Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Writing through Pain by Matt Patterson

Have you ever found yourself too overwhelmed to write? Life can throw all sorts of things at us: pain, heartache, depression, grief, sickness, etc. But if we are called to write, God can use those things to help us in our writing. Author Matt Patterson tells us about his own personal journey through grief to writing a message of hope.
~ Angie

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

God says He always uses our pain, failures and scars to make us more effective in ministry. As I approach a new year with a recently completed book aimed at helping others, I ask myself a simple, but strong question.

How do I see Him using my pain to make me more effective in my ministry of writing?

For me, it started with a newspaper column that was going to be very difficult, yet very special to write. It was our first daughter’s birthday. I wanted to relay in this column how much she had taught and touched me in what seemed to be a very short time here on earth. This column was about my two-year-old daughter Emily, who about two years prior, had passed away after a brave battle with leukemia. Emily was also born with Down syndrome.

This column – as short as it could be – walked readers through her birth and eventual death. It told them of our shock and dismay at hearing words like Down syndrome and leukemia.

It was short.

It was sad.

It was touching and a tribute.

Nearly 20 years later, I find it was a release and that God turned my tragedy into blessing and grief into mission.

My Emily is my story of pain. This book is my small effort to help families who have special needs children, little ones battling cancer or those heartbroken parents who have lost a child. Writing continues to be a source of comfort for me. It’s an opportunity to help or touch someone – mothers, fathers, as well as writers.

Many of us have similar stories to tell. Painful stories.

The Bible tells us to, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

It’s my desire to share testimony that God uses our talents, gifts and pain to help others. In Ecclesiastes it reads, “Two are better than one … If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” My Emily is my tool to reach down and help others up.

In between baking cookies, wrapping gifts and mailing out Christmas cards, some of us are going to sit down and begin to plan our writing for the coming year. I ask each of you to remember one simple step in this process.

Pray over your work.

Pray over your plans.

I testify that when we bow our heads and pray over our work, He will guide our hearts and minds to deliver messages that will indeed help others up.

Matt Patterson is the author of My Emily and an award-winning communications professional. His two-plus decades of experience include public and media relations, as well as print and broadcast journalism. He volunteers his time to helping organizations and charities dedicated to assisting families with children who have special needs or those battling pediatric cancers. He resides in Arizona with his wife and two daughters.

To purchase My Emily, click here.


  1. Angie, thanks for bringing us Matt's story. My road to writing began after the death of my first wife, and included a book, The Tender Scar, about the loss of a spouse. Just as in Matt's case, God has used that terrible event to minister to others. For your readers who are considering "publishing the pain," I'd encourage it. If no one reads what you write except you, that may be all God has in mind. If it blesses others, consider it a bonus.

  2. Thanks, Matt, for such a wonderful post. I really enjoyed reading My Emily. Such a touching, inspiring book - she must have given you so much joy in her short life. Praying for you and your family this Christmas.

  3. Thanks for this post. My book Into the Mist:Journey Into Dementia was written out of such deep pain, yet was cathartic in my healing process. Writing from the pain becomes living water which continues to flow long after the event into life after life. My publisher said to me, "Thanks for not wasting your pain." That says it all.

  4. What a powerful testimony, Matt! Thanks for sharing My Emily with us. And thanks for the gentle reminder to pray over our work, that not only will we lift up God, but encourage others as well. Enjoy a Son-filled season, my friends.

  5. No, thank YOU Angie. I have been blessed by you, Dawn, Ocieanna and Annette by finding Seriously Write. It's amazing how He allows paths to cross. Blessings to each of you this wonderful time of the year.

  6. Richard, your comment, "If no one reads what you write except you, that may be all God has in mind." I so needed to hear that today. Thank you so much!

  7. Kathleen - I agree with your publisher - "Thanks for not wasting your pain." I lost my mother in June to vascular dementia - and I so appreciate your wisdom and willingness to share. Blessings to you this Christmas season.

  8. Dora - Something so simple - praying over our work - can be so difficult to remember to do. I often close my laptop in my work area as my reminder. Thank you for encouraging others! Have a wonderful Christmas.

  9. Matt, thanks for sharing your story! As writers, we can sometimes be afraid of going into that painful place, yet when we do ... God can use it to bless people in so many ways. People relate to vulnerability, and who better to share hope than those who have lived through tragedy or tough times and not only survived, but come out of it victorious? :-D

  10. Dawn - Thank you for your kind words. It's so wonderful how cross paths with others here on this crazy thing called the internet, facebook, twitter - you name it! But thank you so very much! Angie has been such a wonderful influence these past couple weeks. Blessed to know you both.


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