Rejection to belonging, Shame to Freedom.

Kintsugi Hope
5 min readNov 29, 2022

Christmas is nearly upon us, and we know it can be a time filled with mixed emotions. We are reminded of the word “Immanuel” which means God with us. This means God is with us in our challenges, with us in our cancer journeys, with us in our mess, with us in our mental health, and with us when we are lonely. God with us in the joy, hope and love that Christmas can bring. Whatever this season looks like for you we hope you know God is with you.

This year Christmas might look quite different for you this year.
We acknowledge the ongoing rising cost of living, and I am sure it is no surprise to you that there is a huge link between poverty and mental health. Kintsugi Hope wants to be ready to support those who might struggle with their mental health in the coming months due to the cost of living crisis.

Kintsugi Hope this year wants to present you with the opportunity to give the gift of HOPE. Through the #ChristmasChallenge22 every £1 you donate to Kintsugi Hope becomes £2! How cool is that?

If there is a time to give it is now!

Tanya Byers speaking at Mental Health Friendly Church conference in 2021.
Tanya Byers speaking at Mental Health Friendly Church Conference.

If you had looked at my life about 10 years ago, you would have thought I had a perfect life. I was a teacher, loved my job, and had a great husband and three beautiful children: but if you looked below the surface, I was really struggling with depression and PTSD from childhood trauma.”

Tanya was given up for adoption, and witnessed her father die of a brain haemorrhage in front of her at just 9 years old. A promising search to reconnect with her birth mother ended in rejection again and then just 2 weeks later Tanya was diagnosed with cancer. Clouded in shame, rejection and uncertainty, she hit rock bottom.

“I had shared with my church at the time that I was struggling with my mental health, but I had mixed responses. Some told me that I needed to come off my medications, some people told me to pray a bit more, and have more faith. I just started to build up even higher walls. I had to go through a real-time of searching for God in my pain, and in my brokenness He met me there. He healed me of my cancer and He lifted the shame I had carried around for so long.”

“In 2021 I had just celebrated my 5-year cancer-free anniversary, and I knew I wanted to do something that was a real challenge to celebrate and do something for charity, but I didn’t know which charity to choose.”

“I first heard about Kintsugi Hope when a friend posted something on Instagram. I was immediately drawn in by the image; it symbolized so much of what I had been through.”

Tanya decided to take on an ultramarathon — a twelve-hour event to be run overnight for Kintsugi Hope. But this wasn’t ideal as Tanya was afraid of the dark! Despite it pushing her out of her comfort zone, she found that there was a beautiful reminder for her as she watched the sunset and then rise; that there is a glimmer of light and if we can make it through, we can see the glory of God — just as she did when the sun rose the next morning.

Tanya and her friend Sara posing for a photo, whilst Tanya is on her ultra marathon through the night.
Tanya and Sara, during Tanya “darkest hour” on her ultra marathon.

A friend joined her during the darkest hour of the run, and it’s an image she believes reflects how we can join one another in our darkness and wait until God’s light breaks through.

Tanya also drew strength from the group of fellow Kintsugi Hope marathon runners who texted to keep her motivated and encouraged throughout.

Before her second marathon for Kintsugi Hope, Tanya attended a well-being group, and although she felt herself to be ‘mental health savvy’ as a teacher in a secondary school, she was surprised by how much she learned from it and how ideas such as practicing gratitude have taken on a greater role in her life. In particular, the week on perfectionism really spoke to her; she realised she’d been a perfectionist without even realising it for her whole life.

Another week she found particularly impactful was the one on shame. Tanya carried shame from her experience of meeting her birth Mum and being told that her Mum was ashamed of her. Through the group, however, she felt God really break the stronghold that shame had on her life, and also on her experience of depression and anxiety. Before getting involved in Kintsugi Hope, whilst she’d spoken openly about her cancer journey, she’d felt ashamed of speaking about her mental health issues.

Tanya had a lightbulb moment — she was going to have to show those scars of mental health issues if she really wanted her life to demonstrate ‘kintsugi’ — beauty from brokenness. She says “Kintsugi pottery is really precious and valuable — but only if you show the cracks. If it’s hidden away no-one knows how valuable it is”. This realisation has helped her to speak openly about her mental health and use her experience to help others.

This year, Tanya completed the London marathon again — running from her home to her church and arriving in time for the beginning of the morning service which was launching the Kintsugi Hope Wellbeing Groups to the congregation, and saw several people sign up to join a group.

Tanya believes Kintsugi Hope can 100% change your life, whether you’re a Christian or from a secular background. Even if you think you know about mental health already — there is so much to be learned about how to listen more sensitively to others and develop different coping skills. She finishes by saying

“I just think that it’s simply 12 weeks, but it’s 12 weeks that can change your life and change it for the better, so I would recommend it to anybody.”

Give Now to double your donation so more people can experience a Kintsugi Hope Wellbeing Group

Tanya and some of the KIntsugi Hope team at our Mental Health Friendly Church Conference in 2021.
Tanya and some of the KIntsugi Hope team at our Mental Health Friendly Church Conference in 2021.

You can help us help more people like Tanya, who have been able to step out of shame, and stigma into healing and acceptance.

For every £1 donated we receive £2 through The Big Give’s matched funding scheme. That means between noon on 6th December and noon on 29th November, £10 turns into £20
£25 turns into £50
£50 turns into £100
£100 turns into £200
And £250 turns into £500

Give Now to double your donation so more people can experience a Kintsugi Hope Wellbeing Group