Sadie Robertson: How I overcame fear and learned to really live

Let me take you back to a few experiences that will show you what a fearful person I used to be. As a child and young teenager (and, okay, even older than that), I was terrified of storms. I’m not sure why, but thunder, lightning, high winds, tornado warnings—all those things made me shake inside. Looking back now, the fear seems totally unreasonable, and I’m not sure where it came from.

Maybe I was afraid of tornadoes because, unlike other girls my age who watched Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel, for some reason, I watched the Weather  Channel—a lot. I was remarkably educated about floods, droughts, hurricanes, and blizzards. I knew about people being rescued from their rooftops and losing power for days. I’m aware that most children aren’t fascinated by weather events, but I was unusually interested in what can happen in the natural world and how powerful it can be. I just wasn’t interested enough to want to live through a tornado. But I did— kind of, or at least from a distance.

I once saw a tornado from my seat in the car while my family drove from our home in Louisiana to a Texas Rangers baseball game. The sheer force of it captured my attention and terrified me. I can still see the image of the funnel cloud in my mind. But I can also see a mental picture of my cousin, Reed, undoubtedly the toughest and least fearful of the Robertson grandchildren, freaking out over the tornado. This guy, who was never afraid of anything and always rushing into things that seemed dangerous, started screaming as loud as he could and even threw his phone to the back of the car!

That episode with the tornado stands out as one of the most frightening events of my childhood because it felt so threatening to me, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. It was completely out of my control! I didn’t know then that navigating situations we have no control over is a necessary step toward breaking free from fear. That’s one thing about God; He’s the one in control, not you or me.

The tornado incident drove home for me the whole idea that I am not in control of anything. It was so much bigger, so much more forceful, so much more frightening than any experience I had ever had. After watching it with my family that day, I didn’t want to travel anywhere unless I knew what kinds of scary things could happen.

Seriously, before I went on a trip, I researched the most common natural disasters in the state where I was going. It didn’t take long for me to learn what was likely to happen in almost every state in America. Want to know where tornadoes strike most often? Just ask me. Interested in the states where wildfires happen most? I can tell you that. Want to know the places most vulnerable to floods or earthquakes? I still remember them. Oh, and as a bonus, if you’d like to know the details of hurricane season, I could probably help you with those too.

If you will stand up to fear, give it a little straight talk, and tell it to leave you alone in Jesus’ name, that will get you a long way. But beyond that, it’s also vital to trust God while you’re still afraid. You see, often your peace is waiting for you on the other side of trust.

Being afraid of tornadoes and natural disasters isn’t terribly uncommon, but I took those fears to extremes. You see, it’s one thing to be aware of your circumstances. It’s another thing to let them consume and control you—and that’s what fear does. Plenty of people are scared of big catastrophes, but it isn’t always the big, dramatic events (like watching a tornado from the car window) that make us most afraid. We can be just as fearful of ordinary, everyday situations.

Maybe you’ve heard that a lot of people struggle with the fear of public speaking. That’s been true for me. You may have heard me speak in a large arena or on YouTube, where the whole world can watch and think, No way! She didn’t seem nervous at all! (If you have, thanks for being there!) Let me just say this: I was the person in elementary school who started sweating and breathing fast if the teacher called on me to read aloud in class. I had to learn to face my fears every time I stepped on a stage or in front of a camera.

Though I truly believe I am living fearlessly, I’ll confess that sometimes I still get a  little nervous when I speak in front of lots of people, but it’s excited-nervous instead of scared-nervous. I used to allow nervousness to keep me from wanting to speak. Now I can hardly wait to get in front of the audience, and I just say, “Go away, fear. I’m not listening to you. I’ve got a job to do! I mean it. Go away! Not today! Good-bye! In the name of Jesus!”

The key ingredient to overcoming fear is not just speaking to it; it’s speaking to it in Jesus’ name. When I tell fear to go away and leave me alone in the name of Jesus, I say it with lots of force and a little bit of sass. That short speech has become my anthem. I don’t care if I sound a little silly saying it. It works!

If you will stand up to fear, give it a little straight talk, and tell it to leave you alone in Jesus’ name, that will get you a long way. But beyond that, it’s also vital to trust God while you’re still afraid. You see, often your peace is waiting for you on the other side of trust. I’ve had a lot of experiences where God met me once I stared down my fear, pushed through it, and did what I needed to do.

When we’re afraid, we have a tendency to pray and ask God for peace before we’ll step out and do what frightens us. But most of the time, we simply need to move forward. Once we break through the fear, God gives us the most amazing sense of peace—but usually not while we’re still deciding whether to conquer it or not.

If you’re waiting for a sense of peace to come so you can deal with your fear, you could be waiting a long time. If you will be brave and march straight into that fearful situation, having faith that God will bring you through it, that’s probably where you’ll find the peace you’re looking for.

Taken from "Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion, and Purpose" by Sadie Robertson Copyright © by Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.