Last week, I faced one of my greatest fears. Don’t laugh at me when I say all I did was get a cavity filled. It’s not the dental work itself that scares me — three years of braces got me pretty used to someone poking around in my mouth. The trouble is the Novocaine. I’m terribly afraid of needles. I know lots of people don’t like shots, but that’s not quite what I’m talking about.

I’ve always been queasy about shots, and I remember a fair bit of anxiety at the doctor’s office when I was a kid. But the real trouble started when I had two traumatic needle experiences my first year of college. Since then, the very thought of a needle has given me cold sweats. I think I may actually be clinically phobic, though I haven’t checked with anyone on that. Talking about shots causes my heart to race. Sometimes I get light-headed. It’s ridiculous.

This, pathetically, has been state of things for quite some time. What’s worse is that I know it’s irrational. In my head, I understand that no needle is going to hurt much at all. I know I’m not going to die. There’s absolutely no reason to be afraid. But I’m afraid reason has nothing to do with it. Telling myself it’s no big deal doesn’t stop my arms from going numb.

You may imagine, then, the turmoil I was in when I found out I needed two fillings. My dentist’s office is filled with kind people who understand wimps like me. I knew I could probably get a prescription for anxiety medicine to take beforehand, which I thought might be a good idea.

A few days before my appointment, I was talking to my friend Elisabeth about how scared I was, and I asked whether taking Valium before a filling would make me a druggie. She said no, not if I needed it (she’s good at understanding my irrational anxiety). But then she said something else I think may be one of the most important things I’ve ever heard. “This could be a severe mercy,” she said. Something that seems awful at the time but is actually a gift. God could be using this to make me more courageous. (Elisabeth, by the way, is the bravest person I know. She never lets fear stop her from doing anything.)

After that, I decided to not ask for a prescription. I asked God to help me, and I told Him that even though it was just a stupid needle I couldn’t face it alone. I asked Him to make me more courageous. And, to my amazement, He did. The day of my appointment, I wasn’t as anxious as I normally would’ve been. On the drive to the office, I started feeling afraid, but I thought, “It’s just fear. I can handle fear. It’ll be ok.” It wasn’t that I wasn’t scared, it was that I felt like I could face it. That most definitely did not come from me.

As it turns out, they gave me nitrous, which was way more powerful than I was anticipating. When the actual shot happened, I barely knew what was happening. I think God might have known that I wasn’t quite ready to handle the whole thing. But He got me closer this time. I mean, I didn’t know beforehand that I would be totally out of it, and I faced a shot without passing out or having a panic attack. I know it sounds dumb, but it’s a big deal.

I don’t think anything is too small for Jesus. He knows I still get scared of dumb things like phantoms in my closet. When He says He’s with me and to be of good courage, He’s not just talking about big stuff like facing persecution — He’s talking about getting shots. I also know He uses all the little things to mold me into the woman He means me to be. He’s making me courageous and teaching me to trust Him completely, one baby step at a time. He’s gracious like that, and I am grateful.


  1. Pops - June 13, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

    OK…now I am feeling like a big baby…

  2. Elisabeth Key - June 13, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

    Wow! I don’t deserve to be called brave. But, thank you, friend. Those are words I needed to hear. You are so brave! :) Thank you for making my day.

    • Erin - June 13, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

      You absolutely deserve it.

  3. Lisa - June 14, 2012 @ 9:19 am

    Look at me! I’m sailing…. I sail!!

    • Erin - June 14, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

      My mother is so supportive.

  4. Kelcie - June 14, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

    You’re really lovely. It was a big deal. Also, that What about Bob quote is amazing.

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