One of the possibilities that was farthest from my mind in late 2006 and early 2007, was that I would one day write my testimony of having overcome an affair.
At that time, I was just trying to keep my head above water. I was drowning in the sin and trying to make my way out of the mess I’d helped make.
In fact, it wouldn’t be for another 3 or 4 years that I would get the idea–and take it seriously enough to follow through with it. It would be another 6-8 months until Words from the Other Woman was born. It would become a Westbow Press bestseller multiple times in its first year.
And yes, publishing or otherwise publicizing my testimony would also become a source of criticism, attack, insults, or accusation. (It would be unfair to not advise you that there are real risks involved, or potential downsides.)
Like a key, the book unlocked more than I could have imagined. (And continues to.)
I’ve been privileged to share my story through churches or counseling programs, in digital and print articles and guest-blogs, as well as on TV shows, radio programs and podcasts (like She Walks in Truth). Becoming a published author (even as a self-published one) also paved the way to signing with the literary agency Credo Communications.
Which, in turn opened the door to my new partnership with Kregel, and the new, traditionally-published book I’m currently in the process of writing in time for a 2018 release.
But my favorite is when I hear of my little key helping unlock someone else’s freedom. The process of writing about God’s goodness, grace, love and freedom even helped unlock more of my own freedom.
Now that it’s been seven years since writing that portion of my life’s testimony (so far), I hope to help equip and encourage others to share their stories. Because I believe there’s room — and need — enough in this world for all our stories.
Here are 4 of my top tips for writing your testimony:
1. Ask “What’s my motivation?”
This is so important. If your motivation is to gain fame or embarrass, shame, exact revenge, or otherwise punish someone else (or yourself), I would advise you to wait until you’re farther along in your healing or forgiveness.
Because out of the heart, the mouth speaks. And the mouth (our words) have the power of life and death. And in my experience and opinion, a testimony should bring life.
2 Important Side Notes:
1. One reason I think understanding your motivation is important (you may have also heard of this as “knowing your ‘why’,” is because not everyone is going to understand, agree with, or support what you believe God is calling you to do.
This is important because when (not if) that happens, you have already searched and settled on a motivation that doesn’t hinge on others’ approval.
2. Just because God calls you to something and is aligned with it, doesn’t mean there won’t be work involved. I used to think that since He was “in it,” writing my testimony in book form would take off, rocketing to success. (Here’s a valuable lesson I learned instead.)
2. Seek the Lord and His timing through prayer, Scripture, and sound counsel.
Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. Or doesn’t mean we should yet. When it comes to big decisions (like publishing worldwide access to a personal experience), timing can be equally as important as permission.
For me, I prayed, spiritually tested different ideas and feelings, searched my motivations (i.e. was any part of me seeking revenge?) and sought His timing. I also involved a trusted friend and fellow believer in my deliberation.
3. Avoid comparison. Embrace His unique plan for you.
Please hear me: Writing your testimony does not have to mean publishing or self-publishing a book.
- Maybe it’s writing it in your personal journal.
- Maybe it’s offering it as a contribution to a relevant blog or magazine.
- Maybe it’s writing it in a letter to a friend who needs encouragement.
- Maybe it’s something completely different; something nobody’s done yet!
By all means, I don’t think it’s wrong to notice others’ paths or journeys. They can inspire us. Motivate us. Assure us. But when they begin to limit us…that’s when to watch out for comparison.
4. Be wise. Be truthful. Be bold.
Be wise: This is important, because TESTIMONY DOES NOT HAVE TO MEAN TELL-ALL. I purposely did not share any detail that I might regret later. And I did so with God’s help and wisdom.
Be truthful: We live in a time when people can make things up, and they can easily spread like softened butter on hot toast. But it’s the truth that sets people free, and if that’s your motivation–then stick to the truth.
Be bold: There are many conflicting messages both in and beyond the Church, about all sorts of topics. Be bold about the Word. Be bold about what God’s brought you from. About what Jesus has done and is doing in your life.
5. Don’t try to go it alone.
This is especially important if you plan on or feel called to go public with your testimony. As I was writing my testimony, I involved:
- a close friend for prayer and ongoing counsel or accountability; and
- a new acquaintance with a passion for editing and prior experience as an intern with a publisher. (She helped with actual editing of the content.)
And then, because I was using a Christian self-publisher (Westbow Press), the content was reviewed and vetted to ensure it’s alignment with standards that I agreed to at the outset.
- One of the exciting things about self-publishing? The freedom.
- One of the potentially problematic things about self-publishing? The freedom.
Because of the technology or services available today, it’s entirely possible to write and self-publish in a silo. But I would strongly caution against going it alone.
It’s not enough to just have people. Have the right people. Then give those right people permission to push you–to raise concerns they may see in your process or message.
Even now, as I work on my next book’s manuscript, I’ve hired a freelance-editor friend (and fellow believer) as a check-n-balance for my work and message.
As a side note: My family does not review my writing. Some of them have read the finished product, but they’re not part of the team I’ve assembled to provide feedback for anything I’m working on.
Our stories have powerful potential. They’re gifts. Or weapons (which also makes them threats; see Revelation 12:11). They’re vehicles that can carry hope to the hurting and glory to the Healer.
In due season, for the right reason, step out, brave one. We need more word-wielders to speak up about what Jesus has done in their lives, so others can have hope and be encouraged about what Jesus can do in theirs.
Your turn: If you also have experience writing your testimony, what helped you to do it in a way that is wise, and constructive?
How was this helpful?