You Have Nothing to Prove

Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard
Jennie Allen

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“The constant feeling that no matter how hard I try, I cannot be enough.”

You know a book has the potential to really wreck you, when you are looking at the cover already questioning the idea that is possible to NOT try so hard. This idea is so contrary to what I so often think and believe. I’m always trying to figure out ways that I can try harder. It’s in my nature. It’s who I am. Simultaneously, it plagues who I am and keeps who I am from actually living.

“I am not ________ enough.”

I remember uncovering this at my college ministry’s winter conference, Epic Anthology, my freshman year of college. The more I reflected on my life long walk with God, I realized how so much of my story was written with these words.

I remember sharing this visual as a youth leader, literally unpeeling the sticky notes of all of the traits I so easily grasped for and eventually revealing that I am actually not enough. In sending this message to teenagers who probably held some sort of idea that I had it all together, and to a group that I was constantly trying to prove my enough-ness to, I experienced the power in being transparent in my journey of letting Jesus be my “enough.”

“We strive to be seen, to be known, to matter.”

This could hold no more relevance to what I continue to struggle with. In my real life career, in my writing endeavors and passions, and in my relationships/friendships – I want to be seen, to be known, and to be matter. And, when I feel like any of these tenants are withering their way out of my hands, I feel a low grade anxiety that fizzles into panic the longer that I let it fester.

“Jesus is better than happy stories that work out perfectly.”

From my lengthiest memories dating back to childhood, I always felt like the stories that played out in my life fell short of a happy story that worked out perfectly. Although I got by, this falling short of perfection that my life seemed to have continued to nag at me. Why didn’t I have that picture perfect best friend that I could confide my adolescent years in? Why didn’t I have that picture perfect ugly duckling turning into beautiful swan story by the end of my high school years?

What I continue to see time and time again, is that I don’t need to have that picture perfect story. I don’t need to have a happy story where everything works out perfectly, because Jesus is better than all of that.

This is a truth that I am speaking to myself in depth today, as I battle what the future holds in these next months for Josh and I. This is a truth relevant to me each day as I wake up and wonder what the day will hold as a teacher – it certainly hasn’t been a perfect story working out perfectly like I had imagined. And you know what? That’s okay.

But, that’s so so so so so hard to believe.

This book spoke to me in ways that I am constantly trying to speak to myself.

Jennie’s words are the words of truth that myself and countless other people throughout the course of my life have been trying to tell me.

It was incredibly life-giving to have a book speak to me in a way of prose that my heart needed, and in a style that my literary brain is drawn to and appeals to.

The idea that I am not enough is indeed crushing at first, but freeing in my exploration of it. Jennie repeats the message of Jesus’ enough-ness on every page of the book, poignantly pointing to the cross with every word she speaks. Jesus is enough, so we don’t have to be.

This book is for the girl sitting on the sidelines, feeling invisible. It’s for the girl striving to be her best, but never actually being THE best at anything. It’s for the girl constantly trying to do better and be better, but never getting noticed. It’s for the man who feels like he doesn’t have enough ______ to support his family and be the leader, strength, and head that he is called to be. It’s for all of us who are clamoring to be heard, seen, recognized, significant, known — to matter.

I know this because I am this person. And if you’re being honest, you are probably this person too. 


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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The Top 5 Letters in My Alphabet

My February series was a doozy for me, but I keep thinking about how much  I learned about discipline in my writing from it. I’ve also been reflecting on what caught people’s eye the most.

Here are the most popular posts of the alphabet:

5. B is for Books – 4 Reasons to Pick Up a Book Right Now

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4. C is for Change – How to Make a Change Right This Second

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3. S is for Start – What You Need to Do Right No to Jump Start Your Passions

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2. F is for Faith – The Beginner’s Guide to Writing About Faith

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1. A is for Asian Americans – What You Need to Know About the Asian American Identity

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Which one of these stands out to you the most? How about in the rest of the series? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

S is for Start

You have to start somewhere, right? In this February series, I decided that I just needed to begin my blog. The fact of the matter, and this is something I’m been recently realizing about myself is this: I have a lot of dreams. I have a lot of passions and interests. I’m curious about a lot of things.

I’m most myself as a writer, I’m realizing. I thrived as a college student, particularly one that was enrolled in classes that required writing papers. The reason I ended up loving my college courses is because they required me to write. A lot. And although I didn’t realize it at the time, my ability to put words to paper. To fly my fingers across the keyboard and produce coherent thoughts.

This ability is more than just a convenient skill to have. This ability is one that makes me come alive. I got most excited about being a teacher when I began to write about it. I became most alive to myself when I was connecting through my writing. I could write for forever.

My parents always told me that I had the gift of “blah blah blah.” They told me that I had a way with words, and would even ask me to help them reword things they were writing themselves. I never had any issues being a writer. Yet, I never saw myself as a writer.

Nowhere in my writerly life did someone come to me and call me a writer. Therefore, as my adult interests have begun to expand and my experience as a teenage Xanga blogger resurfaced, I never dared call myself a writer.

As my passions have shifted and are coming out in different forms, it has taken a lot of bravery and mind tricks to finally call myself a writer. I am a writer because I write. And, just as I tell my 10 year old students, they are each writers because they write (or because I make them write, muahaha.) They may not believe me today or even this year. But, I want to gift them with this identity that I never dreamed to have.

Today, I write as a writer who is honing their voice. I don’t have a niche. I don’t have a focus. I am exploring. I am taking on different identities and trying out different topics. I don’t know what kind of writer I will become. But, I do know that I am indeed, a writer.

This is my start of writing more. Of publishing my writing even though it’s scary. Of not hoarding drafts upon drafts on my WordPress account or Google drive. Of sharing the writing that I have that is ever so personal and close to me.

The best way to become a writer is to start. And, the best way to find out the kind of writer I am, is to start.

So, here is my start.

What do you need to start?

M is for Marriage

I wrote this list when Josh and I were engaged. We had been thinking, reading, and talking a lot about how to “prepare” for our marriage. After awhile of talking about something for so much, there’s nothing else to say and there comes a time where you just have to walk through it.

After almost two years have passed, I see that these ideas are more true than I realized at the time. Here they are:

Things I thought I learned about marriage before it even started, but are still true today:
  1. Getting married doesn’t mean you have arrived. *girl tells story about problems in dating* “And look at us now, we’re married! So it all worked out!!!” ………No. Getting married does not make you a success story and it does not mean that you have arrived. It’s just the beginning. Marriage isn’t a trophy you tote around to talk about your success and victory in dating. No.
  2. Your past sin is not going to ruin your marriage. Maybe this one has a caveat. It won’t ruin your marriage…unless you let it. If it hasn’t been dealt with and brought into the light, then yes. If there is unforgiveness, then yes. I get where the idea that it’s going to doom your marriage would come from. But, just because it existed, that doesn’t mean that your marriage will suffer. There is healing. There is redemption. Jesus didn’t command purity so that when we failed he could use our failure to withhold good from us in the future. He commanded purity because it is for our good.
  3. Getting married doesn’t mean you have to have it all together. I’ve had this idea of what I would be like and what my husband would be like when we got married. It included perfection, an absence of sin, unwavering understanding of each other, and unattainable levels of maturity. That’s not reality. Our problems won’t be solved just because we get married. It isn’t some magical fairy land where the world stops and all your problems go away. Life goes on and the world keeps moving.

On this Valentine’s Day, Josh and I spent time thinking about our marriage and what it means. It’s crazy that tomorrow we are are speaking to college students about marriage. I hesitated to sign onto this because I just feel so beginner. Our marriage is in its’ beginnings still, we are finding our footing, and we are learning a lot.

I hope that we never stop learning a lot.

Through it all, I’m thankful for the parallel of Christ and the Church and a husband and wife. I’m thankful that the redemption that is easily seen in marriage, and for the joy it is to journey in the ups and downs with my favorite friend, partner, and husband.

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I’m thankful for this guy and for everything that makes him who he is. Thanks for making me smile this hard every single day. This one’s for you, Josh. I love you so much.

F is for Faith

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I honestly haven’t written about my faith in a long time. I’m not sure why.

I used to write about it a lot. I used to lead in faith-based organizations in ways that I don’t do anymore. The way I lead used to lead me to write a lot about my own faith. About the ways that the Word of God had been changing me. I haven’t done this as much. And, it’s not for a lack of leading or reading. 

In thinking more about who I am as a writer, I want to take care with which I post about faith. I don’t want to be seen waving a flag that my life doesn’t represent. I don’t want to be braggy or show off. I don’t want to be self righteous or proud. And if we’re being honest, it’s hard for me not to sound that way when putting my faith on public display. 

At the same time, I wonder if these cautions come at a cost. I think that there is power in sharing about one’s faith. There is understanding to be met amongst varying belief systems. There is power in encouraging others with the same beliefs.

I wonder about how much of my silence on my faith in my writing on this blog is helping or hurting. I want to reach a wide audience. I want this to be a place that is welcoming to people of any belief. And, I want this to a safe space.

At the same time, I want to be authentic. Authenticity breeds authenticity. And, if I’m truly being transparent and authentic about who I am, then I would most definitely write of my faith. My faith permeates to all that I think, see, believe, and do. Any writing that I have comes through faith and anything that I share has certainly been effected by my faith.

My faith in God is essential to my being. Jesus as my Savior and all that this means for how I love and live is the essence of who I am. There is no Meagan without Jesus being the pinnacle of my stories. I believe that Jesus is in every single one of the stories that I’ve written. Even the silly ones about my dog or my books, I think Jesus is in each of those.

The question lies in how to be authentic about my identity as a Christian, while still speaking inclusively to a diverse audience. 

How do you handle this in your writing? In your relationships? In your life?