Sharing in ways that encourage others

Debbie Morris, author of Forgiving the Dead Man Walking, spoke at our church this weekend. She shared her story of being kidnapped when she was 14. She and her boyfriend were sipping milkshakes on a date when two men attacked them. They shot her boyfriend and they repeatedly raped Debbie over a two-day-terror spree across several states.

Debbie shared her story with our church and community with candidness and honesty. She described her struggle to forgive as a multi-layered process. It took her years to reach the point where she was willing to forgive. And since that time, when an event or an anniversary triggers more anger to surface, Debbie said she is quicker now to seek God's help to forgive yet another aspect of what she suffered.

Debbie shared many true observations about forgiveness that are relevant to others, even those who have not suffered from an extreme situation such as hers.

She said forgiveness was a decision, not a feeling thing. She used the phrase, "Fake it until you make it," to describe the choice she makes to act forgiving before the feelings of forgiveness kick in.

Debbie seemed to handle things well after the attack. She fooled a lot of people into thinking she was fine. Eventually, she fell apart and lived a lifestyle of destructive choices. It took her years to turn to God in faith. She was angry at God. She felt God had let her down during those horrific days.

Now, when Debbie speaks about those events, she says gracious things about those terrible days, about her hijackers, and the community support, or lack of support, she received after the kidnapping. Gracious, empathetic, intelligent, a good communicator of the grace and forgiveness of God -- all these words describe Debbie as she shares her story.

Yet an undercurrent of anger underlines some of her words. There is more beneath the surface for God's healing touch, I think.

Debbie admits it. Debbie said she will have to forgive another aspect of what she went through when her daughter is old enough to go out alone on a date. The event will stir up memories, fears and emotions and will reveal a new aspect that will give her a choice to chose forgiveness.

This is true stuff, my heart recognized. She knows about those kind of triggers, too.

Even though Debbie hasn't completely arrived at the place of forgiveness; she stood in our church this weekend, sharing the drama and the details with honest feelings. Her sharing inspires others who buy her books and ask her to speak to groups around the country.

Debbie isn't perfect and doesn't pretend to be.

Debbie says she shares her story because people have told her that it inspires them to pray to be more forgiving. She hopes others will turn away from anger and shame and self-destructive lifestyles. She wants others to find God's peace in a lifestyle of forgiveness as she has found.

As a writer, I listened to Debbie share her story so I might learn ways to share my story of God at work in a difficult situation so others are encouraged in their faith.

How about you?

How can writers and speakers share honest facts and feelings of what God has brought them through so that others are encouraged or inspired?


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