If you’ve heard me speak in depth before, you’ve likely heard bits and pieces of my story. I began dealing with fear as a child. This had nothing to do with my upbringing itself, fear was just a part of my life.
I couldn’t handle speaking in public growing up so I would make up excuses like having to go to the bathroom when it was my turn to read. In one rather dramatic case in college, I actually used the death of a family member as an excuse to get out of reading a paper in front of my whole class.
Did I mention I went to Bible school? Yep, that’s right, I lied in Bible school to get out of reading, I was THAT scared.
So, what changed? How am I able to speak to large crowds today without a problem or do television without worry? Well, the “Peace Packet” happened.
Growing up in my particular youth group, I had some out of the norm experiences that caused me to be scared to death to attend. Many times I would hide in the bathroom or in my mom’s minivan and hope no one noticed I was gone. Then, when I did attend, if a teacher would call on me to answer a question I would just freeze even though I knew the answer. Fear had imprisoned me.
One night at youth group, something different happened. I don’t remember why I was there, it was not a normal youth night, but it was late and one of our Sunday school teachers walked in and saw me in the room.
She pulled me aside and gave me that “Peace Packet.” She told me that she could tell I was dealing with fear issues and she had them too, her counselor had given her that packet and it worked well for her so she gave it to me.
She told me all I had to do was say those verses out loud anytime I felt fear. Sounded easy enough so I gave it a try. I kept that packet in my pocket for nearly 10 years.
When fear hit me, I pulled out those cards in the bathroom, in the car, anywhere and I read those verses out loud. It took awhile but little by little the fear faded away, it was replaced by peace. Those cards hold scriptures on them related to peace and fear and by using the Word of God, I was set free.
By the time I finished college, I was a different person. Only a few years later, I began teaching and speaking to crowds ranging from 5 people to over 600 people. I developed a mindset, I would not and I will not let fear overtake me.
Fear will strip you of what God has called you to be in life, it will imprison you and eat at you little by little. As I’ve written before, I’ve been going through severe stress for the last 6 months or so. That stress has triggered daily panic attacks. My body’s natural reaction to stress is fear.
But, this time I know better. I know more than I did when I was a teenager. I know how crippling fear is and I know if I give in, it will overtake me so yesterday, I dug through my drawers and found the “Peace Packet.”
Here I am, 17 years later, holding on to my 3×5 cards and fighting fear with the Word of God. Stress opened the door wide for fear, I did not keep myself in check and now, fear is trying to overtake me again.
Well, I just ain’t gonna let that happen. (Yeah, I just said that in my Okie accent).
To that Sunday school teacher, I want you to know that I will never forget you. And, I don’t know that you realize it, but you impacted my life in such a way that I believe there is a special crown waiting for you in heaven.
For those of you imprisoned by fear and panic, just remember, you hold the key to the prison door. I beg of you, if you want to be set free, get some 3×5 cards, write scriptures on them and say them every single time the feelings hit. Break out of the chains, open the prison door and be set free.
Here are a few verses that have changed my life:
“…I the Lord, will be with you and see you through.” Jeremiah 1:8 (NLB)
“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NLB)
“God gives power to the tired and worn out and strength to the weak.” Isaiah 40:29 (NLB)
“Casting the whole of your care-all of your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, one for all-on him, for he cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)
“ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
I pray peace over you right now as I pray peace over myself. I am not perfect, I still deal with fear and I still fight it. I am human and so are you. The good news is, we have a God that has already conquered fear and he lives in us, that means, we have conquered fear too.
Sarah Ann is an author, speaker and media personality committed to honesty, vulnerability and authenticity. She has a passion for empowering people who are willing to be honest and walk out life in Christ together. Sarah holds a Bachelors in Biblical Studies and a Masters in Theology and Apologetics, she also owns a clothing company, Ascent516.com and is the creator of SarahAnnSpeaks.com and the Sarah Ann Speaks Podcast. Sarah is featured daily on GEB TV.