Kicking fear off the platform.

In 2016, I spoke at all four of the Propel Women conferences. It was a pretty big honor for me, something Lane and I both agreed was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Confession: we actually postponed our wedding by a week to make room for this opportunity.

I just remember calling my mom up when it became official and I signed the contract. I remember rambling on with fear and excitement and I just remember her saying into the phone, “Imagine the things you’re going to learn. Just sitting beneath these women at all these events, imagine what you are going to learn.” That’s my mom- she pushes Fear’s scrawny butt out-of-the-way to make room for Wisdom. And, let’s be real, Wisdom always has more junk in the trunk than Fear.

My mom was so right though. For years, I’ve looked up to people like Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore as epic communicators. It was a humbling honor to share the stage with them. That year, Propel wanted some millennials to take the stage. Yes, I am a millennial but I never anticipated God would use someone like me for that job.

When I say “someone like me,” I mean the young woman who never thought she’d be a communicator. I thought I could and would gladly write all the words from behind a desk. I thought I would be a writer, not a speaker. Someone like me being up on a stage is a true testimony to God using the most unexpected souls to complete his missions. It’s comical really to use the girl known to dry-heave in the toilet before giving a speech and put her on a stage in front of 7,000 people to communicate a message.

Before the first conference, I was asked to write my talk and mail it over to the team at Propel for review. I remember how nervous I was to put that talk together, continually thinking to myself, “God, I just want to get this right. Please give me the right words.”

The feedback from the talk was limited. Actually, only one big suggestion was made: change the beginning of the talk. Introduce yourself differently.

Here’s what I originally intended to do with the beginning of my talk: I wanted to walk out there, introduce myself, and then also tell people about the anxiety I was feeling. Without a doubt, I knew Anxiety was going to be up there on stage with me. I figured if I give this thing some breath and acknowledge its existence then I will be able to move forward. I will be able to really nail the talk knowing I called out the biggest elephant in the room.

They were asking me to eliminate the part of the talk where I introduced myself by saying, “Hi, I’m anxious.” They wanted me to be bolder, to step forward, introduce myself, and really walk in confidence that I was supposed to be up on that stage. This, for me, is a pretty tall order.

I wanted that crutch. I wanted to make excuses. I wanted to give my platform away to fear.

I’ve always given Anxiety room and breath. I’ve often introduced us at the same time because it has been my way of apologizing in advance, like, “If I mess this up then you will know why.”

I’m learning it is one thing to know your weakness and another thing to project your weakness out of fear that you don’t add up. At the end of each day, I am not my anxiety. I am not my depression. I don’t need to walk out onto a stage and let everyone know I am nervous. Anxiety is something I face but it’s on me if I use it as a crutch or I choose to limit what God is already doing by giving it undue credit.

I’m trying to think differently now, say more things like, “If I am out here on this stage then that means God is with me. I am qualified to do this. I am equipped and ready to do this. So just do the dang thing and don’t make excuses where they’re not necessary.”

I think we waste so much time wondering why we are where we are. I want to look through a different lens. I want my life to be efficient yet purposeful. I want to be able to say I am qualified for this day and I refuse to let anxiety be the thing that holds me back from it. That begins with what I say and how I speak about myself. The words coming out of my mouth at any given moment play a huge role: they will determine whether I am grateful for the opportunity I’m standing in or not.

I am not just processing this when it comes to stages and arenas. I think it’s better that I become grateful in the smaller stuff: the grocery store, the weekly trip to Target (oh, how I wish it wasn’t a weekly trip), dinner dates, and parties we attend. Am I grateful to be here? Am I acting like it? Am I speaking like I am grateful?


You’re going to face crazy, hard things. This is a reality. And I know I am not the only one who has battled something significant like anxiety, depression, or another kind of mental illness. But, in the moment where you’re called forward to shine, are you going to give the credit to God or your weakness?

It is possible to let your weakness shine brighter than your character.

It is possible to be stepping up onto a platform and kicking yourself down from it at the same time. I don’t think God calls us to these moments so we can boast about how weak we are, I think there’s a real opportunity to exclaim how far we’ve come and how many victories we’ve experienced with him.

I want to speak the right words into the microphone. I want to give breath to the good and lovely things of this lifetime. I appreciate my anxiety because it has taught me to fight like hell to get past the hurdles but no, my weakness does not need its own microphone.

18 thoughts on “Kicking fear off the platform.

  1. I loved hearing you speak at the Propel Women Conference in Canton Ohio last year. You are an amazing role model & speaker! Thank you for all you write, say, and do to make my life feel hopeful.
    God Bless!

  2. Although I’m sure the feedback on your introduction was difficult (and maybe a little baffling) to hear, you sure learned a lot from it! Thank you for this beautifully written reminder that while we can “own” our struggles as part of who we are, we shouldn’t let them fully *define* who we are. Brilliant post, Hannah.

  3. Wow, thank you for this one, Hannah. I’ve battled with public speaking my ENTIRE life and I’ve felt in recent years that God is calling me to not just use my writing, but my voice. My anxiety with public speaking got so bad some years ago that it brought me to my knees and I said, “God. If I’m able to ever public speak, if You see me to the other side of this, then I’ll know without a shadow of a doubt that it was You because I can’t do this with my own power.” When people hear me talk now, I get accolades and people remark how powerful and effortless it is. I laugh. God has a sense of humor. I’m still amazed at how He calls me to use my voice when I was so fearful of that very thing for so long. Public speaking is a constant battle but I know that until my dying breath, my voice and my ability to use it came from above. I think He uses the meek because we had to fight like hell and rely on Him to move forward.

    All my best, Tiffany


  4. Hannah,

    I’m reading this before a big second round interview for me and it seems that all I could think about was anxiety. Thanks for the reminder and for sharing your strength and courage on the journey. You’re an inspiration.

  5. “I think there’s a real opportunity to exclaim how far we’ve come and how many victories we’ve experienced with him.” This resonates so loudly with me. I’m not battling anxiety but I do dislike that whenever the spotlight is on me I blush and get embarrassed. I’m working on eradicating that. I’m trying to use the opportunities given to express progress and show the path behind me.

  6. Thank you for giving me the courage to write. I have been reading your blogs since the summer when I also read your book and also took your online writing intensive. You’ve inspired me to be a better person. I am a high school teacher who tends to not be so brave in sharing my writing. This is my most recent blog I wrote referencing the school shooting in Florida:

    You have given me the courage to not only write but to publish my words. Thank you! Kelly Pace

    Kelly Pace Atlee High School English 11 IB, Theory of Knowledge 11 & 12, and Composition Theory Freshman Class Sponsor What would your life look like if you lived today 1% better than the day before?

  7. Hannah,

    I’ve been a subscriber to your blog & Monday emails for years now, and they frequently speak to me about a lot I’m dealing with. This one really hit the mark, though. I finally had time to read it while I inhaled my lunch during a difficult day teaching difficult kids. I’d been planning to tell my difficult principal that I was not going to return to the same school next year, but was definitely worried about how the news would be received. Reading this particular post gave me the push I needed to be honest with myself and state aloud what I knew I needed. The conversation went a lot better than I thought it would, and I feel much better in general. So, thank you for this one, and all of them.


    ~please forgive typos/brevity; sent from iPhone


  8. I talk too much so talking comes naturally. Standing in front of people is not easy. I maintain eye contact and speak from the heart… Message gets across. It was not easy initially but having faith in myself, I did. I live by FEAR. Forget Everything And Rise. Why? Because life forced me too.
    The struggle is real.

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