Written by Sarah Baker
It took 21 years, but I can safely say that Fear is no longer running my life. And it took one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had for that to happen.
Let me set the scene for you.
There were several significant times in my life where Fear took the driver’s seat. Back in high school, I was offered a position on the best competitive volleyball team in Duluth for my age group. My parents let me know that the coach had contacted them, asking if I would be willing to take a leading role as a setter on the team. I was a shy, skinny little 10th grader at the time and the idea of playing on a Nationals team terrified me. I knew many of the girls on the team and I was convinced they were all much better than I could ever be. So I told my parents, “No, I don’t want to play,” even though volleyball was my favorite sport. Fear: 1. Sarah: 0.
Looking back, not joining the team is one of my biggest regrets; there’s no telling where I would be right now if I had joined the team and gotten infinitely better at volleyball.
Another major event in my life where Fear stole the wheel right out of hands occurred this past summer. At the beginning of the summer, I was set to go on a four-week study abroad program in Scotland. As the days to my flight out of Winnipeg drew nearer, I got increasingly more anxious. The anxiety was warranted—the last time I had gone on a vacation, I was overcome by a peculiar sickness while on the side of the mountain, basically all alone. (We later figured out I had a virus of some kind and my thyroid had gone berserk, making me feel constantly sick). I was terrified that I would end up in Scotland by myself and in a similar situation. About a week before the trip, I confessed my fears to my parents and we decided that it would be best for my mental health to remain in Duluth for the summer. Fear: 2. Sarah: Still 0.
Ever since I was old enough to make my own choices, countless decisions I made were driven by Fear. Hmm yeah I think you’d better not talk to that guy you like. Don’t apply to that research lab—you’re definitely not smart enough to join. Don’t join that club—you won’t fit in. Basically, the final score ended up being Fear: 1 million, Sarah: probably a solid 2. I’m sure most of you can relate.
Everything changed during the summer after my sophomore year of college. I had just decided to skip the Scotland trip and had fallen into a terrible state of anxiety-induced depression. I’ll put it bluntly—it really, really sucked. All the things I originally loved doing (fishing, playing with my dog, driving up the Shore, etc.) didn’t seem interesting anymore. My heart was racing all the time and my mind felt like it was constantly going a mile a minute. And let me tell you, when you’re in a bad mental state, your mind can put some pretty horrifying thoughts in your head. It got to the point where my faith in God seriously suffered. I’m a good person, I thought. Why would God be doing this to me? I surely don’t deserve this. Maybe GOD ISN’T REAL. Yeah, that’s gotta be it.
I’d like to say a switch flipped and everything went right back to normal. But that wasn’t the case. God doesn’t work like that and I now know that. Although my experience with depression and anxiety lasted less than a year, it felt like much longer. When you’re in the middle of that wilderness, it seems like you can never find the forest edge. It feels like you’re the only one stuck in there and the trees are so thick, that not even the light of the Son can find its way through. Here’s the thing though: as long as just a little bit of light breaks the treeline, you can find your way out of the wilderness. How? Through Faith. Faith that God is real and nothing can stop His plans for you. Faith that something good will come out of your experience. Faith that something is stirring inside of you, just waiting for the right moment to break through. And, as the great Elle Woods once said, “You must always have faith in yourself.”
For me, my experience changed my entire perspective on life. I no longer make decisions based on fear—now I choose my path based on Faith. I always hear athletes say “Trust the process.” By putting my faith in God, I surrender myself to trusting His process. I have faith that the good times and the bad times will bring about changes that I’m not always capable of fully understanding—sometimes God only knows. As my wise younger sister says, “I think that’s a huge part of faith—trusting God even in the midst of our lack of understanding. Sometimes, it’s only in retrospect that we see how He moves in our lives.”
Fear to Faith—I promise you, that simple shift will make all the difference.
“You beat fear when you stop running away from what scares you and instead run away from what makes you comfortable and into the very thing that makes you tremble. That’s when you see God’s power break in you and through you. That’s when everything changes.”
-Jordan Lee Dooley (#soulscripts)