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.”

becki

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

windows.

 

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

are?

 

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

lives.

 

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!

 

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