Writer’s Name: JC Gardner
Title: Face Your Fears
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
In my younger days whenever I had to do any type of public speaking, whether with strangers or friends and family, I would have a near panic attack. My palms would become sweaty, my heart would palpitate at a rapid pace, and my legs would shake uncontrollably to the point where I felt as if they could not support me.
In addition to this, in all instances, I needed to have a restroom nearby. My insides would be in such an anxious state that anything I had eaten ran out of me like a disease. Once I arrived at the podium, I would not make eye contact. I’d concentrate on the paper in front of me and speed through my message, trying to get finished as soon as possible, only glancing up so as not to fall off the stage.
Public speaking traumatized me yet it is a part of what I must do. I had something to say – a good word to contribute – but fear paralyzed me. It put a stronghold on my thoughts and my actions. It was overwhelming and at times, I felt like it won out over the good news I needed to share.
Among my many dreams in life, I did not only want to sing on the choir, but to also be able to do solos. I’m by no means a rock star, but if speaking in front of people practically debilitated me, how on earth could I sing a solo without needing an ambulance? What was I afraid of? That I wouldn’t sound good? That I would sing off-key or forget the words?
The scripture that opens this article came to me through a good sister-friend of mine, who was also my choir director. She helped me to realize and recognize that my praises in song would be unto God. Our Creator would delight in anything done unto Him and to be afraid is not what He would want. I spent a lot of time meditating on this scripture and after a time of prayerful reflection, it became clear. If God did not give us a spirit of fear, then the feeling of fear is not of God, but of something else; and the common phrase, “don’t let the devil steal your joy” suddenly had real meaning.
Once I allowed myself to truly believe that being afraid was not how we were designed and that I had opened a door for the enemy to rob me of being the best I could be, I started to have a different outlook about my fears and knew that with time, I could overcome them.
Now when I have to speak in front of others – or sing a solo – I no longer feel like I’m on the verge of a breakdown. I actually look forward to it. Having the restroom nearby is still a requirement. I believe that is my body’s way of purging out the bad so I can deliver the “good.” Do I still get nervous? Of course, but it is in anticipation of what is about to happen. I am amped up when I look out into the crowd and see that my message is being received with interest and enthusiasm. Instead of my face being buried in the paper, I’m making direct contact and engaging with the audience.
This did not happen overnight. Before getting in front of others, prayer was always mandatory. God goes before me and is standing right by my side from beginning to end. I learned to look at the audience as someone who wants me to succeed vs. fail. If one of my friends is in the crowd, that is my first interaction – a familiar face to break the ice who I know is cheering me on. And then I have fun and make sure we all are enjoying the journey.
Repetition and practice is also a must if you are serious about overcoming your fears. Saying I desire to speak in front of others and hiding every time an opportunity arises is not going to help you improve. Step out on faith and conquer that anxiety that is holding you back.
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also has become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."