I sat in the oral surgeon’s parking lot, keys still in the ignition, dreading what lay ahead. In fifteen minutes I was scheduled for a somewhat invasive oral surgery, which I had elected to undergo while conscious, instead of opting for sedation. As a breastfeeding mother at the time, I knew general anesthetic wasn’t recommended, and I also knew that it would be more of a hassle than I wanted to endure to try to get my son to take another milk for the 48 hours post-surgery my doctor recommended. I decided instead that I would be brave. I’ve had a lot of dental work in my life due to both a sweet tooth and an accident as a teen. Sitting in the dentist chair and the time leading up to it is often a trigger of anxiety for me.
We all have something that causes dread and anxiety in our lives.
Whether we are waiting for test results, walking into a cancer treatment center for the first time, or awaiting what is sure to be a tense meeting with a boss, the feeling is universal.
As I sat in the car, clammy handed, dry mouthed, and sick to my stomach with dread, I found myself left with the task of forcing myself out of the car and putting one foot in front of the other all the way into that dentist chair I loathed thinking about.The thing is, when you come to the end of your own strength, your own willpower, and your own ability, all that's left is Jesus. And He's enough.Click To Tweet
Here’s what I did and how you can connect with Him to face your fear in peace and find your courage:
Prepare your Mind with Scripture
Aside from spending daily time in God’s word, make sure that you pray and ask God to give you a verse or piece of Scripture that you can memorize and repeat to yourself when you feel your anxiety begin to rise. This is one way to take your mind off the hamster wheel of frantic thinking and place it on the solid foundation of His truth. Verses such as Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 27:1, and Philippians 4:13 are all wonderful during times that we need more courage than we have on our own.
Pray Out Loud
As I sat there in the car, I prayed aloud to Jesus and spoke to him as though He didn’t already know everything I was feeling in the moment. I laid it all out for him- my fear, my physical feelings of dread, my anxiety. I prayed for his supernatural strength to fill me and for his will to be done over all else. Praying out loud can help to bring you peace and calm, even though you might feel silly. There’s something about hearing your own voice speak to the Father that surpasses praying silently.
Imagine Jesus with You Physically
Right before I went in for my surgery I had read about an artist who painted portraits of people in everyday life with Jesus next to them, doing whatever they were doing, whether that was changing a tire or eating breakfast. We know that the Holy Spirit is always with us, but that can be hard to picture sometimes. I was desperate to feel as close to Jesus as possible, so I tried something I had never done before. I tried imagining that on the way to the dentist, Christ himself sat in the seat next to me in the car. When I sat in that parking lot shaking in fear, I envisioned him next to me again- sharing in my fear, being with me in empathy. In the dentist chair, there again I imagined He sat in the chair with me, a physical presence that I simply couldn’t see. In doing this, I felt such peace knowing that truly, I was not alone. I could feel his presence, and He drew near to me every step of the procedure.
Lean into Your Vulnerability
We hear a lot about vulnerability lately, but it’s something that is actually a source of strength if we allow it to be. Owning our vulnerability and admitting to Jesus (and anyone else – our doctor, our friends, our supervisor) that we are feeling nervous and anxious can help us to overcome the feeling. By leaning into our vulnerable feelings instead of fighting them, we find strength anew. It’s no longer a feeling to be ashamed of or hide from – but in sharing it we allow Jesus and others to step in to comfort us.
Know that He Knows
We can be comforted that we have a Savior who can empathize completely. Jesus is no stranger to dread. Luke 22:44 says, “And being in great agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” The night in the garden where Jesus begged God to take his cup of suffering was a night of unfathomable dread. He knew what was ahead. He knew the pain, the anguish, and the suffering that not only He but all who knew him would experience. He also knew that the Father would waste none of it. And because of His great suffering, you and I can know that He knows how we feel. He has stood where we stand. He has felt the anxiety and dread of impending suffering.
We are never alone. His love and His Spirit go before us and with us, and the power of Christ lives within us. Be encouraged.