" FEAR "

By Michelle Self

Scripture Reference:  1 Peter 5:6-7

I’ve always been nervous as a dental appointment approaches. Following a bad experience with a dentist when I was a young child, a true fear took root in the inner-most part of my mind and heart. Even as an adult, I felt a child-like fear. Several positive experiences started to chip away at this fear; a very kind dentist whose teeth were as crowded as mine, building confidence in seeking braces, another dental practice that understood my anxiety.

I started the process for braces with my daughter’s previous orthodontist – with mostly 10-15 year olds all around me (haha!). There were moments I wasn’t sure I could handle it, like when they had to apply the braces! I didn’t know they would nearly block my airway with a huge canopy that blocked anything from the back of my throat – then added a vacuum hose to prevent saliva from collecting since I couldn’t swallow! I tried to keep my anxiety/fear in check, but it wasn’t easy. Breathe, pray, convince myself I’ll make it through, breathe … and the cycle continued for over an hour. Fast forward … Braces were on, followed by 18 months of changing wires, removing the braces, and permanent retainers installed.

Now, I totally realize that this is not anything some people would blink an eye at. It’s not an amputation or cancer treatments. I wasn’t left in the wilderness to fend for myself or being chased by a bear. Even my own 10-year old dealt beautifully with orthodontics! But my fear was real.

For years, I avoided the fear and the dentist, but obviously that has some real consequences! When I found two consecutive dental practices that embraced a person with dental anxiety, I didn’t feel so scared. Well, maybe I felt the fear, just didn’t have the guilt that prevented the fear from dissipating. I didn’t stop asking God to be with me, but I felt more able to handle it (with God! I wasn’t feeling that confident yet).

But tonight, as I type this, I have a sore tooth. Well, that’s an underestimate - I need a root canal and I know it. I have a dental appointment tomorrow, and can I tell you that I have as much anxiety as I did 10 years ago? Crazy, isn’t it. I’ve made so much progress over the years and I’m still this nervous! I’ve had braces and bi-annual cleanings, and have had fillings! I don’t understand.

God’s loving reminders help us navigate anxiety when it seems to have a hold on us. We’re called to tell God that we know we aren’t in control but we’re thankful He is and we ask that He provide us with the peace only God can offer. We pray in the name of Jesus that we will have relief of the anxiety and fear, knowing He will take care of the situation. God wants us to tell Him that we NEED Him. He wants us to recognize that without Him we will live in fear, if not today maybe down the road. He may even lead us into situations that we’ll be led to declare that we need Him to draw us close to Him.

Tomorrow, as I ready myself for a dental appointment knowing the next step will be a big one (to get through and to pay for), I cast my fear on God because I’m nervous. I can’t change anything about it, so I rely on Him. I pray for God to lift me up and take on my burden because I know He cares for me. When loved ones care, they reach out. If our loved ones reach out, how much more will the God in control of the entire universe do when we’re in need?

No matter your anxieties, worries, or fears, tell God that you need Him because you know you can’t get through without Him, and He’ll be right beside you, bearing your burden and loving you. May you feel His peace and love as He comforts you. After the situation is resolved, look at your situation and identify how God helped you through your fear. Let Him know you see His hand in your life and thank Him, then tell others how He made a difference for you.