It’s my great joy to introduce to you the beautiful Becki Mancey. I had the pleasure of meeting Becki at our Activate weekend away and have been admiring her strength and courage ever since. She’s amazing, and I’m sure you will love her as much as I do. She’ll introduce herself and her article below.
“I’m Becki and I love experimenting with healthy food, listening to a variety of ethnic music, and wedding planning with my handsome Malawian fiancée! I also enjoy being up to my elbows in glitter and paper and paints, exploring the great outdoors at a relaxed pace, and Saturday nights in with my family, our bonkers little dog, and the X Factor.”
WHO ARE YOU?
Here’s something you don’t know about me. I once climbed for two hours to the top
of a Korean mountain on a lovely spring day with some friends. We then drank
ginseng tea in a tiny, ancient tea house at the summit, awestruck by piles of
unexpected snow everywhere, surrounded by lacy trees hung with swaying multi-
coloured lanterns, enjoying the sunshine as it glowed in on us through tall glass
Here’s something else you don’t know about me. I once hurled myself off a crane at
almost 60 feet high attached only by a bungee cord, and flew around in the sky
screaming at the top of my lungs for a good ten minutes. It was simultaneously one
of the most terrifying and exhilaratingly incredible experiences of my life!
And here are another few things you don’t know about me. I have Post Viral Fatigue
Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, and I am allergic to
such a large collection of foods and substances that you could quite easily mistake it
for a shopping list. I have now been out of work for the last two and a half years.
You’ve probably heard that well-known saying: ‘As long as you’ve got your health,
you’ve got everything!’ Well, yes. Having great health does definitely make life a lot
simpler. But what happens when sickness lasts for longer than the average case of
the sniffles? What can you do when you can’t really DO very much? And as a
Christian, how can you serve God when it’s an effort (or even impossible) to even
get out of bed in the morning?
I am thirty three years old, and for the first twenty nine of those years I would say I
enjoyed pretty good health. After six awesome years at University studying music
and ethnomusicology, I was accepted onto a fast track to local government
management scheme, and moved to a brand new city to work as a project manager
at the local council. I relished the prospect of having a job which I hoped would
enable me to bring about real change in the local community.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I had imagined. It was mostly office-based work, and I
found the un-creative office atmosphere unexpectedly difficult to exist within. After
six months I began to wonder if I had made the right decision in accepting a position
which – when you removed ‘making a difference’ from the job description – really
wasn’t a great fit for a music making, storytelling, hug loving people person! I
discovered that I really had no interest in spreadsheets or policies, or in climbing the
ladder to success. I just wanted to bring some colour and beauty and hope to the
people around me. And as much as I tried to incorporate that into every day, my own
hope was swiftly draining away.
Around this time I started catching lots of bugs and struggling to stay awake during
the day, but was finding it hard to sleep at night. I became secretly quite depressed
and tearful, but initially put it down to just feeling homesick and lonely. After a year of
worsening symptoms however, I ended up in hospital with swollen limbs, difficulty
breathing and intense muscular pain, and was diagnosed a month later with acute
PVFS. Fibromyalgia and Joint Hypermobility Syndrome were identified some time
later, adding more pieces to the puzzle.
As the weeks rolled by, instead of getting better I became increasingly less mobile,
and the pain worsened with every passing day. I used to enjoy jogging, working out,
and using exercise as a major stress reliever, so having to give it all up was a
massive frustration. I put on weight. I forgot things. I became quite adept at falling
down the stairs. Work that should have been simple became confusing, and my
thoughts often drifted so far away I couldn’t bring them back. Everyday tasks
became enormous challenges, and I was sinking under the weight of it all.
After a further year attempting to keep up with work, I was released from my contract
and moved back home to live with my family to rest, relax, and recover. I had hoped
that six months of total rest would do it, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. As the
months rolled by, I constantly struggled with a feeling of ‘skiving’ from life. This was a
weird feeling, bringing with it an unnecessary pressure to do things that my body
wasn’t ready for. Everything I tried seemed to be limited by the muscular disorder,
and I felt like a fraud even though I wasn’t.
After being home for a year or so I began learning about the benefits of eating only
natural, unprocessed foods and how incredibly healing they can be, and also the
physical and emotional difference that using natural beauty products can make. That
is a whole other story, but finally I began see some improvements in my overall
health and wellness! But every time someone asked me ‘So, what do you do?’ I
would feel my shaky self-confidence melting away again, as I had to babble about
‘still not working’, and wait to see what kind of response I would receive.
Which brings me back to my original questions – what happens when sickness lasts
for longer than the average case of the sniffles? What can you do when you can’t
really DO very much? And as a Christian, how can you serve God when it’s an effort
(or even impossible) to even get out of bed in the morning?
We must first look at this issue from a fresh perspective. Why do we so often feed
our self-worth, our identity, and our value only with the success of what we do well,
and starve it with any failures (or perceived failures – being ill is not a failure, by the
way) we encounter? Obviously we need to earn money to survive, but what is it
about not living in a conventional way that seems to grate at the very core of who we
I am the same Becki who climbed a Korean mountain and threw herself off a 60 foot
bungee crane for fun. I am the same Becki who would go clubbing four nights a
week, then get up at 8am the next morning to attend lectures and not feel sleepy
until after dinner. I am the same Becki who painstakingly wrote her first novel at the
age of nine, entitled ‘Sunset – The Story of a Little Calf’. I am the same Becki who
lived and worked in Seoul as an English teacher, who reached Grade 8 violin by the
age of 16, and who achieved a 1st class degree with honours in music from The
University of Sheffield.
Nothing about being ill changes any of that; my past is still my past. But when I
ended up in a situation where I was physically unable to continue doing any of the
things that I felt made me ‘me’, I ended up feeling lost and worthless. And here is the
problem – if we find our identity only in what we do, and pay less attention to who we
are, then when what we do is taken from us we find ourselves in the middle of a
major identity crisis.
Who are you? Who is the woman or man that God created you to be? When your
career / bank balance / church duties / physical strength / material possessions are
stripped away, what is left underneath it all? The things you are good at and the
things you enjoy are rooted in the very fabric of who you are as a person, and that
can never be taken from you. Sometimes we all just need a little nudge to get back
to the very heart of what makes you ‘you’.
Every single one of us is created as a carbon copy of our Father God – how amazing
is that! You could quite literally lie in bed for the rest of your life doing nothing but
breathe, and you would still be considered precious in His sight, because He
designed you from nothing into a person He simply wanted to love. You are
significant because you exist; the very fact that you are here means that God wanted
exactly you on this planet, and He loves you with all of His heart.
Something that was said at the Activate Your Life 2014 conference earlier this year, really hit home for me: ‘We may not always be able to do everything we want to do, but whatever
situation we find ourselves in we can always ask, ‘What CAN I do right now?’ And
the one thing we can always do, no matter what, is to simply shine with Jesus’ love.’
Hearing that, all my fears and frustrations and feelings of self-degradation were
seriously shaken. I realised how much time I spent focusing on all of the things I
could no longer physically do, instead of considering that maybe I could still be a
blessing and find some real purpose in my here and now. I had asked God on many
occasions to heal me so that I could travel to wherever he sent me and serve Him,
but for the first time I wondered if maybe God could use me even in my physically
weakened state to shine for His glory.
What does it mean to truly shine with God’s love? For me, it meant sitting down with
a pen and paper and asking myself ok – who am I? What is my heart full of? And
from that, how can I best show the love of God to the people in my life?
I am creative, and I love people. I love music. I love learning about how the foods we
eat can transform our bodies into the best they’ve ever been – even in the midst of
chronic illness. Through eating a ‘real food’ diet the last couple of years, I have lost
52lbs and my body is finally beginning to recover – I find this really exciting! I love
sharing my experiences with others and watching them re-discover a sense of
dignity and purpose. I love spending time with family and friends, being a good
listener, seeing people smile. I love praying with people and sharing the good news
of the gospel of Jesus Christ with them – and I love Jesus, with all of my heart. This
is who I am, and who I am is in His hands.
Once I began to truly grasp the implications of all this, good things began to happen!
For example, one day I became so tired of seeing how much negativity was flooding
Facebook that I started a trend of posting only positive, uplifting, hope-giving
statuses, and hashtagged it #revolutionoflove. I was surprised at how many people
took it on and still enjoy doing it, and several friends who don’t yet know Jesus have
started faith conversations with me because of it. I also started posting pictures of
experimental healthy recipes on Instagram just for fun, and have been amazed at the
amount of people letting me know that they have tried them out and loved them. I’m
now in the middle of putting together a natural health and beauty blog, through which
I hope to reach and encourage many more people who are struggling with long-term
illness, low confidence, or whatever it is that is preventing them from truly loving their
Never forget that God created you with a treasure in your heart, and that who you
are is infinitely more important than what you do. He will carry you, guide you,
protect you and enable you to shine even in your darkest moments. We are all
created to shine, and when your focus is on Him and not on your own shortcomings,
awesome things will naturally begin to happen. I don’t know about you, but for me
that’s pretty exciting!