Have you ever been overcome by seemingly irrational fears? Apprehension over something you will not be able to control, worry that events will go horribly wrong? All this with no evident reason, nothing rational to support your fear?
For the first time in my life (that I can remember, anyway), I was struck by such a baseless fear. It grew from a nameless emotion into something that gave me nightmares over the course of 2 or 3 months. Many would just label it "hormones." I was, after all, 7, 8 and 9 months pregnant during this period of time. And my fear was directly related to that status--I worried that something tragic would happen to my baby and/or me before or during the birthing process.
Before this baby arrived, I'd enjoyed three eventless, relatively easy pregnancies and deliveries. My 3 older children are absolute blessings. So my history gave no indication that something would go wrong with #4. And all prenatal visits showed a healthy baby growing inside. I felt great, the baby looked good, all seemed normal and well. And my friends tell me that I'm a pretty laid-back, confident, stable sort of gal. Yet, the fear came and stayed.
My (un)reasoning went something like this: what are the odds? I've had 3 perfect childbirth experiences. Can I really expect a fourth one just like those? I'm pushing 40 (docs call that AMA--advanced maternal age), I have friends struggling with difficult pregnancies (so I know what could happen), et cetera, et cetera.
I didn't tell anyone until the final week before delivering. And I only told one person--an older friend and colleague--to ask for prayer. Mostly for me to stop worrying! But also for the baby. I never even told my husband...I just kept it all in.
I could write another blog's-worth about the horrible theology I was practicing. Everything about it was wrong, as if circumstances were beyond God's control. And I knew I was thinking badly, every step of the way. Worse, we'd just spent the Christmas season walking through the Nativity story with our children. Fresh on my mind were the words of the angel Gabriel (to Zachariah and Mary) in which the first thing he says is, "Do not be afraid!"
And then God did something wonderful. Two days before my scheduled induction, a friend who had learned the name of the hospital where I planned to deliver, sent me a message (via facebook, where else?). She told me that during a visit to that same hospital, she walked the halls praying for me and my upcoming time there. Several other friends sent less specific notes that day mentioning their prayers for me.
I cried. Yeah, almost anything can make a pregnant woman do that. But these were tears of relief, thankfulness, amazement...that God would send me such specific messages of His care. He knew my worried heart, He heard my friend's prayer, and He prompted her to encourage me with a brief note affirming that my situation indeed was being put before the Father.
All together, in addition to my own prayer life (which included a lot of, "I know I'm being stupid, Lord; please forgive my lack of faith"), my heart and mind were easy on the actual day in question. I don't remember even thinking about possible problems until it was all over and I held my beautiful, healthy son in my arms.
If you find yourself thinking badly, knowing you are being irrational yet unable to stop, tell someone. Ask for help and prayer and comfort. Even if you feel silly admitting to your fears. I confessed mine to another friend, after the fact, only to learn that she also had feared the same thing for me and had been praying for weeks ahead of time. And though I was glad she had wisely not shared her feelings with me before, I was once again comforted by knowing that yet another friend had been praying for me.
So next time you pray for someone, tell her. You never know how that might encourage her heart. Your words may be the answer to her prayer.
PS. Oh, the irony: all along we were planning to name our baby Gabriel. Now he'll forever remind me to "fear not!"