Monday, March 12, 2018

Encouragement for the Downtrodden

by Peter Leavell @peterleavell

I pointed to one of my friend’s books and said, “This one is my favorite.”

“Really? Why? It’s not my bestseller.” Her attention turned from potential customers to me.

“I never read for entertainment.” I picked up the book and ran my finger across the pages to feel the slight breeze against my palm. “Well, hardly. I’m always looking for the takeaway. And this,” I said, holding up her own book in front of her face, “Is your heart. I can tell. I learned something, first about you. And next about myself.” I set the book back on the pile.

Her face reddened. “It was a hard time in my life, and I’m just now able to talk about it.” She glanced into my eyes searching. I guessed she was looking for the condemnation I didn’t feel. “He hurt me. And I’m now coming to terms with the fact that it wasn’t my fault.”

I wanted to know more about specifics, and wondered if I was close enough friends to push. 

She decided for me. “He made me believe all our problems were my fault.” Her eyes misted, but she managed to hold back the tears. “I’m coming to terms with how a person like that manipulates those around him.”

“You taught me how a male acquaintance can deal with a man like that.” I purposefully turned to the side, hoping to be less threatening as I ‘mansplained’ what I'd learned. I condensed my thoughts into a concise little speech, about thirty seconds.

“Thank you,” she whispered. She'd taken a step toward me. “Sometimes, I wonder, if… well, you know.”

“I didn’t. But I know now.”

I hope she walked away with validation. Maybe a bit of encouragement. It’s hard to write deep issues these days. Many readers want to escape their problems and don't care for characters with brutal heartaches.

I know a writer who rents a hotel room for seven days, writes her novel using characters made up on the spot, and ships it off to editors to rewrite and edit. Sometimes the novel hits the best seller list. Sometimes it just sells well.

I’m not talking about her now.

I’m reaching out to authors whose relationships and lives have been destroyed, and when they have a bit of a pulse again, hold out their fragile but wiser heart and show the world.

They write as the Bible was written, not as a list of doctrines or a study of abstract Theology, but a story of God and his love for His creation. Of our rejection of Him and His forgiveness. Of Truth.

These authors have a handful of readers.

(Publishers frown when writers only have a handful of readers.)

Life is suffering. We can try to escape, creating counter facts not quite reflecting reality, or we can grow. And as we change through suffering and embrace Christ—as we mature through our pain—a part of us dies and the rest grows stronger. Frightening. Maybe we’d rather stay the same and not change.

Suffering is real. But human beings are at their best when immersed in something challenging. 

Writer, your calling is so rare, so unique as to demand your very best. You’re always training. For writing. And for life.

So, we take the time to do this one thing exceptionally well. We write our pain, knowing our readers can never exhaust the story’s wisdom.

To you, writer, I tell you, your journey is made easier through relationships and wisdom. Long for Christ. Find other writers who search for Christ’s face. Read everything you can get your hands on. Throw out the mediocre and the bad. Share the best.

My friends. Broken hearts are mendable. Know you’re loved, and as you close your eyes and listen for the sound of your name being whispered by Christ, remember the moment.

And when you write your story, know that there will be a handful of readers who own a copy of your book, the pages worn, the ink tired, the spine bent. But the story is alive and fresh. Because they never exhaust your story's wisdom.

And there, my friends, lies true joy. Not the happiness of commercial success, but true felicity when touching lives with the light of Christ.


Human beings are at their best when immersed in something challenging. #writerslife

Writer, your calling is so rare, so unique as to demand your very best. Here's why... #writerslife

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at

Siblings Josh and Abby Hunter don’t believe their parents’ death was an
accident. After taking pictures of the most incredible find of the 1920’s—proof humans and dinosaurs lived together in the same time and place—desperate outlaws armed with tommy guns are on their tail! Only Josh and Abby know where the proof is hidden—in the canyons of Arizona’s desert. When an intruder searches Josh and Abby’s bags inside their new home, the two convince their uncle Dr. David Hunter to return to the canyon and find the pictures they’d hidden. But the outlaws are just as eager to find the proof before Josh and Abby. Can Josh use his super-smart brain to outfox the villains in time? Will Abby’s incredible physical abilities stop full-grown men? And will their uncle believe them? 

Dino Hunters is an apologetics-adventure series aimed at the middle reader to help them trust the Bible from the very first verse.


  1. Thanks for this encouragement, Peter! So well expressed. I have a guess about your mystery author, and if I'm correct, I respect her all the more for her transparency in the book you mentioned. Books become treasures when readers relate. So good. Thank you for this post.

    1. It's so hard to put your heart out there, you know? So many brave people...

  2. Thanks, Peter! I needed your encouraging words this morning.

  3. "And there, my friends, lies true joy. Not the happiness of commercial success, but true felicity when touching lives with the light of Christ."
    Thank you for this blog post, Peter -- and for those words. Such a needed reminder.

  4. Love your closing statement, Peter! "There, my friends, lies true joy. Not the happiness of commercial success, but true felicity when touching lives with the light of Christ." That is EXACTLY how I feel about my writing, too!


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