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.

V is for Victory

I wrote this sometime last year. I’m not sure when, but it must have been during the spring of my second year of teaching. I like this version of myself because it shows the highlights of the year and it shows me that life is not all bad. It makes me remember the small victories, and those are the most important of them all.

TLDR; Claim victory anyway. Search for it, find it, and claim it. You can find it in almost any situation.

Can we just be real for a second? There were and there are days where I resent God for this calling. I remember crying hysterically days before my 2nd year of teaching began, just realizing how upset I was that God gave me this calling. I’ve questioned it. Mentally run from it. Lashed out in anger because of it.

But, in the past few weeks, I seem to be finding my footing again. Inspiration is on the horizon. Dare I say, even excitement?

Today, I praise God for this calling that has stretched beyond what I ever imagined, challenged me beyond my own strength, convicted me of the sin within, shown me parts of myself I never knew existed, given me a good dose of reality and awareness of my smallness. I praise God for the fire and how He’s walked me through it, despite all the kicking and screaming I’ve done. And, that is more literal than one might expect. What an honor to be disciplined in this way, said my friend Sharon. And maybe God’s not taking this trial away anytime soon, but maybe I can walk in peace & joy in that anyway. Do I want my life and my days to go back to being easy? Stress-free? Relaxing?

YES. YES FOR THE SUMMER. But, for the other 9 months of the year. My days are filled with tears that aren’t my own, shouts for approval, acceptance, and love. Repeating myself for the hundred millionth time. Demanding that kids take risks, while also quietly knowing that I must do so also.

So, today I walk forward in victory because I know that at least in this one snapshot, I am rising above the waters. I have built a small kayak for myself and I’m ready to start paddling. I’m ready to start dreaming, vision-casting, and hoping. I’m ready to take steps of inspiration & risk. I’m ready to map it out, dream it up, and live it.

I hope that today you are able to see the small victories in your life. Maybe it looks like being happier today than you were yesterday. Maybe it looks like going on a 1 mile run even though you always swear that you hate running, but at the same time you know that it’s the only thing that is going to make your body feel better. Maybe it looks like going the extra mile in your job even though your job is kicking your butt already and you feel nothing but tired of it. Maybe it means texting a friend and connecting in a fun and surprising way. Maybe it means doing those small responsibilities that you’ve been putting off.

I don’t know what it looks like for you today, but I know it’s there. Somewhere. Hidden away. Waiting for you to find it. Go find it.

C is for Change

In the month of February, I’m challenging myself to write more (everyday), share more, and risk more. Welcome to my A to Z series based on whatever came to my mind first. 😉 Enjoy the ride! 

I have a mixed relationship with change. I both fear it, but crave it. In 2014, when my student status turned to working, and my relationship status turned to engagement, and I began life as an “actual adult,” I freaked a little bit. In 2015, when wedding planning continued, and Josh and I became one, it was all so exciting. But, these changes were big and a lot to process. The excitement was almost too much. In 2016, when major life events stayed the same and the only change was a move from one classroom to another, I became a little bored. What? 

In talking to a lot of people my age aka millennials aka spoiled brats to the rest of the world, a lot of us seem to want to make a change. What that means, none of us know. But, in processing this, I’ve considered two major types of change:

Bad to Good

This is when you wake up and you dread the coming hours. Constantly tired, overworked, and stressed, you crave a reprieve. Change comes as a warm embrace, a breath of fresh air, and the best friend that you’ve always wanted. When change comes, anything is better than what you had before. And because of that, you and change are BFFs.

Good to Bad

Things are great and walk with a pep in your step. Your outlook on life is positive, bright, and shiny. You are excited each day. Change comes as a nasty cold, a nagging cough, and that mean frenemy that loves to call out your insecurities. When change comes, you dread it because what you had was already what you wanted. It either comes when you least expect it and catches you off guard, or happens slowly over time. You and change are mortal enemies. 

Obviously, there are many things out of our control. But putting aside those those uncontrollable factors, I think the problem with making a change is that our situations are not all good and not all bad. Likewise, the change you are seeking to make is also neither all good or all bad.

So, what’s a conflicted 20-something to do?

I don’t know.

I’m sure you read this thinking that I’d tell you something useful. But alas, maybe I do know something.

In all of my best English, I will leave you with this: Don’t do nothing. 

Each year, I know more of who I am. I’ve loved the change that has happened on the outside of me, as well as the inside. Each year, I know more of who I want to be. And because of that, whether big or small, I must take steps that make me into that person.

Do something. Test it out. See what happens. Whether the something you choose to do is on the inside or out, for the love of all of those people who have to hear us complain about wanting to make a change but never actually seeing us doing anything, we’ve got to do something.

Here is my something. (This blog, ya goobers.)