Culture

Every word has come at a cost

by Sara Koh // July 11, 2017, 5:20 pm

Writer's Compromise

I’ve always been a private person. Even in my pursuit of meaningful conversations, I avoid volunteering personal details about my life by being the one asking the questions.

The prospect of opening myself up to people is nerve-wracking. There’s a flavour of pain that is unique to honesty.

This is the writer’s compromise: Risking the pain that comes with shining a spotlight on the innermost parts of yourself to create something compellingWhen writing, I aim to be candid. Impact comes with unabashed honesty.

By writing on a public platform, I challenge and surrender my privacy, my sense of security. To lay out private experiences plainly for an anonymous audience is much more daunting than you’d imagine.

I’ve had to struggle between holding nothing back to connect better with readers and holding on to the security blanket of anonymity or vague descriptions.
Writing about personal struggles such as loneliness and depression took a lot out of me – but in some ways, it has been my God-given therapy.

When I first started writing for Thir.st, I was going through a very tumultuous season in life. I was beginning to feel the teeth of depression sinking into me, and I was (and still am) grappling with many issues regarding my identity and the purpose of my time here on this earth.

I questioned my place in this humble office and found it hard to believe that my words could be of value. I wondered if my stories would help others better understand who Christ is.

The prospect of opening myself up to people is nerve-wracking. There’s a flavour of pain that is unique to honesty.

Then came the discomfort. It was unnatural for me to be so transparent about my failings and struggles. It went against everything I was used to.

Was I revealing too much of myself to the world? How much should I be willing to put out on the line?

To write these stories, I was left with no choice but to dig deep. I was forced to first be honest with myself. How could I expect myself to overcome something when I didn’t even know what I was dealing with?

It was harder to lay out the more personal struggles in plain view of everyone – especially those I was still in the process of going through – but those were the stories where I felt a much deeper conviction. I had to write them.

And then I learnt why.

Each time I finally managed to birth a particularly difficult story, all these people came forward with messages of encouragement for me, telling me how the stories had impacted them. God, in His goodness, showed me that my writer’s compromise wasn’t a compromise at all.

It was a divine exchange, my pain for His blessings – not just for me, but for others as well.

In my catharsis – however uncomfortable – I was making room for God to do His work in me. I realised that by putting pen to (digitally) paper, I was asking Him to search me, to deal with all the hurts I’ve collected and to lead me on the road back Home (Psalms 139:23-24).

I’m more convinced than ever that God never wastes our pain. Even in our most torturous seasons, He finds a way to make it all the more glorious – more than we could imagine.

A bonus: In my efforts to make Christ famous in all the parts of life that I’ve put on full display, I’ve been blessed with the privilege of working with some amazing people – they’ve led me and worked tirelessly alongside me as I made my way towards reclaiming a rested and reignited heart.

I’m more convinced than ever that God never wastes our pain.

My hope is for everyone to be brave to share their stories, in whatever spheres of influence they may have, in whatever medium is available to you.

Your potential in making Christ known to the lives of those around you is just waiting to be realised. If and when you bravely say yes to being a living if imperfect vessel of His.

The stories of overcoming personal mountains in your life – and even those you’re still struggling to summit – can be used to demonstrate God’s move in your life.

By sharing about our experiences where we’ve seen God move, we breathe life into the potential that someone might encounter Jesus – all it takes is a moment of unadulterated courage.

We overcome by the blood of the Lamb – done on the Cross – and the testimony of the saints. That’s our part in the process.

We don’t have to be resigned to the circumstances we face in life; in every situation know that there is a space specifically reserved for God to move. Be aware of it, invite Him in and see Him show just how much He loves you.

Don’t waste your experiences. Make them count for something.


The thing about stories is that everyone has at least one good one to tell. If you’ve been wanting to put one of yours out there and you think it would help someone — starting with yourself — don’t be shy to introduce yourself in an email to hello@thir.st!

About the author

Sara Koh

Sara is inquisitive and a self-professed conversationalist. She hopes to learn something new with every interaction and also happens to enjoy writing about them.