Welcome Guest Blogger Tez Brooks as he shares from the heart about writing from personal experience.
You want me to do what God?
I was struggling with the concept of sharing my journey as a single father. It placed me in a very vulnerable position and I wasn’t comfortable with that.
Still, I knew God had been gently nudging me toward this for years. There was little out there in the way of self-help books for divorced fathers, let alone with a Christian worldview.
I had written plenty of articles from personal experiences that were amazing or fun. I never had a problem sharing my life stories if they were positive. But when I finally did begin writing about my failed marriage it felt as if I were digging through a box of cat litter for someone else’s car keys.
Everything within me screamed, Why should I have to do this? I found my own keys long ago. It’s up to each guy to dig through this doo-doo on his own!
As I pressed on however, I learned the secret to writing from painful experience. It not only helps others in their journey, it brings healing to the storyteller.
It got easier the more I re-visited some of the memories and as each chapter was completed, I was reminded of 1 Peter 4:10:
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
Was my trial a gift?
Somehow it had turned into one. After being removed from that season of life, remarrying, starting a second family—yeah, the recollections I unpacked and wrote about had been transformed into a gift by God’s unbelievable grace.
My critique group and my editors encouraged me onward, impressing upon me the importance of the message I was communicating.
One of the best pieces of advice I received was to include statistical research and stories from other people, enriching the message of hope for dads.
But how was I to handle any of these stories without slandering others? What about facts that included my ex-wife?
One author friend of mine suggested I run those portions by my children, who were now adults, asking if they felt I communicated anything inappropriate about their mother. I found that to be an excellent idea.
When it came to stories of other men, I just changed the name to protect the individual. Before I knew it, I had a very real, authentic manuscript that didn’t cut corners on details but still protected everyone’s reputation.
The Single Dad Detour (Kregel 2015) hit shelves a year later and my head still hasn’t stopped spinning at the wonder of it all. This week alone I have been invited on three radio programs to discuss the book. I was able to minister to a dad who called in to the station asking for help. What a blessing for me.
Although I had been writing for decades, I had no intention of scribing my painful divorce, single parenting days or the mistakes I made as I attempted to navigate through those years. What an honor to be used by the Lord to speak into lives of men who need to be challenged and encouraged.
What about you? What might God be calling you to write about? Are you struggling to re-visit an experience you’d much rather leave well enough alone?
Writing from personal experience may not feel good at first, and God wont force you. But I believe God has beautiful plans for those who are willing to take a risk and watch him turn something mundane or even unpleasant into a testimony of God’s grace.
Tez and his wife are full-time missionaries with the Jesus Film Project (a ministry of Cru) where he manages a team of journalists. If you’d like to know how you can contribute to their ministry contact email@example.com
If you have questions for Tez about writing from personal experience leave a comment below.
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