Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bring Back the Joy: Writing in the Broken Places

Then I went down to the potter's house, and behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so He made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. -Jeremiah 18:3-4

As writers God has given us a wonderful tool to minister out of our own neediness and brokenness.  The gift of vulnerability in our writing can bless others as we humble ourselves.  And in turn, ministering to others and using our gift can help to bring back the joy we are losing.

Have you given yourself permission to write in the broken places?  Oh, you know the ones I mean.  Those trials that you have been through that still may bring a sharp stab.  You are called out to write what only you know so others can travel deeply into your broken places and find healing.  More than that we are called to write from our broken places because He chose to be broken, He chose to be nailed to the Cross in our place. 

As you write through these places it may seem like the darkness is returning, but as God speaks your dark places to someone who is now hurting the bright torrent of light shines back through the storm creating a beautiful rainbow of designs. 

Are you willing to write less than your best?  Sometimes this is very hard for me.  And as a new writer I know even my best is far beneath many others.  But sometimes its only as I allow the words to be as they are in my strength in the page I will learn how much I need the Lord's strength in my words. 

My words are not my words.  Let us never come to believe in the power of our gift, for only when we are poured out for the Giver of Life can he use us. 

Let God use you "write" where you are and bring back your own joy by allowing His words to flow from your pen blessing someone else. 

It may mean sharing your manuscript with someone unexpected, maybe someone you don't know well.  Or could it be writing a note of encouragement to someone else.  Just write from the broken places and if you are not ready to share ask God to make you ready.

Discussion: Has God ever used someone's writing to minister to your broken places?  Or if you feel comfortable sharing is there a way that he may want you to minister in your own broken places?


Angie Dicken said...

I love this post, Julia. My first manuscript was a total soul pouring out of myself...and even though it is one for the shelf (or trashcan) as far as the professional writing world goes, it is something that needed to be done to not only better me as a writer, but hash out my "stuff" and grow me as a woman. Books that have ministered to my broken places...Captivating by Stasi Eldredge and Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I can't recall any specific title, but many books have helped me on my journey. When I read a well crafted book, I can't help but put myself inside the story, thats when I benefit. The benefit is not always joy and laughter. Sometimes the change comes from rebuke or sorrow. Sandpaper hurts. But as a reader, I benefit.
As a writer, I strive to help my readers.

Julia M. Reffner said...


Wow, I'm honored that you made the time to read my post today. That's great that your first manuscript was such a growing experience for you.

Oh, I loved Hinds Feet, so convicting and a book God used in my broken places, especially fear.


Yes, this is so true. Its interesting because I had a topic in mind and sometimes God has me write about something a little different or write it in a different way than I was planning. The rebuke and sorrow yes it hurts and sure doesn't bring emotional joy but for me oftentimes it is necessary to lead me back to the giver of joy. Thanks, I'm always blessed by your perspective. And I sense your heart of ministry in everything you do online. Glad to know you online, Mary (and all the rest of you Alley-ites and our visitors).

Casey said...

I loved what you said Julia, how our words are not OUR words. What a powerful reminder I needed today, especially as I have been trying to get back to writing a bit of my latest WIP every day and not enjoying what I'm coming up with. This was an excellent reminder and I LOVE this post. It's the first one I've tweeted. ;-)

Renee said...

Beautiful post, Julia! I have sometimes written from a broken place--but I could only go so far and then had to move on. Maybe this is something that comes in stages as we grow . . .

Kaye Dacus said...

At age 21, I suffered from a deep, debilitating depression that led to my dropping out of college and moving "home" to live with my parents (only they were living in Washington DC, which was definitely not "home" for me) to work full time and try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. If it hadn't been for the story I'd started writing while still in college---a thinly veiled fictionalization of the lives of me and my closest friends---I probably would have had a complete mental break, being pulled away from everything and everyone familiar like that. Instead, I lost myself in the fiction and spent most of my nonworking time writing, writing, writing. It was the most prolific time of my life. And because I'd never learned anything about craft and wasn't pursuing publication (even after majoring in Creative Writing), there was total freedom in how and what I wrote. And God used it to heal me mentally and spiritually.

I still have that manuscript, both on the computer and printed out (over 200k words---but printed in 10pt font, single-spaced), as it's something I worked on off and on for eight or nine years after that---until God got ahold of me a second time and showed me what He wanted me to do with my writing. . .and just wallowing in old college memories wasn't it. :-)

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how many people tell me their stories after hearing I've written an abortion themed YA. The odd thing is, I had no experience with abortion. I kept telling God he had the wrong person when he told me to write this story, but he said he knew what he was doing, so I had to defer to that knowledge! :)


Pepper said...

What a wonderful post, Julia. I've learned so much about depth of emotion and writing, when I'm broken.
But I also know that in our brokenness, we see our greatest needs: #1 being in Jesus.
When I had a miscarriage several years ago, I wrote a poem/prayer. It was cathartic, making my invisible wounds very visible.
I've taken so many deeply painful experiences and placed them into my writing, because those experiences are not just individualistic to me - other people have felt them too.
This past fall, when my grandmother (one of my closest friends) died, I journaled about it. memories, feelings, griefs, joys...what a blessing to be able to take MOST of those feelings and somehow try to express them in words. Not all...some things are inexpressible, but most.
Thanks for sharing this, Julia.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Lovely post, Julia. I don't know that I've written during any of my broken times...oh wait. I really started writing right after I "broke". Interesting that I have never thought about the connection. Life was getting out of my control and I decided writing was something I could "work on". It was a dream I had and I wasn't getting any younger.

I think if I wrote all my angst out, I might get fired from the preacher's wife position! lol ;)

Julia M. Reffner said...


Thanks for the "tweet." I know what you mean. I definitely have a lot of those days, but that's what editing is for right. :) But its comforting that God can use even our less than perfect work to minister to someone else. It seems to me he often prefers using my work at those very times (not that it ever is perfect :).

Renee Ann,

You always bring up something that makes me think :). Thank you for that :). I know what you mean sometimes I can only write about something so much or I can really struggle with depression. I'm hoping as you say it is a gradual process and I know God will help us to continue to take those steps.

Julia M. Reffner said...


You raise a great point here about not just using our writing as "wallowing." Thank you so much for sharing that story about how writing your first manuscript helped in your own healing. I guess sometimes the ministry is just for us :)

But I'm thankful that God used that beginning to show you His plan for your writing. You are an inspiration to so many of us aspiring authors.

Julia M. Reffner said...


Yes, what a great point. I think that's why we can minister so much better in our brokenness, we realize our need for Jesus to work through us and realize that we can do nothing on our own.

I'm sorry to hear that you went through a miscarriage, but I'm glad you've been willing to write through these hard things.

You're so right about the commonalities of our experiences...and the fact that some things are just inexpressable.

Julia M. Reffner said...


I'm so glad that you are living out and working towards your dream. Can't wait to see what God is going to do through you.

You know I'll bet it might bless some pastor's wives though (like Jennifer AlLee's work). I can understand it would be hard to write about it when you're in that position though. I wonder if you'll ever write about a pastor's wife ;)

MaDonna Maurer said...

Thanks for this post. After giving a speech about a difficult time in my life this was fitting. I remember writing it and my hands shaking at the keyboard. I had to take a break because it was too much. But, so thankful that God gave me the words to write and that he answered my prayers about finishing it. (Because sometimes it is easier to not walk through it again, ya know what I mean?)