Thursday, January 15, 2015

Your Memoir: Hope for heartbreaking times

If you’ve paid attention to the news lately, many events could make us despair—atrocities in Nigeria and Paris, and in America: violence in homes and on streets.

Then, too, there are the smaller circles in which we each live. In my life, a few days ago a young friend’s husband died suddenly; another had a mastectomy and now faces chemo and an unknown future; my brother needed life-saving medical procedure; a friend is reeling from a job situation that sent him into a tailspin; another doesn’t want to live any longer.

You no doubt have your own set of heartaches, unwelcome surprises, and disappointments.

It’s easy to lose hope.

Have you ever been there? Lost all hope? Despaired? If so, someone needs to hear your storysomeone going through heart-wrenching times, someone who wants to give up. Maybe someone needs to know your story right now, or maybe in the future someone will need to read your memoir.

Tell them: When your hope was fading, instead of giving up, what kept you going? What or who gave you hope? What Bible verses encouraged you? What was God doing for you, even if you couldn’t sense it at the time?

God bless dear Mr. Rogers. Remember him? He once said,

“When I was a boy
and I would see scary things in the news,
my mother would say to me,
‘Look for the helpers.
You will always find people who are helping.’”

God sends helpers. Who did God send to walk alongside you during your difficult time? What, specifically, did he or she do for you?

Just after Jerusalem’s destruction when—humanly speaking—Jeremiah had no reason to hope for anything good, our Old Testament friend wrote of God:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! 
His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
(Lamentations 3:22,23 NLT)

Wow! How could he say that? –an eyewitness to destruction and slaughter, a man standing in the midst of ruins, no doubt stunned with all the losses. How could he not give in to hopelessness?

Jeremiah goes on to say, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25).

Jeremiah was confident that God was faithful and merciful, and that’s why he could hope despite widespread tragedies.

Have you had a similar experience? Looking back on your hope-defying time, does your heart sing, “Yessss!” when you read those words?

Write your story about remaining hopeful in heartbreaking times.

But be careful: Don’t get preachy. Resist a holier-than-thou attitude.

Avoid Christianese—jargon that might be distasteful to readers, or lingo that might hinder clarity. For example, resist using phrases like “I’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb.” Instead, use everyday language to tell your story.

Someone needs to know your story
a person dealing with heartache,
fighting to keep despair from taking over.
Someone perplexed about God and His ways.
Someone facing a scary, unknown future.
Someone feeling lost. Someone needing courage.
Someone needing a reason to keep living.

When we write our memoirs,
Henri Nouwen

 Someone needs to hear from you
about God’s great faithfulness.
Someone needs to know that morning by morning
He showered new mercies upon you
and He wants to do the same for him or her.

Write your story!


  1. This from The High Calling fits right in with the blog post I just posted here. When it’s hard to hope, Bob Robinson asks, “What if God is already springing up flowers of hope in this cold, dark world?” Read Bob’s post at

  2. Linda, you are such a strong proponent of telling our stories, and I appreciate that about you. That and your commitment to your faith. Both are so often overlooked when we get deeply into our online connections. Thank you for this heartfelt post. I love the Oswald Chambers quote, and the verses from Lamentations.

    1. Hi, Sherrey, thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. You have many stories about surviving real heartaches and BLESS YOU for writing them to help others survive and even thrive. God is using you and your stories and will continue to do so. You have no idea how many blessings will come as a result of sharing your stories, Sherrey.