My youth leader saw “joy” in me and gave me that word in a designed moment during my first MOVE experience. I didn’t think too much about it until I noticed “joy” appear on the big screen every day following that moment. By the end of the week, I realized how much God loved me. I had spent years hating myself – to the point of harming myself – but God overpowered those lies and told me that I was still worthy and have a purpose.
Loving Jesus brought me so much joy to the point where I always wanted to love others the way He does. I wanted my heart to be rich and nourished with His light. I thought I had been brought through the darkness, but just a few months after I returned home, another serious darkness came.
My mom was diagnosed with three different types of thyroid cancer. She’s my best friend and this completely broke my spirit. But then in the midst of her battle last November, I was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease.
This rare disease is ugly. I gained a significant amount of weight, I became depressed, exhausted, irritable and suffered from brain fog. I also developed a brain tumor on my pituitary gland. Despite the overwhelming amount of support and prayers, I turned away from God.
It wasn’t like I had lost my faith, but I stopped running toward it. From time to time, God showed the word “joy” to me – it was anywhere and everywhere, from a piece of mail to spoken in conversation – and it always reminded me that He never left.
I faced some pretty vulnerable moments and tear-stained prayers, and I had to learn how to let others be the light for me. My mom is oftentimes my light.
In January, I had brain surgery and I’m doing good. I was able to turn 17, and I’m planning on attending MOVE again this summer. I’m still a mess, but my story is never-ending because God’s hand is guiding all of it. And I still see “joy” everywhere.
Myha McDaniel is a junior at Marshall (Illinois) High School.