#PreApproved Writer of the Week: Kathy Schwanke

July 15, 2014 | 4 comments

#PreApproved Sisterhood Series


Welcome to a new series, hosted here on the blog. Every Tuesday night, one of our PreApproved sisters will share her story on letting go of a love idol.

Together, we’re giving up our love idols, and we’re not taking them back.

We are already approved; we have nothing to prove. In Christ, we are #preapproved.

To Run in the Desert Or Rest By The Water
Kathy Schwanke

I was trapped in a prison of my own making, and I had no idea how to get out.

Tormented, dizzy, breathless, hands tingling, and mouth exceedingly dry, and extremely self-conscious. Like mama never leaving the pacifier at home, I always had my water bottle and Altoids. Melting the potent mints in my mouth seemed to open my constricted airways and serve as a mind-distraction.

I lived in a constant state of anxiety with a desire to run, and could not escape the cloud of debilitating shame.

Fear manifested intensely while driving. During every trip, I kept a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel and fought the thoughts that sent adrenaline pumping into my system. The freeway was the worst because of the effect of speed and commotion on my already heightened sensory-overload. And going slow increased my fear at the thought of potentially angering anyone stuck behind me.

Upon arriving home, I felt as if I had run the entire way.  It was so exhausting.

Living with anxiety is like living with a noose closing around your neck while tied-up, standing too close to a raging fire.

Overarching the fear and shame, was a heavy weight of responsibility to “get over it” because you have people depending on you.

I desperately reached for a cup of cold water from my Pastor, parents, and friends, but I found it continually empty. Not that they didn’t care, but they didn’t know how to help me. I also tried counselors, but left feeling like it would take too many years to conquer my issues.

My soul cried out to the Lord for healing. It was a long, hard wait.

Sporadically, shards of hope broke into my desperation; a word of encouragement occasionally refreshed me. I spent hours daily reading my Bible. I pursued answers from books and conferences.

One day, while sitting in a workshop listening to a woman talk about living free from the “false-self”, the Holy Spirit broke through my darkness when the speaker said, “Some of you are listening to too many voices and you should only be listening to One.”

In that moment several voices came to mind. And as if scales suddenly fell from my eyes, tears flowed uncontrollably. I clearly saw that I’d been worshiping people by seeking to meet their (perceived) expectations to validate my worth instead of trusting in God’s love for me.

I’d spent my life working hard to predict any negative experience that might come as a result of my choices, my words, and my behavior. I had lived my life avoiding whatever I estimated might bring rebuke, disapproval, or criticism.

Experience had taught me that my value rested on my performance. If I pleased people, I felt loved. Ironic really. There is no rest in running circles around people.

Living that way eventually drove me into the desert where I wandered for several years in bondage to the people-pleasing love idol.

Like Israel with her golden calf was relegated to wandering in the wilderness in order to learn of God’s love, so it was for me. There, God exposed the idols of my heart and enabled me to turn back to Him and find true rest in His love.

Fear of people drove me into the wilderness where God’s Perfect Love drove out fear. Then He brought me out into a spacious place.

There is a promised land of peace and plenty within the love of God. That perfect love is attainable when we cease striving for love from people and know, believe, and trust in God’s Love.

Kathy Schwanke married her high-school sweetheart at the age of 18. They make their home in Northwestern Wisconsin. They love morning coffee, glimpses of the sun setting over the lake in the evening and restoring broken things like cars, homes and hearts. They have two married children and three grandsons.

Once ensnared by anxiety, now freed by the truth of Christ’s love, Kathy’s passion is encouraging those seeking to soar above crippling earthly weights, and fly by faith on the sturdy wings of truth and love.

She invests through prayer, mentoring, writing, speaking at events, and teaching God’s word both weekly in a classroom and in a community Bible study.

You can visit her blog Free to Fly at www.kathyschwanke.com

She also can be found with work in the soon-to-be-released book: Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories of Survival compiled by Nancy Kennedy, and filed under “Daily Manna” in Heart of God International’s online magazine JournEzine.


Click here to find out more about the Love Idol movement.

Click here to purchase the book that inspired the movement.

Click here to join us on Facebook as we lay down our Love Idols and declare our #preapproved status in Christ.



Click here to print the black and white preapproved cutouts.
Place these where ever your Love Idols have lurked!

A pink PreApproved printable: to frame, to put on your refrigerator, to give to a friend.
Click here to print. My gift to you, brave soul!

by | July 15, 2014 | 4 comments


  1. Sarah

    Beautiful story, Kathy!

    There’s no place like God’s spacious place, is there?

    • Kathy Schwanke

      Thank you Sarah, so true- there’s no place like Home in His heart. 🙂

  2. Leah Adams

    Kathy, what a transparent and honest story. I have dealt with anxiety but not on the level you experienced. You are a beautiful, sweet sister in Christ. I know God is smiling on you as you shared about your struggle and how you found peace!

    • Kathy Schwanke

      Leah, you are such a sweet gift from God encouraging me so much over these past few months. I am so grateful for you. xo



  1. To Run In The Desert Or Rest By The Water | Free to Fly - […] manifested intensely . . . (To continue reading my #PREAPPROVED story as I guest-post over at Jennifer Lees’ blog )…

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