Singer-songwriter Melissa Crothers once hid her true identity but her new album reflects a determination to stand up for what she firmly believes in
It was a dream come true the day Mel Crothers found out she was among the 19 of 500 entrants accepted into Musical Theatre at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, which has produced stars like Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger and Lisa McCune.
She loved the course but insecurities soon lead to low self-image.
"Whilst I had the giftedness to succeed I see now that, at age 17, I was just too young and I had a real need for acceptance and the approval of others," Mel says in retrospect.
"This need for acceptance, coupled with being immersed in an environment that was all about how you looked and performed resulted in me developing a dangerously negative body image."
While Mel never developed a serious eating disorder she became obsessed with measuring her food, counting every calorie and exercising for hours every day in an effort to "measure up to what I thought others desired".
Mel traces this insecurity about herself to events and decisions in her late childhood.
During struggles when she was 11, she remembers, "As a family we reached out to the (local Christian) church for help and the reality of there being a loving God who cared about me was realised."
The following year she committed her life to Jesus at an Easter camp, but as she looks back, she says, "I just wish now that I had committed wholeheartedly to Jesus from that young age and not 10 years later," she recalls.
She recalls being plagued by insecurities and hiding her faith from all but a few friends in fear of being ridiculed.
"For many years I was a closet 'Sunday' Christian and not in true relationship with God," she admits.
"Sadly, hiding my faith meant that I compromised my values. I was never outrageously bad or dishonest but to feel accepted I chose to follow the crowd rather than honour God."
Things began to change when she met her now husband, Daron*.
"Daron also called himself a Christian but was not living in relationship with Christ. I truly believe the Lord had an amazing plan to draw us each to him through the influence of the other," she shares.
Over time their passion for music was coupled with their genuine desire to draw closer to God and they soon found their pursuit of Him caused life to change dramatically.
She realised that not only had Jesus forgiven all her wrongdoings, but, as she put her relationship with Him first, all of her worth came from His opinions of her.
"God has taken me from a place of gaining my self-worth from my talents and other people to knowing and believing that my worth is found in Him and Him alone," she shares joyfully.
"Whilst I do all I can to be physically healthy and fit, my dress size doesn't matter. My talent is nothing if it's not glorifying God. And my value is only found in the One who created me. In Jesus I have found my true identity. I know from God's Word that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the Creator of the universe and He desires to have a relationship with me."
Although Mel never pursued a career in musical theatre, her and Daron have a passion to make God-honouring music and are regularly visiting churches to encourage others through their music.
"Although maybe not successful in the world's eyes I know that I am now using my gifts to make an eternal difference. Nothing in the life of those who trust in Jesus, whether good or bad, whether done in obedience or rebellion is ever wasted with God," she adds.
Rather than hide her faith any longer, Mel has stepped out from the shadows to boldly share her new album Faithful which is available on iTunes.
"I am also privileged to be able to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves as an advocate for child sponsorship organisation Compassion. Knowing that through singing and sharing the songs that I write a child can be released from poverty in Jesus' name is such a thrill and blessing."?
Find out more about Mel and her music at melcrothers.com.au