Hands shaking, I clung to my iPhone searching through the internet until I found it.
WebMD. Got it.
A few seconds later, I found myself reading through symptoms of a brain tumour.
Vision problems. Check.
See, you’ve got two of the main symptoms.
But there are others I don’t have.
But you’ve got these two. You’ve got to see a doctor. What if you have a brain tumour?
After weeks of vision problems, I booked myself a trip to the doctor convinced that I had it all figured out. My death sentence awaited me in that exam chair. It would only be a matter of time.
This, at least, is what I had been convincing myself. The same old negative self-talk. It was a constant downward spiral I couldn’t seem to crawl out of.
What if you find out you’ve got a brain tumour? Stop.
It would explain all of your vision problems. Stop right now.
It might have been there all this time. Stop this Rachel.
And you’ll find out what you’ve always feared. Stop.
One look at your optic nerve and…
With tears streaming down my face, I pleaded with my doctor to conduct whatever test he deemed appropriate as long he could rule out my fear.
So after an hour’s worth of tests and scans, I was embarrassed to find out that all my time wasted, all my energy spent, achieved absolutely nothing. Especially because my headaches and vision problems came down to stress and what he called ‘ocular migraines.’
Stress? I blew my nose into a tissue.
Yes, you need more rest, as he proceeded to hand me more tissues.
Bless this doctor. He deserved an award (or at least a gin) after our hour long tear-filled appointment. But instead, he offered me some advice I’d struggle to forget.
If you go looking for something to be wrong, you will eventually find it.
Now, as an aside, he wasn’t for one second suggesting that it was a waste of time for me to come in. I was after all displaying some weird bodily sensations. Regardless of the severity of your symptoms if you ever feel worried about something, go get it checked out. At least for your peace of mind. Peace is 100% priceless.
But what he was inferring was that my fears have the power to concoct something into being, and that if I went looking for trouble then I most certainly would find it.
That if I let my imagination run away with me, it might lead me into trouble.
Friend, our imaginations are fascinating parts of who we are. They are beautiful parts. Magnificent parts. Inspiring parts. But they are also dangerous parts.
I have always been told I was blessed with a good imagination. As a child, I was constantly pretending to be someone else, mainly a princess (but this was like a badass princess who looked pretty while kicking some serious villain butt). My imagination always served me well, keeping me occupied for hours into the evening until the lampposts came on which signalled it was time for us kiddos to high-tail it home.
But as I’ve grown older, the very thing which I believe God has given me to use for His Kingdom, has also been the very thing the enemy has tried to use against me. To keep me shackled with fear.
Perhaps you have never had the joy of experiencing a panic attack at your optician like I have, but I know there is something in your life that keeps you on a mental hamster wheel. Your relationship. Your work. Your health. Your finances. Your living situation. And the more weight we place on this one thing, the more potential there is for the enemy to keep us sick with worry about it. For some of us, we have a bad habit of torturing ourselves by dwelling on things over and over again in our minds. And ironically, this one thing we have very little control over.
In fact, the idea that you and I are in control of our lives is a complete myth.
But back to our imaginations.
I am not one who likes to over spiritualise but this issue of cultivating negative thought patterns has been on my heart for some time. So grab a drink, I’ve got a few more things I want to say about how we claim back our imaginations.
Friend, listen to me. There is a war going on right now. And it is a battle for your mind.
Your imagination is under attack.
The enemy is after your imagination.
Have you ever thought about the fact that the same organ in your body that gets you excited about seeing your favourite band live is the same organ that also gives you anxiety?
Your imagination is the birthing place for every incredible, ground-breaking, creative idea that you will have. It’s an extraordinary incubator of inspiration and catalyst for endless opportunities.
But because your imagination is active, the enemy sets out to sabotage it. Or as Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick says, ‘The devil sets out to imprison you in your own imagination.’
I hope that you know that God has a big purpose for your life. But because the enemy knows this, he will plant thoughts in your mind to pervert that purpose. To prevent you from stepping into the thing God has called you to do. And he does this by trying to use your imagination against you so that you cannot stand to be alone with your own thoughts. By making you captive by your own imagination.
Now this all sounds dark and hopeless, but thankfully we don’t have to live like this. Anxiety is not God’s best for us.
If we’re going to live in a place of peace, then we’re going to have to talk ourselves into peace. And I’m not talking about some stereotypical pre-game pep talk. But the answer lies in the tongue.
What I’m saying is that you’ve got to talk yourself into your purpose.
God has a destiny for you. A rich destiny. He has already spoken His promise to you. Now you just need to speak it to yourself.
I don’t know anything more powerful in overcoming negative thought patterns than Scripture. Which is why one one of the most important steps to overcoming negative self-talk is learning how to take control of the conversation.
Take it from the cyberchondriac herself.
We need to stop listening to our situations and start listening to what God says about us and His plans for us.
If there is anything I have learned from repeated episodes of panic is that our lives will follow the direction of our conversations. Courage and fear both come from those conversations with ourselves.
I know what conversation I want to have.
What about you?
This post originally appeared on Rachel’s blog With Love From Rachel.