It’s a problem that affects Christians and non-Christians alike. The difference, though, says Gospel singer Emily Ann Roberts, should be in how we respond to it.
Roberts has faced her own battle with debilitating anxiety, though most people wouldn’t guess that from her friendly demeanor and her notable success.
After all, Roberts’ story is one little girls dream of. As a young girl, she often sang for her family, church events, and even some local competitions. But when a casting producer from The Voice saw a homemade video of her singing, he called to ask if she wanted to compete.
To her excitement, she made it past the auditions and joined Blake Shelton’s team. With his training, she came in second to that year’s winner, Jordan Smith.
That was in 2015, during Roberts’ junior year of high school. Since then, she has gone on to have a successful musical career, singing on Gospel music tours and releasing several popular singles. Her first original country song, “Stuck on Me + You,” in 2018 landed in the top 40 of the iTunes country charts.
To those watching her success from the outside, Roberts’ story seemed like a dream. But fewer knew the intense struggles she went through.
Facing Anxiety for the First Time
Roberts’ battle with anxiety began the summer before her freshman year of high school.
“I never struggled with it before then,” she explains, “but I think I just started focusing and dwelling on the lies Satan would tell me to make me afraid. I remember being in eighth grade right before summer started and telling my language teacher that I felt like there was an elephant on my chest.”
Roberts thought something was wrong with her heart, so her parents took her to a doctor. When tests revealed her heart was perfectly healthy, the doctor had her take a questionnaire to see if she had anxiety.
It turns out she did.
“I could hardly eat or leave the house,” she recalls. “It was really bad. I remember breaking down and telling my momma, ‘I can’t do this!’”
Defeating Anxiety With God’s Word
When asked how she overcame her anxiety, Roberts said God graciously healed her. She never even had to go on medication.
“I realized, ‘I’ve got to shift my focus and realize that God is bigger than this,’” she says.
In that season, she clung wholeheartedly to Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“That’s truly what we have to do,” Roberts says. “Otherwise, this world will give us plenty of things to be afraid of.”
The more Roberts spent time in the Word of God and taking her fears to Jesus, the more her anxiety began to dwindle. Instead of trying to pray “pretty prayers,” she focused on simply talking to God with honesty and vulnerability.
And while she’s still sometimes tempted to fall into old patterns of fear, she has learned to notice the warning signs so she can make sure to put on the full armor of God.
“It’s always a slow fade,” she says. “If I’ve gotten lackadaisical about reading the Word or haven’t been steady in my prayer life, it always shows up with anxiety,” she says. “That’s my telltale sign that I’ve got to quit trying to do things on my own.”
Ultimately, for Roberts, defeating anxiety has nothing to do with how strong she is—and everything to do with how strong her God is.
Come watch Emily Ann Roberts perform live at the upcoming 40 Days & Nights of Gospel Music at the Ark Encounter! Purchase your tickets today.