That Time I Thought I had Lice—How to Overcome Irrational Fears

Photo via Creative Commons, Flickr

Photo via Creative Commons, Flickr

It all started when we had head lice one summer.

Yeah, now you’re feeling a little itchy, aren’t you? One mention of the word, lice, makes all of us scratch our heads.

Once, in college, a friend of mine called me to tell me she had contracted the little buggers. Since we had hung out nonstop the weekend before, I instantly felt my scalp crawl.

I washed everything that could fit in the machine and doused the rest in pesticides. I shampooed my hair way more than the bottle of RID recommended.

Then a few days later, she calls and says it was a false alarm. She never had lice. We laughed about it that day and learned the power of suggestion.

So, a decade later when my family picked up a case of head lice, I probably shouldn’t have freaked out. But the ick factor pushed me into the irrational fear zone.

We did the normal things combined with some obsessive combing. Just to be sure I hired professional nit pickers, (yes, that’s a real thing) and we came up clean.

Except, I didn’t believe it.

And that’s the thing with irrational fear. Once it’s burrowed its way into your mind, logic doesn’t turn it off.

I kept combing and checking my head in mirrors. Months later I had a friend at church check my head. Five months later I made my mom look.

I worried the worst at night. And when I’m really stressed out I still have lice nightmares.

So, yeah, the fear of lice seems a little silly, but I wanted to tell my story because you might have your own fear that won’t evacuate.

I have another friend who grew up on a steady diet of the TV show, Cops, and today she rarely feels safe in new places. I know women who are afraid to walk alone even in safe neighborhoods.

So, if this hits home for you today, know that God doesn’t want you to live in fear.

I asked God to deliver me from my lice phobia, and he did. Worship and filling my mind with the beauty of God cured me.

And this article helped. In it John Piper says, “Most of us suffer from all-consuming puny problems because we are not enthralled by a great God or swept up in any magnificent cause.”

Piper says freedom from irrational fear comes from filling our minds with “big and powerful realities.”

So if you think there’s a razor blade in your banana or battle some other neurotic fear, take Piper’s advice.

“Don’t tell him the razor isn’t there. Take him for a walk around the lake. Show him the squirrels chasing, the robins working, the fuzzy tassels on the elm. Recite to him some splendid poem that blew away the clouds for you today. Exult with him in some promise…“The hand of our God is for good upon them that seek him” (Ezra 8:22). God may grant in a year or two that he realize there are bananas on his cereal—and have been for months!”

6 thoughts on “That Time I Thought I had Lice—How to Overcome Irrational Fears

  1. This isn’t making my head itch (at least not from thoughts of lice), but it’s making me remember when I got lice in school..my roommate was awesome about the whole thing. Especially us having to walk in the snow (I was in my chair though), across a really busy intersection to get to the store to buy the RiD kit. Also, I think I cried when they told me I had lice at the nurse’s office. Such a fun time that was.

    You know how I feel about the article :)

  2. A family member and a very close friend live trapped in their irrational fears, and it makes me so sad because it keeps them from taking small risks and they assume the worst. In the case of my friend, something really terrible did happen to her, so she has that to refer back to and I can never say, “The chances of that happening are so small…” because she has experienced that low percentage chance happening to her. And I guess even that family member had something tragic happen in early childhood, so maybe that complicates everything?

    I do love Piper’s practical advice to at least try to counteract the fear of yet another horrible thing happening by filling their experience with lots and lots of undeniably positive memories and moments. Yes, there is bad in this world, even evil; but there is also much good as we see God’s kingdom come on earth all over the place.

    Good words, Trisha.

    • Thanks Ann. I think it does complicate things. I was thinking about the people who have had the improbable things happen to them. Whether fears are warranted or not, I know God desires to set people free.

      I know it requires action or willingness on our part. Piper’s advice reminds me of Jesus’ words in Luke 11:34, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”

  3. First, I have NO fear of lice. I am blessed with God-given lice protection. So, there ya go.

    When it comes to scary stuff, like after watching a scary movie and having to walk outside into the dark, alone…or after watching something like the movie “Decent”… I sing the words to Bill Gaither’s song: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There’s just something about that Name…” Demons flee, man-eating monsters vanish, etc.

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