By Ainsley Gaebler
Tara Sun was thriving in school and had a promising future in dance until one day she woke up in agonising pain, unable to move. She was only about 14.
"My muscles were in seizing pain and my head felt like it was going to rip off my body," she says in a YouTube video on her channel. "Turns out I have a condition called fibromyalgia. It's an autoimmune disease that attacks your muscles and nerves and causes major muscle fatigue and migraines."
This devastating diagnosis completely changed Tara's life. She describes herself as a fit, energetic girl who loved sports and dance. Now, she could barely move a muscle without pain and had to protect her eyes from light to avoid pounding headaches. She withdrew into a place of isolation, loneliness, and insecurity.
"It was a real struggle for me," she candidly admits. "I did not want anyone to see me or ask me how I'd been. I felt so anxious."
As Tara speaks during the video, her viewers can see her optimistic, positive attitude and warm, cheerful smile. Tara's answer to the reason behind this permeating joy is simple: Jesus Christ
Tara was adopted into a loving, Christian home at a young age. "I grew up in a really awesome household," she says. "I went to a Christian school. I went to church and youth group. I did sports and ballet. Everything was very easy for me."
Tara was only four when she made a major decision. "We had this little book that my parents would read every night. It talked about what Jesus had done for us on the cross and had an option at the end if you wanted to receive Christ into your heart.
"I accepted Jesus into my heart and declared that I loved Him. I believe this was the point where I put my faith in Jesus but at the same time when you're so young it's really hard to grasp everything that He's done for you."
After finishing eighth grade Tara's life as she knew it ended: "God took me through the fire for the first time and my faith was really made my own."
She was holidaying with family and friends over the summer break when she woke up that dreadful morning unable to move. The family was forced to return home so she could rest but the intense pain would not go away.
Tara had to miss school when it started again because she was in too much pain to attend classes. She would constantly throw up and was unable to do the simplest of tasks. "It felt like my muscles had just shrivelled up," she recalls. "I was just laying at home, doing therapy, eating, sleeping, and then repeating."
As she slowly recovered, Tara found herself getting back into a normal routine. Yet she still struggled. "I didn't want people to see how I looked because I had gained weight and never put makeup on," she says. "I had so much social anxiety that I didn't have any friends. I was really far behind on my schoolwork."
Thankfully, after leaning on encouragement and support from God and her parents, Tara bounced back. Her health continued to get better and she made some new friends.
One of those new friends was a guy that Tara immediately hit it off with.
The guy was not a Christian and friends and family soon flagged him as bad news. Tara was not willing to listen though.
"I ended up running around and lying and telling my parents that I was at a friend's or at my cousin's when I was actually at this guy's house. The deceit got so bad. He was not a good influence on me."
Over the next six months, Tara kept running back to him instead of running back to God.
"This was a time when I was so far away from God," she says sadly. "I was still going to church and to youth group but I didn't really care to be there. I never picked up my Bible. I was so deep in sin. I knew I was in rebellion against God but I ignored it. I wanted to feel loved. I wanted to be in a relationship with someone. I wanted to feel beautiful."
Finally, Tara realised how bad things had got.
"I remember sobbing in my room. I felt like this was the breaking point. I realised how deeply I had hurt everyone around me – including Jesus. I claimed to live for Him, yet I was living in sin and ignoring Him. That's what broke me. That was a really painful summer.
"I had to cut off all communication with the guy. I had to earn back the trust that was broken with my parents. I had to get back into communication with God. I started reading my Bible, praying and getting to know God again. I knew He forgave my sin but I had to get back into a stronger relationship with Him."
Later, 17-year-old Tara met Michael, whom she dated for four years prior to their recent engagement. On August 30th, 2020, Michael got down on one knee and asked Tara to marry him with a large beautiful waterfall as their backdrop. "He's such a blessing from God," she smiles. "Looking back on that day, I can see God's faithfulness and provision written all over it."
Tara graduated high school and God opened doors for her to be accepted into a major university and pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon. However, one day, as she was sitting in a class with 200 other students, a weird feeling came over her and a thought entered her mind: "This is not what I want to do."
Tara dropped out of university and moved back home but "all of this was leading me to where I was supposed to be."
Now, amongst the flurry of wedding planning, Tara is pursuing ministry in Biblical counselling – something she is passionate about.
"My story is so unconventional. I thought it was going to be this cookie cutter mould but God showed up time and again. No matter the hurt, the pain, or the uncertainty, He has our best in mind and that pain and uncertainty and anxiety is a way to push us closer to Him."•