Each year, Speak Up brings writers and speakers together, and each has a story to tell. Some of those stories are difficult. As a speaker and trauma therapist, who is also a trauma survivor, I am often asked three things by other survivors:
- “Is telling your story to others difficult?”
- “Would you recommend that I write my story?”
- “When is a good time to begin writing my story?”
My answers are, “yes,” “yes,” and “right now.”
2 Corinthians 1:4 (NIV) tells us, [He] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. I return to this verse often when writing and speaking become difficult. I’d like to break this into smaller bites to demonstrate the wisdom packed into this verse.
“He comforts us in all our troubles…”
We must first experience, process, and understand the comfort we receive from Jesus before we can offer that comfort to others. We learn about God’s comfort as we process our trauma and discover how God works through our pain. When I say the time to begin writing is right now, I am not suggesting that a person in crisis begins to write a book or speech. I am suggesting that you begin writing about your journey as it unfolds.
When my cold case was reopened, thirty-five years after the violent crime was committed, I began to experience pain and confusion like never before. I had not processed what happened to me as a young college student because it was easier to store the pain away and “forget” about it.
The problem is, we never truly forget.
When the wounds were reopened, I began to write immediately. I wasn’t writing for others. I was writing to process. I thought it might be cathartic to journal on black paper using a white pen because it seemed like these were the darkest pages of my life. Each day I wrote whatever was on my mind and, oftentimes, this was quite raw.
After writing with authenticity and untamed emotion, I would read what I wrote and look for a theme. On some days the themes were difficult, like anger, justice, or terror. On other days the themes were comforting, such as healing, forgiveness, and gratitude. Whatever the theme was, I would then google, “Scripture on [theme].” Following my raw journal entry, I would write one or two verses that spoke to me in my journal.
“…so that we can comfort those in any trouble…”
What began as an exercise in survival became the most significant writing I would ever do. Journaling became a dialogue with God. Together we wrote a bright future onto those dark pages.
A year later, as I read back through my journal, I could clearly see how he had navigated my healing journey and comforted me. Telling my story became easier once I had this roadmap to comforting and being comforted. After reading back over my journal, I felt compelled to write, speak, and tell everyone I knew about the healing power of Jesus Christ. My journal became a sort of outline for the message I would ultimately share through speaking and writing.
Journaling through pain is a powerful research tool for future writing. It gives us an accurate record of how God has worked in our own life, and it is from this knowledge we can begin to craft a message for others.
A tough story without redemption is just a tough story, but sharing the love of Jesus and the song of redemption he has sung into our lives becomes a symphony of purpose that can absolutely comfort others “…with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Do you have a tough story to share with the world? If so, have you researched your own roadmap to healing?
Question: In what ways has God revealed his redemptive, healing power so that you can comfort others as he has comforted you?