Lessons from Dad

On Grey’s Anatomy she plays a character of faith. In real life her faith is important too. Not surprising for a pastor’s daughter.

By Sarah Drew, Los Angeles, California

As appeared in

Fear. It can hit when you least expect it. When everything in your life is going great, when your dreams are being fulfilled, when you’ve become what you had hoped to become, even when you’re a person of faith and used to calling on that faith and leaning on it.

That’s what happened to me not long ago. Even though I chose the notoriously difficult profession of acting, I’d been fortunate in my career. I was cast in a professional production right out of college. Since then I’d had roles in a Broadway play, television and movies.

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At last I’d landed a regular recurring role on one of America’s most popular TV series, Grey’s Anatomy, and my husband, Peter, and I, after 10 years of marriage, were expecting our first child. I should have been on top of the world.

I wasn’t. My marriage was solid, I loved my job, but I was terrified, absolutely terrified, by the prospect of parenthood. What if I turned out to be an awful mom? It would be hard–if not impossible–to live up to the example set by my own parents.

What was I thinking, bringing an innocent child into this world where so much is broken? What if I couldn’t cope with losing my freedom? Being a parent means being responsible for another life. All my worries might have been irrational, but the fear was real. And it was crushing me.

My character on Grey’s Anatomy, April Kepner, and I have one big thing in common: We both take our faith very seriously. We pray, we read the Bible, we try to live our beliefs.

For me there’s also a personal side to it. My dad is a Presbyterian minister, and when I really need help, when I’m struggling, I turn to him. I have since childhood.

Forget those clichés of the wild, rebellious preacher’s kid. My brother and I weren’t like that, and I give the credit to our parents.

You’re in a fishbowl when you’re sitting in the pew and your dad’s in the pulpit, but our parents never force-fed us religion. They let us find our own way to God. It wasn’t the sermons Dad preached that made the difference. It was how he lived them.

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If it hadn’t been for him and Mom showing me how much they loved me, I wouldn’t have made it through elementary school. Dad was serving a church on Long Island then. I went to a couple of different schools, but in every place, the same thing happened: I just couldn’t make friends.

I wanted so badly to be liked. But my desperation, combined with my awkwardness, was the kiss of death in the schoolyard.

Sometimes mean girls picked on me. More often, I was left out, ignored, as if I weren’t worthy of interest, which is its own particular kind of loneliness. The sad thing was, I was intensely aware of social interactions.

In fourth grade, Mom, who’s a science teacher, tried to get me to learn to take good notes in class. My notes had nothing to do with what the teacher said. They were all about my classmates–who sat together, what they talked about, which girls seemed closer, which ones had a falling out.

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That was an absolutely brilliant testimony Sarah. I am going to pass this on to some of my dear friends and relatives who need reassurance that God truly loves them and will never forsake them no matter what! Always thank God for giving the most loving and caring parents who have brought you up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Alleluia!!! I wish you all the very best in life!!

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Hello Eileen. Subscriptions are available in most countries, including Ireland. Just go to http://www.guideposts.org/subscription-offers for more info.

Fear can take over ones life and hinder our growth. That is why one must stay prayed up in The Lord and count our blessings constantly. My 19 yr old son said, mommy please don't pray on something and still worry yourself. Pray on it and Leave it on God's hand to handle it for you.
That my son was so right. I too can learn from them.
God is good.

This article will be, and I'm sure has been, very helpful and possibly even lifesaving to many folks in the same predicament as Sarah. I gathered very similar principles from a book by Don Colbert, "Train your Brain" that teaches thought pattern retraining to recognize and deal with negative emotions before they have a chance to set up residency in your brain. Very effective for dealing with basic worries and even advanced depressive behaviors. Thanks, Sarah-your contribution to the world and the testimony of your faith are remarkable!

Thank you for the great story and all of the supporting information. It is an excellent reminder for all of us. Your parents did a great job and you have been wise to learn so much from them and the example they set.

Great story.. You will be a great MOM.. God will give the mental and emotional toughness you need when you least expect it..

Thank you Sarah and God bless you for sharing your story. I am a Catholic Christian and struggled with fear 5 years ago when I lost most of my life savings to a Ponzie scheme. Being thankful to the Lord for my other blessings in life, reading the word of God, and God's grace and love helped me stay afloat and focused on Christ. Best of all, a tragic experience helped me draw closer to Christ through my dependence on God. I remember dwelling and meditating on Mathew 6:25-34 on daily basis as a reminder of God's greater love for me and my family.
Reading Sarah's story brough back a lot of the memories I went through before. I now look at them as old wounds healed by God's grace and mercy. God bless you and you Dad who is God-sent and a true guardian angel.

I'm a Presbyterian P.K. as well. I came face to face with fear one dark night in Vietnam. Paralyzing, terrifying fear until an inner voice said what are you so afraid of...death? don't be afraid, I'll be with you even as you die. I survived the night, and the next 10 months but not with fear. Yes, I was scared many times, but it was momentary. That deep peace that passes all understanding has been with me every day since that night in February 1971.

Very inspiring and helpful article - I've written down the Bible references and will look them up this morning. Thank you!

Love Sarah Drew! Thank you for sharing!

Sarah Drew is even more amazing in my eyes after reading this. I'm ecstatic to discover that she is a Christian in real life as well as her character's life. She just saved Grey's Anatomy for me as I have been depressed about the storylines of one of my favorite TV addictions. God bless you, Sarah, and your whole family.

This was so inspiring. I cried while reading it because of similar experiences. I wasn't lucky enough to find God on my own. Christianity was forced upon me, in my opinion, by my family. I'm slowly taking the steps to become a better child of God and Sarah AND her father are helping me. I can't wait to visit his church to hear the Word. :)