Written by Chelsie Wilburn, LeadHer Chapter Development Director.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been an anxious and fearful person. Even now I remember the fear I had about going to school and how I would cling to my mom when she would try to drop me off. I had great difficulty making and keeping friends from adolescence and into adulthood.
With each failed friendship, I retreated more into myself until I became invisible. It was easier this way, or so I thought.
I developed self-esteem and body image issues that eventually lead to an eating disorder. I thought if I could “fix” the outside, then the inside would follow.
My faith was barely strong enough to pull me through those dark times. I was trying to find my worth in other things, never realizing that my Savior had His hand reached out to me, if only I would look up and grab hold of it.
I carried my fear into adulthood like a shield to protect myself from hurt. In return, I diminished the possibility of deep and meaningful relationships. The fear of being vulnerable and then hurt again was too much and it left me incredibly lonely and desperately craving an intimacy with other women. I wore a mask by pretending I was okay, had close friends, and that I wasn’t anxious. I often times doubled my antidepressants to bury my struggle even deeper.
This fear also seeped into other areas of my life. I didn’t like change or being outside of my comfortable box. I wouldn’t step out in faith and try something new because the thought of doing so paralyzed me.
I was held captive by my anxiety and fear.
Fast forward to last year when I started attending LeadHer meetings. I came because I’d had enough of being afraid of rejection. Afraid of what others thought of me. Afraid of new or different things. I was so ready to break free from the labels that I had allowed others to put on me and that I had put on myself.
With each meeting, healing began and those labels were replaced with truth. Truth that I am worthy. Truth that I have gifts, abilities, and a calling far better than I had ever imagined on my own. I was spoken into with love and encouragement by women who had become dear friends. Sweet words that were water for my parched soul. Words that I had honestly never heard before. These truths gave me the courage to step outside myself.
Little by little I began to unlock the chains of fear that kept me from becoming who God had made me to be.
I was soon asked if I would be willing to help lead a new chapter. The thought excited and terrified me. I was like Moses, asking if there was anyone else who God could send. Someone who had leadership skills, a commanding presence, and an ability to communicate in front of groups of people. I possessed none of these attributes.
A small voice interrupted the flow of the enemy’s lies and said, “I chose you”.
Like Moses, I couldn’t yet see what God sees. He’s not concerned with qualifications, degrees, or accolades. He sees the heart. He takes the unlikely and uses them so that people can say, “Only God.”
It turns out, God is in the business of using those who’ve been counted out. There are countless stories in scripture where God did incredible things through people who had been labeled unworthy in one way or another:
- Paul- persecutor.
- Rahab- prostitute.
- Matthew- greedy.
As my LeadHer chapter celebrates it’s first year, I can’t help but thank God for how far He’s brought me. I’ve learned so much about God and myself during this process, the most important being that we need people. People who will support you, love you, encourage you, and challenge you. I’m still learning that I can’t do this life alone.
While I step into my new staff role for LeadHer, I’m overwhelmed that God chose me to help mentor and love on women. I went from being chained by my fears to someone who uses those fears to connect with God and others on a deeper level.
This last November, I was able to lay my unhealthy medication dependency on the altar of sacrifice. I gave up a pill that I used to fill a void that can only be filled by God himself. I’ve been medication free for six months and everyday is a new day where I have to shift my focus from my fear and anxiety to my Savior who died so that he could carry that for me.
I’m not miraculously healed from fear and anxiety and I believe there’s a reason for that. It forces me to cling to truth and to lay that at God’s feet every single day.
That dear friends is where I find freedom.
You also have a Savior whose hand is extended to you. And you too have a choice. A choice to step into freedom or to remain a slave to your captor. Know that you are worthy. You are worth giving that over to your Heavenly Father.
Yes it will be hard, but it’s so worth being able to step into your calling where you can love deeper and live fuller.
What are you waiting for?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7 NLT