Sometimes we just need the nudge. I pray my stories are that nudge.

He’s the man on the street corner covered in filth and so drunk he can’t stand straight.

She’s the woman with seven kids, each with different fathers, sitting at home, angry and defensive.

He’s the kid who dropped out of high school and spends his time splattering graffiti all over the city’s buildings.

Angry. Defiant. Destructive.

People many of us go out of our way to avoid.

But if we would but take the time to draw near, to engage, we’d begin to see those angry, self-destructive individuals are deeply, deeply wounded.

Because everyone has a story. That drunken man on the street corner? He was taken from his mom and placed in the system, stuck in a group home for boys.

The woman with the seven kids? She was sexually abused as a kid and learned it was easier, less painful, to give her body away than to have it taken from her.

The kid who dropped out of high school was beaten down, physically and emotional, so many times, he quit trying.

Beyond-I-Do-cover-jennifer-slatteryThere’s a song I love, one I listen to often and that I hope trickles into every story I write. It’s called “Love Me” by JJ Heller, and it begins with a story of a little boy, a scared and lonely child, who cries in a corner begging God to send him someone who will love him. The song ends with a man waiting to die in a jail cell who also cries out to God. I believe this man is the child the song opens with, now grown.

Decades of hurt and poor choices later, broken and in need of a Savior, he hears God reply telling the man he knows what he’s done but also knows of every wound the man suffered throughout his life.

God then responds by telling this man of His deep and unwavering love.

I listen to this song often and pray that the words would stay with me and that the message conveyed in them would be seen in everything I write.

As I said, everyone has a story. My goal is to reveal these stories so that we, the body of Christ, would develop the habit of looking past the behaviors and defense mechanisms, like Jesus does, and allow God to use us as instruments of healing and grace.

Because grace, once received, changes everything.

That is why I write. Through fiction, readers can be touched in a deep and lasting way. When reading, not only do they begin to understand the character’s hurts and motivations, but they become so immersed, they forget they’re reading and become the character’s crafted on each page.

As this happens, judgment fades and empathy grows, an empathy so strong it moves the reader to action. At least, this is my goal and prayer.

As the reader begins to serve, to live on mission and dive deep into the lives of the broken, her understanding and empathy grows because they begin to hear the stories—of rejection, betrayal, and deep, deep hurt, firsthand.

They begin to see what our Savior sees every day. But more than that, as they surrender to His eternal, grace-saturated mission, they begin to feel His incomprehensible, all-consuming, never-ending love flowing through them.

And that, I believe, is where abundant love is found.

Again, this is why I write because I believe we, the church, truly are the hands and feet of God. I also believe at our redeemed core, we long to be part of God’s mission, to reach out to our severely broken world, pointing others to Christ’s life-changing truth.

Sometimes we just need the nudge. I pray my stories are that nudge.