Many of us can feel a little squirmy about writing or sharing about ourselves; after all, aren’t we supposed to be humble? Hidden? And allow the Lord to have the stage?
There are seasons of anonymity for sure; seasons to bury ourselves in Christ and let Him do some deep work. Being ‘unseen’ itself can be purifying as we allow ourselves to be stripped of attachment to recognition or approval.
But if we allow it to be, writing or otherwise sharing our stories becomes not only a work that blesses others and gives glory to God, but also sanctifies us as we do so.
Let’s look at five reasons sharing our stories is transformative not just for our readers, but for us.
First of all, any good writing not only includes our highlight reels but also our struggles, sins, and setbacks. To be real, relatable, and trustworthy, we have to show the shadow sides of our stories—with discretion, of course, but with windows of transparency. That means that each shared story is actually an opportunity for humility. Humility allows us to recognize fully our complete dependence on God. It is the foundation of the spiritual life, the predisposition we must have to fully receive other gifts and graces. When we see writing as a way to magnify the Lord and minimize ourselves, we realize that honest writing is not only refreshing and liberating, but humbling in a spiritually healthy way.
Secondly, if it is the Lord who has called us to write, then to do so requires an act of obedience—or really, many acts of obedience over the long season of setting aside other, easier things for the (often hard) work of writing. Our goal in the interior life is to align our will with God’s Will, as promptly and as completely as possible. Each time we say “Yes, Lord” and sit down in front of the computer or turn a fresh page in our notebook we are deliberately doing His Will—often at great cost to ourselves. This exercise in obedience is priceless!
Thirdly, and related to obedience, is the fact that the discipline of writing cultivates the virtue of fortitude. New writing projects can feel so full of hope and possibility, fresh pages make us tingle with the dream of words flowing effortlessly over the page…but the reality is, the process will often feel more like a slow crawl through deserts and dark nights. Many people will begin to write books and stories. Few will finish. When we send our hard-fought work into the world, we’ll have finished a great task and worked the muscles of fortitude. Hopefully, we’ll be strengthened further to not abandon the other hard, holy work God has called us to complete for His glory.
A fourth way that writing is sanctifying is that we can grow in trust. After all, we can write compelling stories and beautiful thoughts, we can refine our words and polish our prose, and we can even labor over a growing platform and cultivate an audience for years. In the end, though, it will be God who does the work of making those words resonate in someone’s heart or change their life. Only the Holy Spirit can give our work any efficacy. We have to release it to Him. And as we let it go, we can simply grasp the promise that God, who “began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6) We may never know how many people we touch or the ripples our efforts will make through the years. We don’t need to. We just do our part and let the Lord do the rest.
Finally, when we write our stories we necessarily do some inner detective work. We dig into not only what happened to us, but how we reacted. How we responded to grace—or failed to do so. We uncover our limitations and our failures. We touch tender, wounded places as well as glorified scars. We realize our giftedness and our celebrate our unique design. In other words, we come to know ourselves. And Godward self-awareness is a desirable grace. Early on in her Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila writes, “Self-knowledge is so important that, even if you were raised right up to the heavens, I should like you never to relax your cultivation of it.” St. Augustine’s quote, “Know thyself, and thy faults, and thus live” reinforces how important it is to spend time examining ourselves—not for the sake of endless introspection but to move forward purposefully toward our end—union with God Himself.
So when you feel hesitant to share your story, honestly examine your intentions—but realize too that it is possible that holding back could actually be a temptation designed to keep others from growing through your experience, to withhold the glory it would give God, and to keep you from growing in holiness!
How good is God that using our gifts—often our greatest joy—is also the very thing that makes us more like Him.
This post was originally published on WriteTheseWords.com and is reprinted here with permission.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.