Overcoming My Fear

Sanctus Real's Mark Graalman once suffered with deep, constant anxiety.
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Just So Shy: Sanctus Real drummer Mark Graalman remembers that awful first day of first grade. Mark's mom had packed all his school supplies in a garbage bag. Not knowing what to do with it, he stuffed it under his desk. During class, his teacher simply asked Mark if it was his bag.

"I froze," he says. "I was so scared to say a word in front of the class. I was just so shy."

Mark says shyness ran in his family. For him, his grandpa, dad and mom, the shyness was so bad it often caused serious struggles with worry, fear and anxiety. "In junior high, I would make myself sick with all this pent–up emotional junk," he says. "I was too scared to just be myself in front of people. I was so wigged out."

The Freakiest Thing: At 16, Mark became a Christian. Soon after, he and his friends in Toledo, Ohio, formed Sanctus Real. "For a kid so shy his whole life, thinking about getting in front of people on stage was horrific," he says. "It was the freakiest thing I could have imagined doing—but I'd wanted to be a drummer since fourth grade. After the band had been together for about a year and a half, all that anxiety built up until one night when I woke up so scared and nervous that I couldn't move. This feeling didn't last long, but my nervousness was at an all–time high. It was really hard."

In church a few days later, Mark went forward for prayer. "I explained what I was feeling, and two men prayed over me," Mark says. "I felt God's presence. It was really emotional, and I know that began the process of getting through this."

Not a Quick Fix: For over a year after that night, Mark fasted at least once a week, spent a great deal of time in prayer, and memorized Scripture about not being afraid. One of his favorites? "For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being snared" (Proverbs 3:26, NIV). Eventually, Mark felt normal: confident, happy and at peace.

"The night I went forward in church, one of the men told me he had been through this too," Mark says. "He told me, 'God will deliver you from this and one day you won't even remember what this fear is like.' He was right. I sometimes can't imagine that I went through that, but I can't forget what God did for me. He was able to overcome the negatives so that I could still follow the desires he put in my heart."

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