I was all "but I need the answers nooow!" It was never a good idea.

      Thank you so much for reading my story. I know that you are struggling right along with him. Stay strong in The Lord and do whatever it takes to get the peace he wants to give you. The enemy wants so badly to take it and you must fight the good fight of faith! He WILL give you the strength you need.

      Love and prayers, Brittainy