Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Writing About Painful Times

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

“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.


Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 15 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her award-winning books include Soul Strong, Life-Giving Choices, Dwelling Places, and Ordinary Graces. Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and AWSA, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs monthly for ‘The Write Conversation.’ 

Whether coaching writers and speakers, pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. As a communications teacher, she has served on the faculty of Speak Up Conference, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Florida Christian Writers Conference, Asheville Christian Writers Conference and co-directs the annual spiritual retreat reNEW – retreat for New England Writing & Speaking. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, McDowell shares words from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com