I want to share with you my experience of how I was delivered from fear, anxiety and shame.
To give you a little background first, I had dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Getting around groups of people always made it worse, and I would feel so uncomfortable that I couldn’t wait to get home to be by myself. My heart would pound, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything much of the time. If anyone I didn’t know very well would ask me a question about a subject I wasn’t confident talking about (which was mostly everything), my mind would go blank and my words would come out jumbled.
Surprisingly, I remember people often commenting that I had a “quiet confidence” about me, and that always made me laugh to myself. They had no idea of the panic erupting inside of me…
Several years back, our previous church had something called, “Prayer in the Park” where we would go to a local park one night a week in the summer to pray over our city, church and whatever else was on our hearts. My husband and I would always go, and I would just pray silently.
One night the only people who went were my two pastors, my husband and myself. I suddenly felt panicked. Then, after they pulled out a list of things to pray for, I really felt panicked! When they announced that we would go around in a circle and take turns praying for everything, I just wanted to run away. I didn’t know what I was going to do.
When it was my turn, I would just pass it along to my husband each time, because I couldn’t make myself do it. Now if there’s ever a time that you’re going to pray when asked to, it’s when your pastors are right there waiting for you to do it! My mind kept going blank, and my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. I know it must have really looked like I just didn’t feel like praying, but on the inside I was paralyzed with fear.
I didn’t even know how to make up a prayer. Not that anyone wanted me to make one up, but I couldn’t even fake a real prayer by reciting something I knew would be the “right thing” to say, just so I wouldn’t cause attention to myself by not praying.
Nothing would come out. I felt paralyzed with fear. So many times, situations like this would happen, and I’m sure it looked like I just didn’t care. No one but my husband (who is as outgoing as it gets) knew the trepidation I was experiencing.
This is just one example of something that has happened to me many, many times. It goes so far back, that I can remember examples of it happening to me in elementary school. Especially when put on the spot, my mind would just go blank. This stopped me from participating in activities that I would have otherwise been a part of, and it also affected some of my relationships.
Those of you who know my husband know that he is very outgoing. He always wanted to pray with me, but he could never understand why I wouldn’t pray out loud with him. I didn’t grow up praying out loud in front of people, so learning how to do this was especially excruciating for me. He thought I was just resisting him, when I was really unable to. He thought I just didn’t care enough, when I wanted to more than anything…I just didn’t know how to force it out of my mouth. The anxiety it caused me was enough to risk us getting into an argument about it (again!) rather than just force myself to pray with him. I just felt completely gripped with fear.
It’s amazing to think about now, because I started attending our previous church’s altar worker team trainings in 2010 in hopes to become an altar worker. I had the sense that I needed to become an altar worker in order to do what God wanted me to do in the future. Becoming an altar worker was the first step, and I knew this deep down in my heart. The only problem at the time was…I was petrified!
I didn’t know how I was going to pray for people, even though I had spent years sowing God’s Word into my heart. It was all in there, but I just didn’t know how to relax enough so my mind wouldn’t freeze up when I tried to pray.
My husband led this ministry, so I decided I would go to all of the trainings and just hope that I could force myself to get over the fear. I’m so glad I did this, because little did I realize that I would be delivered from much of this fear and extreme anxiety a few months after I started going to the trainings.
So, with that little bit of background…
My husband and I went to a healing and freedom conference at Gateway Church in Texas in January 2011. We were incredibly excited to go, and I had my list of things that I was hoping to be delivered from. Fear, anxiety and shame were not on that list, but I would have to say that the work God did in my heart that weekend focused mainly around these three things.
It’s amazing how God works. I had fasted for 3 weeks beforehand (during a church-wide fast) right before I went, and I had specifically asked God to deliver me of a few things. God had His own agenda, though, which was better than my own. 🙂
To be honest, I didn’t realize that I still had shame that I needed to be set free from. Fear and anxiety were two things that I had always felt for as long as I could remember, so I didn’t even think to be delivered from them. I knew they weren’t part of who God created me to be, but I just figured that I was just going to have to one day learn to be strong enough to break through it. I just thought it was something I was going to have to always deal with and just learn how to conquer somehow.
During KAIROS, they had a short teaching and time of ministering for several topics, including shame. I didn’t realize it at the time, but God cleaned so much shame out of me that day. I didn’t realize how much of it was in me until it was gone. I realized at that point that I had felt unworthy to minister to others due to the sin (pornography) I willfully participated in a few years back.
It’s one thing to participate in something like that before you are saved, but it takes on a whole new level of shame when you get caught up in a trap like this after you have given your life to Christ – and it makes it a whole lot tougher to get out if you think you can’t tell anyone.
I also felt such fear of my prayers not being good enough and sounding dumb. When I pray, it’s not in long drawn-out paragraphs. It’s in shorter spurts. Everyone else I ever heard pray, prayed like they were reciting a book. Writing had always come easier for me when it came to expressing myself (it still does), and praying in front of others just felt way too personal. I felt exposed.
One way they ministered to me that day in KAIROS was especially powerful. They had a clear jar of water up front, and everyone was invited to come up and take some of the water, using it as a symbol of the cleansing (purity) God offers us.
I went up there not really feeling anything in particular, but as soon as it was my turn I just knew in my heart what I wanted to do. I put some water on my eyes, ears and hands. The Holy Spirit was speaking so clearly to me that He had cleansed me from all of my shame from my past. He cleansed me from all of the things I had touched, looked at and heard that I never should have.
It was like I could feel Him showing me that I was clean. God cleared out so much residual shame out of me that day, and I suddenly felt worthy of God’s love and worthy for Him to use me to minister to others.
The incredible thing is, I don’t even know when I was delivered of fear that weekend, but I was! I think some of it went with the shame I had been feeling. A couple months after the conference, I was an altar worker at our church for the first time. I was really nervous, but I did it! I never would have been able to do that before. I am so glad that I stepped out in faith before I was delivered, because God backed me up and blessed me for it.
I still feel fear sometimes when praying for people, but it’s not usually the crippling kind I used to feel. I’m able to push through it, regardless of how nervous I may feel. My mind doesn’t freeze up like it used to, and that is a true testimony to God’s delivering power! Now, all of the scriptures and things I planted in my heart can come out. Before, they were locked inside without any way for me to even access them – unless I was by myself (with no fear).
I am trusting that as I continue to obey God in this area that the fear I still sometimes feel will begin to get smaller and smaller until it doesn’t phase me anymore. Sure, I know I will get nervous sometimes, but that is so different from the paralyzing fear I had before. Remember I said that I felt like I needed to become an altar worker in my church first, in order to follow what God would have for me someday later?
Little did I realize was that my husband and I would be starting a Freedom Ministry in our previous church (in response to going to KAIROS) just months after we went to Texas. I started praying for the women in my church all the time, which is something I never would be capable of doing if I wasn’t delivered of all that fear! God’s timing often isn’t our own, but His timing is always perfect.
Do you ever feel paralyzed by fear?
If you deal with paralyzing fear, surrender the situation to the Lord, and be willing to say yes to whatever He says to your heart. This is not something that God wants you to just “deal with” the rest of your life. Overwhelming fear is not from God. It is His will for you to be set free! Deliverance and healing is not always something instantaneous, and it’s certainly all in God’s timing. We serve an awesome God!
Sometimes God delivers us quickly; other times (most often) it’s gradual. Layer by layer, He restores us to be the people He created us to be. In this instance, God delivered me very quickly of so much fear, anxiety and shame. The remainder of the residue left over is something that I’m walking out slowly. I’m am learning to trust God in this process, and I praise Him for His faithfulness!