Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Called to Share Your Hard Story

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

When God calls you to speak about the hard things.
“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” Psalm 107.1-2

“I was crushed, so crushed I didn’t even want to face the public. And yet, I didn’t have a choice…”

Carol was a professional speaker who was used to sharing her story.

Until that day her only son was arrested for murder. While reeling from the unimaginable crime that would change all their lives forever, Carol knew she had to speak to a large crowd that weekend—people unaware of the recent event.

“So I gave my message of hope based on biblical truth that I had always known to be true. When I began it was the most empowering thing I had ever experienced because I suddenly realized in the middle of speaking truth, that in the dark shadows of my mind I was probably questioning, but I had that sense, as I spoke from God’s Word, of stomping on the head of the enemy, saying ‘You loser. You meant to wipe the parents out with the son, and you lose!’ And it gave me the courage to do it again and again.”

Is God calling you, as one of “the redeemed,” to share your own unique story?

Even if the story is a hard one—one that you would rather keep hidden.

“God is able to take the mess of our past and turn it into a message. He takes the trials and tests and turns them into a testimony.” (Christine Caine)

New York Times bestselling author Ann Voskamp found that writing her second book was even harder than telling the story of the first book. “It was slower because I was afraid. After ‘One Thousand Gifts,’ I bear scars and wounds, so I wrote slower, tried to be more careful. Not very brave sometimes, paralyzed a lot of times. [But] Christ is in the broken and hurting places where it looks like all ashes.”

Both Carol and Ann have discovered that if you speak to a world in pain you will always have an audience.

“When we share our stories, we give people around us an opportunity to speak of their own unexpected challenges. We develop a bond with others and a risk-free environment for people to say ‘This is what happened to me.’ And God can use those times to bring about much good. I’ve discovered the benefits of telling our story far outweigh the liabilities, if we can just find the courage to move forward,” says Carol Kent, who invests in teaching speakers.

Long ago, Jill Briscoe shared this prayer with me and some other young speakers; I still use it today: “Give my words wings, Lord. May they alight gently on the branches of men’s minds, bending them to the winds of Your will. May they fly high enough to touch the lofty, low enough to breathe the breath of sweet encouragement upon the downcast soul.”

I plan to spend the rest of my life investing in helping others share their stories through writing and speaking and passing down a legacy of faith and fortitude. The way we do this may not look the same, but the desire is there. To respond to all God has done for us, in us and through us, by sharing our story. Not when the struggles are over, not when everything is all resolved and tied up with a bright ribbon. But now, in the midst of the trusting.

Be authentic and redemptive. Share your story with someone soon.

Note: I co-direct a spiritual writing and speaking retreat in New England in the autumn. This year Carol Kent will be one of our outstanding faculty. If you are interested in seeking God’s purpose for your vision of writing and speaking, I hope you will consider ”reNEW – retreat for New England Writing” October 6-8 in West Hartford, Connecticut. Info HERE (Rates increase after June 1st and space is limited)

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Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is the author of 12 books, contributing author to 25 books, and has published in more than 50 magazines. Her books and studies include: Dwelling Places and Live These Words. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she also studied at the Wheaton Graduate School of Communication. A member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), Lucinda received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and blogs monthly for The Write Conversation. Cindy has served on faculty at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Florida Christian Writers Conference, Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference and co-directs "reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing." Lucinda is a storyteller who delights in weaving grace and mercy into ordinary life situations. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England. She blogs weekly at www.EncouragingWords.net

17 comments:

  1. This was straight from God into my heart! I am experiencing some emotional rewrites in my memoir and was feeling a bit overwhelmed. This message has me on the hope writing path again. I am redeemed. Blessings!

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    1. Maureen, how delighted I am that you are on the HOPE writing path again. I have discovered that prayerful transparency can most certainly be used by God.

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  2. Well, you know I love you Lucinda, and I have been a fan of Carol Kent for a long time. Thank you for reminding us that as we share our pain and trials to this broken world, there will always be an audience of others who need to know they are not alone and there is hope. Blessings!

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    1. Well, Andy, I love you too! And Carol. And we all have learned that if we prayerfully and gently share our pain through humble transparency, God redeems all those ashes. Thanking Him for you today!

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  3. Lucinda, I love your encouragement to share our stories - to be storytellers. I'm honored to be co-director with you for reNEW and I can't wait to see what God wants to reveal to us through Carol Kent and our other fabulous faculty at the retreat. As we look to Him and His wonderful redemptive story, we can be authentic and redemptive, too.

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    1. Rachel, we are all on the journey - together! And I love walking beside you and our whole community as we continue to Share Stories. The good, the bad, sometimes even the ugly. The great news is that God is the Author and can use us all. Yes, we are in for a treat with Carol Kent at "reNEW" this fall.

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  4. Lucinda, this was a wonderful post. I’m teaching a workshop at BRMCWC next week on Writing Through the Pain, and your words were beautiful and encouraging. I would like to pull a couple of quotes from your post to use for the workshop. Blessings. 😊

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    1. Andrea, I look forward to seeing you at BRMCWC this week! Feel free to mention my quotes - they are from my newest book which comes out in September "Ordinary Graces" (Abingdon Press). See you in the mountains and all the best as you share on Writing Through The Pain.

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  6. I needed to read this today after hearing at least one friend who doesn't get why I need to blog about my personal story. Why not keep it to myself and/or deal with it among a few close friends? I already tried those things. They didn't work for me because that's not what God said to do with it. I appreciate this post more than I can say.

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    1. Kim, as we prayerfully ask God to guide us in the words and the manner in which we share them, He lovingly comes through and empowers us to glorify Him through the pain. I am praying as you seek His face on sharing...

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  7. writing mine as we, er, speak. prompted by Varina Denman's Looking Glass Lies, I'm doing a week long feature on my blog next month. and telling my story.
    Kim, when we keep it to ourselves, it festers and becomes a monster. sharing (among other things) gives others permission and freedom to face their own monsters.

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    1. and yes, it's hard to write - hardest thing i've ever written

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    2. That's it, Robin. Mine turned into an almost two-year-long bout with depression. That's when I recognized I couldn't afford to keep it to myself any longer. Thinking about you as you share with others so they can also be free.

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    3. Just sent a FB friend request so I can follow along if you accept them from people you don't know.

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    4. Robin (and Kim) I do believe that God wants us to be freed from the bondage of the past which no longer has a hold on us through Christ. However, it is a process to work through and requires much prayer and courage. I am praying for both of you as you seek ways in which to share your story - ways that focus on what God can do through a surrendered life. Blessings!

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  8. This is so true, Lucinda. I receive many more responses when I share stories that involve my cancer than any other topic. Thanks for sharing.

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