Things happened while I wrote my memoir Finding My Damascus. The process was three years long and, amidst writing everything down in a clever and outlined way, God stopped me. He had things to discuss with me.
Tell the story, He said.
Oh, was I not? I countered as is my usual wrestling match with my Creator.
I over complicated the process, trying to pigeonhole each aspect of my rebirth into a cryptic one liner to start each chapter. Nothing was fitting. The piece of the puzzle would not line up no matter how I turned them.
I stopped and listened. Tell the story, He said again. My story, His story, the journey to becoming that which He created me to be – His beloved child. I wasn’t telling the story in the beginning. I was aiming at pleasing my readers, or what I thought they wanted to hear. That’s old me, the people-pleaser who needed acceptance for who I was – or at least who I portrayed myself to be.
Old Michelle needed to get out of the writing and I had to take over. This approach brought on a fresh perspective and a complete rewrite in eight weeks. I saved the remaining parts and structure of the older version for two future books. The original writing was not a loss, but a method of healing past hurts to allow scars to form for future reference.
My future books will be at God’s direction and I will write them as the scar laden person I am – the version of Michelle God wants to use. I need to write from the scars, from the healed wounds no longer causing pain. I point to the scars as examples and can even touch the place without feeling the once awful pain. Best advice I ever received as a writer, “Write from your scars, not your wounds.” I have heard this many time through several mentors and cannot remember the originator, but I love this writing mantra.
When the book was at proof level, I purchased five copies and divvied them out to a group of church leaders and pastors. The feedback was phenomenal, not in a “way to go, it’s all great” kind of way, but “here is what we think will make this better”. As a result, the book has turned into not only a memoir, but also a study guide and journal. I originally thought of doing a study guide, but laid the thought aside as I wrote. As each leader provided feedback, the study guide came more into focus. The journal was added space to help others write out their experiences along the way.
The original vision of the book is nothing like it is now – and that, my friends, is how God works in my life. My limited, self-view of just about everything transforms into the grand vision God always intended. Through Jesus, the view of my world changes. I see more of what God wants me to see – in myself and in others.
Something happened along the way to change me, change my perspective and make the book into more than what I intended. Listening, obeying, and opening myself up to God’s ways allowed the book to transform and then transform me even more. God is always amazing, but never surprising. I pray the book changes others as much as it changed me.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)