Saturday, July 18, 2020

When Fear Paralyzes Your Writing

by Emme Gannon @GannonEmme

I thought I’d adapted to the idea of empty pews and store shelves and closed businesses, as well as loss of relationships with others and my church family. That all changed when a wasp took over my mailbox and stung me several times on my hand when I went to retrieve the mail. By evening my hand had doubled in size and my indomitable spirit had crashed. Fear took over.

One wasp. 

It just took a small insect to arouse all the fears that I’d kept hidden away during this pandemic. The wasp was like a pin that broke a balloon filled with muddy water, spewing dirty liquid everywhere. 

Fear robs and destroys both body and soul and most often occurs when we feel we’ve lost control. In fact, physicians believe a person’s reaction to stress can release a hormone that temporarily reduces the heart’s ability to pump. They call it cardiomyopathy, or “Broken Heart Syndrome.” When our world crashes and nothing we do can make it better, we often hide from our feelings. Like a splinter, our emotions eventually make their way to the surface. The support system that we’d relied upon in the past is now self-isolating and we find ourselves alone. It’s when we’re standing before God with mucky water dripping all over our nice clothes that we admit we can’t make it without Him. 

How easily we lose sight of the dark spirit of Satan who unmercifully persuades our hearts to move away from God’s love and protection into the murky water of fear. C.S. Lewis depicted the insidious plot of the enemy of our soul in his apologetic novel, The Screwtape Letters. Written in satirical style, the characters illustrate how Satan tries to pervert God’s truth. Lewis’s character Screwtape is a senior demon teaching his young and less experienced demon nephew how to draw his charge away from scripture toward belief in Satan’s lies. When commenting on the book, Lewis said that the goal of Satan is the “anguish and bewilderment of a human soul.” 

In his book, Lewis depicted some of the ways Satan and his demons attempt to destroy God’s truth:
  • Satan always inflicts fearScrewtape’s advice to his nephew: “Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him—the present anxiety and suspense. . . It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross but only of the things he is afraid of.” 
  • Satan uses fear to draw humans away from God. Screwtape: “You can weaken his prayers by diverting his attention from the Enemy Himself (God) to his own state of mind about the Enemy (God.) On the other hand, fear becomes easier to master when the patient’s mind is diverted from the thing feared to the fear itself.”
  • Satan wants us to live by feelings instead of faith. Screwtape: “Whenever humans are attending to the Enemy Himself (God) we (demons) are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him to themselves.”
I suspect we’ve on occasions succumbed to the weakness and weariness of the human soul and allowed our feelings to dictate truth. Only by acknowledging that God is in control of all things, can we strip the label “victim” from among us. We embrace the truth that God is not only in control of the lives of His children but the entire universe, which is His. Fear has little chance to invade our soul when we know that whatever happens, God is in control.

During times of stress, my husband would hold me in his arms and say, “Everything is going to be all right.” And it was. That’s just what God says to His children. He wraps us in His love and says, Don’t worry. I’ve got this. Everything is going to be okay. And it will. No matter what.

Whatever situation is piled on top of the trauma our nation and world is experiencing, be it sickness, job loss, financial, or even something small like an insect bite, the Lord is in control. And everything is going to be okay. 

We are eternal beings and our time on earth is determined by God. We must be careful to not be so intent on saving our lives that we neglect to live our lives. Political change and viruses cannot separate us from the love of God. Comforted by His truth, we use our gifts to His glory and know that He’ll be with us as we encounter crises in our lives. Even if that crises is as small as a wasp.


Emme Gannon is a wife, mother, and grandmother who loves to write stories that stir the heart. Her award-winning writing has appeared in Focus on the Family magazine, several anthologies, and numerous newsletters. She just completed her first novel.


  1. Emme,

    Thank you for this important article and the encouragement from C.S. Lewis. Fear can paralyze our writing but our faith is what keeps our fingers on the keyboard and moving forward with our writing. It was a word and lesson I needed to read today.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    1. You are so right, Terry. Faith, driven and sustained by the Word of God, is what keeps us grounded and our "fingers on the keyboard." Thank you for your consistent encouragement to writers.

  2. Emme,

    This brought to mind what my "quiet" time with God was about this morning. I have worried over not hearing or feeling Him near me, but came to the conclusion that no matter my condition, He was still here with me. Peace enveloped me and you have reinforced that with your article. Thank you.


    1. Such a blessing, Tom, to know that the Lord used my words to confirm what He was saying to you. We all have times when we can't hear the Lord, but we know that He never leaves us or forsakes us. The peace He gave you is an indication of His presence in every moment of your life. Blessings to you and your writing.

  3. Love The Screwtape Letters. I read it early on in my Christian journey and still go back and read it occasionally. Maybe it's time to pull it out again.

  4. I'm doing that very thing, Patricia.