– HEATHER MENCHEW { JOSHUA 1:9 } –

God will never send you through a storm that you can’t handle and isn’t going to prepare you for your future.

Before I get into my testimony, let me introduce myself. My name is Heather, I am 21 years old and I live in Georgia. I am a college student going into my 5th year because God has plans that don’t always match ours and you’ll learn that in just a second. I am a photographer, a people person, and I love, love, love, my guitar.

My story is kind of funny to me because I grew up in a Christian home; I had the most normal life you could think of. I got baptized when I was very young because growing up in church, you’re given a million chances to be saved, and so I did it without REALLY knowing exactly what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was accepting Jesus into my heart, but I had such a normal life and had heard testimonies of people who had it a lot worse than I did who then accepted Jesus into their heart. You get where I’m going here?

So my testimony is all over the place but let me let you in on some things that will help. When I was born, I almost died because part of the placenta died and I wasn’t getting the right amount of nutrients so every time my mom had a contraction, my heart rate bottomed out. But 4lb 14oz later, a sassy, big hearted girl was born. Fast forward 18 years and I hurt my back pretty bad, my legs would give out, turn numb, and feel like lightning was going down them. I didn’t really know what was going on, but I did know that because of this, I had to quit my dance career that had been going on since I was 4 years old.

That will be important in a little bit when I get into things.

I went to several doctors just trying to figure out why I was in so much pain because I was going to college while this was going on and sitting in class became unbearable. We finally went to the orthopedic doctor, which sounds hopeful, but this was when I thought my world was going to end.

The first visit with the ortho doctor, she basically explained that they wouldn’t know what was wrong until we had some scans done but that it was possible that I could have a tumor. A TUMOR. Now let me explain why this was a big deal to me. My mom had ovarian cancer at 12 and all I could think was that now I have cancer too and that I was in so much pain that it had to be a large tumor and that I was going to die. I actually thought I was going to die. Now I’m not going to lie, I was saved and a Christian but I wasn’t FULLY living it out, I was just kind of doing my own thing, so I was also thinking “I can’t die yet, me and God have some things we need to straighten out.” We had every scan you can think of done, and it came back negative for a tumor BUT then they threw out that I could possibly have MS and that I needed to get checked for that. Yall. First a tumor (and in my head, cancer) and now MS??

So they threw the MS thing at me and all I can think is “what in the world is happening to me?” but I take it head on. I go to Haiti on a mission trip, still in pain, and not knowing the results of the brain scan. I’m ready to do everything I can to raise awareness and even money for MS because it is a nasty, relentless disease. I know you’re thinking “okay but Heather, why did you freak out over these things before finding out the results?” and that will also come into play soon. I get the results back that I thankfully don’t have MS. I have never done so much praying before, in my life, before both of these diagnoses.

Thankfully it was just a bulged disk that herniated. I had my first surgery June of 2016, a year and a half of pain, not being able to dance, a year and a half of growing in my faith, a year and a half of God breaking me down so that I could learn to depend on Him and only Him. After my first surgery, I was like a new woman, until the Sunday after thanksgiving of the same year where I got into a wreck that could have ended A LOT worse. Thankfully I had God on my side and I only got rear ended. If you’re putting two and two together, I had surgery 5 months before so this was bound to end badly. My medical life had already been pretty bad, but now THIS?

Needless to say, the next day I went to the hospital because I didn’t think to tell the officer that I had back surgery recently, because the adrenalin was keeping me from feeling the pain. They told me I needed to get a MRI soon and that I didn’t have a concussion because (in the doctor’s words) “You didn’t black out so you most likely don’t have a concussion.” WELL, me failing all of my finals after studying for HOURS, stuttering while trying to talk, and forgetting what I was talking about in the middle of a conversation proved that wrong really quick. An MRI would also show very soon that I would need to take the next semester off and have my SECOND back surgery.

Let me remind you, I thought I was going to die, I thought I had a nasty disease, I had to stop dancing (the ONE thing that could get my mind off of what was going on), I now would have 2 back surgeries by the age of 20, and things just seemed to get worse. Little did I know that God was working. I never once asked “why” I was going through it but I was thankful it was me because I was grounded in my faith enough to know that it was happening for a reason.

After all of that, on July 1, 2017 I got diagnosed with general anxiety. That explains my irrational “worrying” and not being able to process what was happening like someone without anxiety would. This is why dance helped so much, because I had to focus on the routines and forget whatever my brain would have me worrying about. This is where it really broke me. Growing up in a Christian home and around Christians your whole life you hear “anxiety doesn’t come from God” which is true in some aspects. Let me break down what I have learned from this. Anxiety is a nasty mental illness that makes you believe things that aren’t true and it’s very irrational. Mental illnesses are chemical imbalances in your brain that you CAN NOT control. SO yes, I agree, anxiety, the EMOTION that everybody feels does not come from Him. If you have anxiety about something, it is not from God because anything God sent you will have peace about.

Learning about having a mental illness as a Christian was a hard pill to swallow at first because not only did I already feel like something was wrong with me, I thought that God would be mad at me for having it. But YALL, God is SO faithful and has taught me more and more through having anxiety. If anything, having anxiety has made me so much stronger and so much more grounded in my faith. I cannot do anything without God, nothing. He is using my anxiety in ways I couldn’t ever imagine, for good, to reach out to others with mental health issues. He has broken me in so many ways, but like the “glow-stick” story, sometimes God has to break you to help you shine. And BOY, has He. I believe I have anxiety because I can witness to others who are struggling, because I GET IT. I believe I will be able to use it when I become a Child Life Specialist to help the children in the hospital who are anxious about whatever illness they have, because I know exactly how they are feeling and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I believe God is going to continue to use me to speak out about mental illnesses and allow people to feel comfortable to keep reaching out to me.

During all of this, I had a lot of people ask me how I was so positive because when they would ask how I was I would answer with a smile and say “I have no control over it, but I know The One that does, and I am just taking it one day at a time.” That still rings true today, things happen, not always the way we planned but ALWAYS the way God planned, and to me, that is such a great thing to lean on no matter what is happening. I turned into the “alright God, if this is what you want, use me, show me what you want me to do, and show me how you want to use me” person. The name of Jesus is a powerful name and even if you doubt that he hears you, I PROMISE he does. I do believe in the power of prayer because I have seen it work in SO many ways and it is something that I can’t even explain.

All social media: @heathermackk

If you find yourself reading this and you need someone to talk to, PLEASE do not hesitate to send me a message. I will be more than happy to talk and share more in depth about whatever you need to.

I leaned on a couple verses during this time:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. – 2 Corinthians 3-5.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.

-Heather.

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