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Mandisa Trusts God Through Her Deepest Pain

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Ever since her appearance on American Idol in 2006, Mandisa has been captivating audiences with her powerhouse voice.

And as she launched into her singing career, it was her smile and positive outlook on life that captured their hearts.

Mandisa shared, “I kinda feel like I’m known as the cheerleader, like ‘You're stronger. And you're an overcomer. And it's a good morning.’ But it’s hard.”

Mandisa admits that her ever-uplifting personality was simply her way of masking her own struggles.

“I don't like talking about my emotions,” she said. “I just – I don't know, it's not the way that I was raised and it's not something that comes naturally for me.”

But there would come a time she couldn’t fake it any longer.

In 2013, Mandisa released her fourth album entitled Overcomer. The title track was dedicated to her friend Lakisha who chose to forgo treatment for her breast cancer in order to protect her unborn son. Mandisa prayed, convinced that god was going to perform a miracle. But less than a year after giving birth to her son, Lakisha passed away.

She remembered, “I was saying to God ahead of time, ‘I know you're going heal Kisha because this is what's going to give you the most glory. If Kisha comes out of this she can then use her testimony to tell other people about the greatness of God and how he heals.’ And when it didn't happen that way, I didn't understand. It shook my faith in a way that I did not expect. And in a way that I did not think I would battle with. I thought my foundation was really firm. But when that happened, I was angry at God.”

Mandisa went into isolation, shutting out her friends, family, and God.

“I didn't go to church,” she said. “I didn't read my Word, I certainly didn't pray cause I felt like he was not hearing my prayers. And the result was that I fell into the deepest depression of my life. I started turning to my old ways, which is food. For years I had battled it, and I'd actually found some success recently when I lost over 120 pounds, but I quickly gained every last pound of that back and a whole lot more. And so then I'm battling with shame and the enemy telling me, ‘How can you tell other people that they're overcomers when you can't even overcome this same issue that you have been dealing with your entire life?’”

Months later, her friends decided to intervene.

As she described, “The one time that I left my house I was at a movie theater, and I think I was watching like a marathon of movies, and when I came out I saw that my car had a bunch of sticky notes on it, and as I got closer I realized a lot of these sticky notes were scriptures and ‘Disa, we love you. And we're praying for you.’ And then as I drew closer to my car I saw about eight of my friends started gathering around. They found me at the movie theater and they said, ‘Listen, this has been going on for too long, we're not going to leave you like this.’"

Her friends convinced her to see a Christian counselor. There, she uncovered the roots of her depression and addiction to food.

She said, “I was molested at an early age, I was raped at an early age and I think the divorce of my parents probably had an impact on my worth and placing my worth in the wrong things. And I had turned to food my entire life. And when you're heavy at a young age you deal with a lot of ridicule. But then when you have sexual abuse on top of that, like it's just a vicious cycle.”

And Mandisa soon realized that she couldn’t hide behind a smile any longer.

She realized that “…the healthy thing to do is to bring those disappointments and anger to God. I mean, God says that David was a man after his own heart, and David committed adultery, he got somebody murdered. I mean, he made mistake after mistake, but he brought those things to God, and I think that's why he was a man after God's own heart. And I want to be a woman after God's own heart.”

Mandissa began taking her deepest pains to God and it was then she finally found a freedom.

“Now I feel like my verses,” she said, “my theme verses, are Psalm 40, verses 2-3, that says, ‘He lifted me out of the pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and he gave me a new song to sing.’ That's basically where I am today. I was in the deepest pit of my life, but Jesus lifted me out, and now I feel like I have a new purpose and a renewed sense of worth.”

It was that experience that inspired her latest album out of the dark.

Now, when Mandisa wears that winning smile, it’s not to cover up the imperfections in her life, but to show that no matter what happens, God is in control.
She shared, “I don't just say, ‘I have overcome’ because I still have to, on a daily basis, make the choice not to go into my default but to really walk in faith and in confidence. When I look in the mirror and I just want to list off everything that I hate. Or when I feel like I've made another mistake, the same mistakes that I make over and over again, instead of beating myself up I say, ‘No, God began a good work in me and he will finish it on the day that Christ Jesus returns. I'm a masterpiece in the making, I'm just unfinished right now.’"

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