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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

The way out of fear

We're leaving for Chicago today for Colin's scheduled adenoidectomy and ear tubes. This time, it's not fear leading the way.


Remember the nightmare that was our November? Colin, hospitalized with pneumonia, his asthma spinning recklessly out of control? The days of phone calls, the nights of worry, our family doctor's receptionist playing defense on the phone, insisting that no, I couldn't talk to the doctor personally, and, yes, when there was another problem, I'd simply have to take him to the ER.

Uh-huh. With my other four kids in tow. Oh, the speeches I prepared.

By God's grace, I never delivered any of them.

And by God's grace, there were miracles even then.

Asthma has this violent way of igniting overnight. What begins as a seemingly innocuous cough turns dragon-fierce, and you race the clock, hoping you can administer just enough medicine to keep the monster at bay.

We've read this script and acted these scenes with our oldest daughter, Audrey. She was 8 months old when she first saw the inside of an ER. When she was a toddler, we sat mindless hours in front of the t.v. while she inhaled her nebulized medicines. And in kindergarten, she left her doctor's office in an ambulance, after the treatments they'd given and the epinephrine they'd injected failed to break the stride of her cough. Her doctor later told me that eventually lungs fail when a person's coughed long enough.

Lungs fail? What mother can even admit the possibility that lungs fail?

But what mothers might well work to avoid, fear does all too ably: contriving possibilities, scripting nightmares. Audrey described it best in her own blog: "Worry threads its way into your dreams, and wakes you up at night."

There's this crazy frenzy to which fear drives us, and often for me, it becomes an agitated hurry to head disaster off at the pass.

When Colin came out of the hospital at the end of November, I spent two solid days on the phone. Calling his doctors in the States, calling all of our doctor friends. A little flexing of my time and money, and I'd muscled my way through the shadows. Colin was scheduled for a consult with the ENT and a tentative surgery before we were even meant to leave for the holidays. With his history of chronic infections, this was what we needed to keep him healthy and keep his asthma under control.

I felt better. Relieved.

In the evening, Ryan admitted to me hesitations. It just seems like a lot, he said. Two trips to the States? And then back again for the holidays? I countered his hesitations with all the reasons why all this inconvenience and expense was critical. Fear can be incredibly persuasive. It even sounds reasonable in the moment.

The next morning I woke to more questions. A tender probing of the soul. The gentle wind of the Spirit rustling.

Where was all this leading? The fear, the worry, the bulldozing the obstacles?

Did I believe that I was in control?

Had I been trusting?

Was there not a better way?

The morning mercies of God make a way out of fear.

I would cancel the appointments, reschedule Colin's consult with the ENT for a day we'd already planned to be in the States.

I would wait. I would trust.

And mercifully, Colin's stayed healthy these past eight weeks. The ENT, at the December consult, did confirm he would indeed need surgery.

It was scheduled for January 20. This Friday.

Now, only two more days of waiting.

God's ways are good and always worth waiting for. I am deeply grateful for each of you who has prayed for us and for Colin. And most of all, I thank and praise Him for the way He holds us in fear and invites us somewhere better.

Psalm 16

1 Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

3 I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” 4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.