Much-Afraid (Looking Back on a Year in Asia Part 3)

Trust and obey, For there’s no other way, To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.

That’s the chorus to my favorite hymn as a little girl. I’m not even sure I knew what it meant at the time. But it seems to have followed me throughout my life.

I had lots of worries.

My worries took on a life of their own during pregnancy. I would inevitably contract toxoplasmosis if I so much as walked into a house with a cat (which posed some problems for a youth ministry wife who might need to visit the houses of people who owned cats). I thought I would die of tetanus from a small tape dispenser scrape, even if I was up-to-date on my tetanus shots. I was absolutely convinced my baby would have fetal alcohol syndrome if I swished with Listerine for gum health. Or the cortisone cream I used in early pregnancy? That’ll probably cause my baby to have a cleft lip.

Unfortunately, I am not making any of this up.

But who worries about that kind of stuff anyway??

That would be me, the Hypochondriac.

I’m a Hypochondriac by nature, a Germophobe by trade. My husband even came up with a song for times when the Hypochondriac started taking over my mind: “Hypo hypo hypo, hypochondriac, I’m married to a hypo, hypochondriac!”

And he wasn’t joking.

My fears threatened to swamp me when I was pregnant with Hannah. But the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 have always buoyed me. Words like:

25Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.

 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

 30O you of little faith?

34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

After Hannah’s birth, when Jonathan first suggested we apply with Team Expansion, I was Scared.Out.Of.My.Mind, but we still moved forward with the application process. We had to take various psychological tests — you know, the kind where you answer, all-in-one-sitting, exactly 750 multiple choice questions about yourself. Then we sat across the room from the nice head doctor in Louisville as he gave us the results. One of the categories was called Harm Avoidance. (The upside to the Insanely Long Psych Test? We finally had a name for my peculiar behavior.)

I had scored a perfect 100%.

No one avoids harm better than me. No one can top that score.

Jonathan’s Harm Avoidance score was 7%.

The psychologist told Jonathan, rather sedately, “you’ll probably have to be considerate of that in your life overseas.”



If he only knew. Harm Avoidance was the only reason I had reservations about going to Cambodia at all.

But I live here without fear, at least of the daily, hourly, minutely type. (Is minutely even a word? Well, I’m going to use it anyway. Because it’s an accurate description of the hounding power of my former fears.)

Oh sure, I still startle easily. I still have an overactive imagination. And I’m still germophobic enough to bring Germ-X with me everywhere I go. (Hey now, who in their right mind wouldn’t bring hand sanitizer with them everywhere they go??)

But I shave my legs, brush my teeth, and wash my dishes in the tap water. And I don’t die of massive internal infection. (And neither will you, if you visit.)

I “trusted and obeyed,” in spite of my fears. And I said “yes” to God. That is really all that can be said about my part. God’s part was graciously taking away the fears. I said yes without assurance that He would take away the fears. I only knew He would be with me in my fears. And knowing that was enough for me to say yes.

I’m no longer captive to my Fears. This is the most significant part of my journey so far. It has the greatest impact on my daily life, and I cannot take any credit for it at all. God did this. In fact, if you asked me how He accomplished this in me, I would not be able to tell you. I only know He did.

I might not be Fearless. But I’m no longer Much-Afraid.


Perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18

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