Christy Boulware, who received both her undergraduate (Theatre, 2004) and master’s (Business Administration, 2007) degrees from William Woods, thought she had it all. A wonderful family including a fellow WWU alum for a husband, and a prestigious corporate job. But fear and anxiety nearly derailed it all. Using her determination and intense religious faith, she found her way out of the abyss – and founded “Fearless Women,” a St. Louis not-for-profit ministry that helps other women conquer the same demons that she has had to overcome. Her movement has become especially relevant during the age of COVID-19, and Ms. Boulware shared, in her own words, how she came to create it with The Woods Today’s Veronica Townsend.
Going to a dark place
I climbed the corporate ladder and hustled my way to the top- kicking butt and taking names. I was aware of God, but I did not think I needed him because everything was cool, and I could do everything on my own. One day when my husband and I were on a vacation, I had my first panic attack. I did not know it at the time, but when your body is on overdrive and overloaded and then you try to rest, you send it into “fight or flight” mode. I have been a workaholic and was running too hard and fast for too long. When I tried to rest, my body said “wow, I do not know what is going on,” which threw me into a nervous breakdown where I was diagnosed with severe panic and anxiety disorder. That time was the scariest, deepest, darkest time of my life. I was losing weight and my hair was falling out. My children needed to come and care for me as I was in bed having back to back panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. It all lasted for a really long time and I took an 18-month recovery journey to get through it. In that, I surrendered my life to the Lord where I realized that I am not the hero of my story and I am not superwoman. If I did not get a hold of this quickly, I was going to go down a dangerous path.
Becoming a “Fearless Woman”
When I surrendered to the Lord, I decided to turn my life around. I am now on fire for the Lord to help people overcome fear and anxiety. When I was creating a business, the name that my heart landed on was “Fearless Women.” The name is important to my life because I am not always absent of fear. We are all going to be afraid at points in our life. All of us are going to have moments that are stressful, chaotic, crazy and hard to get through. The key is fearing less and trying to not have so much anxiety. When the fear does come, you know what you can do with it and trust the Lord knowing that He is there for you and is never going to leave you.
I became the founder and president of Fearless Women where we equip women to find victory over their fear and anxiety. We do it in many different ways. We have community events that are free where people come to listen to a message and fellowship. People get to hear how they can physically, spiritually and mentally overcome fear and anxiety. Small group studies are where participants come in and learn in a six-week journey how to manage anxiety. We also have workshops that are 90 minutes in classroom-like settings, and we dive deep into a specific topic that might create fear and anxiety, like finances or relationship conflicts. We have an annual two-day conference and an annual four-day teen camp. The teen program is a big initiative where we teach youth how to find their passion, know their worth and overcome anxiety. These topics are relevant right now among the youth.
Conquering anxiety during COVID-19 with God
We must come to grips with the fact that our lives are not our own and that there is a higher and greater power who is ultimately in control. God is a good God who loves us so deeply. Once we trust Him and understand that He has great plans for our lives, we loosen our grip on what we are holding on to so tightly. The first thing is to surrender, and the second thing is to realize what you can and cannot control. Whether or not COVID-19 goes or is here to stay and whether we have to have a vaccine or not is out of our control. We have to trust that God has our back and is going to take care of us.
Great memories of WWU
During one of my solos for the William Woods Theatre performance of “School House Rock”, my future husband Troy was in the audience watching the show and leaned over to his mom and said “I am going to marry that girl someday.” In our junior year, we started dating and he later proposed to me, during a trip to New York City, at the Rockefeller Center.
We were married at the dome because I spent so much time in Cutlip as a Theatre major and it was the place where Troy told his mom that he was going to marry me someday. It was a special and incredible event and we got to decorate the dome to celebrate a William Woods marriage.
I have always enjoyed musical theatre and the fine arts. William Woods had a great scholarship for the fine arts that I took advantage of. Professor Joe Potter is a great professor who cares about his craft and is passionate about what he does. When one talks about peace, kindness and patience, that is him. I always thought his patience and kindness for his students was something special. My Theatre degree helped me with public speaking, communicating, writing messages and stage presence. The training set me up for success with what I do now where I travel around the world to convey the “Fearless Women” message for my ministry on stage.
Troy and I started to have children and we both took the master’s program at William Woods in 2008. The master’s program was with an adjunct in St. Louis, which was perfect for us, a wonderful way of getting a master’s degree. For one of our business classes, we had to put together a business plan for our final and present it to our class. Starting my own business and ministry to equip women to go out and do what they are called to do, the information I used about the business plan in my William Woods master’s program has been valuable to me over and over again. My greatest joy of going to WWU is that I met the love of my life Troy. Without his support , I would not be able to do the ministry that I run. I would not have come out of a dark time of my life. He has given me three beautiful children and I am so grateful for that time in my life.