Featured #TellHisStory Writer: Helen Fagan

February 4, 2014 | 14 comments

#TellHisStory Storytellers Series


Story has the power to change the world, one paragraph at a time. I share this space, once a week, with some great storytellers I’ve met during my years of writing.

This week’s featured storyteller is Helen Fagan, a friend from Nebraska who inspires me tremendously.  

Be sure to come back Wednesday to link your own stories or photos with us in the #TellHisStory community.

God’s Plans are Bigger than Your Fears
by Helen Fagan

“Thank you and welcome aboard,” said the private jet pilot as he took my luggage.

I sensed the Lord near me as I boarded the jet. He was whispering in my ear: “I know I have the plans I have for you … to give you a hope and a future.” I shivered. I thought for sure others heard it, too. I looked around and smiled.

No one was near me. But Him. God was Near.

Just six weeks earlier, I had talked before a live studio audience about my dual diagnosis of Severe Clinic Depression (MDD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This was a TED Talk event.

I had backed out of this talk so many times. I wasn’t afraid of talking in front of people; I’d had plenty of experience doing that. I was afraid of what my future would look like once people knew that I had a dual mental health diagnosis.

One day over coffee, my friend, Jan, asked me why I chose to do the talk. I told her about how God told me people needed hope. And what He’d done in my life, He wanted to do in others. She asked, Whose faces do you see when you are preparing the talk? Who do you want to bring hope to? 

I wanted to bring hope to the immigrants and refugees who struggled with a sense of belonging in their new homeland. I wanted bring hope to those suffering with depression and PTSD … to know that you can pursue your dreams even with the diagnosis. I wanted to bring hope to family members of those living with depression and PTSD. I wanted to encourage and inspire greatness in those who had given up on pursuing their dream because of health reasons.  I wanted them to know that they are not their diagnosis and that the God of Hope wants to help them to live meaningful lives even in the midst of the pain and diagnosis.

Jan said to think about all of that when fear crept in. And so I did. I’d like to say the enemy shut up after that pep talk with Jan. But he didn’t. The enemy’s voice was loud before … during … after.

 No one will hire you, he said.

People will think you are a joke, he said.

Who do you think you are? he asked.

Why would anyone care about your story? He probed like a drill into my heart and skull.

I refused to give into him and his companions: anxiety and fear. I kept reciting, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, think on these things.” I called on friends to pray for me when the fight was most difficult.

I gave the talk. It was cathartic. It was healing. I felt free. But the enemy didn’t stop his taunting. That is, until the day the call came.

Duncan Aviation, an international organization that sells and services private jets, wanted me to do some global leadership training for them.

On the heels of that session, the folks at Duncan Aviation if I would do the same training for their staff in Michigan. They said they would fly me on one of their private jets.

That’s when it happened–

As I stepped onto the jet, God reminded me that He’s got me. That his plans for my future are far greater than my fears.  I learned a valuable lesson: To trust the Lord even if I don’t see the future. To trust Him in the ambiguity. To trust Him in the pain. To know that His plans are far better than my plans.

Helen Fagan is a wife, mother, leadership scholar and a connector of people. Iranian by birth, American by choice. Muslim by birth, follower of Jesus by grace. Her webpage can be found at www.HelenFagan.com .

You can find her TED talk on YouTube here.

by | February 4, 2014 | 14 comments


  1. Cheryl Smith

    Wow! How I needed this tonight! Helen’s words went straight to my heart. I have been asked to speak before a group of ladies later this month, and I have been SO ill, physically, that it doesn’t appear I will be able to keep my commitment. Every day, I go back and forth…feeling the desire to do God’s will and to try to be a blessing and encouragement, yet, so weak and sick, physically, I am not sure what to do. I could never describe how the words here comforted me. I am glad I am not the only one who struggles. I am willing to do whatever God wants me to do, but I need a well body to do it. Please say a prayer for me, if I come to mind. Thank you so much for your site…it is a blessing to me. 🙂 Love, Cheryl

    • Paula Gamble

      Praying for you right now, Cheryl. May Jesus wrap His loving arms around you just like you do for so many, and touch your body. Jesus, I ask you to heal my sister, Cheryl. Give her strength and encouragement. Thank you that you are with her and for her even when she is down. Give her the strength to do what You call her to do even in her weakness. You delight in her. Thank you for using her to touch my pain and show me Your love. May she feel Your embrace tonight and I pray You give her refreshing rest. In Jesus’ name, Amen. I love you, Cheryl. <3

    • Helen Fagan

      Continuing in prayer for you dear one!

  2. bluecottonmemory

    God is so much bigger than our brokenness. The last few years – I’ve been praying for me and my boys, “You know what you put in them – and you had a plan for them. This is not a surprise – I give this to you because you already have the plan” – you are beautifully, faithfully courageous!

    • Helen Fagan

      Never forget that Jesus loves your sons more than you do, dear friend! And He loved you more than you can fathom!

  3. Paula Gamble

    Oh Helen, first I really wish I could give you a really big hug. Then, I want to jump up and down because God is just so beautiful in you. Thank you for being brave. Helen, you give me hope. I struggle with depression and PTSD and I have a hard time because I believe the lie that God is upset with me for struggling so bad. Oh, but that’s not true. Our struggles can bring Him glory because even in the fear and anxiety, we can still step on the jet and walk on the stage or in my case, just live another day and give thanks for the little things and know that we are enough just as we are. God works with dust to create beauty. I love you, sister. Thank you for these words of hope.

    • Helen Fagan

      I so love how God has brought us together. You are not your diagnosis Paula! You are His beautiful chosen bride! Love you

      • Paula Gamble

        I love that imagery. We are His beautiful chosen bride – wanted and loved as we are. It’s seems too good to be true, but it is true. Thanks for your love, sweet Helen.

  4. Diane Bailey

    Yes God’s plans are greater than our fears. Yes and amen. I love you Helen! You are beautiful inside and out!

    • Helen Fagan

      Thank you precious Diane! Love you sister.

  5. Charity Singleton Craig

    Helen – Loved reading more about you, your life, your fears, your hopes. I love watching how God connected the dots for you.

    • Helen F

      Love Jesus for that very reason! He connects the dots and helps it make sense!

  6. Anne Peterson

    I also struggle with PTSD. Sometimes it takes so much energy to just get through the buttons that get pressed. Thank you for the encouragement you tucked into this post. That was one of the first verses God used to encourage my heart reminding me He does have a plan. Sometimes in the quiet non-movement times it’s easier to believe lies than it is to hold onto what God said. That was hard even writing that. Thank you for your post.

    • Helen Fagan

      Never ever believe the lie dear friend. You are perfect the way you are. He can and will use the pain. Step out even if you don’t feel it! He will be faithful to see you through.



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