Katie sluiter: fear


I am immobilized by fear and anxiety more than I admit to anyone.

Two years ago I admitted enough to get a referral for mental health service.  It ended up being a Christian mental health service.  I didn’t think anything of it at the time; in fact in the original paperwork there was a section on spiritual health and guidance.  I either left it blank or checked the “not at this time” box or something.

I wasn’t interested.

I just needed to get a hold on my anxiety.  I needed to be able to get through a day without being sent into hiding by the fears that took over my heart and mind.

For a while this worked for me.  I took my meds faithfully and attended talk therapy.

And I was doing really, really well.

But something still felt…off.

Last fall, while I was pregnant with my youngest son, I was asked to share my knowledge of writing with the kindergarten through fifth graders in our church youth program.  The theme for the year was God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  So I taught the kids how to write your story so that it might inspire others.

It has been a long time since I thought about how every single big thing that God needed to do, he pulled the most ordinary—usually broken and sinning—individual to make His change in the world.

The four weeks I spent working with those kids filled a spot in my heart.  Calmed some angry, fearful, stormy seas within me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56: 3)

After that, I tried to go to church more because being in church calmed something in me.  But this sick, tired, working, pregnant momma just couldn’t get there.

After Charlie was born, many old fears came back.  New anxieties overtook my heart.  I was once again paralyzed.

I’ve struggled with a vast array of letters that equal different mental illnesses.  One of the things I was told when I was first diagnosed—and by people I thought were my friends—was that I didn’t need meds or therapy, I needed to get back in church.  To pray more/harder.

They were wrong.

But not completely.

While I was a believer, I was not interacting with God and his Word.  I was not letting Him have my life. I was trying to juggle and control all the diagnoses by myself.

I was afraid to let go.

My fear to let go of my fears took over my life in a way that even meds and therapy couldn’t fully help.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

Slowly but surely I am giving my fears to God.

I am still a mess.

But now I am daily reminding myself to hand it all back over to God.

I am spending time with his Word.

I am allowing the “Christian” portion of the Mental Health Services to, well, “serve” me.

I stumble and fall every single day.

When I am the most afraid, I hold my fears tightest.

But every time I have let them go, God has taken them.  He has never looked at them, looked back at me, and handed them back saying, “Sheesh, girl, this is just too much.  No thank you!”

Nope.  He took the crappy mess and made me something new.

Every time.

“For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling that I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Psalm 56: 13)


// Katie’s Blog //

  • So been there. I find now, that when I'm diligent in centering my mind/soul with God I can let go of my anxieties. It's such a huge process of not only acknowledging, but accepting, and then choosing to deal with anxiety it's triggers and outcomes. I dealt with this for so long, which manifested into a pretty big binge eating disorder. Like you stated, it takes time to unwind it all, to examine it's complexs turns…but SO much of that for me has been eased by my growing faith. So glad that you're entrenching yourself in the true…good luck with it all! xo

  • Amanda K

    Until recently fear had over taken me as well. God is doing amazing things. Your testimony is awesome. Prayers and Hugs for you! (Psalm 34 is my fav. Especially verse 4)

  • Michaela

    Thank you Katie and Joanne for the book recommendations! :)

  • Ellen MR

    Katie, Thank you for letting people know it’s not just a matter of not praying enough or enough faith! Too often I’ve heard “where’s your God now?” or “why do you need meds if you have God?”… So sad people think that way! Sadder yet was me wondering “WHY INDEED??” Thank heavens I had a kind Christian lady tell me it was OK to need both! That depression/anxiety can be chemical, therefore chemicals were sometimes needed. She didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know, but I seemed to “need” permission or validation as a believer that needed medications. I let people challenge me/my faith, which could have had disastrous results!
    Bless you for your strength and your dignity to deal with this condition- you’re not alone!!
    Thanks for sharing Katie and best wishes for the future! :)

  • Thank you for your testimony! Thank you for your courage!! Thank you for allowing God to lead you to the right persons and lead you through in the way that is best for you!!!

    That is just the kind of God He is! He loves us but He also individually cares for us. He has a plan mapped out for every step in our lives. He made each of us uniquely different and cares for us in the same fashion.

    What works for some may not work for others. What works for others may not work for me or you. We must show compassion even when we might not understand all the details. We must stay tightly join together in the Body of Christ.

  • Michelle

    Katie, thanks so much for sharing. I have a daughter who suffers from severe anxiety, panic attacks and depression…as well as my husband. It has been hard and exhausting. Mental illness is misunderstood. We had our pastor and youth pastor completely dismiss our cries for help. We had some very dark years. Thankfully the right combination of meds has given me a normal teenage girl. Through it all, we learned to rely on Jesus in ways we didn’t know possible. Now when we see a child acting out, we don’t immediately think spoiled, undisciplined child. Our eyes have truly been opened.

  • Katie: I struggled with post-partem depression after the birth of both of my children. The second time it was 100% worse than the first time and though family members and friends meant well by telling me that I needed to stay strong in my faith (pray more, read the word); they failed to realize that depression paralyzed me to the point that I could barely pray other than to utter "Help Me, Lord." I did pray and I did seek help from the medical community as you did. By the grace of God, I recovered. Thank you so much for being willing to share. Many people do not understand.

  • Mamaintheburbs

    Beautifully written Katie! I too am glad you found peace and is able to use something like prayer and God to help you with your anxiety. I’m Jewish so I don’t have any experience with this. But I love your writing and your blog! I def relate to a lot of your life.

  • Katie, I feel much the same way about how introducing God and His word has complimented the other things I use to help me with my mental illnesses. Just because I pray doesn't mean I don't still need my medicine. And just because I need medicine doesn't mean I shouldn't still pray.

    I'm a mess too. We're all big beautiful messes. But I think finally figuring out that we can't do it on our own is the answer.

  • Katie, I appreciate your challenges and how youare focusing on giving them over to God. Fear is such a strong weapon of Satan, and it amazes me how many people it hurts.
    I come from the other end of the spectrum. I watched my daughtet spiral out of control with both anxiety& depression, ending with a suicide attempt. There was nothong I could do, except turn to God, crying from the deepest region of my soul….and he heard and became ‘God’ to me (thank you Ibukun).

    I give glory to God. I know his compassion, and more importantly, I have found the comfort of his arms, holding me gently, when there was nothing else.

  • adeline oh

    Thanks for being real. We often feel pressured on how we should be, must be, shouldn't be, mustn't be, etc, as followers of Jesus and it puts such unnecessary pressure on ourselves. Jesus is all we need to focus on, to walk towards, to surrender to and as we do that, He takes our burdens on Himself and takes us from strength to strength. The beauty of it is that we are all flawed and very imperfect and He is the one who will keep perfecting us and somehow, use us too, in the whole process, whether we are beautiful honorable clay jars or dishonorable ones. Your being real is an encouragement to me.

  • Keep on Pushing Katie. God will never leave us nor forsake us. Loved your post.

  • Lauren C

    Thank you, Katie, for stepping outside of your fear to post your testimony. Unfortunately, we still live in a society that views mental illness with either a brush-off “Oh, you’ll feel better, just ____ more!” or with such a negative view as to imply the mentally ill are not worth helping. Your testimony helps dispell both reactions.

    Someone else wrote that your words on fear could have been written by any one of us & boy, is that true of me. I come from a long line of controlling people & it has taken me years – long, hard ones filled with mistakes & my own toxic behavior – to learn to channel that desire to control toward the things I truly can control (which turns out to be very little). Fear has RULED so much of my life & wasted so much of my time. Fear of being my true self, fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of change, the list is endless. In my mind, I know fear shouldn’t cripple me. Yet it is so powerful, even desirable to honor some fears, because I feel “safe” & in my “comfort zone.” Pure lies. Fear is the devil’s greatest scheme & the one he is most adept at using.

    I read something this morning that parallel’s Katie’s comment of “while I was a believer, I was not interacting with God and his word. I was not letting Him have my life. I was trying to juggle & control all the diagnoses by myself.” What I read from a former pastor of mine was: “it is possible to believe God’s word while still living a life far from God.” I love how God intentionally draws these parallels for us sometimes, as if He’s shining a bright light on a truth He has wanted us to know! I’ve spent so much time trying to juggle & control EVERYTHING, all the while “believing,” yet not truly interacting WITH God. For me, God has forced my hand through some very painful experiences, losses, & betrayals in the last few years. It has been pretty awful but through it I am finally learning to LET HIM HAVE MY LIFE. Regardless of my fears for the outcome. But I have to do it daily, give myself to Him daily as Ibukun said yesterday. I’ve called it pruning because it hurts, but I want it to reveal in me a beautiful, life-giving tree.

    Just loving these testimonies. Awesome! Amazing! Inspiring!

  • Southern Angel

    AAAGGHH pray harder, read more, cry out to God. As a woman who has been where you are and am facing a different form of anxiety now I can tell you that yes some meds are dangerous. But God gave doctors their wisdom for a reason. Period. When I had the anxiety attacks after my youngest I literally did not leave my house. They put me on Paxil. I was a zombie who wouldn't leave the house. I started getting up in the middle of the night with attacks. I dug out my bible and found Psalm 91. Read it and tell me King David wasn't in the midst of a panic attack and I will tell you you have never had one. He describes it perfectly. It became my light. I would read it aloud when the panic set in. I got off the meds. I have found my diet and my time out of my house have alot to do with my anxiety. I am one of the lucky ones. There are those like my son that the body just doesn't get it. It doesn't make the right stuff and for him meds are necessary. Doesn't mean he doesn't love God or pray enough or is in sin so he can't be healed. If God can use King David he can use any of us. After all he still called him a man after his own heart.

  • mindykim

    Wow God's confirmation today with Pslam 34:4-7. This morning my other devotional that I'm doing with my life group sistas during the season of Lent, it talked about fear too. It's so good to hear how we are called one body of Christ but, things that we experience are so unique and different. I can see your heart so pure in surrendering all to The Lord. PTL :) for me, as I became a new creation in God few years ago, all my fears, anxiety and lying disappeared. Today, somehow God has been keep knocking on my door asking if I've let all f them clearly out of my heart. I believe God will let His will shown to me today. Thanks for your testimony :) God bless you.

  • Heather Disarro

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony Katie! Fear is something that grips my heart when I'm not fully focused on the Lord, and even then it can be hard to just forget. I'm thankful for the way you point us to God through your story!

  • Michaela

    Thank you so much for sharing! Do you have any recommendations for Christian-based books in addition to the bible that deal with overcoming fears?

    • Katie

      Honestly, reading Anne Lamott's nonfiction helps me. She suffers from depression and anxiety and talks about her journey with Christ in an honest and at times, irreverent way. She makes me laugh out loud and get all teary because i know EXACTLY what she is talking about.

    • Joanne

      Joyce Meyer is a wonderful author – Battlefield of the Mind is where you should start. Love & Blessings!

  • jesusgirl71

    'This was an awesome testimony! I struggle with anxiety so much so that some of my coworkers call me "Panic button." I have truly tried to improve in this or at least not to show it. I have been trying to instead give it all to god. I am not always successful but getting there.

  • Nurse Frugal

    What an awesome testimony! I know so many women who struggle with this and can relate! It's funny because we forget that the Lord is there to take on our problems with us! All you can do is keep giving it up to him to take care of. He loves us all so much Katie, I know he has a bigger plan for you. God bless!

  • Thanks for sharing – for being true, honest and vulnerable. I have been in that place of darkness, and I know the very same fears you felt. But I know there is a light, a true light – and I cling to it. You are very brave to share your story, and I know that God is going to do big things through you. Blessings to you!

  • Kimberly

    I'm glad that you're able to believe in something that gives you hope and peace. You know my veiws about this topic my friend so I'll just leave it there. xoxo

  • lisabethjean

    Please don't think I am belittling others as I write my comment here. I am writing what I've just recently found to be true of the depression in my life. Thirteen years ago after the birth of my youngest (& about 14 family/close friend deaths in 11 months) I spiraled from postpartum to full-blown, medicated depression. I truly lost 3 years of my young sons' lives because I was living in a stupor. Something a pharmicist said while refilling my prescription jarred me awake & I quit cold turkey. (I know that is not medically advisable, but I believe now my doctor was in it for the drug $ incentives) I started researching dietary ways to heal my brain.

    Relatively successful for about 10 years, but still symptoms such as insomnia would resurface for weeks at a time. A year ago, for auto-immune reasons, I started down the path of becoming gluten-free. But you know, I didn't realize until I read this article a few weeks ago, just how much my mind was being healed as well as my body.

    More important than my physical healing was the evolution of my spiritual healing that started with the catalyst from reading Ann Voskamp's book, "One Thousand Gifts". http://onethousandgifts.com/about

    I thank my patient God, Who is slow to anger, for His love, mercy & grace. Now as I read through His Word every morning, I see more & more of His Eternal Plan unfolding, & the place He has for me in it.

  • I wish I were there, at that point to give all to Him. I'm not. I enjoy going to church (although, yes, I enjoy it more when the kids aren't there because we no longer have Sunday School or someplace for them to go during service and trying to get a 3 yr old to sit still is just…no.) And I realize that's an excuse. I will get there. I know it. But, that fear is something. That fear that makes me afraid of so many things, even afraid to give those fears to Him…it's powerful. And it lies. And I know this, and yet…

  • Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this testimony. You can find out here (http://www.mypolishedsideblog.com/2013/01/my-story.html) that I too have struggled with mental health issues. And I remember all to well how I resisted any and all help from Christian counselors or Christian friends because I thought I could handle it all on my own and wouldn't have to surrender it all to God. Boy was I wrong. God just kept breaking me until I finally realized that the only way I could be healed completely was by puting my trust and faith in Him and surrendering my illness, fears and failures. I still struggle with this though, finding myself not spending time in the Word and trying again to control things on my own. So thank you so much for this reminder today that we need Christ. We need his strength and we need to set aside all our fears on Him because he can handle it and will handle it with gracious love for us. AMAZING! THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN FOR SHARING! You have touched my hear today new friend.

  • Candacejo

    So many of us could have written your story Katie, yet you have written it beautifully.

    Fears have followed me too my whole life but after thirty years of suffering I am trying to learn to stop listening to those fears and to start loving the Savior. I was so bound by the fears I couldn't even love and enjoy serving my Lord! Some wonderful Godly ladies spoke into my life that had gone through the same thing and taught me to fight back with scripture, start quoting things like "There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out all fear…" 1John 4:18. It CASTS, a continual process, I loved that! And Colossians 1:27, "…and this is the secret: Christ lives in you! This gives you the assurance of sharing His glory". NLT I love that version! And 1John 4:4 "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world…" There is no room for fear! In one of Chris Tomlin's devotions he said, "God knows our tendency to fear, that is why His Word is full of reasons not to!"

    If we have the infilling of the Holy Spirit that IS Christ in US! So there is no need to fear but yes, we are human so if we have fear it doesn't mean we are a sinner, and yes we are frail and yes my fears do come back because we live in a real world! But Learn how to fight them…pick up the Word! Don't let the enemy triumph over you and let the fears overcome you, don't let the fears hang around and overtake you. There lies the difference in the child of God. Remember it is a battle of the mind and the enemy likes to think he can control that but he can only put thoughts there, WE can get rid of them. We can feed on the Word and prayer and surround ourselves with the things of God. Thanks for reminding us of that today. You are a superhero!

    Here is an awesome "can't-get-it-out-of-my-head-worship-song" of Chris Tomlin's, "Whom Shall I Fear!" http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fiBn6mPjvG0 just click!

  • Lynda Clarke

    Katie’s testimony helped me get in touch with my ous fears. I know 2 Timothy 1:7 says For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

    No matter how much I read this and many other supporting scriptures fear revisits me at will. Reading Katie testimony has truly woke something up in me. I thank her for her honestly and transparency.

    I will now be submitting my testimony to SD, which I wasn’t at first. I cast my fears on God today for I knownHe cares for me.

    God bless you Katie.


  • Catherine

    I lost it several years ago, after a kid pulled a knife on me at a community center where I used to work. Days of insomnia, crying, and thinking I was having a heart attack ensued. The doctor wrote "anxiety" on my chart and prescribed tranquilizers and a visit to the psychiatrist. I answered some questions "correctly," and she sent me down the chain to a counselor. Talking and talking and talking set me free from the damage the presenting situation caused in my life, but additional, irrational fears held me back from living. I felt like a freak. And, I drove my husband nuts, but then he got his wife back. Unfortunately, years after I healed, got strong, build friendships and had a sense of God's purposes for my life – my husband became his own freak show when he hit 40 and started cheating, lying, coloring his hair, wasting our savings, disappearing and otherwise exhibiting every. single. symptom of midlife crisis. I put up with it as long as I could, tried to get him help, prayed my heart out of my chest. Praise God that when I finally had NO choice but to put him out, I didn't fall completely apart because of the strong foundation God had built in my life when I was going through it – He knew what was to come. A few weeks ago I fell into depression again, triggered by stress, I think. I wonder if IT is always going to be in the background noise, ready to creep up. But I know Who has been the answer for me, and He is the strongest Medication ever. Thinking outside of myself, serving His people beyond constantly doing inner work – calms my soul.

  • Thank you so much for sharing! Your testimony reminds me of when God first called Moses, a man who changed all of history forever. Exodus 4:1-17 describes his fear when God first calls him. Moses questioned himself and God, explaining that he couldn't do what God was asking him because he was "slow at speech".
    At a human level, he had reason to be anxious…. However, God was more than confident in Him… And despite God getting angry for Moses' lack of trust, God still used him as an unbelievably great leader for His children.

    If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord , “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:9-16)

    You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:3)

  • Wow, your testimony really touched my heart, I feel like I live daily with all my fears because I don't understand why my life is going in the direction that it is and I know that I have to let go and give it all to God, that is the hardest part.
    I am a newly reaffirmed believer and I have seen that prayer and reading the bible has helped me but I still have to learn to let completely go and stop trying to control my life and it's outcome. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Thank you for sharing your testimony, Katie! Great reminder that God uses ordinary, broken people to do great things! Blessings to you & all our sisters!

  • Such a great testimony! Thank you so much for sharing. I struggled with depression and anxiety for years and had many people tell me that I just needed to pray and exercise more. I told myself the same thing. It's so easy to feel like a failure when what comes easily for some people is so difficult for you. But between some medication and my sweet, faithful Jesus, I have made such progress that I can honestly say I feel like a completely different person. "He took the crappy mess and made it something new". You worded that so well. Thank you, Katie!

  • What I am so thankful for is this: when we hand out fear, our sin, our messes, our mistakes, our burdens over to the Father, the look in His eyes is not one of judgement, or anger or even surprise, but of love and compassion and mercy! Thank you Katie for reminding me of that this morning!

  • AmyKelly213

    Great testimony, Katie!!! Thank you for sharing it so beautifully and honestly!! God's got this… That has been my mantra through the last year struggling through my sin and others' reactions to me. Without Him, I am a hot mess, too!! God's got this. He's got your back. Boom! ;)

  • Beautiful testimony Katie! We all struggle and fall. We all are broken but it is throughour broken selves that his light shines brightest! Will definitely follow your blog. Many thanks to all you beautiful women that read my testimony and ENCOURAGED me. It’s great to know that I have a HOME on here. I hope that someday we can have a real life get together to share our lives, love and testimonies. I love you all

  • Autumn Dawn Leader

    Beautiful testimony, Katie. I have shared here on a few occasions my struggles with severe depression and fear and anxiety, so I can really relate to this testimony. How grateful I am that God gives me more and more grace, as I rely on him and trust his Word. It’s also such a blessing to know I’m certainly not alone. We may indeed be messes; but, with our wonderful God who is for us all the way, messes can be made into beautiful blessings! I thank the Lord daily, moment by moment, for his very real, very present, help. Thank you, Jesus.

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