Today’s guest is Megan. Megan is one of my high school friends, and I have the best high school friends. Megan and Tony have three fabulous children, two in high school, one in primary school, and those three fabulous children, plus a friend, are inside, so Megan and I have come outside to record this.
Where it’s fabulously warm, not.
It’s quite chilly but it’s a lot quieter than it is inside. So that’s great.
But I’m really looking forward to this interview with Megan.
We’ll just start, shall we? How did you you become a Christian?
How did I become a Christian? Well, I grew up in a Christian family. We went to church most Sundays. That was pretty normal. I didn’t really get what it meant to me personally though.
Then one Easter, the Easter that I was fifteen, my grandma came to stay, and my mum thought it would be a good idea to get all the kids out of the house and sent me along with my cousins to the Uniting Church Easter camp. Which really, really changed my life. I loved it. I loved every minute of it.
But the thing that I loved the most was the fact that these people were really loving. They just exuded love, and joy, and love.
So the following year, when I went off to college (where I met Ruth), I think that the first week they had a thing about a Christian group that was starting on Mondays. And I went, ‘Great! Christians! That’s what I want. I want them.’ So I decided there and then that I was going to join the Christian group.
Again, I didn’t really know a lot about what that meant for me personally but I figured they were pretty much like me.
And people started asking me about when I became a Christian, and I was like, ‘I’ve always been one, duh! I was born one.’ And people were talking about a relationship with Jesus. And these guys prayed (Ruth was one of them) and really seemed to get Jesus like the adults did, which I found kind of odd.
Kind of at the same time as that, a lot of my life started really falling apart. My home life was pretty screwed up. And I really wasn’t coping, I was coping less than I had been. And I reached out to the fabulous Ruth Amos.
‘I don’t know what to do, please help me. I don’t know what to do!’
Bless her, she said, ‘Talk to my mum.’
Because my mum’s pretty good.
Her mum’s pretty good. Which kind of freaked me out, ‘I don’t like mums, mums are scary. What do mums know about anything?’
And her and a couple of other beautiful friends paid for me to go to another Christian camp. ‘Good, I like camps, camps are good.’
I talked to Ruth’s mum at the camp, and Ruth’s mum sat me down and she asked me about Jesus and questions about how I knew Jesus. I was like, ‘That’s not the point. That’s not what I’m here to talk about.’ And she led me through a prayer of saying sorry to God for stuff I’d done, which just felt so strange. It was like, ‘What on earth? Where’d this come from? I don’t understand.’
I came back to my cabin feeling a bit disappointed, but the next day something happened. It was in a get-together, sing along, praise and worship time, and I can say now in language that I do have, that God got ahold of my heart in a whole new way.
All I knew at the time was that I just started crying and I couldn’t stop. And I ran outside and I just started talking to God like he was in the room with me. And just said, ‘I can’t do this, God. You have to get a hold of me, you have to take my life and just do whatever you want to do with it.’
The craziest cool thing was that it felt like God was there with me and I felt the burden of all my life lifting off me and then I became a new person. It was transformational and miraculous and ridiculous and insane and unbelievable.
And I remember going back to Ruth afterwards going , ‘It’s all gone! IT’S ALL GONE!’ and she’s like, ‘Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s what happens.’ And I’m like, ‘But you don’t understand!’
And that was twenty five years ago. And I’ve never looked back.
That’s so awesome.
And it was pretty transformational, but it wasn’t complete and utter healing of every bad thing in your life at that time? It’s been a long journey, hasn’t it?
No, it wasn’t. Things got worse before they got better, in a practical sense. But the thing that I remember saying to Ruth so clearly is, I’ve got someone who … it’s a scripture reading from Matthew, ‘Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28.20b)
I’d felt really alone, desperately, desperately me against the universe. And to know that I had someone with me, that the God who created the universe was with me on that journey, no matter what I walked through, it changed my life.
So you had a fairly early brush with cancer. Can you tell us about that?
Sure. One of the things that I’d wanted to do my whole life was to be a writer. So soon after uni I thought I’m going to write a book. That’s fine. I’m going to write!
And I did a lot of research, back in the days before there was the internet – my kids don’t know about that. There was a time before the internet! I used to go to the library and I got a whole lot of books out on the cancer journey, on surviving cancer, on dying and death (it was a very deep book, I didn’t finish it).
One of the books I read in this was talking about how women in their early twenties should check their breasts. And I was about 21 or 22 at the time.
I checked my breasts and found a lump.
I went off to my GP (General Practitioner/family health doctor) who was lovely, who had had breast cancer herself. She said, ‘Oh look, it’s fine, it’s just going to be a cyst or something, they are really, really common in people of your age. But just because of my own journey, I’m going to send you off for further testing.’
Thank God she did.
They sent me to a biopsy, which was horrible. They put needles in really painful places! And it was horrible. However, the biopsy came back clear. Which was fine.
The crazy people called me up about three months later and said, ‘We’ve got to do another biopsy now.’
It was like, ‘I’m sorry, what?’
No, thank you. That’s horrible.
‘You’ve done one. What do you want another one for?’
They said, ‘Well, it’s either that or take it out.’
I said, ‘Can you just take it out? If you’re going to do them every three months, just get rid of the thing.’
So I had just a minor operation under a local. I say that with a funny bit in my voice because they cut into a bit that wasn’t anaesthetised.
That was slightly painful. Anyway, moving right along.
That doesn’t sound great.
They called me up within a day or two and said, ‘Aaaah, please can you come in to the clinic, as soon as you can?’
So I called them back and said, ‘Yes.’
They sat me down and said, ‘We’re really sorry but the bit that we did the biopsy on originally was clear, but it was surrounded by a group of malignant cells. We now need to do a sectional mastectomy and take out some lymph nodes and find out how things are going.’
So, thank God that I started writing that book, because if I hadn’t seen this, if I hadn’t read that information, there’s no way known I would have checked my breasts. And in the ten years or twenty years it takes it would have spread a lot further than just my lymph nodes.
So I ended up having further surgery, chemo (because it was all in my lymph nodes) and radiotherapy. And that was that.
That was that. And that has been that. You’ve been all clear ever since?
Yeah, yeah. I was 23 when they discovered it. So the surgeons were very much, ‘We need to keep an eye on you really closely, we’ll see you every six months.’ And I’ve been totally slack. Which is awful.
But I do go periodically.
Now that I’m forty-something I have mammograms all the time. Because they call me up and say, ‘Come in for a mammogram.’
So, I’m so grateful.
At the time that I was having chemo there was a lady, a grandmother of a friend of mine that I’d grown up with who had breast cancer as well. And she died. And that was a real sombering moment thinking, ‘God it’s by your grace that I’m still here.’ This is not an easy thing. I’m just stupidly lucky and got off lightly from what could be a really horrendous sentence.
I remember at the time, because I was having kids at the time, and there was some fear that you wouldn’t be able to have children. It really seemed to be a sentence over the rest of your life.
Yeah, they weren’t sure, because of the chemo, it was a fairly low-dose chemo but again, because I was so young, they weren’t sure about how it would affect my ability to conceive in the future. So they sent me off to Melbourne to have my eggs harvested. Which was again, just more procedural stuff. More stuff to work through. But I had three kids naturally, which was awesome.
Alright, so, change of subject. What do you do for a job?
The cool thing is that having said that I always wanted to be a writer, I’m now a writer.
That’s so cool.
It’s not anything like I thought I’d be. My official title, I have two jobs as Communications Manager. And I’m not sitting around writing novels all day, but I’m writing emails and newsletters and Facebook posts and letters from people.
I realised that it’s kind of a skill that I took for granted. That not everyone can just compose emails quickly and send them off. Some people really struggle with that stuff. So my job is to take people’s messages and get them out in a way that makes sense and communicates well and effectively.
Cool, that’s a very cool job.
It is pretty cool. One job is for a radio station and one is for another firm who represents a whole bunch of different clients. So I’m often working for completely different people. And having to get inside the heads of their audience and what they want to say. It’s fun.
So how does your faith play out in that work situation?
I’m one of the most blessed women in the world because I have two fantastic Christian bosses who are just both amazing and so supportive which has been great!
In terms of my work, how my faith plays out, it’s a funny question.
One thing, there’s a scripture somewhere in the Bible talking about, ‘work as if you’re working for God and not man.’ [Colossians 3:23] I’m very aware that when I’m writing, let’s say I’m writing a fundraising letter for someone, or writing a Facebook page to get someone to take an action to go ahead. It’s a little tiny cog, connecting maybe donors with an organisation that’s designed to help people. Whether it’s reaching people with the Gospel, whether it’s reaching people with practical help. It’s something that I can do to support people and be a little cog of connection in a larger chain of the wheels.
I really enjoy the fact that sometimes I do terribly boring things, I had a job once where I had to go through the most searched keywords for certain topics. Yes, three days of that was insanely boring. But at the same time, it’s for an organisation that’s leading people to Jesus and connecting people to Jesus. And if that tiny little cog wasn’t there … it’s something that’s helpful.
So do you do advertising copy and things like that?
Do you find that, because I’m learning how to do copy writing as well for my own business, and there’s an awful lot of manipulation that occurs in this space.
Yes. I don’t like manipulation at all. And I will not tell lies. I’m glad that most of my clients aren’t Harvey Norman or, you know, real sales. I don’t think I’d do so well in that completely sales-oriented environment. A lot of the clients I work for are not-for-profit, some humanitarian, we did some work for … I probably shouldn’t say client’s names … but organisations who are helping others.
So when I’m doing ads for those guys, it’s very easy to put myself in that place of going, ‘There’s people out there who need help. And if you, over there on the other side of this ad can help them, then do so.’ So that’s a real heart connection.
I would find it very difficult if I was, I’m not a salesperson naturally at all. It’s really hard. So if I knocked on your door and wanted to sell you, I don’t know, a fire alarm or something I’d be like, ‘Oh no, not that you need it, don’t panic. If you don’t want to spend the money, that’s totally fine.’
You’ve really got to believe in what you’re writing, to connect. Sometimes it takes a while to dig into where that connection is, but once you’ve got that nugget of, ‘this is the truth that I want to convey’ then it’s much easier to convey.
And I think that it’s also really awesome that you can be the cog in the machinery that uses your skills. You don’t have a million dollars to give but you can help other people give and use your gifting in that way. That’s really brilliant.
When do you feel close to God?
There’s two answers to that question. There’s the physical thing — I feel close to God when I’m at the beach. I love the beach. I love those borderline spaces where the ocean meets the sand, and that’s really special. I walk onto the beach and I feel the presence of God.
Actually, when I came to meet with Megan today her son said, ‘Tell everyone how horribly she punishes people.’
So this horrible, horrible punishment that Megan dealt to her son was —
I took him to Boronia Beach.
She took him to the beach. What an awful thing to do.
He hit the wall yesterday, it was far too much Easter chocolate that was pretty much the catalyst. So I was like, ‘I do not know what to do with you. All I know is you have to get out of this space right now.’ So I whacked him in the car, and drove him to the beach. Oh my gosh, the complaints!
I felt better.
That’s fantastic, that’s great. The beach is a special place for me too.
But the other answer to that question of when I feel close to God is those times when I need him the most. The times when really there’s nothing else, and you have no idea what else there is to hold on to and you just go, ‘help!’ and that peace and the presence of God just falls.
‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death’ and all that. I’m alright because those times that you just know that God’s holding your hand and it’s going to be OK. That’s kind of cool.
Absolutely it is.
So, final question is, what’s one thing about God and Christianity you wish everyone knew?
I wish everyone knew that God loved them personally. I wish everyone knew that, that God just wants to be friends and just wants to get in and help and be that personal connection. Not the God up in the sky, sets the world in place and leaves everyone be. But just the personal God.
And I wish everyone knew that when you let him, God has an incredible way of taking the impossible and turning things around and making them right. Taking insanely stupid situations that are really headed towards destruction and can turn everything around, just really subtly and making them beautiful and right in ways that you just never dreamed possible. When you let him.
I think people often discount God as uninterested, and uncaring. And that’s not the truth.
That’s not the God that I know.
Not the God that I know, absolutely.
Thank you so much for sharing with us Megan, it’s awesome to have your story to tell.
Thank you very much.