Last week, I shared a blog written by my friend Jane Choate titled Humbly Grateful or Grumbly Hateful. Her eloquently expressed thoughts roused in me a desire to write Bitter versus Better: Writing Stories that Touch the Human Spirit.
Like my friend Jane, I experienced bullying during my primary and secondary school years. Bullying happens for a multitude of reasons. In my case, I was too fat. Though I had lost the weight by junior high school, the kids who I’d grown up with at school still teased me mercilessly. A young woman from my neighborhood physically and verbally abused me at the bus stop on a regular basis.
The taunts hurt so much that one night I came home from school and stood in the shower with the hot water pouring over me, sobbing and calling out to God, Please God, never, ever let me be like them. Never let me ever be a person so vile and cruel and disgusting.
I believe the night I wept before God, He set me on a journey for the rest of my life.
Lest you think the journey has been easy, I correct that thought. The scars and personal baggage from that kind of abuse last into adulthood and don’t go away overnight. Thank God, He’s given me a lifetime to teach me how to love myself and others in healthier ways.
Many of us have heard the adage, “Trials can make you bitter or better.” Writing has become a way I can bring people along on this journey from bitter to better–from suffering and depravity to joy and redemption.
Like Elphaba in Wicked, we can use our persecution at the hands of others as an excuse for becoming the Wicked Witch of the West. Or we can become like Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables who, after receiving mercy from a man of God, leaves behind his sufferings at the hands of an unjust jailer to redeem Cosette from a cruel and depraved innkeeper and his wife.
Real life stories abound with the consequences of how our choices to become bitter or better influence the world for evil or good. Hitler and Stalin are extreme examples of childhood abuse. Yet Christian author Corrie Ten Boom experienced life in a concentration camp and became well-loved by the inmates for her kindnesses throughout their internment.
As writers, we have the opportunity to show in story how choices to become bitter or better have consequences for evil or for good. As people, I believe how we live out our real-life stories has an even greater impact for the world.
Donna Wichelman’s newest novel, Undaunted Valor, Book II in The Waldensian Series and the sequel to Light Out of Darkness, will be available on April 4, 2018
For nature lovers, ski aficionados, travel enthusiasts and history scholars, the French Alps offer some of the most spectacular scenery and outdoor recreation in Europe with its majestic mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, unspoiled forests and quaint villages. People visit to get away from the daily grind and rejuvenate their spirits.
But when Alessandro Marianni’s grandmother Luciana is kidnapped during a church conference in Chamonix, the same landscape becomes an ominous height to scale, and Jamie Holbrooke and her fiancé Alessandro have difficulty distinguishing between friend and foe on a race to find her. They will have to weather a rainstorm on a mountain trail, negotiate a dangerous waterfall, outmaneuver a car chase, and defy an assassin’s gun in their search.
Will they find their beloved Luciana before it’s too late, and who will die on the way to the finish line? Who can they trust? Where will Jamie find the courage to confront her adversaries? In this sequel to Light Out of Darkness, the answers will lie in unanticipated places and with unexpected allies and require Jamie to discover what it means to trust God with undaunted valor.