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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Z is for Zest

Zest: an enjoyable exciting quality.

What does it even mean to have a zest for life?

I’m not sure. But, in writing diligently and expansively and purposefully on this series, I am beginning to see that I can have a zest for life even when all of my days don’t necessarily give me space to do that. I can feel a zest for life when doing things that cause me to wake myself to life.

It’s bittersweet that this series has come to an end. What I thought to be a daunting task was both a great discipline and joy for me in the past month. I’ve realized that without changing any circumstances, having a zest for life is a quality that I can grow and cultivate all on my own.

Here are some highlights from the journey.

10 things I liked about writing and publishing everyday:
  1. The deadline got me going. Without the pressure of a daily deadline, I don’t actually write much of anything. If I didn’t have a post planned for that day, my fingers got flying and my head got a bit more centered as I tried to come up with SOMETHING.
  2. I liked that I had something to look forward to throughout the day. Not that stats and feedback fuel me, but it was cool to see my blog have more activity throughout the day and to have something to look at it and towards gave me a reprieve from my daily grind.
  3. The exposure that I gave myself through my social media channels like Instagram and Twitter made people around me know what I was doing. I appreciated the people who mentioned to me in person that they had been reading my blog and even reference certain points.
  4. Following up on that, I liked that I was able to share more of myself with people close to me. The people close enough to me to pay attention to what I was doing showed me that they care about this small passion project and dream of mine.
  5. I realized that not many people are watching closely enough to be ready to pounce on my ideas and get me down. Nobody is actually out to get me. And, maybe there is pride of self-importance present in thinking that other people would be thinking that much about me to hate on me.
  6. Meeting my writing goals each day gave me a sense of accomplishment. I really felt my own progress as a writer and as a blogger through this process.
  7. The confidence that I grew throughout this month is significant. I feel more established as a writer and blogger. The more that I posted things, the more my bravery and courage was built up.
  8. Going through the alphabet wasn’t as cumbersome as I thought, it was actually helpful. It gave me topics to write about that I probably wouldn’t have thought to write about. It brought back things from the past that I could press into that I wouldn’t have really felt like approaching if I had just been focused on writing the present.
  9. I see that there’s different types of writing and it’s okay to have different purposes. For example, journaling may be for the purpose of self reflection, self care, and processing. Writing for a blog is for the purpose of sharing, connecting, informing, or encouraging. It’s okay for my writing to not always be for own processes. It’s a new way to approach writing, though, as I’ve almost always written for myself.
  10. Making a series gave me a guideline to follow along with. But, it also gave my readers something to follow along with and to expect from me.

So, there you have it! Thank YOU for following along this journey and giving me the gift of your time and readership. Can’t wait to show you (and myself) what I have in store for MARCH! See you then! 🙂

Y is for You

I’ve been so excited for this one all month long. I want to talk about you for a second. Whoever you are, I’m not sure. But, I do want to know who you are. You are important.

My dreams for this space are about you. I want you to breathe a sigh of relief when you happen upon these stories. I want your story to be given light and the justice it deserves. I want you to feel empowered to go out and do justice. I want you to feel enlightened as you read the stories of a diverse group of people, and that this would spark understanding and varying levels of reconciliation amongst racial groups or political groups. I want you to feel heard in your struggle, and validated that you are not alone. The only way this blog is about me is that I’m writing it, but mostly I want it to be about you.

I’m still trying to figure out who you are. But, what I do know, is that in you reading and scoping through words of the internet, you are someone who is thoughtful, kind, and empathetic. You are someone who wants more than just to go to work, watch TV, get married, repeat, and then die. You are someone who wants purpose in your days, and in your life.

You want to do justice and seek mercy and walk humbly. And even if you don’t believe in the book those words just came from, and even if you never do, you are someone who wants to do that anyway.

You are a reader. Maybe you are a reader of tons of books, or no books at all. Maybe you are a reader of blogs and the internet. Maybe you don’t read much at all, but just so happen to be reading this. Whatever it is, you are a reader. You are a reader who takes the time to slow down and to think. To really consider who you are, your strengths, and what you can do.

So, thank you for being you. In all of your complexities, uniqueness, and struggle. Thank you for bringing your true self to these stories and reading to connect and to think. You are thoughtful, insightful, and engaging.

I’m thankful for you, dear reader. You are giving me the gift of having a reader. You are allowing all of us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. And for that, my heart is thankful.


Please tell me who you are and maybe even share your story!

I would also love to feature some your stories relating to justice and identity. Please fill out all sections of this form if you are interested.

W is for Words

Words come slowly sometimes, and sometimes you have to let that happen. I can’t expect myself to crank out words on demand. They will come to me when they’re ready. Sometimes you can’t demand them to come two weeks before the deadline, and sometimes you have to wait until the night before your writing assignment is due to realize what you have meant to say all along.

Words come when they need to, often with a deep pounding of my heart, a tension in my shoulders, and a chill that run from my lungs to my mouth. My body steadies as my fingers race across the keyboard, desperate to record the words on the page before they run out or run away.

The real, true, good words that I need to come out of me will always come. But, not always (or ever!) right away. They come after I wrestle with others words that I force to come out of me. They come after I’ve sat through this struggle.

And, when the words come, they flow. Like an overflowing lava pit of feelings and insight. Like the swift overflow of tears that come upon you after you watch a sweet, sweet video of reunion and love. These words come quickly and swiftly and it’s a joy to be a writer in these moments.

It’s a gift to be a writer in these moments.

It’s a privilege to be a writer in these moments.

I never knew myself to be a writer until I realized that these moments come. They always come. I will them to come and they don’t. I pray for them to come, and they don’t. At least, not right away.

But, eventually, they do come. And all is okay. And the struggle was worth it. And posting something that I didn’t love writing or reading was worth it. Because the worth comes from not giving up. The worth comes from knowing that my best work is always ahead of me and that the work I’m doing today is today’s only chance of doing work.

T is for Thankful

On this dreary Wednesday night, there’s nothing more fitting than a good old fashioned Thank You post!

10 Things I’m Thankful For Today & Everyday:

  1. Good Old Green Car has been a trusty companion for the past several years. I’m thankful it’s still running and doesn’t have any of that modern technology like power locks or power windows.
  2. Franklin the Dog’s jumping to come home to. His ever wagging tail and excessive panting always put a smile on my face the minute I walk in the door.
  3. My Students – between the good and bad, easy and hard, empowering and draining, funny and serious, energizing and tiring – there is always something to be thankful for in who they are and what they are learning.
  4. Coffee – Need I say more? Coffee is always there for me when I need her most. She gives me a false sense of energy and a false sense of confidence, but it’s all I need on any sleepy-eyed morning.
  5. Snapchats full of bitmojis with friends who get me and the true authenticity that these tiny pictures share.
  6. Josh’s hugs. Comfort and safety and love all wrapped together.
  7. Morning Time Bible Reading – no matter how groggy I am or sleepily I scroll the my Bible app, I’m thankful for the power these words and the
  8. The gift of words. If you’ve read any of my other posts,  you know the ways that I’m learning to embrace words strung together for others to read.
  9. The power of reading – the escape it brings, the diversity it shows, and the freedom it gives me to imagine and believe.
  10. Laughter. Always laugh. Find something to laugh at. If nothing else, just laugh at yourself. It makes everything better.
  11. Choice. The opportunity to make a choice on my thoughts, feelings, and attitude. The opportunity to choose what I do and where I go, what my future could hold and the steps I might take to shape it.
  12. Connection. I wrote about my new word(s) for the new year, and this was one of them. Connecting means being present with the environment and people I’m in right here and right now. Focusing on connection – when I remember to – has changed so much for me in my day to day life. I need to remember that more!