I love writing, producing an award-winning program, or hosting a great event that nourishes souls. But it is often agonizing getting there. I know the destination, but the journey of getting there never stops being challenging. I have a beast inside me that occasionally rears its head, hissing that I’m not good enough, not worthy, and blowing flames of ensuing failure at me if I awaken it. This beast can wake me up in the middle of the night, prompting me to avoid the pain of attempting what God says I can do – “all things.” I end up in the pit of procrastination while watching others from the sidelines instead of doing the hard work to move forward.
Procrastination is a form of anxiety and fear.
Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and the author of “Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind,” said in a WSJ article, “Procrastination is a distraction. Anxiety triggers procrastination, especially for perfectionists, because we worry our solution to the problem won’t be good enough. Procrastination feels better than being anxious or trying to come up with a solution.”
No one wants to live in pain, so we stop moving forward to avoid failure and suffering. Procrastination holds us back. But it is a mindset that can be broken. God is a forward moving God who wants us to go forward and trust Him. Throughout the Bible, in story after story, God reminds us to make decisions on His Kingdom’s purposes and His will. We may not be good enough yet, but we can do “all things through Him who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13). The issue is whether we are fully engaged and aligned with Him and His will, or are we just running to Him with our willful desires when fear sets in.
Our mind needs to be sound and calm when we are anxious so we don’t lose sight of the road in front of us. It’s a choice. When we only focus on the pain and not God’s promise to be with us through the struggles, we freeze and procrastinate. The squeaky wheel (our pain and fear) is heard, but the wheel isn’t broken. It’s still going around. Our job is to keep going forward; in time and with God’s guidance, we will prevail. The Bible tells us that we are to be “anxious for nothing” and to take our requests (not demands) to God (Philippians 4:6-7). He will empower us and find solutions to the squeaky wheel if we stay connected to His will, which may not turn out the way we planned. It’s a message I have had to be reminded of again and again and why my quiet time with God is essential.
Want to break through the fear and learn how to gain fortitude in 2024?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fortitude as “strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger and bear pain or adversity with courage.” In the world we live in today, we need fortitude and the strength to face the oncoming cultural winds that often bring pain and suffering. We need to take on the “mind of Christ” living within us. This year focus on where God is taking you. We are to “walk by faith and not sight” (II Corinthians 5:7). Kingdom purpose must be at the forefront of all we do, both for our families and for our careers. This year will you watch from the sidelines or push forward?
God’s on the journey with you, so trust Him to be there. Let’s roll!
Do you struggle with anxiety? Perhaps even in the areas you’re most gifted in or feel called to? Learn to navigate the highs and lows of the industry as Sweet Magnolias showrunner, Sheryl J. Anderson, gives insight to real connection with God and true influence. When your career, family or future feels unstable, you can find joy in the steadiness of God.
Sheryl J. Anderson is the creator and showrunner of Sweet Magnolias, a romantic drama for Netflix whose third season drops in July 2023; she also has a variety of projects in development. Sheryl began her writing journey as a playwriting major at The College of William & Mary in Virginia. Lured to Los Angeles by the intrigue of television and the promise of 300 sunny days a year, she worked as a television studio executive, screenwriter, and half-hour series writer (Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Dave’s World). She then moved to writing and producing hour-long series, working on a wide range of series (Charmed, Flash Gordon, When Calls the Heart). She created Ties That Bind, UPtv’s first scripted series. She has sold pilots to Netflix, SyFy, NBC, Lifetime, and Disney and has written movies for Hallmark, UPtv, and Lifetime. Sheryl is also a novelist and teaches and mentors through a variety of universities and organizations.
Kathleen Cooke – What’s the one thing you’d like to share with women that God has recently taught you?
Sheryl J. Anderson – In the last several years, God has taught me – is still teaching me – that I am not in control; He is. I was impatient from childhood, always sure I had the answer, I could solve the problem, I could lead the way. There were triumphs, but there were also plenty of failures. Now, after a series of painful, heartbreaking events – the deaths of my parents, my divorce, the betrayal of friends – I finally understand. I do what I can to the best of my abilities, but there are situations – and people – that I must entrust to His care because I am not able to fix them. This applies to my relationships and my work. While hard-won, patience has become a source of peace and power, a constant reminder that He walks beside me. And when I walk with Him, rather than racing ahead, it is easier to stay on the path He would have me walk.
When you’re impatient, it is all too easy to overreach: “This one moment will solve everything.” Which all too quickly turns into “This one moment will ruin everything.” But impatience is a form of fear: “If it doesn’t happen now, it will never happen!” And, as we know, fear is the absence of faith, the denial of faith. When we root ourselves in faith, we know that God is holding us up, just as Jesus lifted Peter out of the stormy sea, and we will find our footing again – as long as we walk with Him.
Kathleen – The industry is a roller-coaster of highs and lows. One day, you have a job, and then it may be a while before the next one comes. How do you find hope when things fall apart? Do you have a scriptural promise you find comforting?
Sheryl – Anxiety is my chief antagonist. It blocks my path when I’m striving to do my best. It whispers in my ear when I’m considering an uncertain future. It wakes me up at night. And it fuels my constant struggle to set aside my will and embrace God’s will. (more…)
I love summer, but not so much when it gets outrageously hot. That’s why the cool Autumn mornings and evenings with its delightful fresh air is so welcome right now. Heat can make me grumpy, discouraged, and depressed. The hot months mean it’s cave time, and it’s easy for me to hide inside in the air conditioning and try not to let my thoughts and emotions take over. Like Elijah, who was running and hid in a cave (I Kings 19:3-18), I know there is only one way out. I must choose to walk out of my cave and move forward.
What causes our discouragement that can lead to depression?
Many different things can cause discouragement and depression. We often hear how health issues or chemical and food imbalances cause it. I found myself in a depressed state many years ago and couldn’t figure out why until I was diagnosed with a thyroid issue that was causing it. Sometimes depression is just the weather, but hiding can also be a choice we make when fear takes over.
What we focus on matters? When Elijah ran for the cave, he left his servant behind. Discouragement and depression make you want to isolate yourself, and that’s the biggest mistake we can make. Many people are still trying to get out of their cave from the isolation they went through during the pandemic. Some live in a cave because they spend too much time on social media comparing their life to others who seem to be living the high life. Sometimes we stay in our cave and hide because of the stigma of being labeled as a failure if we’ve been let go from a job, been caught in an unforeseen economic situation, or perhaps been caught in a challenging family issue. If we hide, maybe it will all just go away. In our “all about me and my influence and success” social media culture today, people back away and don’t want to be associated with someone deemed a loser. It might damage their reputation.
Is the solution spiritual?
Alaina is an LA-based wardrobe stylist with more than five years of experience in personal, commercial, and editorial styling. Passionate about turning concepts into reality, Alaina specializes in putting together essential pieces that elevate her clients’ personal brand and tell a visual story. She is currently a stylist for Nordstrom at The Grove. As a freelance stylist and consultant, Alaina is happiest when she is bringing ideas scribbled on paper and images posted on a vision board to life for others to experience – her version of art.
Kathleen Cooke: Fear. It is saturating our lives with wars, strikes, and ongoing uncertainties. What has God taught you about dealing with fear?
Alaina Griffin: One thing that God has recently taught me came from a dream. In the dream, it was dark, and I was walking to my vehicle. An overwhelming sense of fear and of being lost swept over me. Suddenly, all the lights around me went out. I fell on the ground in crippling fear, unable to move. After some time, I realized that an electrical outage did not cause the darkness around me and in front of me, but because my eyes were closed. I started praying to God that my eyes would be opened. This struggle caused me to wake up from my dream.
What was God revealing? To move forward, we must pray, as Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:18, that God opens our Spiritual Eyes so that we can confidently know and understand God’s WORD and God’s WILL. This enlightenment will transform our walk with God and change how we navigate waiting seasons, tough decisions, life lessons, trials, and triumphs to get to the blessings and promises of the Lord. Finally, spiritual sight causes us to seek God in order to capture in the Spirit what is not yet manifested on Earth. Spiritual sight activates us to speak by faith into existence what is seen, not by the natural eye. The Word God gave me to share is: See it so that you can seize it (even by force if necessary). With this, we are powerful, and all things become possible.
Kathleen: We are living in an increasingly competitive world. Our ambition to succeed can often overpower us, and we can make bad choices. How have you learned to wait on God’s perfect timing and will?
Alaina: Ambition is a topic that is definitely an issue in the town we live and work in – Hollywood. As believers of Christ, we can get swept up in chasing ambition and dreams if we’re not mindful and rooted in God. We must remember that we are IN the world and not OF this world. We are called to infuse and push God’s culture into this world. To do this, we must do as it says in Matthew 6:33: see first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (ways of doing things). The ways of the Lord are and will always be contrary to the way of the world, which measures success in riches and the number of followers, titles, and degrees a person has. When we seek God daily and trust Him, He will help us to navigate through each day in our professional careers. Sometimes it is a waiting season, and sometimes it is a “go now moment!” God must be the One speaking and leading, not ambition, society, vanity, or cultural pressures.
Kathleen: Many women today are struggling with an identity crisis. What has God taught you about being unique and finding peace in who He says you are, not what the world wants to define you as?
Alaina: I have found that people in this town suffer particularly from identity crises. I have encountered people who are always “ON”- in character, preparing for the next role. As children of God, the Bible makes it clear that we are special – a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, Psalms 139:14, and set apart, Deuteronomy 14:2. God invested time in creating and forming each person to fulfill the plan He has laid out at the beginning of time for Kingdom advancement. How do we find peace and come to know who God called us to be? One way is through our proximity to others- community. Groups like Influence Women, with other like-minded women on similar journeys, will help God’s calling for our lives to become clearer. The other way is through our proximity to God – intimacy. As we grow closer to God, He shows us how to love. How to love Him, ourselves, and others. In loving ourselves, we see ourselves and value ourselves as God sees and values us.
Kathleen: God tells us to Go. To be an influence in all the world. Why is that essential?
Alaina: When Jesus left His disciples, He gave a mandate that echoed throughout the generations, and it was to make disciples of men. As believers, we all have been given a mandate to lead others to Christ and into a deeper relationship. We were created and called to be leaders in this world- influencers. Matthew 5:13 tells us that we are the salt of the earth. It then goes on to say in the next verse that you are the light of the world. As believers, we were created and formed to function as salt and as a light in the world. By its design- light cannot be hidden, and salt cannot not be salty. It is just not possible. We are called to be a light at our jobs, at home, on the subway, in line at the grocery store, and in neighborhoods.
Thanks to technology, we can go and be influencers around the world without leaving our homes. As God has freely given us life, purpose, identity, giftings, spiritual blessings, healing, deliverance, His Word, and so much more, how could we possibly not share the good news and our testimonies with others? Not operating as God’s light or salt causes us to have an identity crisis and creates frustration and feelings of hopelessness, meaninglessness, and restlessness in us. It creates God-size issues that only God can correct. Answering the mandate to go simply means allowing God to navigate our next move and to work through us so that we can become the answers God called us to be on earth.
Connect with Alaina:
Find out more about her work at: arashedastyling.com
Facebook and Instagram: @arashedaconsulting
Recently at a Museum of The Bible event in Washington, D.C., I was invited to participate in a painting class. When I first saw the class being offered on the schedule, I was a bit hesitant, if not intimidated. I hadn’t painted anything since the 3rd grade. I consider myself a fairly creative person, having worked as an actress in Hollywood and producing media projects for many years with Cooke Media Group; but the thought of being exposed as an inept artistic painter (perhaps equal to being a musically tone-deaf individual) was petrifying. Nevertheless, I forced myself to go knowing, without question, that I’d embarrass myself.
Insecurity and fear keep people from achieving greatness more than anything else.
Fear robs us of God’s joy in allowing Himself to be exposed in new ways through our unique lives. When we step into the fear, we step away from areas that we’ve built around us as safety nets. By staying in those safe places, we rob ourselves of the freedom and purpose that God wants to bring into our lives. New environments and situations that we must depend on Him for to accomplish. (more…)