Sharing Your Painful Past with a Universal Audience

Many people have experienced God’s power, mercy, and redeeming grace in amazing ways. The Lord transforms lives as His people courageously testify about the things He’s done in and through their circumstances.

Sometimes, our sharing is done in an intimate setting. Sometimes, writers pour out their hearts in a book.

JaneThe Lord prepared Jane S. Daly to write Because of Grace from the moment doctors diagnosed her son with cancer, through the grieving process following his death, and in the refuge of His peace from which she shares her journey with others.

Please join me in welcoming Jane as she reminds writers that, no matter how large the audience, a personal testimony is a gift that can be life-changing when placed into the hands of our Almighty God.

Xochi: Thank you for sharing your testimony in your debut book, Because of Grace. Please share the keys to making a personal story relevant to universal audience.

Jane: There’s a saying, “No tears from the writer, no tears from the reader.” Being vulnerable is the most important part of telling your story. People want to know how you dealt with the bad stuff, and receive encouragement from you. Otherwise, it’s just preaching.

Xochi: What was the most challenging part of writing your personal story in a way that would be relevant to a universal audience?

Jane: The most challenging part, period, was reliving all those emotions. Anger, grief, denial, bitterness. Everyone experiences pain, and exposing that pain is where others can relate to your story.

Xochi: How did you determine if your testimony should be shared through an article or blog post, a series of articles or blog posts, or a nonfiction book?

Jane: I began blogging when Bobby was first diagnosed. I wrote a couple of articles which I submitted for publication. An editor suggested I write a book about my journey, so I pulled much of the content from my journal, blog, and articles.

Xochi: Why is it important for writers to be emotionally and spiritually ready to share their painful past in such a permanent public form?

Jane: We need to know that our fellow Christians don’t have it all together. So often we put on our Sunday faces, and never let people know the painful things we’re going through. It’s encouraging when we find out how God is helping others who are suffering, too. For instance, I was asked to write an article about a woman who was kidnapped and raped. She appeared very together at church, and no one would have ever known about her ordeal. Because she chose to reveal it, other women were emboldened to come forward and receive healing.

Xochi: How can a writer tell if they’re ready to publish their story for a universal audience?

Jane: Critique groups, such as Inspire Christian Writers offers, are invaluable. We write in a vacuum, so having others read our work helps keep things in perspective. They catch grammar problems, continuity, and universal appeal. I LOVE my critique group ladies.

Xochi: If a writer feels ready to share their testimony in a book, what can they do to be better prepared for the process?

Jane: Know that it won’t be easy. Be prepared for tears. Be prepared to want to abandon the project. Be prepared for God to bring things up that you didn’t realize you still needed to deal with.

Xochi: Please share a final word of encouragement for writers who think they might be ready to share their painful past with a universal audience.

Jane: If you think you’re ready to write your story, gather a couple of people around you and ask for their prayers. Ask them if you can rely on them for encouragement when you want to give up. I started a Facebook group called “Fire Pit People.” We share our ups and downs, frustrations and temptations. We support each other, and occasionally virtually slap each other upside the head.

Xochi: Thank you for inspiring us to write with courage and transparency, Jane.


To connect with Jane, please visit her website, subscribe to her blog, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Please also take a moment to pray readers will experience hope and healing, like Jane, Because of Grace.

About Xochitl E. Dixon 56 Articles

Xochitl (so-cheel) E. Dixon serves as a writer for Our Daily Bread Ministries. She encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. She enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s truth and love.

6 Comments

    • It’s important to first get your story down on paper. Write your first draft with wild abandon. Include every painful event, every hurt. When you go back and edit, ask God to show you places that may be over sharing. Tell the story He wants you to tell. Sometimes it means writing things other people may not like. Write it anyway. Don’t try to be safe.

  1. I sure can relate to having to relive the experience but I had to get into a car accident before I would get it written. It was more than I wanted to do. But when I wrote the book, the feedback was powerful. I never thought my little 36 page book would connect me to so many who could relate to it. It seemed so simple to me but God knew. In my case it was a gift to God. I put it on the internet free before e-books and still have a close friend from that experience after 17 years. God bless you both!

  2. Reading your book was an amazing journey you so kindly allow us to go on with you. Touching, heartwarming, and inspirational in so many ways. I plan to share or recommend it as the Holy Spirit allows. Thank you Jane.

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