I’m so excited to have Renee Fisher, published author and blogger from Devotional Diva, on my site today! We became friends over the blogging world last year, and it always amazes me just how many things we share in common about our past struggles. Her writing has really encouraged me through some tough times. She even called me on the phone once and gave me a pep talk that I really needed about writing and career and life. :) Today, Renee is writing an Identity Renewed post about her struggles with fear and anxiety. I appreciate her vulnerability and honesty on a tough topic to deal with.
My Spirit of Fear
by Renee Fisher
Since I was young, I have struggled with a spirit of fear. My favorite Bible verse has always been one from 2 Timothy, and for good reason: “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).
Easier said than done.
Although I wasn’t properly diagnosed with anxiety until I was in my mid 20s, I battled extreme fear. I’ll never forget the day it all began. (Thanks to therapy for helping me pinpoint that day).
My parents left for a two-week missions trip and I crumbled. I honestly don’t know why I broke, but I did. Hard.
That’s when my battle with food began. That’s when I was afraid to eat, leave the house, or go to school. I was afraid to eat because overeating would make me fat, and if I was fat–no man would ever love me. I was afraid to leave the house because I didn’t know when I would freak out (later I learned these episodes were called panic attacks). I was afraid to go to school because it was humiliating to suffer with anxiety in front of other people. The fear gripped me so much that I asked to be home schooled again.
Junior High was a nightmare.
High school was even worse.
In 9th grade, I discovered I was allergic to band-aids and suddenly developed eczema (skin rash). My eczema spread so quickly that I lost the skin off my feet and face. I ended up in the hospital, and it took my body six years to heal from that ordeal.
If I thought I struggled with a spirit of fear, battling eczema on top of it took me to a whole new level of fear.
When I thought I was done “suffering for Jesus,” I moved to Texas to pursue full time missions. I enrolled in a DTS school (not YWAM), and discovered my passion for writing. I only made it five months in the Texas heat before I lost the skin off my hands due to eczema.
Another three years would go by before I was fully healed.
From the ages of 15 to 25, I prayed to God constantly, asking him to take away my spirit of fear. I begged, pleaded, prayed, and cried. The tears became my food, like David said. I read the Bible over and over and over and over until I wrote over hundreds of devotionals.
When a mentor helped to brand me as the Devotional Diva, it only took three months before I had my first literary agent and signed book contract. That’s (unfortunately) when the spirit of fear completely took over my life.
I was faced with the choice of quitting my job to keep my book contract. I couldn’t handle working full time and writing full time. The fear became so overwhelming that I ended up in the hospital with panic attacks.
Once again, I asked God to take it away.
But then something even more amazing happened.
I found hope.
God used my spirit of fear to spur me forward so that I could spur others forward to love and good deeds (now my ministry verse, Hebrews 10:24).
It is amazing how the enemy stirs up trouble most when God is on the cusp of something brand new and beautiful.
When people discover I’ve written four books, they congratulate me. They ask me how amazing it is to be an author, and I cringe inside. Yes, it’s amazing. But I paid a high price.
They didn’t see the years I struggled in obscurity.
I find myself, once again, in another difficult season. I am back on my anxiety medication. I am praying and asking God to heal me. Although He may never remove my thorn in the flesh, I continue to write. Writing is what God called me to do. No matter how difficult, I must carry my cross.
I thought once God healed me that I would write about my past for His glory. What I didn’t expect was that He wasn’t done with me yet.
It’s amazing how God has used my greatest fear for His greatest glory.
Friends, if you struggle with a spirit of fear–you are not alone. Whether it’s a diagnosable fear, a fear of the unknown, or both–it’s okay to seek help.
When I didn’t quit my job right away to start my writing career, I had to go on disability. I felt like the BIGGEST LOSER on the planet. Combine that with the fact God was calling me into full time ministry at a time in my life when I felt most unworthy.
How would I pay for my bills including health insurance? Did I really want to move back in with my parents again at the age of 27?
Friends, like me, your life might not make sense. God might be calling you to do something you don’t feel you’re ready!
It’s not okay to let your fear stop you from following God. Maybe some day the struggle will end, but until then I hope my story encourages you.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32, NIV).
Renee Fisher is an adoring wife to Marc and mom to their pit bull named Star. She is the author of four books, including Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me (Harvest House, 2013). Renee is the editor and founder of DevotionalDiva.com, and loves nothing more than to spur others forward. She is the creator of Quarter Life Conference, a graduate of Biola University, and a spirited speaker and author to the 30-somethings. Connect with her at ReneeFisher.com.