It was a tiny red spot on my face, no bigger than a freckle. I thought I’d burned myself with my curling iron. But when it never went away, I decided to error on the side of caution and have my dermatologist take a look. My dermatologist didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about, but a couple days later she left me a voicemail. It was skin cancer, and I would need to schedule an operation for the next week.
At the time, I felt prepared. I felt grateful that I had listened to that quiet prompting and had gone to see my doctor. I felt like I had this all under control. But when the dermatologist showed me the wound halfway through the operation, all of that confidence fell to pieces. I could hear the worry in her voice, as she explained the situation. There was a hole the size of a quarter in my face. The cancer was larger and deeper than she or the lab had expected. She wasn’t sure how she would be able to stitch it up. I was pretty sure I could see my own skull. It was terrifying. I was afraid. Afraid at how I would look, at if the cancer would return, at how I would pay for the needed surgery.
We have all been there. Everyone has fears and worries that are at times too personal to even say out loud. We worry about how we will pay the bills, put food on the table, care for those we love, help those dear to us that are struggling, and ever get ahead in a world that seems to bring nothing but challenges. In his conference address, Be Not Troubled, Elder Rasband explains, “Our desire to ‘always have his Spirit’ with us will push fear aside for a more eternal view of our mortal lives…” We are to stand in Holy Places. Our homes, our chapels, the temple.
“Our love of God counters all fears, and His love abounds in holy places. Think about it. When we are tentative in our commitments to the Lord, when we stray from His path leading to life eternal, when we question or doubt our significance in His divine design, when we allow fear to open the door to all its companions—discouragement, anger, frustration, disappointment—the Spirit leaves us, and we are without the Lord. If you know what that is like, you know it is not a good place to be. In contrast, when we stand in holy places, we can feel God’s love, and ‘perfect love casteth out all fear.’”
It’s been less than a month since my surgery. I wish I could say that my fears were instantly lifted. They haven’t been. Fear is something that I still have to push against. But this conference talk has taken on new meaning as I’ve tried to put faith before fear. When I follow Elder Rasband’s advice to stand in Holy Places, ‘be not troubled’, and trust in the Lord and his promises, I feel armed with a strength and peace that is more than my own. And that is something special.
Read Elder Rasband's full address here, and download the worksheet below to help take time to reflect, identify ways to take action, and turn your fears in to steps of faith!