Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writing from Real Life Experience

Sometimes when we write from a real personal experience, the writing is more difficult than if we make up the situation. That occurred in the book I just completed. In it the hero must go through a time of deep soul searching in forgiving the heroine for her past life as a prostitute. As deputy sheriff he has spent years making sure his town was clear of such activity.

The agony he goes through as he wrestles with certain principles and moralities he has always upheld and what he knows he must do as a Christian is the same agony I faced with forgiving my brother many years ago.

I learned that no matter how heinous the crime committed, God will forgive that sin when the person gives his or her life over to Christ. Christ died for ALL sin and sinners, not just a select few. This includes thieves, murderers, homosexuals, and those convicted of sexual crimes.

Over twenty-five years ago, my brother was arrested for a sexual crime involving younger boys. I had already written him off as my brother because he’d been in and out of prison so often on drug and other charges. My mother pleaded with me to forgive him because our pastor had gone to visit him in jail, and my brother had made a confession of faith and become a Christian.

That was a bitter pill for me to swallow. I refused to accept the idea that God could forgive him for being a pedophile. That was in mid-December and I was busy with our oldest son’s wedding and then the Christmas program at church and the holidays. I pushed it to the back of mind, thankful that few people remembered my maiden name and wouldn’t associate him with me. I was too ashamed to tell any of my Christian friends since most of them didn’t know I had a brother to begin with.

Still, I wrestled with what I should do, continuing to ignore what I read in the Bible and what I knew I should do. In January, my mother called me again to tell me that my brother had been sentenced to forty years in prison and asked me to pray for him. My mind couldn’t wrap itself around the fact that my brother asked for God to forgive him and God did. When I went in and talked with our chaplain at school, he smiled, handed me his open Bible, and said, “You know what you have to do. You know what God expects. So do it.”

He then left me alone with his Bible open to Matthew 6:14 and15. Those words burned into heart and I cried and prayed for God to forgive me for not believing He could change my brother. Then I prayed and forgave my brother. When I wrote to him and told him I loved him and forgave him, he wrote back and said I was the one family member whose forgiveness he most wanted because he’d always looked up to me and loved me because of the way I had taken care of him as a child when our parents divorced and mother worked all the time.

In writing Cory’s experience for Spring Hope, I relived those days and even now as I write this my eyes fill with tears. We serve such an awesome God. He turned my brother’s life around. It was also a major turning point in my own walk with the Lord. When I opened up and gave this testimony about my brother and God’s love and faithfulness, instead of the scorn and contempt I expected from my friends, I was overwhelmed with love and support.

God is in the miracle business. This is just one example in my own life and my family. My brother now leads a Bible study and meditation group in prison. With our parents both gone on to be with the Lord and my sister’s situation, I am the sole support of my brother. I am so thankful that I have money to send him for the basics he needs, and that my husband fully supports me in it.

Our Lord and Savior came for all humanity. Despite our sins, He loves us and wants us as His children and proved it with the ultimate sacrifice of His life. Praise God from all blessings flow. My hope is that others will see the awesome love of Jesus Christ and will right any relationships that may be askew in their own lives.

Is there a time in your life when our Lord revealed what He wanted you to do, but you had to wrestle with the decision before you finally obeyed? I’d love to hear your experience and how God worked in your life.


Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Very touching and deeply spiritual post, Martha.

Jillian Kent said...

Thanks Martha,
What a difficult experience. One of my hardest forgiveness issues which I haven't written about and is rather common is being abandoned by my father when I was around six. My crit partners once asked me if I realized that my heroine's never have fathers available to them. So maybe I have written about it.

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Oh, Martha, what a sweet and powerful testamony that is. At times it seems so impossible to forgive those who have wounded us in some way. I am in a situation where I must constantly forgive, over and over, seventy - times - seventy. But all things are possible with God!

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Correction: Jesus instructed, "seventy-times-seven" (not 70 x 70). My fingertips got away from me there. :)

Ane Mulligan said...

oh, Martha, what a beautiful testimony. You touched my heart with it. I knew long ago that my pride is as much a sin be fore God as your brother's was. Sin is sin.

But your forgiving your brother removed the bitterness from you and that's why your love of Christ shines so brightly. :)

Nancy Kimball said...

Your sharing your heart will touch so many Martha. It certainly did me.

Bonnie Engstrom said...

Martha ~ We went through the agony of drug addiction with our son from his teen years to his thirties. Many arrests and stints in jail, as well as newspaper articles about them piled up. God led me to share with many others and many people came out of the woodwork to share about their children. I will write more to you personally, but I want to encourage others to share their experiences. It really helps them, as well as leading hurting souls to Christ.

BTW, our Brian is now totally AA and married with two children.

Thank you for writing your brother's story.

Much love,

Linda Kozar said...

Martha, What an amazing experience! Thank you for sharing your heart.

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Martha, thanks for sharing these experiences and what the Lord has been teaching you through it. I read the message on the ACFW Loop about you seeing his photo in the paper with the prisoners' prayer group. What a wonderful confirmation from the Lord to what He is doing in your brother's life. Forgiveness is such an important issue to include in novels. I'm sure your new book will touch many people, and the feelings and situation will ring true because of what you've experienced.
I'm looking forward to seeing you in St. Louis!

Cathy said...

Thank you, Martha, for sharing this most personal pain. Problems with a toxic coworker drove me from a wonderful job. I struggled with forgiveness - the closest I could come was to stop stewing about it. Then this year the coworker sent me an olive branch email! Praise God for working in this situation, even when I couldn't completely do my part!

JoyAveryMelville said...

Sometimes the forgiveness is difficult as you've mentioned - sometimes it's easy until it gets thrown back in your face. We (dh and me) face a situation with our two adult children that hurts and hurts but we have done all we can to keep the avenues open both ways.
God has used the situations (neither alike) to bring us closer together in prayer for our children. Thank you for sharing your heart and this post. I saw the post on the main loop and HAD to come over here - I so appreciate our VOTW postings!

Martha W. Rogers said...

Thank you so much for your kind words and your words of affirmation about sharing experiences. We're on this journey together and what affects us may be just the thing that will help someone else.