#TellHisStory Featured Writer: Michelle DeRusha

May 14, 2013 | 17 comments


During 2013, dozens of talented writers are joining me to cheer you on in your storytelling. These guest-writers will share a few helpful words with you right here every Tuesday night, to encourage you as you #TellHisStory. (Come back after midnight Wednesday to link up your God Story by clicking here. You are free to share ANY story that God lays on your heart.)

And now, I’m delighted to introduce you to my good friend and a very talented author, Michelle DeRusha.

Tell the Truth as You Understand It

I keep a quote by writer Anne Lamott front and center on my desk that says this:

“Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don’t worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it.”

I’ve probably re-read that quote 400 times. I read it when I’m afraid, when I want to write the easy way out of a story.

Every time I’m inclined to sugarcoat a story, or avoid one altogether, I know it’s because I am afraid. Because I want people to like me rather than really know me. Because I want them to see a more perfect version of the real me. Because I am ashamed of my flaws and my ugly.

When I re-read Anne Lamott’s quote, I’m reminded for the umpteenth time that we all need to read real stories because they are universal, and because they tell us something about ourselves that we might not know, or that we might be avoiding, or that we might need to celebrate and love, rather than hide.

And so I begin again, to tell the truth as I understand it.

Michelle’s first two books – 50 Women Every Christian Should Know (Baker Books) andSpiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Doubt and Faith (WaterBrook Multnomah) – will be published in 2014. You can read Michelle’s blog here, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 Have you experienced a time when you “risked being unliked” for the sake of telling a story that needed to be told? How hard is it to be vulnerable in your stories? And can people go too far?

by | May 14, 2013 | 17 comments


  1. 3dLessons4Life

    This is why I have Michelle’s blog up front and center in my Feedly feed. Her vulnerability and honesty get me every time.

  2. Jean Wise

    It’s in the honesty and realness we connect with one another. Michelle’s blogs is wonderful and I can’t wait to buy her books!

  3. lschontos

    You do this do well Michelle. It is the reason I connect so easily with your stories. I am cheering you on and can’t wait to read your books

    • Michelle DeRusha (@MichelleDeRusha)

      Like Jean said, it’s in the honesty and authenticity that real connection is made – I believe that and try to write by that principle.

      Thank you, Linda, for all your encouragement and support. I truly appreciate it!

    • dukeslee

      It’s hard to do, isn’t it? But our vulnerability is the connecting point, the open doors between two hearts. I learn from Michelle. She does it so well.

  4. wendypainemiller

    I feel like I take that risk every time I hit publish on a blog post. But it’s become less of a risk in time or at least I see it as less of one. Not so much because what I’m writing is less risky, but b/c my perspective has changed.

    Funny thing about this quote–the one vlog I attempted has turned into a great comedy for my girls. They watch it and laugh and mimic it. I share this same Lamott quote in it. For various reasons I never put it out there. But I still love the quote & I love you, Michelle.

    • Michelle DeRusha (@MichelleDeRusha)

      Interesting perspective, Wendy. I can see what you’re saying. In some ways it has felt less risky over time. But then, there are some days when I really have to stretch myself, take a deep breath and hit publish. Over at my place today is one of those days – this subject is close to my heart and I feel strongly about it, but I was still afraid to say what I really felt.

      Love your story about the vlog. I have never attempted one! A bit of a scaredy cat on that one …

    • dukeslee

      Wendy, I feel that risk with blog posts, too. The book I finished a few months ago was especially hard, and then again, as we’re in the midst of edits. I keep swallowing down my fear at all those points in the manuscript where I feel like I’ve opened up my crazy little mind a bit too far. But those are the very points where readers say they connect the most. Go figure.

  5. Janis Cox

    If we aren’t vulnerable and can’t tell the real truth then we are putting on masks. We are all learning – to get closer to Christ. As children we make mistakes, do hurtful things but we learn to say we are sorry and get up and try again.
    I love reading your posts as well.
    Many blessings,
    Janis http://www.janiscox.com I care – because He cares for Us.

    • Michelle DeRusha (@MichelleDeRusha)

      I’m feeling especially vulnerable today, Janis, with a hard post on my blog. But I am trying to live by these words by Anne Lamott, and sometimes, like she says, that means to risk being unliked. Thank you for your kindness and encouragement!

  6. Megan Willome (@meganwillome)

    I was listening to Anne Lamott this morning on an old episode of “This American Life” (“Music Lessons,” if you’re interested). In the story, she does everything in that quote.

  7. Dolly@Soulstops

    Hi Michelle,
    Great advice…love Anne L. and CONGRATS on your two books 🙂


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