A happy ending?

July 26th, 2023 in Belief, Life. Tags: , , , , ,
Anna McGahan

Everyone likes a story with a happy ending.

I collect stories of people whose life gets so much better when they see God at work in their lives. The stories generally have happy endings, and they also help answer the question “Is there a God?”

But life goes on, and happy endings aren’t always the end. We may think some people have arrived at their destination, but their journey continues in unexpected ways.

Aussie actor and writer Anna McGahan’s story (so far) has been like this. I wrote about her a couple of years ago, as an example of God lovingly breaking into a life and changing it to the core. But now she has moved on from that, and it is only right that I bring her story up-to-date.

The beginning

Anna was a gifted but troubled child who suffered from epilepsy, an eating disorder and low body image. As she grew into an adult she explored alternate spirituality and sexuality. She became an actor and writer, and some of her first acting parts were as a prostitute or “sex girl”. She explored bisexuality and enjoyed several different relationships and the feeling of liberation. But she ended up feeling dissatisfied.

Around this time she met several Christians who didn’t behave the way she expected. They didn’t condemn her, but encouraged her. They explored spiritual issues with her without judgment. Eventually she attended some Christian meetings, and found they had palpable spiritual energy. But she wasn’t interested in converting – Christian faith sounded neither easy nor comforting.

But travelling interstate for an acting part left her in a hotel room at night and she came across – what else? – a Gideon’s Bible. She started reading the gospels and fell in love with Jesus. She took the Bible with her and read it in the hotel, on the trams, in wine bars, on the make-up chair at work. She expected to feel put down, but instead she felt lifted up.

She expected to find legalism that restricted her, instead she found an “invitation to freedom, grace and love”.

She expected to find religion that condemned. Instead she found Jesus. A Jesus that was on her side. The light of the world. She met him. He spoke to her, and invited her to “come and rest”.

“I received Jesus without choosing to. …. I read the words, and I believed them, where I had always assumed I would not.”

She shared her life up until that point in her first book, Metanoia. It seemed like it was the beginning of an amazing adventure for Anna. Especially as it seemed for the first time she had a reason to respect herself and her body.

But then …..

In January 2023, Anna recorded on her blog, A Forbidden Room, that she no longer identified as a christian. And in a radio interview a few days ago, she revealed more of her journey and her current beliefs, including some of what was going on “behind the scenes” but wasn’t recorded in Metanoia.

She says she still speaks to God, but clearly she understands God in a very different way to when she was a Christian.

It seems there were three main reasons for change in belief:


Before she was a Christian, Anna had been bisexual, but she was told that her sexuality was evil and broken. Being a Christian meant she had to submit her sexuality to God. This led her to marry, not so much for love or passion, but because both believed it was God’s will for them. The marriage only lasted 4 years.

After she gave birth to her children, she started to see her body and her sexuality as “divine” rather than evil, contrary to what she had been told by her church.


In the Christian community she was part of, she felt her worth as a woman was tied to her role as wife and mother rather than who God had made her to be. But once she had 2 daughters, she found she didn’t like this view of women, and definitely didn’t want her daughters to inherit that.

God, death and healing

Several members of her close family died of cancer, the last being her much-loved dad, Andrew. Her church had taught her to pray and believe for God’s healing, but once she knew her dad’s prognosis with pancreatic cancer, her faith in healing “evaporated” and she couldn’t bring herself to pray. She also couldn’t believe the God she knew would send him to hell unless he repented on his death bed.

She found that the church seemed to care more about her sexuality and marriage than about the loss of her dad.

Leaving the Christian community

Within a short time of her father’s death, she had ended her marriage and left the church that she felt no longer represented what she could believe nor how she wanted to live. She says her actions and motives were misunderstood by many Christians and some unkind things said about her.

It isn’t clear to me what Anna now believes about God, and it may not be clear to her either just yet – certainly she says her ideas are full of “maybes”. I can understand her rebelling against the patriarchy she felt, and against gender stereotypes. I am not sure if she has rebelled against the Jesus who had invited her to “come and rest”, or just against the people who claim to represent him on earth.

I’m also not sure how much her story belongs on a website devoted to the question “is there a God?”. I’ll leave you to work out if her story continues to point to a loving God, or elsewhere.

You can read more about Anna on this website in Anna McGahan.

Anna in 2012 (aged 23) by Eva Rinaldi (Wikimedia Commons).

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