I was looking over my calendar, seeing what things I have on my list to do, work, appointments, events that are planned and such and realized that I have an appointment with the dentist in a couple weeks, just a cleaning and exam, not having any issues right now so I don’t expect to get any bad news. But, just seeing that on my calendar was enough and I started to get anxious. I am terrified of dentists. TERRIFIED! I have some fears about life, we all do. But, with dentists it is a true phobia. Even when it is time for a simple cleaning my stomach gets in knots, my heart races and I get close to cancelling the appointment. I don’t, but I get upset. To fully explain how bad my phobia is I will tell about issues in Iraq I experienced.
Maybe a month before we deployed I had a mandatory dental exam, to make sure no big issues that would compromise my ability to do my job and therefore interfere with the unit as a whole. All was fine. I had, maybe 6 months earlier had an exam and I had to get a filling. All seemed fine, but then after I was there maybe 2 or 3 months I started to get some pain in the tooth I had gotten a filling in several months before. Within just a few days, it worsened. Then, while on a 4 day mission, way out away from our camp it suddenly got much worse. I carried a variety of drugs in addition to the standard medical supplies in my aid bag so I started some antibiotics but that did not help. At the end of that day it was still getting worse, much worse. I used a mirror and saw that an abscess had formed there and while antibiotics would eventually treat it, this was bad enough that it needed drained. So, I numbed it a little, had someone hold a flashlight so I could see and using a large needle made openings to drain the infected abscess. Several of the soldiers were gathered around to see, because, well, morbid curiosity I suppose, and for some reason, some people like to be grossed out. After draining it, continuing the antibiotics and using anti-inflammatory medication to help with the swelling, it calmed down and by the next day was pretty tolerable. After returning to camp after the mission was over I went to the dentist. Come to find out that the filling was not done exactly right and because of that the cavity had worsened and the infection developed. The dentist removed that cavity, used special filling material with antibiotic in it and refilled the tooth. After he was done, I asked how I did and he said, “You did great, hardly moved at all.” I explained I was terrified to go to the dentist and was almost paralyzed from fear one there. Now, this dentist was a friend and commented, about that. I told him it was different when just being friends than when getting treated. He asked if it was really that bad and I told him, “Dude, I would rather go to a gunfight than see the dentist.” He chuckled and we planned another visit in a couple weeks to remove the temporary antibiotic filling he had placed, do a root canal and do a proper filling.
Fast forward to the day of the appointment, done with the antibiotics, pain and swelling were gone. I was doing better. I went to go to the appointment, even though terrified, because I knew I needed to get the work done. I get to the area he used for treatment. He had just gotten done with someone else, and as the assistant was cleaning up from that and getting the instruments and all ready for me I began to remove my blouse (Army term for shirt/top) and pistol belt. I had just sat down in the chair and then on the radio I had to carry they were calling me. I got the radio and answered. They said, “Doc, we have multiple units in contact and the Old man (Commander) is getting ready to head out and said to call to see if you were coming.” I looked at the chair and answered, “Roger that, I will be in front of Charlie Med (our medical unit.)” Told them where my body armor, helmet and aid bag were located and started getting ready, put my pistol belt and blouse back on. And told the dentist that I had to go, I had a gunfight. He laughed, thinking I was joking, and when I started to walk out he followed, saying that it was funny at first, but he needed to get the work done as he had others scheduled after me. I explained I wasn’t joking. He continued to follow along, getting a little more and more frustrated and a little angry. We got to the area where I was meeting the guys, and in a minute or so they pulled up. The driver told me my gear was behind him so I opened the door, checked to make sure what I needed was there and started putting on the body armor and such. The dentist’s mouth dropped open, then, obviously surprised, he finally said, “you really are going to a gunfight.” I said, “I told you I’d rather go to a gunfight than the dentist.” And we left.
Several hours later we returned, I went to Charlie Med to check on casualties, those I had sent in as well as any of which I was unaware. As I was doing so, Matt (the dentist) saw me and came up. He talked about how he couldn’t believe I went out like that, left the safety of camp (that was a relative safety as we received mortar and rocket attacks often) and went out to known battle. I told him that was how bad my phobia of dentists was and besides, I had been in maybe a dozen gunfights and never been hurt, but I had been in his chair a couple times and got hurt every time I had been there. Then, he said, “well, that may be true, but leaving to go out, not getting the stuff done today just means we have to reschedule it. That root canal and filling have to be done.”
SO, by not facing the fear all I did was delay the inevitable. It was a temporary victory, shallow and incomplete. Yeah, like the song I hear on the radio, “Fear I a liar.” Fear kept me from getting something done that really needed done. I rationalized that the better option was to expose myself to extreme danger and possibly death, just to avoid something that was necessary to face. I was shot at, there were explosions very near me and had God not place a guardian angel there to protect me, I would have been injured or died, of that I have no doubt. I eventually got the work done and still felt fearful when going for the dental work but I was able to get myself there and am better for it.
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. Genesis 22:12
Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 25:17
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Luke 12:5
Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. Acts 13:26
Now, not all fear can cause problems, there are healthy fears. Most humans fear snakes, spiders, darkness, strange locations or strangers for some examples. Those fears protect us. Snakes can be venomous and make us ill or kill us if we are bitten, the same is true for spiders. There can be dangers associated with darkness, we don’t see things well and can step into a hole, trip over something, or come across a dangerous animal that attacks us. Strangers and strange locations have huge unknowns and can be dangerous to our well being. More importantly the fear of God and of eternity in Hell. All healthy fears that we should heed, the last most of all.
And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. Genesis 26:24
Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you. Deuteronomy 3:22
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalms 23:4
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31
But, there are other fears that are not so healthy, they may not be unnatural, but are not necessary. Fear of change, fear of financial impact of some possible actions, fear of the response of others to our actions, fear of being alone are some of the possibilities. Fear of change, financial impact, affect on others of some possible actions has kept me from doing something that I have needed to do for many, many years. So, rather than face that fear, I did nothing and I still have to deal with the very same situation, the same need to make the changes continues. I and many others have avoided change because of fear.
But, what about the fear of things such as being alone or the financial impact of living on one income? Well, sometimes one stays in a marriage to avoid facing those fears, other times people rush to get married to avoid it, knowing deep inside whether they admit it to themselves or not, sometimes rationalizing, like I did with the dentist, that doing one thing was better than the option all the while I knew, oh how I knew, deep inside I was not helping myself by avoiding the dental work and was taking the risk of things getting worse, yet I did something that placed me in a bad situation to avoid it. Yet, people do strange things rather than face fear and deal with it as they should, by praying, studying the Bible and seeking Christ.
And, as I said, I did eventually face the fear of the dentist, overcame that and took the steps I needed to for my long term benefit. I am currently facing fears, taking steps to address them and changes for my own good, my emotional and spiritual are being made. I praise God that He has helped me face my fears and deal with them in the necessary ways.
Lord, I come to You today, with praise in my heart, glorifying You and Your son. I thank You for the mercies and blessings You give me and for the lessons You are teaching me to improve my walk with Christ. I ask You help me know which fears to have and which to face, to give me the strength and courage to face the fears I need face to follow Your plan for my life. I pray You will work in not just my heart, but the hearts of loved ones and others, show them which fears to face, which to heed. Draw us all closer to You, work in our minds that we choose to seek You and to hear what You wish for us in life and that we not let fears keep us from Your will for us. I thank You for my salvation and pray for Your forgiveness of sins I may commit.
Thanks for your time. I hope there is someone out there that gets a blessing or needed information about facing fears in life and seeking God to help better discern what they need do about facing those fears. I hope all have a very blessed day and are blessings to others as we go about our day’s activities.