Friday, August 18, 2017

Facing Paralyzing Fear by Dawn Kinzer

Dawn Kinzer

Facing Paralyzing Fear

I know a young woman who has a beautiful voice. She loves to sing. In the car, around the house, during worship . . . She’s an extrovert who doesn’t fear meeting new people—or speaking to a crowd.

But this same woman would never sing in front of a small group of people, let alone a large one.

Do you want to know why?

When she was a little girl she was given a solo to sing during the Christmas production at a large church. The evening of the program, the worship center filled with close to a thousand people. She’d been excited for weeks to play the role of Mary and sing the lullaby, but while kids got into costume, many of them asked if she felt nervous. When the time came for her to sing, she was terrified. With the spotlight illuminating the girl on stage, her voice cracked while hitting a high note, and following the performance, several children teased her.

That experience created a paralyzing fear to sing alone in public.

But, you know what? Recently, that now thirty-three-year-old woman (my youngest daughter) decided to face her fears. Wanting to be an example to her own daughter, she auditioned for the worship team at their church and was asked to join them. It’s been a freeing experience for her.

An older daughter is a professional singer and actress, and she thrives on performing. I served on a worship team as a vocalist for nineteen years. We could have downplayed my younger daughter’s fears of singing in public. But when audition day arrived, we texted and cheered her on, prayed for her, and let her know that we understood how important that step was for her. We told my daughter we were proud of her.

We’re products of our past. Our history plays a significant role in how we perceive ourselves and what we can accomplish. We all probably have memories of at least one failure—one thing that makes us cringe inside every time we allow ourselves to think about it. Maybe that experience involved a person who made us feel stupid or not good enough.

Our writing life can also be affected when we allow past failures or hurtful comments to paralyze us.

Many of you will be attending the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in September. I attended my first ACFW conference in 2005. I traveled to Nashville alone, having only an e-mail connection with one other writer. I remember the hour—the minutes—prior to my first appointment with an agent to pitch my novel. I was so terrified I felt physically ill. But, I survived that meeting! And as time passed and I gained more experience at conferences, I actually began to look forward to meeting with agents and editors.

It may take all the courage we can muster to write the stories of our hearts and then submit our work to be scrutinized by critique members, contest judges, professionals in publishing—even readers. But, we need to be bold! We need to be brave!

For those of us who are a bit more experienced, let’s remember how difficult it is to be vulnerable.  Let’s be patient and not belittle anyone’s questions or insecurities. Let’s cheer our fellow writers on.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

When it feels that fear may paralyze you, remember . . . you’re a child of God. You have a personal relationship with a King! And he loves you.

He’s bestowed a passion and gift for writing upon you because he has a purpose for you and what you create.

Be strong and courageous enough to follow your calling. God is with you wherever you go.

What fears have you faced (or are currently facing) in your writing career? How have you handled them?

Romance. Heartbreak. Scandal. Secrets. Second Chances.

In 1902, Sarah McCall is waiting to leave for the mission field when the man she once loved steps back into her life. Abandoned as a child by her mother and gambler father, she strives to overcome a tarnished history she didn’t create and a heartbreak she can’t forget.

Peter Caswell returns to his Wisconsin hometown a pastor, dedicated to his four-year-old daughter and new congregation. But no matter how hard he tries to move on with his life, he can’t forgive himself for his wife’s death.

When Sarah learns that Peter is returning to Riverton, the letter giving her departure date for Africa can’t come soon enough for her. They were best friends—she loved him and supported his dreams—but he married another and broke her heart. Although ten years have passed since he left Riverton, Peter hopes Sarah still cares enough to give him a second chance. But a charming newcomer pursues her affections—and Sarah’s childhood nemesis manipulates her way into Peter’s life. Will Sarah and Peter find their way to forgiveness and each other, or will past mistakes make a life together impossible?

Readers will find 20+ questions included for reflection and discussion.

Dawn Kinzer is a freelance editor, and her own work has been has been published in the Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Backyard Friends, The One Year Life Verse Devotional, A Joyful Heart: Experiencing the Light of His Love, and featured numerous times on the radio ministry, The Heartbeat of the Home.  She co-hosts and writes for Seriously Write. Her personal blog, The Garden of Dreams, focuses on encouraging women to find purpose and pursue their dreams in the different seasons of their lives. Sarah’s Smile is the first book in her historical romance series The Daughters of Riverton, and Hope’s Design is the second.

A mother and grandmother, Dawn lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Favorite things include dark chocolate, good wine, strong coffee, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre.

You can connect and learn more about Dawn and her work by visiting these online sites: Author Website, Dawn’s Blog, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Sign up on her website to receive her newsletter, and you’ll receive Dawn’s short story, Maggie’s Miracle (PDF format) as a gift.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Gail! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Dawn, I would love to be able to sing! Such a special gift your family shares.

    Currently I have a fear of submitting to agents. I really need to overcome that fear.

    1. Terri, as you read in my post, I can definitely relate to that fear! What helped me was finally accepting that agents (and editors) are only people - just like me - and whether one agent falls in love with my work or not, it doesn't define me as a writer. Reality is that we're just not a good fit.

      Hang in there! You can do it!

  3. Be strong and courageous! One of my favorite exhortations in the Bible. It's in so many verses, too! I'm so glad your daughter made the worship team. Fear is a paralyzing, self-fulfilling prophecy. I have the same issues with playing the piano. I can sing and speak in front of a crowd, but sit me down on a piano stool and I'm shaking.

    Hugs, Dawn!

    1. Angie, I totally understand you fear of playing piano in front of people. I took piano lessons for over 10 years, but regardless of how many recitals I was forced to participate in - or how often I got talked into playing with worship teams, etc. over the years - my hands still sweat and shook. I'v never been able to get past that one!


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!