After having three miscarriages in a row, I finally had a pregnancy go all the way to 40 weeks and gave birth to our sweet daughter. Now that I’m finished with that pregnancy, I can tell you that it was a perfect pregnancy with no complications - but that’s only through hindsight. When I was in the middle of the pregnancy everything felt like it was going wrong - big things. I am not one to rush to the doctor or hospital for anything. I usually am pretty comfortable waiting out symptoms or trying to figure it out myself. However, during this pregnancy I was in labor and delivery several times out of fear of preterm labor and blood clots. The strange thing is that I had real symptoms. I wasn’t just afraid that I might have preterm labor or blood clots; I was actually experiencing the signs of these problems. Each time at the hospital, the nurses or doctors would find that there was nothing wrong. (By the way, there’s nothing wrong with going in if you’re worried. I tell fearful pregnant ladies that all the time. Go to the doctor or labor and delivery as many times as you want.) But, back to my struggle…
From the moment I found out I was pregnant with her, I was afraid that I would lose her. Some of that is completely normal considering what I had been through with three miscarriages. And another part of it was a partnering with fear, which created a safe place for fear to grow and grow.
Looking back, one of the most interesting lessons I’ve learned about fear is that it’s a liar. And fear is a really really good liar. Fear is not going to lie to me about something that makes no sense like - “Don’t you think Mars is going to crash into your house tonight?” If fear whispered that to me, I would laugh it off and go on with my day. Instead fear’s lies seem so real and extremely possible down to actual physical symptoms. I’m definitely not saying that all physical symptoms are untrue. But I am saying that fear’s lies can be that convincing and powerful. Do I think that I was having phantom symptoms? No, I believe that I was dehydrated and that was causing occasional pre-term labor-like symptoms. And for the blood clot scares, I think I was getting new symptoms of pain in my legs that I wasn’t familiar with. Now that I’ve had them, I can recognize them for what they are. But at the time, fear was completely willing to piggyback onto normal situations and blow them up into life-threatening crises.
All throughout the pregnancy, I just couldn’t wait to hold my baby in my arms and breathe a giant sigh of relief. Once she survived the pregnancy, pure peace and utopia would be waiting for me. I’ll tell you what, it was wonderful to meet her, hold her, and know that we made it through what seemed like the only hurdle left. But fear didn’t checkout and go on to the next person. It was right there waiting in its comfortable stronghold. I hadn’t conquered it just because I crossed the pregnancy finish line.
After giving birth I continued to experience fear, but now it was with subjects totally unrelated to pregnancy. I found myself unable to trust people and constantly figuring out how to take matters into my own hands so that I could protect everyone around me. Over and over there were many triggers for fear. Like I said before, I wasn’t just making things up. I wasn’t just sitting on the couch fearful that Mars would crash into my house. Fear is way more realistic and cunning. I think there are two sides to this. A person ensnared in fear can blow triggers out of proportion and swing to an unhealthy extreme of expecting the worst. Also, when a person has a stronghold of fear, I believe that person has opened the door for more fear-producing triggers to arise - triggers that wouldn’t come otherwise.
It was a few months after my daughter’s birth. I was sitting at my computer so afraid with my heart aching with worry. I don’t know what brought the turning point, but I have a feeling it was the Holy Spirit of God guiding me into freedom. Sitting there worrying and overthinking, it finally hit me that I just cannot have control over everything. I cannot, by myself, keep all my loved ones completely safe from all harm. Even if I had ten people helping me, we would not be able to protect ourselves from never experiencing problems. In my heart, I threw up my hands and surrendered. It wasn’t a lovely and tender surrender. It was a “Well, whatever! I can’t do this anyway.” I realized that my options were to stay in fear or to radically trust God. That was the end of that stronghold. I gave up on fear.
Did I ever fear again? Yes I still struggle here and there, but it doesn’t have a grip on me anymore. If I have something that really scares me, I can call my friend who knows me deeply. Being on the outside of it, she can easily say “Leah, that’s an arrow perfectly crafted for you.” After talking it through, I know I can just reject it.
In order to conquer fear, you need to accept the fact that fear’s lies are going to seem really real. I’m giving you permission to shine the spotlight on those lies and reject them. In the moment it’s going to feel easier to stay in the fear than to reject it. That’s because you are convinced that your control over things will actually help. Keep reminding yourself that even the idea that it’s better to stay in this place is a lie. Tell a friend all about your fear triggers so that friend can help you spot the lies when they seem too convincing.
Another thing that helped so much was memorizing and meditating on Psalm 91. It’s a chapter in the Bible all about God’s divine and extreme protection over us. Listen, I know bad things still happen. How can we reconcile bad things and God’s extreme protection? Rather than attempting to answer that for you, I encourage you to meditate on Psalm 91 and bring these questions to God. See what he tells you. Answers that come straight from God to your heart will settle you more than anything else will. Experiment for a bit and read Psalm 91 like it’s absolute truth with no ifs, ands, or buts. Just see what God and your heart figure out. And if you want to share, tell me what you find.
I wrote a children's book about miscarriage and Heaven called Our Heaven Baby. It's our story of pregnancy all the way to the hope of heaven told from my son's perspective, who was five years old at the time. To order a copy for yourself or a loved one, click here. I hope it is a huge source of hope!