Your Heartache, Your Story
What is your heartache? Looking back in your life where did you experience the most pain?
What is your story? Have you overcome hardship, loss, abandonment?
Have you been abused?
Did you grow up feeling unloved or unwanted?
Did you search for love in all the wrong places and find yourself making wrong choices to find love?
For years I struggled with many things: not knowing my father growing up, facing teen pregnancy, and forgiving myself for having an abortion. It was hard being transparent and telling the truth.
But as I began to open up to friends, I realized I’d been revealing myself, little by little, in my novels for a very long time.
The themes for my novels have common threads. They center around ordinary people plopped into extraordinary situations, and with the guidance of God these people rise above … and help and save others in the process.
My novels have some level of abandonment by a parent that leads to internal struggles. I never planned this, but looking back it’s in many of my books!
I noticed this as I wrote Book #3 in my Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War Series. One day a light clicked on and suddenly every element of the story came together as it was revealed to me that one of my main characters was abandoned by a parent . . . and WHO he really is.
I didn’t plan that as I wrote Book #1 A Valley of Betrayal, but it seems as if I did. That one plot twist made the whole story work. I took the whole series to a deeper level than I anticipated. More importantly, that story came deep from my heart.
Hmmm . . . as someone who didn’t meet my biological dad until my late 20s, and who got pregnant and was abandoned by my boyfriend as a teen, I WONDER why I keep writing about this issue?!
This reminds me about something I read this morning from the book Loving God by Chuck Colson:
One Easter morning, as I sat in the chapel at the Delaware State Prison waiting to preach, my mind drifted back in time . . . to scholarships and honors earned, cases argued and won, great decisions made from lofty government offices. My life had been the perfect success story, the great American dream fulfilled.
But all at once I realized that it was not my success God had used to enable me to help those in this prison, or in hundreds others like it. My life of success was not what made this morning so glorious–all my achievements meant nothing in God’s economy. No, the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure–that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation–being sent to prison–was the beginning of God’s greatest use of my life; he chose the one experience in which I could not glory for his glory.
Confronted with this staggering truth, I understood with a jolt that I had been looking at life backward. But now I could see: Only when I lost everything that I thought made Charles Colson a great guy had I found the true self God intended me to be and the true purpose of my life.
It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us.
3 Steps to Using Your Past Pain to Help Others Find Healing
1. Consider your own heartache. How is this part of your story? Take a few minutes to write down the five hardest moments in your life. How did God show up in your hardship? What can you share about Him with others?
2. See your greatest failure as a great legacy of God’s goodness. How can you use your mistakes as a platform for reaching others? What would you want to tell someone who is going through the same pain. It is from those hurting places that you will be able to touch the souls of others.
3. Consider where you can share about the hope and healing that you found in Jesus Christ. Are you on Facebook? Do you have a blog? Are you in a Bible Study or small group? Do you have a friend who is hurting? When we are willing to crack open our souls, people listen. When we speak out of the hard places in our own lives they are willing to open up their hearts. Write down a few places where you can share your story.
For years I shared about my heartaches, through the pages of my novels. I still do. Yet as God has brought more healing, I share it in many other places too: in small groups, on this blog, and even as I speak.
I’ve realized that there are people out there who need to hear my story. It impacts them by causing them to look at their own lives.
You have a story to share, friend. You can use your past pain to help others. Share how Jesus has transformed you and encourage others to turn to Jesus in the same way.
God, thank you for redeeming me from my past and forgiving me. May I not let fear and shame keep me from learning from those mistakes. Instead, help me to find ways to help others who’ve experienced the same things.
Loving God by Chuck Colson