Write From Your Pain
What was the worst thing you ever experienced?
My worst day ever was in 6th grade.
I was a new student at a private Christian school. I didn’t know anybody. I was socially awkward. I hadn’t even made any friends yet.
And you know how middle schoolers are — self-centered, confused, and thinking they know everything.
Third Period, Day One
It was time for Bible class.
My teacher was Mr. Ford. He wore a white short sleeved dress shirt with a boring, conservative red striped tie. This was the seventies so I’m sure it was a wide, ugly one.
The bell rang. Mr. Ford introduced himself. Then he asked us to turn to 1st Chronicles.
I was a bundle of energy. I fidgeted in my chair and dug into my pocket to get out my crumpled Gideon Bible.
“Let’s see if this Bible has Chronicles in it,” I muttered to myself.
“YOU BE QUIET!”
Mr. Ford’s voice struck me like a deafening thunder clap. I looked up into his cold, dark eyes. His gaze seemed to penetrate all the way into my soul and say, “If you ever talk in my class again, you’re finished.”
That one incident haunted me for years.
It’s as if the message his icy stare sent me became my philosophy.
No one cares about you, kid. You’re a nuisance. No one wants to hear your voice. You’ve got nothing to say, so don’t even try. Just sit there, be quiet, and don’t rock the boat — ever. Then everything will be fine.
Here’s What Hurt Worse
The silence that happened the moment after Mr. Ford verbally assaulted me was deafening. You could have heard a pin drop and bounce across the floor. The silence said that everyone in the class got his message.
But it wasn’t the one I thought it was.
I found out when class was over.
The message my classmates sent me was worse than Mr. Ford’s.
Nobody was brave enough to be made an example of that day, or any day as far as I can recall. Nobody came to me after class and asked if I was okay. Nobody even looked my way. It’s as if I was invisible and didn’t matter at all.
In effect, all my classmates confirmed in my 11-year-old mind that I was worthless.
12 Years Later, the Assignment That Changed Everything
I wasted a few years in college trying to find my place in the world. I sampled several things like art and journalism. Finally, I got mad at an arrogant art professor who said to my class, “You’ll probably have to work at Burger King for a while before you make it.”
I thought, “Hell, I work there now.”
He never did tell us what it took to make it, so I left to go to work for a while.
Shortly after, I decided to study photography at a technical college. One of the selling points of a vocational school is they promise a very high chance of finding you a job. To prepare you for that possibility, you’re required to take a career planning class.
I don’t remember who taught the class, but I do remember exactly what she looked like. She was young, professional, friendly, and wore glasses (so she had to be smart, right?)
One of the first assignments she gave was for us to read the Self-Image segment in Zig Ziglar’s See You at the Top.
I wanted to pass the class and get a good job, so I opened the book.
What I read unraveled 12 years of nonsense I’d been telling myself.
What? I do matter? I’m not just junk wrapped in flesh? I can make a difference? I’m no accident? Get out of here! Really?
I wanted to run up and down the hall and tell everyone who would listen what I just discovered.
Then I thought, “Why didn’t anybody tell me this before now? Or if they did, why didn’t I listen?”
I was so mired in what I thought was the truth that I wasn’t ready before.
I was ready at that time because I had a need. I wanted a job and I had no clue how to get one. I’d worked in fast food and selling newspapers, but I’d never sought a specialized position. So I was ready and willing to do what it took to reach my goal.
I had no idea it would have such widespread effects.
Overnight, I went from feeling worthless and discouraged to feeling like I could take on the world and nothing could stop me.
And if it happened to me, it could happen to others, too.
Why You Should Share Your Pain — and What Stands in the Way
We don’t want to share our pain because it makes us feel vulnerable and naked.
Talking about it, especially while it’s still fresh is hard. What if the other person laughs? What if she thinks I’m stupid? What will people think if I let them know I don’t have it all together?
They’ll know you’re as human as they are. And if they’re like you, they’ll admire you for sharing. Sure, some may ridicule you. But remember this, those who poke fun at you do so because they’ve got their own unresolved pain to deal with — and they haven’t.
A pastor I admire said when he was getting started in ministry his mentor told him, “Son, when you’re talking with people, remember 7 in 10 of them have a broken heart.”
You’ve got a huge opportunity, don’t you?
Write from your pain. Tell us how you felt. Teach us what you learned and how it shaped who you are today. Help us find hope that we’re not alone in our struggles. And if you’ve been able to move past the heartache, tell us how you did it.
We really do want to know.
Here’s the Win
Telling your story can be great therapy.
Changing someone’s life for the better is a feeling few can match.
When you dig deep into your life, you’ll tap a writer inside that has something to share that no one else in the world does. Your perspective and experience are the ingredients that make you authentic. Are you willing to be honest and lay it all out there?
It might be the most powerful lesson someone will ever get. Or maybe you’ll make an emotional connection with someone who is ready to give up hope — and help her see a flickering light in her otherwise dim future.
Are you willing to withhold that from someone because you’re still scared?
Please, for the love of God, share what only you can teach us. There are people out there waiting to hear it. So be audacious. Share your truth. Make the dent in the universe God put you here to make.
Do that, and you’ll become a Thriving Writer we can all look up to!