Writing Your Story {when it intersects with other peoples}

What if Your True Story Exposes Someone Else’s Dirty Laundry?

This question has been floating around the blogsphere for a little while now. How do I write true, write honest, write raw, when telling my story also tells parts of another persons?

There are two things that soften the harshness of truth.

1.     Timing

In the kids movie, The Incredibles, a superhero-in-hiding watches a disaster happening outside his window. He pauses for just a second before rushing to get his superhero outfit to go save the world. The wall turns to show a hidden room and an empty manikin. He yells to his wife, “Where is my super-suit?! WHERE IS my SUPER-SUIT?

Her voice comes from the kitchen, “WHY do you need to KNOW?”

She thought he was in hiding but he knew that there were parts of the coming disaster he could prevent. The time had come.

Timing is a magic word.

And knowing when your words can avert disaster is something to prayerfully consider.

I have a friend who was victim to an emotionally abusive relationship. For years she has kept silent, not wanting to point her fingers at this man, acknowledging that she also played a part in the wrongness of their relationship. But the time has come.

She is preparing to speak, to humbly acknowledge her part, and to hopefully help other women stay out of or get out of relationships that will harm them.

It will not be written to defame this man but to avert the sorrow for others and that is key.

Some situations may call for tactful things like leaving out names or writing anonymously. Prayerfully consider these options

2.     Redemption

Do not write words and toss them into the permanency of the internet before you have seen God in the situation. Don’t write from the middle of the mess when that’s all you can see. You don’t want to be guilty of glorifying the mess, as Christin puts it.

The redemption may come in two hours, in two days or in twenty years. Wait for it.

If you are struggling with your husband, keep your mouth shut until you can write about more than the struggles. I’m not saying you can’t seek counsel or ask for prayer but those things should be done in real-life not on the internet.

This does not mean that you have to wait for the situation to change. It means that you must wait to see God in the middle of it and then tell the story with grace.

Which brings us to the final question—

How do I write my story with grace (and without pointing fingers)?

This is the one and only time in life that I will probably say this but it has to be all about you.

You cannot know another’s inner thoughts/feelings or know what inspired certain actions. You only know you. That is where your focus should return to.

I recently shared a story that involved another person and by the end it came out that it wasn’t actually about the other lady at all. It was all about what God was teaching me.

When we take the outward things and turn them inward, our fingers stop pointing. 

Another trick is to trim the incident down. Leave out details that would identify someone and simply tell the feelings/thoughts that you had. I don’t need to know that your mother-in-law said something cruel to you. Suffice it to say that cruel words were spoken. Now, how did you deal with them?

A beautiful example:

This woman is in the process of telling her story. It’s anonymous. It’s real. Because it is long, she has taken time to point out that redemption is coming. It is true beauty.

Do you find it hard to tell your story without hurting others? What have you learned in the process?

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7 thoughts on “Writing Your Story {when it intersects with other peoples}

  1. :0)…amazing words of wisdom. 6 years ago a mess started in our family. it was ugly, full of hurt, and angry words…on both sides. I actually began putting a few things here and there about the situation…then God stopped me in my tracks. I felt like the little dog in the movie MIB—where the star was shaking down a pug dog who was really an alien so he could get to the heart of the matter. God was shaking me to get my attention, then He gently put me down and gave me what my Gramma called a “what for”! A spanking as it were…the kind when a kid asks ‘what was that for???”. it was a painful time really. Who likes spankings…but sometimes they are needed to help us see that the road we are headed down is very dangerous indeed. Nearly 6 years later…now is the time to tell the story with hind sight vision. I see clearly there are responsibilities on both sides. I have been broken and humbled in so many ways! Thank you for the reminder, and confirmation, that we MUST be sure to re-think anything we have to say—on line of IRL.
    Proverbs 11:12-13
    A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

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  2. How very true. It’s so easy to just spill without realizing the results of our words. It’s also hard to know if/when to share your story, when it could hurt someone, but not because of any wrong doings on anyone’s part.

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  3. Well said! When we keep our stories about us, without assigning motives to other people involved it has potential to be helpful and not end up creating bigger problems. Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. This message hits very close to home. I have seen this done well and seen this done messily. I absolutely agree whole-heartedly that it is vital to expose only our own sin. When I expose the sins of other people, I lack grace and compassion and only further expose my own sinfulness!

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    • Thanks for the inspiration. Between our conversations on FB and the comments I’ve seen around Allume, etc… this post kind of just wrote itself. 🙂

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