I was asked to share my testimony with the women in the church I attended. I was petrified just thinking about doing it.
I hate being on center stage. My heart races, my hands sweat, my legs turn to spaghetti, and my brain turns to mush. I feel as if I’m cut open and being dissected like a poor little frog. But at least the poor little frog is dead!
Yet, I agreed. That’s what good Christians are supposed to do, right? Share what God has done and continues doing in their lives, right? In spite of the fear and anxiety, it causes, right?
Right. God will give me the words to say. He will help me through my fear.
So I did it. I stood behind the podium, unzipped my skin, and exposed every inch of my quivering heart.
When the service was over, I was overwhelmed with hugs and tears and I’m praying for you. Relief washed over me like a trickling stream. My knees stopped knocking. My heart forgave me. Everything was good.
Well, not everything.
One well-meaning soul came up to me and blurted, “I always knew something was wrong with you, now I know what!”
No, I didn’t blacken her eyes. I just considered the source and laughed it off. You can do that when you own up to who you are and stop pretending to be what people want you to be in spite of your fear and anxiety. In spite of what people think.
So, yes, I was scared to death that Sunday night standing in the limelight and every eye aiming at me. Just as I was scared to death every time I stood up to sing or play the piano or my accordion or speak. Sometimes just walking into a crowded room was so overwhelming that I wanted to run back out the door.
Social anxiety disorder has wrecked my entire life. I don’t know where it came from and why it latched onto me, I just know it’s a monster that binges on fear.
Fear is a ravaging beast that kills dreams. Fear is why people wear masks, why they become people-pleasers, why they can’t be true to themselves.
So, yes, I’m afraid. I’m very afraid. But I’m learning to be brave and strong enough to push through my fear. To own my weaknesses. To try and fail. To be vulnerable. To speak out. To fall and get back up again. And again. And again.
Fear is losing its death grip.
And I’m feeling good about that.