Many times, a testimony is when God shows up in the darkest hour and saves someone from some pretty dire circumstances. It is always a great God Story when good wins over evil, but in telling the story, sometimes the victim mentality sneaks in and tries to steal the power of your testimony.
3 ways to present your testimony without sounding like a victim:
1. Use creative ways to describe just the facts and the situation
Using literary techniques such as humor, exaggeration, dialogue, and intriguing imagery is a great way to paint the picture of what is happening – help to immerse the reader into the scene.
Instead of telling your readers “my uncle was an angry drunk,” describe the scene and the interaction of the characters The example below uses intriguing imagery to draw the reader into the story.
I knew my grandma’s clock was about to chime 7 times because I could hear the door fly open and hit the wall. My uncle’s routine was like clockwork. He got off work at 5, went to the local pub, and staggered home by 7. I scurried to turn the TV to Copsto avoid him yelling at me for watching my “stupid show.” I didn’t move fast enough because as he entered the family room he yelled, “You lazy piece of crap. Why are you laying around here watching TV when my sister, the one who gave birth to you, is slaving over the hot stove. Get out of my face.”
Earlier I had asked mom if she needed any help, she said no; but I knew better than to try and explain that to him. Then the clock began to chime.
In the second example, your reader can experience the scene. They draw their own relationship to the uncle, the boy, and even to the mom.
2. Don’t tell your readers how to feel
Let your readers make up their own mind about the situation and the players in the story. Immaculée Ilibagiza shows an excellent example of this in her book Left to Tell: Discovering God Admist the Rwandan Holocaust. She vividly describes her God Story of how He brought her through the Rwandan Holocaust. Immaculée never told the reader how to feel about her situation or feel about either side of the civil war that was raging in Rwanda. She told her story from her perspective. Her writing let the reader draw their own conclusions and let personal feelings well up inside the reader.
This allows your reader to relate to your testimony in their own way and allows them to have their own feelings about it. They may have a similar testimony but played the role that you would label “the bad guy.” If you tell them how to feel about that player, they may just walk away, missing any insight the story could have on their own life.
3. Work out forgiveness in your heart
I remember when I was still an emotional wreck and very raw from my divorce. Anything I said or wrote about the situation oozed with bitterness, anger, resentment, and hurt. It wasn’t until I began to forgive both of us for the pain of our relationship that I was able to write about it from a place of overcomer and not victim. I had to ask myself, What was my part? How did I play into this situation? What did I choose? How did I react?
I do understand that unfortunate situations happen upon people that they didn’t choose. It could be a child that was born into an abusive home, or someone being hit by a drunk driver; still, the best way to convey the story without the anger and bitterness is to walk first in forgiveness. First of all, forgiveness will help you heal from your trial. Ask God for help in doing this.
A great test to your level of forgiveness is to write out your story and read it outloud. You can even record yourself reading it and then listen to the recording. Ask God to show you if and where you are still harboring resentment. You can pinpoint these areas where you hear a bitterness or resentment in your voice.
Showing forgiveness to whoever caused the pain, whether it is yourself or someone else, is a very powerful element to a moving testimonial.
The Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 20:4, For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory. (ESV) Your testimony is the war story that God has given you to tell to bring Him glory; therefore we need to tell it as the victor, not a victim.