The Grammy-winning Mandisa is known for her anthemic songs with soaring melodies and bold proclamations, but behind much of it is a difficult reality, one bookended by deep despair before ultimate redemption.
“The album released before she passed away and I was really looking forward to being able to go back out on the road and bring her out and talk about how she overcame this battle with cancer,” Mandisa told CBN’s Faithwire. “So when she passed away, it shook the foundation underneath me and I was angry. … I was numb. And then I started to question God.”
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The 45-year-old singer was talking about her friend Keisha, whose fight with breast cancer inspired her hit song “Overcomer.” Mandisa recalled feeling so certain her friend would survive and live to tell about her journey to recovery.
So when that didn’t happen, the recording artist’s whole world was rocked.
“I kept it all inside,” Mandisa said of the grief she suffered and the doubt that resulted from her friend’s death. “Before I knew it, I was miserable and hopeless. I didn’t want to be around anybody. I stayed in my house for two years, essentially, just eating and getting worse and worse.”
“It was a slow fade,” she continued, “until the point where I really wanted to end it all.”
Mandisa went on to describe a particularly dark moment, when she clutched a handful of pills “and really considered just taking my life in that moment.”
God has used all of that pain in her life, though, giving her a window into understanding the anxiety, depression, and trauma so many struggle with on a daily basis.
“I’m thankful I didn’t [take my life],” she said, “because I’m able to see now how God has redeemed it. I still wish my friend were here, but I’ve learned how important it is to grieve and to walk with God through things like that.”
During our wide-ranging conversation with Mandisa, which will air in full on Sunday as a bonus episode of Faithwire’s “4&3 Podcast,” the recording artist said the biggest lesson she learned throughout that entire season and her struggle since with depression and anxiety came from friends who reminded her of this truth: “We really are made for more than this world.”
“So when we measure God simply in terms of this world,” she explained, “we’re missing such a huge part of who He is.”
In fact, as she details in her just-released book, “Out of the Dark,” Mandisa said her difficult journey through grief opened her eyes to the richness of God’s character and His love for humanity.
The Psalms were particularly helpful for Mandisa as she learned to understand her experience in light of her faith.
“Look at the Psalms,” she said. “I mean, you see David one minute talking about how good God is and the next minute saying, ‘I want you to slaughter my enemies,’ and, ‘How could you allow this?’ … I have learned how important it is to say these things, because I think we miss the comfort that we get from God when we choose to just stuff it down and not say anything at all.”
That is the heart behind the Christian singer’s four-year-old song, “Prove Me Wrong,” in which she declares: “You could’ve healed her / You’ve done it before / You could’ve sent the angels down / And turned it around / Wouldn’t that have meant so much more?”
“I just let it all out,” Mandisa said of the song. “I let God finally have it after shoving it down for so long and, in that moment, when I did, that’s when it opened up the door for Him to address some things to me.”
The singer remembered the relief she felt when she finally unloaded to God “the things that I felt like I wasn’t supposed to say.”
It was in that moment, when the emotional dam broke, that the healing process began.
Now, Mandisa is devoting her time to raising awareness about mental wellness — an issue that hasn’t always received the attention it should within the Christian community. Part of establishing good mental health for Christians is developing honest and transparent relationships with God.
“That’s the relationship that [God] is after with us, is honest,” she said. “Yes, praise God when good things happen, yes. I’m an avid NFL fan. I love the Tennessee Titans and, when we score a touchdown or when we win a game, I lose my mind. I jump and I shout and I scream. How much more should I do that when God has done something extraordinary in my life? I want every part of my emotion to be given toward Him.”
“And on the flip side of that,” Mandisa continued, “when I’m sad or when I’m angry, learning to bring those things to Him in a similar way, I think is so important. That’s why I think David was a man after God’s own heart, is because he went to Him with every feeling that he had and that is how they grew a relationship, a close relationship.”
Throughout our conversation, Mandisa talked about what it’s like to write a book, what her life looks like now, post-COVID (yes, she got a “pandemic puppy,” as she called it), and shares why she believes it’s so critical to address the spiritual side of anxiety and depression.
You can listen to that full conversation here, beginning Sunday.
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