Writer-Entrepreneur: 8 Differences Between a Hobby-Writer and an Author-Entrepreneur [Guest Post]

I’m so excited to share with you a guest post from Laurie for our writer-entrepreneur post today! She’s a wonderful and accomplished writer with some great insight for all of us writer-entrepreneurs. Thank you for sharing with us, Laurie!
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Thank you so much, MaryLynn, for inviting me to your space!

In 2013, I got laid off from my job and soon made the important shift from hobby-writer to author-entrepreneur. It has made all the difference in my life, career, faith, and work to push past the fear and go after my dreams.

I worked in the book industry for seven years before I started writing for publication, so I’ve observed many different authors along the way. There are several key differences that separate author-entrepreneurs from those who write as a hobby. Let’s explore those, shall we?

Author-entrepreneurs treat their writing as work. Whether published or aiming for publication, the first step that separates a hobbyist from a career writer is considering it (super gratifying) work instead of play. This means there’s a level of dedication, consistency, and goal setting—even if the deadlines are self-imposed.

Author-entrepreneurs actually show up for work. No matter how busy the rest of life may be with day jobs, families, school, there are regular times the author-entrepreneur carves out for writing. A little bit every day really adds up.

Author-entrepreneurs finish their work. They have the discipline and focus to stick with a project (once they find the right one) instead of starting and abandoning a work-in-progress for something shinier once the honeymoon stage is over. Yes, that initial burst of creative energy and infatuation will wane, but an author-entrepreneur will show up to work, even when it means pushing through the sludge to reveal the beauty underneath.

Author-entrepreneurs study their craft. They’ve done their research and listen to podcasts, read blogs and craft books, and also study the work of a variety of authors who are doing their genre well. Authors cannot live by inspiration alone, so it’s important to be surrounded by quality resources that will strengthen their work.

Author-entrepreneurs have a cohesive vision for their work and platform. I just wrapped up teaching a month-long class on branding for authors that emphasized the importance of having a vision, knowing their audience, and allowing those two things to inform every decision as they work to build a platform. In addition to studying their craft, author-entrepreneurs know (or at least are dedicated to learning) what sets apart their voice from others and what their work uniquely offers their audience.

Author-entrepreneurs surround themselves with an incredible team. When it all boils down, the writing profession is essentially a one-man job. But author-entrepreneurs—even the introverts—know the importance of critique partners, writing groups, and mentors. Having trusted writers ahead in the game and at the same level on the journey adds valuable input, accountability, and encouragement to propel work that can be very isolating at times.

Author-entrepreneurs put their work out there—and take feedback gracefully. At first, this means showing their work to critique partners and mentors they can trust, whose strengths complement their weaknesses. Learning how to discern and implement constructive feedback is an important step. Then, when the work is sparkling and ready, it means submitting to contests, agents, and publishing professionals. It means taking the ultimate step of bravery while a hobby-writer may be content to move on to the next work and let the last one collect dust.

Author-entrepreneurs can’t be stopped by rejection. While rejections, negative reviews, and disheartening feedback can be painful, the author-entrepreneur is uniquely fueled by the necessity to get words on the page. So where a hobbyist may quit altogether after a project doesn’t meet her expectations, the author-entrepreneur adapts and moves on to the next one. She stays true to her vision and plan—after a pint of ice cream or so—with the knowledge that every project improves her work and no critic can take away what she loves to do.

There’s no shame in writing for a hobby, in being content (like I was for several years) to put down a project and pick it back up every so often when inspiration strikes. But I wish I could have coffee with every writer who dreams of more but believes he or she doesn’t have what it takes to be an author-entrepreneur. I would convince them that, with a lot of hard work and gumption, they could do it if they really wanted.

And I’d tell them that, when unleashed, the combination of business and dreams fueled by story is a powerful, powerful thing.

LT HeadshotLaurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. Her novella That’s When I Knew was featured in the Love at First Laugh collection, and her debut novel, With No Reservations, releases in May 2017 from Harlequin Heartwarming. You can connect with Laurie on her websiteFacebook page, and Instagram.

Nothing Can Steal Your Beauty

Talking about insecurities is hard. The transparency of vulnerability causes us to believe our flaws and wounds make us less desirable.

So we don’t talk about them. We build up the silence to equate our worth, and it enables us to carry on the façade of perfection. Don’t bring attention to what you don’t want people to see.

We trick ourselves into believing a brave face is the cure for all that ails our soul. We coerce our heart into admitting the insecurities are invalid. Insignificant. They must be suppressed.

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I’ve always known beauty is fleeting. It’ll disappear eventually for everyone. So when insecurity threatened, I would cling to the promise that a beautiful heart is more important than a beautiful exterior. I would tell myself I could not let the world win me over by getting caught up in trying to achieve any kind of standard for an outward appearance. I wanted to be a Proverbs 31 woman, not Miss America. I knew I wasn’t as attractive as the next person, but I thought I had to be okay with that because I didn’t want to fall into an addiction to the pursuit of beauty.

It seemed like a battle already lost, anyway.

My mentality that God doesn’t care about beauty I assumed was the answer. If He didn’t care whether or not I was beautiful, neither should I.

But sometimes I wished He did care so I wouldn’t feel guilty for wanting reassurance.

He does care.

When I was little, there was a voice in the back of my head that told me not to worry about beauty, because it was something I would grow into. Surely it would come with time, patience, and not trying too hard.

But one day I looked into the mirror and realized I had missed it. Beauty was no longer something I could wait for. It had been crushed and lost by the weight of the world. I had marks and scars – both internal and external – that told a long story. Subtle signs were surfacing, taking revenge against the stress of sickness, leaving my body as a casualty all over again.

Every time I tried to fix one thing, something else would unravel. I couldn’t win. It was time to stop trying.

Not long after I had recommitted to my cause against beauty, I had an encounter with someone that completely changed my perspective. She said something, a compliment that went directly to the center of my heart, leaving no room to doubt the Lord heard my thoughts and wanted to prove me wrong.

My mind was overwhelmed in processing how He was so gracious to show me He does not judge in our insecurity, but desires to remind us all of His creation is beautiful. Every. Single. Thing.

A lot of us would agree the criteria this world uses to measure beauty is tainted. The Lord grieves over a lot of the things we label as “beautiful.” We have completely missed the point.

But that doesn’t mean we have to abandon the idea of beauty.

Telling each other we have “inner beauty” is not enough. Because it doesn’t satisfy the longing in our heart to be recognized as enough. Instead, it shows how we’ve bought into the lies of worldly approval and we know that many of the people around us just don’t measure up. So we created this alternative, ambiguous beauty so we aren’t left out of this relentless strive for self-worth and approval.

But, beloved – you don’t have to create an alternative beauty to claim the title of one who is beautiful.

If we believe in God’s perfection, there is no room to think He makes mistakes. If we are made in His image, how could we be anything but lovely? You are enough when you have Christ living in you.  He creates beautiful people and He delights in you.

He doesn’t just want you to know. He wants you to see and understand and believe and trust. You are beautiful.

There is a hole in our heart labeled the “desire to be beautiful” that can only be filled by knowing Christ and understanding His perspective of us. Nothing else will ever quench that burning desire; not our “inner beauty” alternative, not the world’s idea of physical perfection, not the affirmation of others, not our rebellion against beauty.

Beautiful describes who God is and who He created us to be, in His image.

When our souls search for a glimpse of beauty, we’re really searching for Christ and assurance of our identity. We may not fully be able to wrap our minds around beauty by the Lord’s standards, since it so greatly contrasts what the world portrays. But the only way to define it is by studying the Artist and looking at you, His masterpiece. It may take a moment for our eyes to adjust. The God-crafted beauty poured over each of us is intended to glorify our Creator, not ourselves.

But it’s there.

And He will remind us that beauty cannot be lost in a sea of arbitrary and unachievable standards, because beauty is a gift given to each of us when He breathed life into our souls before we were ever known by anyone else. No one and nothing can steal your beauty. They can only try to deceive, so you cannot see what is already there. Sickness, age, weariness, circumstance, and brokenness has no authority to take that which has been given to you by the One who is more powerful than it all.

Look around you and see the beauty He has made with His very own hands. Look at yourself in the mirror and see the person He declares has so much worth that nothing was too great to win your heart. You are beautiful. Not because I say so; because He says it is true. But I say it too, to echo the whispers of His voice in your heart. Those flaws you’re trying so hard to cover up are the very mark of His work. You don’t need to hide them.

When we’re tempted to forget, let us remember: we belong to the Lord. And He has made us beautiful.

Moving Forward When You Can’t Move On

Insecurity.

It leaves us feeling unwanted; inadequate; unloved. Those thoughts come creeping in from time to time, taking over and taking up residence in our heart. I try to ignore it. I keep myself busy so I don’t have to acknowledge the sting. I pretend it’s not a big deal.

After all…everybody feels that way sometimes.

But just because we all feel it, doesn’t mean it’s right.

Or true.

Sometimes I wonder if it will ever be different. Will I ever have confidence in my worth? Will there be a day where I can finally rest in His love and not relentlessly long for the approval of others? Will I be able to get past the fear, rejection, and disappointment?

Will I ever be able to move on?

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I stared out the window, watching the rain, continuing to process words I knew were true. I was still figuring out how to begin acting like they were true. I so badly wanted to fix it – fix me, fix my insecurity. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know if I could.

Broken hearts don’t easily mend, no matter if they’re broken by another person, the weight of this world, or our own monsters clinging to our back. Most of the time, we can’t do anything about it. We cannot control how, if, when, or who will hurt us. We cannot always control how we hurt ourselves after we choose to believe lies. We hold onto those lies like playing with matches, somehow thinking we’ll be the exception to the rule that says 100% of fire-players get burned.

We strike when we seek and demand approval.

We strike when we allow someone else’s opinion to define us.

We strike when we look back at ourselves in the mirror and wonder what others will think of us – whether or not they’ll like me, whether or not they’ll accept me, whether or not they’ll love me.

Strike.

Enamored by the flame. Totally unprepared for what comes next.

And it feels like a cruel game, because our hearts won’t ever fully mend this side of Heaven. We are so broken, living in a fallen world, and the hope of healing is a promise of eternity.

People love imperfectly. We make mistakes in our relationships with others. We fail to fill their hearts, because it’s not something we were ever meant to do.

So hearts break.

That’s when I began to wonder; maybe, we have it all wrong. Maybe the true sign of strength and security isn’t the ability to move on like nothing ever happened – like we never had been burned.

My heart breathed a sigh of relief when I finally said it out loud. I pulled my eyes away from the rain falling outside, feeling like a weight had been lifted.

It’s not about moving on. Sometimes it’s not even possible or reasonable to expect that from ourselves. We cannot pretend the hurt never happened.

Instead, I want to focus on moving forward, despite the hurts and burns and wounds from the past.

I think a lot of us believe we have “moved on” from certain hurts. But then something happens, the wound begins to burn all over again, and we’re left figuring out where to go. We put pressure on ourselves because we think we should be “okay,” not even really knowing what that means. The closet thing we can find is acting like those hurt feelings were never there. We have to forget, and not appear damaged to the next person that comes along.

But pretending stunts our growth. It ignores the real problem. And I don’t want to be stuck here.

I want to move forward.

Toward healing. Toward restoration. Toward Truth.

I won’t achieve total healing while I’m on this earth. But the purpose of my life was never to skip over experiencing pain. An easy life was never guaranteed. In fact, we’re told to expect the very opposite.

Still, I know there is hope.

It seems like we spend most of our time trying to fix those burns by striking more matches. I desire approval, so I’ll seek more. I desire love, so I’ll keep trying to prove my worth.

We will never find a way out until we realize He has set us free. We don’t have to fight for approval. We don’t have to seek attention. We don’t have to persuade the world we are worthy of love.

But we do and we will. We are sinful people, looking to be filled by all the wrong things. When we find ourselves there again and again, I hope we’ll learn to drop the matches, put out the flames, and run back to the only One who can soothe the hurt.

From time to time, the bandage of “being okay” is ripped off, and the wounds once again become exposed. I try to fight back.

It hurts so much and I don’t want to feel it. I don’t want to be reminded of all the moments that have eaten away at my heart. I can’t forget the cruel words or the glances that told me I don’t belong.

He doesn’t expose the wounds to remind us how broken we are or put our burns to shame. He is coming near, reminding us He is here. And He washes the wounds. He pulls us into His lap, draws us close, and begins His work of reversing every wrong thing done against us – the lies we were told and the lies we told ourselves. He does not let the world win. He has the ultimate weapon: His truth.

It stings, and I look for a place where I can run away. But after a while, it stings less and less. The pain of the burns begins to ease. They start to heal. He lays His pierced hands on my wounded heart – He will not leave me in this place.

Wounds healing wounds.

Divine wounds healing wounds of brokenness. What a beautiful picture of redemption.

Redemption that moves us forward.

Then, when He has refocused our sight, we can look back on the past and not be overwhelmed by its weight.  He makes us stronger. He makes us braver. He makes us whole.

We can carry what we’ve learned and take a step forward. The wounds from the past are propelling us toward our future, no longer holding us back. All of them are being worked together for our good. They will not have the final say.

Doing Justice and Loving Mercy with a Wounded Heart

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I entered the conversation, hoping to make some new friends and learn a little about the subject they were discussing. I hoped my awkwardness wasn’t noticeable as I tried to seamlessly jump in. They seemed interested and welcoming, and I was excited to be made part of their group.

We chatted for a while and enjoyed the company. But the moment quickly turned another direction. At one point in our encounter, someone made a comment to me that was hurtful. What they said was not a big deal. I wanted to give them grace. Still, it’s hard to not let little remarks burrow into our heart and cast a shadow – even if they’re small.

It only took the one instance to remember how tender our hearts can be, especially if we’ve been wounded before. I was reminded of times when unkindness felt familiar, carrying with it a flood of emotions and memories. I told myself this person was probably just having a bad day and didn’t mean any harm. But I couldn’t deny it stung.

A few minutes later, someone else who overheard the conversation stopped me. She had tracked me down just to say, “I’m sorry they said that to you.”

There was something powerful imbedded in both things that were said to me. One caused some amount of hurt, even though it was minor. The other told me it was okay to be hurt, and that helped soothe the sting. I wanted to melt into a puddle of gratefulness. It felt like a new realization I was discovering all over again, to be reminded that it was okay to admit being bruised. It was okay that wounds from past hurts still burn from time to time when memories are dug up by current circumstances.

When we experience pain, it seems like most of the messages we receive try to convince us to quickly let it go and move on. After all, we’re not supposed to remember the wrongs done against us. We’re not supposed to hold them against those who inflicted the pain. Instead, we’re supposed to forgive.

And it’s true. It’s truth grounded in God’s Word which we should plant in our heart so it can take root. We should fill our minds with thoughts and intentions of forgiveness so that the Lord can gently bring it to our attention and convict us as He softens our bitterness with His graciousness. But it’s not supposed to be words we preach at hurting people to invalidate their pain. First, we need to see them and acknowledge their hurt. We have to hear them. We have to fight alongside them against the lies of this world that come rushing in with the small, continuous attacks on our heart. God’s truth doesn’t just instruct us to forgive those who wound us. He tells us that the sin is wrong, too.

Micah 6:8 summarizes how these two concepts can fit together. It tells us the standard for how God desires we live. Do justice. Love Mercy. Walk humbly with Him. Our hearts should always be in step with His. This means that we are called to love what He loves, and follow His example that He has given us through Christ.

It can be difficult to wrap our minds around the mingling of both justice and mercy. One seeks to right wrongs, and enforces consequences when we fall short of the standards to which we’ve been called. The other offers grace, wiping away the penalty we deserve, and giving us a fresh start. On the surface, they seem like opposing concepts. How can we adhere to both? Still, in the Lord, they are not only brought together, they fit perfectly in agreement.

Being able to pursue justice and be generous with mercy is a freeing reality as we face the hurt and heartache of this world. People commit sins that affect is deeply. It isn’t fair. Justice tells us that we are not wrong to acknowledge the wound or desire that it be made right. We want to be made whole, and we want to see those who have hurt us turn around and live a new life. At the same time, justice is not our responsibility. We are called to adhere to the standard of what is just as we interact with others, but God is the one who enforces consequences for sin. That is why we are also instructed to love mercy. Mercy enables us to forgive and move forward when wrongs are committed against us, letting God address repentance. It is not an easy task, but it is right. It is the pathway to true freedom.

Mercy is not intended as an excuse to forgo being upset when we are hurt; it is a means of not holding those wrongs against others, so that we do not further the injustice with our bitterness. We should give grace, because grace has been given to us.

Do call it wrong, and don’t commit a wrong in return. Love that we are enabled to give grace and not be bound by the pain. Stay close to God and commit to this path He has set before us.

This is how we can stay in focus with the way God has called us to live. The reality of each of our sin is great, and justice is real. We cannot escape the consequence of separation from God when we are not faithful with what He has asked us to do and how He has called us to live. The sins committed – by us or by others against us – are wrong. But no matter what has been done, there is grace in Christ. What a great privilege it is that we can mirror Christ’s footsteps in extending grace to others.

Sometimes Completeness Looks Like Suffering

I’ve been waiting 365 days for today.

I’ve also been dreading it.

It has officially been one year since I had surgery to address the mysterious internal bleeding that started almost a year before. The doctors said it would take one year for my body to adjust to the changes, which would hopefully eliminate my symptoms. I had hoped to have a great story about how #MLgetswell is finally a reality today, but that’s not exactly how it turned out.

I am better than I was. And the surgery was “successful” in that it eliminated the possibility for future, more serious problems. It’s just that my body is having trouble adjusting. Going into it, my doctor prepared me for the possibility that I wouldn’t ever fully adjust. And that creates more things I have to keep track of, more shuffling of priorities, and more figuring out how to manage it all without allowing anything to fall to the ground. If it does, I get a brutal reminder of what life was like pre-surgery – and that I’m still not better yet.

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It’s disappointing that there’s a significant gap between where I am now and where I hoped I would be. I remember surgery day like it were yesterday, and I remember thinking how the long year would surely go by quickly and as I waited to be “normal” again. I pictured this day. But it doesn’t look anything like I thought it would.

I’ve been thinking a lot about James 1 and Romans 5 the last few weeks as I’ve been both anticipating and dreading today. I love reading these passages together. James reminds us that suffering has its purpose – to make us mature, complete, and not lacking in anything.

Not lacking in anything. That’s a huge, yet ambiguous, promise. It draws me right to Romans, as Paul defines what it means through describing what suffering produces.

Perseverance.

Character.

Hope.

Or, from the other perspective, if we were to never experience suffering, we would be lacking – lacking perseverance, character, and a deeper capacity to hope in the promises for what is so much better and greater than what we see. The pain we feel from being a part of this world is a startling indication that we were created for more.

This persevering, building character, clinging to hope is a cycle we move through continuously. In this life, we’ll never arrive to a place where we can say we’ve totally achieved the goal.  Instead, when the challenges crash over us like waves, we re-learn all over again what it takes to put one foot in front of the other. We learn to persevere. We re-learn what it looks like to allow our perspective to be informed by what we truly believe. Do we trust that God is enough? Do we trust that He knows best? Do we trust that He has a plan, even for this? We build our identity – our character – around Truth. And as we stand affirmed in His goodness, we cling to hope. But not just any hope. Assured hope. Hope that does not disappoint.

The last 21 months have been full of so much hoping, which has mostly been met by disappointment. Almost every day I’ve woken up thinking THIS would be the day it would all just go away. But that day never came. Maybe it will later. Maybe it won’t.

Still, this hope will not disappoint.

The hope in earthly healing will likely lead to disappoint. Our bodies are broken, and even if we find temporary healing, we have no guarantee of health on this earth. Even still, we so often hold onto promises we were never given and believe God will always give the things we have declared “good.” But we forget everything outside of Christ, even things that seem good, are not guaranteed. If they are given to us, they are given for a time, for a purpose. Only our hope in Christ is promised to not run out and disappoint, because it is eternal. Nothing will thwart His faithfulness.

He is faithful, even when we’re not.

It’s an important reminder. Our past disappointments seem to continually open the door for fear to creep into our outlook on the future. We can somehow be more eager to invalidate hope than keep hope in the perspective of eternal versus temporary. It’s an inadvertent attempt to disprove His faithfulness with our list of things He didn’t do, justifying our efforts to try to take control.

We’ve been hurt in the past. And, sometimes, it’s easier to not expect anything than to be forced to reconcile the sting of unfulfilled hopes and faith that seems to be met with silence.  But the greatest tragedy is when our hearts turn cold, saying that He surely will not ever come through because He chose something different than what we wanted for ourselves.

Different doesn’t mean we have been forgotten.

Different means we have been chosen. We have been chosen by God. He sees us, knows us, and desires nothing but good for us. He knows the greatest good can only be achieved through knowing Him more. And He does not want us to lack anything that He wants to give us – for our good.

I’m still learning to keep that temporary hope second to hope in Christ and the promise of complete and unending healing in the future. But I do know there’s a reason why I’m in this place, even if I cannot figure it out. These trials, the disappointments, are not in vain.

If I’m ever given the choice, of choosing the easy path over the one that will give abundantly the things that matter, so that I’m not lacking in any good thing the Lord desires to cultivate in my life, I hope I’ll always hold out my hands to receive instead of closing them in stubbornness and pride. Too often I think I know best, when I really have no idea the great things He has planned. If there’s more of Him to seek, more of His blessings to be given, and more of His plan to experience, I don’t want to reject it for temporary and fleeting things.

I don’t want to reach the end of my life and see that I missed it; missed the opportunity to go where He led, be what He called me to be, do what He wanted me to do, and know Him like He wanted me to.

I want to fall to me knees, hold out my hands, and ask Him to make complete what I lack.

What Is Love?

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What is love? Keeping God’s commandments.

All around us we are bombarded with messages from the world about how we should love others, as people who follow Christ. Their voices have become overwhelming, and we’ve lost sight of turning to the true authority. We’ve sought the world’s approval by following their call to conformity.

But this love does not satisfy. It leads to emptiness. It carries us to destruction. The Lord is the only one who has given us the perfect example in Himself of what it means to love.

Christ teaches us to love by loving us perfectly. And, because He loves, He calls us out of the comfortableness of sin to draw us closer to Himself. He sets our world on fire, burning away everything that is not of Him, so that only He remains. He sees us where we are, but He never approves of the ways we have clung to this world. His call is radical: leave behind our old selves, follow Him, and be transformed.

In this, we’ve also been given an invitation not just to follow, but to love God. How do we, as imperfect people, go deeper than gratitude to truly love? Christ told us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.

1 John 5 explains it in an undeniable way. To love God means to follow His commandments, which are designed for our good. But it does not stop there. If we love God’s children, we will follow His commandments. We are able to show love to our brothers and sisters in Christ by pursuing how God has called us to live, and spurring each other on to do the same. Not only this, but it is how we will KNOW, how we show the world, that we truly love those around us. It perfectly mirror’s Christ’s love for us: drawing us away from our old selves so that we can be transformed through Christ.

If we want to love others well, we must love God and follow His commandments – no matter how uncomfortable, inconvenient, or counter-cultural it may be.

Your Wounds Do Not Define You

This article first appeared on DesiringGod.org.

Words and actions are powerful. They can build people up, or tear them down. They can pour out love, or breed hate. They can establish trust, or destroy it. They can soothe deep and powerful wounds. Or they can create them.

Most of us have experienced wound-inflicting words or actions from other people at some point in our lives. The pain creates a burden we feel forced to carry. The lies are easy to believe. The hurt feels inescapable. Freedom seems hopeless as the scars threaten to resurface and bring a cloud of resentment.

Where do we find hope for real healing and the strength to forgive?

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God grieves with us when others harm us. He wants to help us lay down the burden those wounds have caused so that we can step forward in grace and freedom. It does not guarantee complete healing will come right away, but it does mean we can open ourselves to Christ’s work in our hearts, as he carries us through this valley one day at a time.

Two of the greatest burdens of hurtful words or actions are bitterness and guilt. They cause us to suddenly see ourselves differently, with a distorted perspective. Beneath the anger, we’re tempted to believe the negative remarks and question our worth. We blame ourselves for the wrongs others have done to us. After a while, the distortion becomes pervasive, and it can seep into other areas of our life.

Each time we choose to see ourselves through the lens of our wounds, we refuse the opportunity to look at ourselves through God’s eyes. No one else has the authority to define who you are. He created you. He says that you are made in his image (Genesis 1:27), redeemed and restored because of Christ (Galatians 4:4–5), co-heirs along with Christ (Romans 8:17), dearly loved (Romans 5:8), and valued beyond measure (Matthew 10:29–31). Whatever your story, the Lord of heaven and earth longs for you to see yourself in that light.

When we’ve been deeply wounded, we should not walk through these doorways of distortion into isolation. It is not shameful to ask for help from a fellow believer who will speak the truth to us. Allow them to remind you again that the offense against you wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t your fault. No one should have treated you that way. And God can be trusted with this hurt. You can bring every piece of your tattered heart and place it at his feet, knowing he feels the sting of this brokenness, trusting his perfect justice, and believing in his relentless desire to make you whole with his love.

The words people hurl at us are like destructive bricks flying in our direction. We cannot control if they will be thrown, and we cannot control how they will bruise us. But it is our choice to pick up those bricks and carry them with us, allowing them to weigh us down and multiply the harm they caused. Even one can become so overwhelming that it takes up precious space in our hearts that can no longer be filled with God’s fullness.

The wounds are real. The bricks are real. Each one represents a profound hurt that may be difficult to put down. Still, bitterness and guilt do not have to be part of the story any longer. We can choose to leave the bricks on the ground and halt the damage.

At times, carrying around the bricks feels easier because it creates the illusion of justified anger. But our anger will accomplish nothing except for devouring our hearts with a heavy weight that will keep us from experiencing the life and joy Christ desires for us. Faith and forgiveness are the only ways to lay down the burden.

In the beginning, the choice to forgive may only last a few moments before we find ourselves attempting to pick up the brick again. That’s why we have to make a continual commitment to forgive and entrust the situation to God — renewing that commitment each time bitter feelings, anxious thoughts, and ideas of worthlessness or revenge come creeping into our mind.

Wounds don’t heal overnight. Some of them burn off and on for years. Forgiveness is not an easy choice. But it will set us free.

When we’ve been hurt deeply, it’s difficult to see how we might have hurt others with our own words and actions. People who are wounded often lash out at others. We can help end the cycle by being kind and cautious as we interact with others. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Grace.

Our words should be full of grace toward others, even when they have harmed us or treated us wrongly. It’s tempting to sling cutting words right back at those who have hurt us, but grace brings more healing than vengeance. We are called to forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32), continually moving forward, and wishing no harm on others. If we have made that mistake, we should seek repentance and accept the grace given to each of us by Christ.

The road to laying down the burden of deep wounds might seem long and difficult. It may be hard to imagine finally letting go of something that has weighed you down for so long. But Christ longs to exchange our burdens for freedom. He wants to help us step out of the dark and bring healing to our heart.

Christ has so much more to offer us than the bricks we carry.