Writing A Memoir: Bringing Healing, Peace, and Closure to the Chapters in Your Life
I have always loved reading memoirs. They are some of my favorite reads. I try to choose those which are completely outside my scope of understanding, lifestyle, or culture. When I read memoirs I find myself comforted, shocked, and even educated by these ordinary individuals who were willing to gift us with their amazing life experiences. I’ve read some truly miraculous accounts which have in turn changed my life, expanded my way of thinking, enlarged my understanding of the world and people around me, and given me a deeper appreciation and compassion for the pain of others. It is very true that we never know what people have lived through. In fact, we would be shocked if we knew. Memoirs teach us kindness and respect. We are all very human. Memoirs also teach us that much of life is not subject to our own decisions, aspirations, or plans. On the contrary, life is often subject to the circumstances, decisions, and actions of others which are far beyond our control. We are all vulnerable human beings in this world. Our vulnerability is to each other. This is why we must live well not only for ourselves, but for the sake of those around us.
Today we’re going to discuss writing a memoir of your own and why you should consider it. Whether you choose to publish, and regardless of whether or not you’re a writer, this has the potential to be one of the most healing experiences you’ll ever embark upon in your life.
The Sacred Gift of a Memoir
Strangely, great memoirs are not written by famous people. They are commonly written by laity who have no notoriety whatsoever. I love going to Barnes and Noble and looking through the memoir section. What I have found is that ordinary everyday people like you and I live incredible lives. Our lives are a gift. What I have also found to be true is that people who live lives of extraordinary pain are often the ones who write memoirs. Memoirs allow us to process life in a productive manner that brings healing, peace, and closure in a way nothing else can — whether we believe in Christ or not. Reading the memoirs of others who have lived a strange or painful life can be very comforting. It may be just precisely what you need if you’re enduring pain of your own. These stories help us understand that we are not alone, and that human pain is universal. It allows us to meet, see, and experience people we would otherwise never know. It gives us perspective for our own painful experiences and can even create a more accurate frame of reference for what we’re really experiencing. Suddenly, we realize we are not so crazy after all; that the human experience is very much shared among us. We can also learn incredibly valuable lessons from those who have traversed before us. Memoirs create gratitude and deep appreciation, and they educate us on real life issues we would otherwise never experience or know how to navigate.
If you need comfort or help in life you don’t need another self-help book.
You need to visit the memoir section.
Memoirs are a public door into the private life of another human being. They are intensely personal, and even hallowed. Because they are so transparent, they become some of the most sacred writings we have the privilege of reading. Memoirs are a gift.
There is a reason people write memoirs. I rarely read a memoir by someone who has lived a comfortable life of joy and pleasure. I struggle finding one. No, memoirs are written by those who have something to share and teach us. And those lessons in life often come packaged in pain, tragedy, and trauma. If you desire to be comforted through your journey in life — visit the memoir section. You will soon discover that truth is stranger than fiction, and that you are not alone in this life of wonderment, bewilderment, and pain.
Healing the Pain
When I was thirty-seven years old God instructed me to write a memoir of my own. However, this memoir was not for anyone else — at least not now. It was an assignment He gave me to experience exclusively with Him. As I began to write I was astonished at the details and people I remembered so vividly. Year by year I’ve carefully traveled through my life again, reliving and experiencing things I’ve forgotten. I’ve been amazed at the emotional spectrum I’ve experienced with the memories resurrected, and I’ve been equally amazed at what I’ve somehow failed to remember. It’s like Christmas. With each memory I’ve had, it’s like opening a gift. Only this time, I get to experience it from my present life perspective. All I can say is… wow.
Through this process God began to reveal things to me that had long been unanswered questions. As I traveled through the years of my life, one by one, He began to show me incredible beauty, miraculous intervention, glorious joy, and His goodness, kindness, mercy, and love.
Memoirs are a public door into the private life of another human being.
Despite what most see from the outside, I too have lived a life of incredible pain; pain of various kinds. In saying that, I’m confident I’m not the only one who could testify of the same. This pain was so overwhelming at times that it became the focus, creating further pain, angst, and regret. This robbed me of joy, purpose, and passion. I desperately needed closure. For years I’ve struggled with understanding my life and God’s plan despite my following Him obediently. I anticipated that if I followed God obediently, all my plans would work out. How spiritually naive of me. That could not be further from the truth. The unfolding of my life has been nothing like I had planned or dreamed. It’s “off the charts” unbelievable to me when I think about it. If someone had told me when I came to Christ what my life would really entail, I would have never believed them. My life has been contrary to everything I desired or planned, despite the incredible blessings God has given and my sacrificial obedience to Him. As a result, I’ve often struggled to understand His plan and come to terms of peace with the life I’ve lived although I have a firm grasp on my life purpose and calling.
Ordinary everyday people like you and I live incredible lives.
Reconciling Unanswered Questions
As we live life in real time, we are not always prepared for what comes. There are painful surprises that leave us scarred and shocked, and many of them come by the people in and around us — those we are closely knit to as well as those who may be perfect strangers or with whom we casually interact or intersect. We respond the best we can, but many times, we don’t know how to respond well at all. We are just left treading water. Life can be upended very quickly, and quite easily. We are strong and resilient, yet equally fragile creatures.
Memoirs create gratitude and deep appreciation,
and they educate us on real life issues we would otherwise never experience
or know how to navigate.
I desperately needed peace, healing, and closure to successfully move forward with God in my life. God knew that, and He offered me that gift in writing a memoir. I want you to have that gift as well. I have found that in writing the memoir as God instructed, He is able to walk me through it all again with intimate insight and valuable introspection. Year by year, circumstance by circumstance, this memoir becomes a journal of details where the Lord lovingly fills in the gaps. He ties it all together in a way that becomes cohesive where He and I are able to sort things out together.
Some of the things God has unpacked:
What could I have done or said differently?
Who do I need to forgive?
Who do I need to thank?
Where did He lovingly intervene?
What decisions were successful in Him? Which ones were not? And why?
Is my decision-making process biblical? Where were the fault lines?
Where are the regrets vs. no regrets? Where did I really hit the mark with God?
If possible, where do I need to make restitution for things I’ve said or done?
Where do I need to repent?
Is there still an open door in areas where changes can be made? What doors need to be closed?
What life lessons have I learned? And how are they applicable now?
What needs to happen in this chapter of my life to bring closure and peace? Do I still have an opportunity to create change or effect?
Finally, bringing closure with prayer, childlike faith, and acceptance.
In moving forward, writing a memoir is teaching me to live life differently, and even more carefully. I count the cost much more deliberately than when I was younger. Those risks I took at age 20 are nonnegotiable now. It’s amazing how we grow and mature. My perspective and frame of reference is continually changing, and the older I get the more I realize how much I don’t know despite the wisdom I may have gained, and the more childlike with God I become. The way I communicate with God is increasingly transparent — and much more reverent as well. I see His activity behind the scenes of my life in ways that leave me fearful of Him — and in a good way. I recognize the value of sorting and settling things as quickly as possible. Leaving things unfinished is no longer optional. The spectrum of life, how we change, grow, and navigate becomes clear when we write a memoir. We see clearer, and we become astonished on so many levels it would difficult to narrate what actually happens inside of us. Memoirs shape us for the future. The effects of writing a memoir are invaluable.
God is able to change us on a deep level when we carefully inspect those times, seasons, and circumstances that go unchecked, or are left unattended. At the time we experience things, we can easily default to our own devices. Our coping mechanisms and human nature gets in the way of making good decisions or responding well. Pain can rob us of that ability. Perhaps there is unfinished business in your life. Perhaps there are questions that need answering. Perhaps there are people and deep issues that need tending.
Reliving your life through a detailed account brings incredible insight, joyous memories, and allows for deep healing and understanding like nothing else can — especially when you journey through it with the LORD.
I have been so shocked. So will you.
The purpose of your memoir can have depth and breadth.
If you need to bring some peace and closure to areas in life, I suggest writing a private memoir and traveling through it again. Revisit your life. Be willing to take the time and ask critical questions. Be willing to face pain and regret. Be willing to laugh and relive precious memories that bring joy and deep gratitude. Be willing to feel and savor. Be willing to relive those things in a way that allows Him to meet you there again so you can have the peace, closure, and restoration He longs to bring into your life. Be willing to probe Him even as He is willing to awaken you.
Be willing to remember.
I have found that in writing my memoir, the memories He resurrects are not always in chronological order. God will stimulate my memory in a manner that appears disjointed. When I write about these I add them to the respective calendar year. My memoir spans 27 years, and each one is a singular chapter which is sectioned by specific experiences. As I write, I find God jumping to and from places and times. In doing so He is revealing patterns and relationships that need to be lovingly addressed.
We all have lived lives with pain. We all have unanswered questions. And we all need to remember God’s mercy, His kindness, and His miraculous interventions on our behalf. Writing a memoir with God and being willing to travel back and assemble a chronology of your life’s story is very powerful. And although this may be a private endeavor, you never know how God may use it in the future. The purpose of your memoir can have depth and breadth. It can always be amended and edited for loved ones as a legacy for later years and future generations. I truly have some amazing stories to tell, and I bet you do, too!
Being Liberated & Moving Forward
My memoir is not done. I’m still writing it. And with each year I complete, I realize that God’s purpose in completing it is not only to achieve His healing, peace, and to bring necessary closure, but to also bring deeper understanding, greater maturity in Him, and ultimate advancement. His desire is for me to understand, and oftentimes by faith in Him. He desires that I come to terms of acceptance in Him, learn tough lessons so as not to repeat them, and to receive His gift of forgiveness, mercy, healing, and even intervention. Praying over these years lived is an amazing experience. Because He is God, who is the Beginning and End, He is still able to touch the present-day consequences of decisions I made years ago that are still in full effect.
Be willing to remember.
I encourage you to begin today so you can realize just how awesome your individual life really is, and how much God loves you. He is ever-present and powerful, and He is able to bring beauty and effect change in ways that will amaze you. He is the God of miracles. Many of those miracles will happen inside you as you write.
Memoirs are a gift.
You will see your life differently. You will see it through His eyes. Your life will become a precious treasure allowing you to move forward in Him with the healing, peace, and closure you need and desire.
I encourage you to begin writing your memoir. When there is proper closure, there is also incredible liberty.
Cheers & Shalom,
Image Credit: Skeeze | Pixabay