Healing Through Storytelling

“Jesus Christ sanctifies storytelling because He teaches us most of His most powerful lessons through the power of stories.”

Author Joseph Pearce said this in a recent episode of the Christ Stefanick Show, and his words resonated with me, especially as a writer, because they’re very true.

Most stories I consume, no matter the medium, teach me something about the world, myself, or the Truth. They show me different perspectives, choices, and consequences. A good story makes me empathize, question, and think. The best stories make me hope, hurt, love, and sometimes even help me heal (especially stories of saints!).

And it’s not just the stories I consume, but those I write, too. So hearing storytelling explained so beautifully increased my gratitude for this difficult but rewarding vocation of writing. There are definitely tough days when I want to throw in the towel, but more often co-creating with Our Lord is beautiful and cathartic.

When God and I tell stories together, He walks with me as I sort through my emotions and internal debates. Writing, for example, about a weak girl who runs away out of fear, abandoning her family when they need her, helps me write about my weaknesses from an outsider’s view. I can express her pain and shame, which is ultimately mine, without hiding anything.

Storytelling, specifically through fiction, gives me an opportunity to be vulnerable and honest about myself and my struggles without fear.

Yes, I write so others can read my words, and that is terrifying, but putting that space between myself and my emotions or reflections makes it easier to express them. I don’t fear my brokenness as much, if that makes sense. I don’t run from my weaknesses but towards them.

Storytelling gives me a safe avenue to unearth the wounded parts of my heart and face them so that I, or more accurately, so that God can begin to heal them.

One of the ways I do this is by creating broken characters. My flawed protagonists become vessels for me to explore a fear, a weakness, a question, or to just poke fun at my own imperfections.

More than anything, though, I like writing broken characters so I can write their growth. I like telling of their redemption and forgiveness from others and themselves. Because storytelling isn’t just about expressing hardships or penning all our brokenness for the world to see. It’s also about acknowledging blessings and triumphs.

Some of my favorite moments in stories are when the heroes overcome the struggles and win. They’ve gone through the worst. They’re angry, scarred, afraid, tired. For a moment maybe they even think of giving up.

They’ve fallen over and over. But when all seems lost they still choose to rise.

Through the strength and support of their loved ones or their persevering hope, they continue fighting and win!

Those scenes might be the most rewarding to write. Because it’s not enough to write about darkness. The true healing comes from writing about the light that overcomes it. The Light that has overcome all the sorrows and pains of our world.

The true healing comes from writing about the light that overcomes it. The Light that has overcome all the sorrows and pains of our world.

citlalin ossio

This is even true of my nonfiction work. While it’s far easier to be raw through a fictional character than in something real, like these blogs, I still try to be as honest as possible, sharing some of my less shiny moments so I can praise God through my witness of His healing Love and Mercy.

I do have my limits to what I will or won’t share, but since I pray on these blogs, I trust that if God is calling me to talk about certain experiences it’s safe, it’s for my own healing, and that He will be walking with me at every step.

And that’s the best thing about storytelling—we’re not alone. When we tell stories, we’re co-creators with Our Lord, which even makes it a little less scary. We know He will be there to pull us back and to comfort us when we’ve gone too far and to celebrate with us when we begin to heal.

Joseph Pearce actually commented on this, too, in his chat, saying, “the most powerful lesson [Jesus] teaches us [is] by being in the story Himself.” And that is so comforting and encouraging.

Through writing, God also heals me by teaching me virtues, like patience, diligence, humility, and how to trust in Him even more.

There are days when I don’t want to write, either because I’m too lazy and want to watch my dramas or anime or because I’m scared of failure or of not writing perfectly. After years of struggling with these problems (and giving in to them) I’m finally learning to surrender them to God.

I’m learning to show up as weak, afraid, and unworthy as I am, and to ask God to still use me and lead me through the uncertainty that is a blank page. I’m learning to accept I’m not the best and to embrace a messy, imperfect work in progress (kind of like me, now that I think about it!) and to trust God will still bring fruit from my efforts. I’m learning that even if in two hours 100 words is all I can muster, that’s more than enough to celebrate. Because I’ve done what I was called to do when God “knit me in my mother’s womb.” (Ps 139:13)

If I’m being honest, the reason I’m finally embracing storytelling with this mentality is because of how poorly I committed to it in 2022. I didn’t take writing seriously last year and it showed.

I see writing as a form of prayer, and not doing it for weeks at a time took its toll on my soul. I felt distanced from God when I didn’t write consistently, which affected other aspects of my life. Thankfully He still didn’t give up on me but picked me back up, dusted me off, and told me to try again. I’m really grateful for this second (third? fourth? I’ve lost count) chance and I want to do my best this time so that I don’t go through that despair again.

So this year I only have one big goal—write 100,000 words (not in a single project but total over multiple months)… which I’ve never done before. So I welcome and appreciate any prayers to keep me motivated.

This is, more than anything, to give me a long-term goal so I can practice diligence. But it’s also a goal that gives me freedom. I can work on any fiction projects I want to meet that word count. I’ll worry about finishing projects, especially longer ones, later. I think right now I need to focus on the basics.

I really do believe writing is one of the avenues God wishes to use to draw me closer to Him day by day, word by word. So I hope I get to keep healing through storytelling for a long time, and I look forward to the stories God and I work on together.

About Author

Citlalin Ossio is an avid fantasy writer and reader, whose work is heavily inspired by her Catholic faith, her Mexican heritage, and Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda. Her fantasy short stories have been featured in various anthologies, and one, She Has No Voice, won second place in the Prose category for Rehumanize International’s 2021 Create | Encounter. She is a joyful single living in Texas with her family and enjoys creating art, playing video games, and watching anime and Korean dramas. When she’s not writing or spending time with her loved ones she’s on Instagram @citlalinossio, or dreaming about raising a panda army.

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