Katie McInnis' Testimony

Katie McInnis’ Testimony

Katie McInnis and her father Steve Robinson.

Meet Katie McInnis
Katie McInnis, daughter of FCA Area Director Steve Robinson, once sought death as a way to escape from pain. Now, after discovering renewed freedom in Christ through Alcorn’s Mercy Ministries, she has defeated the addictive eating disorder that once ruled her life. Below is her story in her own words.

My journey up to this point has been one of pain and triumph, darkness and light, lies and truth, abandonment and grace, death and life, but most of all it is one of love. It is a walk down the road of grace. It is the chase of the One who pursued me with a love that has never ceased; a love that has remained constant in spite of my behavior; a love so great that it refuses to leave me unchanged. It is the deep and unmistakable love of God.

Growing up in a Christian home was a blessing and I am very thankful for that. I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was seven years old, and was always very involved at my church. However, Satan will take whatever he can to use against us. “For the thief comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy…” (John 10:10). It is so easy to put others up on a pedestal. We see their lives, and though we know they aren’t perfect we still tend to believe that they have it all together.

I can still remember being in the fourth grade and having a girl tell me that my family was perfect and she wished she could be in my family. I knew we weren’t, but she made it sound so magical that even I wanted to be a part of that family too. She was the first to make this comment, but many others followed. Somewhere in that time I began attempting to keep up that image. In school I was always involved in everything from school clubs to playing sports, including track and cheerleading. This, among other things, placed me in the spotlight.

The silent theme of my life became “lights, camera, action” as I traded out one mask for another. I always appeared happy at church and school. I wanted people to think that everything was ok. I felt I would be letting them down with anything less. I really never let anyone see my pain. I thought that if people knew who I really was, an imperfect mess, they would be let down and disappointed. The truth was that I didn’t even know who I really was.

My parents divorced the summer after my freshman year in high school and I chose to move to Knoxville (Tenn.) with my mom. I found some new masks there and settled in. I continued cheering and running track and got involved in everything I could while continuing to lose sight of my true identity.

One day while exercising on a leg-lift machine for track practice, a guy that I didn’t even know walked past me and said, “Whoa, huge thighs!” I had never had a problem with my weight or my size and I had no reason to, until that day. I remember being in shock and thinking that I had to fix it. I couldn’t have huge thighs. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know the guy. What mattered was that someone saw me as what I considered to be ugly or not good enough. I felt like a huge piece of me had been revealed and uncovered. I hurried to put on a smile so that no one would see my pain. From that point forward I began to work out excessively. One mask restricted food and purged what little I ate, while another withdrew in depression. I had covered my face with so many masks that I had left no holes to breathe. I was suffocating under layers of a girl I didn’t even know.  My family decided that I needed professional help and I began to see different counselors through the next couple of years. Medication after medication was administered claiming to free me from my pain, but all attempts failed.      

Time went on and I entered college. I took a few masks off, but kept them in my backpack only to replace them with new ones. In time I got engaged, and again, from the outside everything looked perfect, but I knew it wasn’t right and later broke it off. Soon after that I sat in yet another doctor’s office after many suicide attempts. He handed me a mask made out of labels and prescriptions for the rest of my life. He told me I was bi-polar. In my mind he had only given me another reason not to live. When I looked in the mirror I saw failure; an unlovely, imperfect, and incomplete mess. I tried to paint over the masks in hopes of disguising my tattered life, but again I failed. In hopelessness and despair I attempted numerously to destroy the maker of these masks…me. However, my efforts, once again, did not succeed. Within a few months I hit rock bottom and with what little strength I had I reached out my hand and cried, “Mercy!” That is when the true healing began at Mercy Ministries.

Day by day, week by week, and month by month I was continuously shown unconditional love and filled with hope. I had to face each mask in the mirror, but I learned that I did not have to do it alone because standing next to me was my Rescuer. With each mask I took off He cheered me on. Sometimes he had to stand behind me with His arms up under mine. Those masks had been a part of me for so long that separating from them seemed impossible, but He was my strength. As the masks came off one by one, He smiled and said, “Now you are starting to look like me.”

Now I can breathe. Now I see who I really am. I was created to look just like Him. The more I have trusted, believed and sought after him the more I can see His creation. I was not created to be perfect. I was created to reflect Christ. Yes, Jesus was perfect, but if we were all perfect then we wouldn’t need God. I have found that when I am real and authentic; when I reveal my mistakes, mess-ups and imperfections, God is glorified and reflected. How? Because others see that it’s not about me. It’s nothing I can do, and it is God that I need. It is all about Him, and that gives hope. It is removing myself from that pedestal and letting others see that I don’t have it all together, as no one does, and pointing toward Christ as my Rescuer. There is such freedom in not having to be perfect. I don’t need those masks now. I am a new creation. I am His princess, and I am restored.

I am continuing on in my journey. It is not one that is without fault or error, nor is it close to perfection, but it is real. I now have the tools to deal with the lies that the enemy puts before me. I have a reason to live and a hope that does not disappoint me. I have freedom and a life in Christ!

Beyond the Disease
McInnis graduated from Mercy Ministries after a seven-month stay. Once told by a doctor that she would never live apart from the eating disorder that controlled her life, she now celebrates three years of freedom from the disease. McInnis also celebrates her recent marriage to Taylor McInnis, the godly man of whom she thought she would never be worthy.

After graduating from Mercy, McInnis finished her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Tennessee. She currently works as the Intake Assistant at the Mercy home in Nashville. Here she interviews and gives tours to many girls in whose place she once stood.

Words of Hope
McInnis wants to share her experience with every woman struggling with eating disorders. More than anything, she wants them to know that there is hope in the Lord.

“We all have an image, whether it is based on the size of our pants, our hairstyles or our language,” she says. “I didn’t know what my image was until I learned who I was in Christ. God is not going to beat down your door, but He will knock on it until you open it and say, ‘God, I don’t know how to do it anymore. I need help.’ If you take that one step, God will take the 99 more and meet you there. Jesus died on the cross for our sicknesses and our diseases, and He came to heal us and to give us freedom.

“But God is not only in treatment centers, He is everywhere,” she continues. “The main thing is that you must be willing to let God heal you. It is not an easy road, and there is going to be pain, but the freedom on the other side is amazing. You don’t have to deal with it for the rest of your life.”