I noticed it during the early morning hours while nursing a restless baby E back into slumber.
Normally, I don't even fully wake when I nurse him, but I felt something strange.
I fumbled in the dark, ran my finger tips over a rather large bump on my breast after E had latched on and was contentedly slurping away.
I dismissed it as nothing, and I went fell back to sleep only to wake and notice it again while nursing the little one.
Red and raised and swollen.
My baby continued to nurse as I tried to analyze it, figure it out, self diagnose.
And after he finished I did what any compulsive worrier does: I consulted Dr. Google. And he reported at least 10 different possibilities including but not limited to cysts, mastitis, plugged duct, tumor ...
I'm the type of person who can see smoke gently rising into the sky in the middle of the clear midwestern sky and go from a simple state of wondering the cause to thinking a bomb went off, and oh, by the way, don't I hear sirens in the background? Lots of sirens? Quick, head home, load up the kids and ammo and drive straight to upper peninsula Michigan where I'll quickly have to assimilate to living an outdoors life sans toilet paper while hunting my own food and tracking down seeds so I can plant a garden because it's very apparently World War III that's dawning in the sky right before my very eyes ...
As the smoke clears, of course, I'm still standing in the middle of the driveway lost in worst case scenario and fretting over how I'll possibly survive without electricity in the middle of a cold UP winter, totally drenched in my own worry and fear.
Oh, you laugh. But I'm serious. I've gone from zero to full-fledged Armageddon in about 60 seconds regarding that very scenario more than once.
I'm not totally crazy; nope, rather, I'm just a recovering worrier.
I'm emerging as the captain of a ship of fear at the old age of 27 after years and years of sinking into a sea of worry and doubt.
And like most everything in life, this has been a journey of faith and perseverance and self control.
I sit at the feet of a very wise mentor. I've been lucky enough to be in three of her pilot classes for different Bible studies she's written.
She's full of wisdom and knowledge, and I could listen to her experiences for hours and feel like only 15 minutes has passed.
She's a recovering worrier, too, so often she throws out life per servers for those of us stuck in a sinking boat of worry and fear.
A few weeks ago, she cited a scientific study about worry, fear and gratitude.
It's physically impossible, scientifically speaking, to simultaneously worry and express gratitude.
The same neurons fire off both of those expressions, so it simply cannot be done.
She then took us to the Manual for Life.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6
Funny how God knew what He was talking about long before the study but it often takes a scientific study to perk our ears, pique our attention.
So my quick remedy since she shared this with our class is to immediately go to gratitude when I find myself sinking into the worry and fear life so often hands me.
I resolved to call our doctor and made an appointment to see him promptly as I go about my morning, taking care of the boys and tending to the house.
As I cuddle a crabby baby and a too-hyper preschooler climbs atop my back while I'm perched on the floor, I feel my heart drop into my stomach, cuing the worry.
I know I'm about to go there; I know my mind is starting the descent into worry and fear.
Whether it's a clogged duct or cyst or tumor, something's there.
I have no control over it being there, I tell myself.
But I do have a choice in how I respond to it, whatever it is, being there.
I can worry myself into a foul mood, rob my family of a perfectly good morning by getting testy and irritated and anxious.
I can start thanking God for all the beauty laid out before my very eyes.
So I choose to give thanks.
And just like the study says, just like the Word says, I feel the fear melt into a puddle of insignificance at my feet when I bring my requests to His feet with thanksgiving through prayer and petition.
Because worry only robs today of it strength.
There's no point in bringing the possibility of problems for tomorrow into today.
Because today has enough problems of its own.
But it also has enough goodness of its own, and there's no reason to overshadow that with clouds of fear.