It took me six years to write Victim of Grace.
The first nudge came when I was speaking at a small event in the Midwest. I didn’t know it, but the president of a Christian publishing house was in the audience. Afterwards the president asked if I’d ever written about the experiences I was talking about and I said no.
A week later my agent called and said she’d heard from a publisher that wanted a book from me. I was excited until I heard that they wanted a non-fiction book and they wanted it based on the talk I’d given the week before. My agent revealed that the president was in the audience and was insistent because of the way I spoke about how God’s goodness prevails even during the difficult times in our lives.
I prayed about it, signed a contract for the book and then floundered. I wrote and wrote but nothing sounded right. I stalled. I got an extension. I threw away pages and pages. I prayed. I knew I wasn’t supposed to cancel the contract but I didn’t know how to write the book in a compelling way.
The book was supposed to be about my life and there were a lot of bumpy seasons in my life. Was I willing to share those details with people I didn’t even know?
During that time I was invited to speak at a number of women’s retreats. All of them asked if I’d tell my story. How did I become a writer? How did God take us through the difficult times in our marriage? How did we handle a huge financial downturn?
I loved sharing openly at those retreats. Women could relate to what I shared and one by one they started asking if I’d write a book about what I’d shared. I listened to those women and tried to figure out how to go back to the book I already had a contract for but didn’t know how to write.
The breakthrough came one morning when I was reading in I Samuel about Hannah and how she poured out her heart to God. I felt an immediate connection to her emotionally. I realized there are a lot of women in the Bible that I feel close to. I relate to all of them in a different way and I love that God included the stories of their bumpy seasons in His Book.
That’s when the inspiration came to include a different woman from the Bible in each chapter of the book and to write about the connection I felt with each of them. God did amazing things in their lives. God has done amazing things in my life. I saw myself as a kindred “victim of grace” with these Biblical women.
I believed readers would be able to see themselves on the pages if I just told the stories. My story, and the stories of the women in the Bible.
As I wrote I saw how God’s mysterious ways are hidden inside our life stories. We unveil evidence of His goodness and glory when we tell our stories – the true stories. We want others to see the Pinterest version of our lives but things are only that pretty a fraction of the time. Most of the time we’re just sorting and shifting and planning and dreaming. We need to hear those stories. Other women’s stories and our own stories. Stories from women in the past and present. We need to see God’s hand at work in all the days that are cluttered with the beautiful chaos that is real life.
As the stories for the book poured out of me I felt as if I was doing more than writing. I was giving. Giving a vulnerable piece of my heart to every reader who would ever pick up this book.
When Victim of Grace was finally published I could see the full circle of all the stories and I knew that God’s tender Spirit had been leading over the six years that it took for me to be willing to be vulnerable and tell the truth about the mysterious ways of God in my life.
May you see glimpses of His deep and abiding love for you when you read Victim of Grace. And may you find the courage to tell your stories in a way that reveals to others in the midst of your beautiful chaos the mystery of God’s extraordinary ways in your life.