Colleen Chao – Writer, Survivor, Encourager of Women.
At 18 years old, Colleen Elizabeth Chao had the world on a string. She could sing and speak to large crowds. She’d earned public accolades for her writing. She had endless energy, a hard work ethic, and friends in high places.
And she loved Jesus. She wanted to use all her strengths and giftings to tell the world about him.
So never in a million years could she have imagined what lay before her: she would spend two decades in the deep waters of anxiety and depression, marry late, suffer years of chronic pain and illness, give birth to a child with health complications, walk through crushing private sorrows, and one day hear those life-altering words,
“You have cancer.” And then a few years later—
“The cancer is back. Stage four. Terminal.”
Suffering on its own would have wrecked her. Dark days can poison the soul and rot the bones. But in the hands of a fiercely tender God, suffering has slowly freed me, opened Colleen’s eyes to see eternal realities more clearly, and worked in her inexplicable joy. With each new pain and sorrow, she has come to love and believe Jesus more.
Now, as she looks over her shoulder at almost three decades ago—back to that 18-year-old version of herself—she realizes she was a lot like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. (C.S. Lewis)
Colleen’s girlish dreams weren’t bad in and of themselves, but they were so full of her, and so opposed to hardship. They were “muddy kid stuff” compared to what God had dreamed up for her—a life of daring love, unbreakable joy, and deeply meaningful work.
And yet, there are still times she beats a path back to that slum, to sit in the mud, forgetful that “apart from God, I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:2).
So Colleen writes in order to remember.
Her website is where she looks at the beauty of suffering in light of God’s goodness, and she points herself (and her readers) back to the Only One who can turn our bitter griefs into breathtaking gifts.
Learn more about Colleen’s story and journey here.