I had the privilege of receiving an advanced reading copy of Jennie Allen’s new book Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard which will be publicly available January 31, 2017. I had heard about this new book when she opened a Facebook group to help her as she worked to write the whole book in three weeks (she had written a different book but felt that God wanted her to write this one instead). She used her group for support, to bounce around ideas and have specific questions answered by her intended audience. I really enjoyed the book and want to share the parts that spoke the most to me during this time in my life.
I’m convinced every one of us is fighting some pressure, some suffering, some sin, some burden…Nobody is okay. fine. great. But, goodness, we are all tired of trying to pretend we are.
I often forget that we all have our own stresses and pressures in life. It often seems like there are some people who do not and I suppose they are just those that are able to hide their mess the best. I
I do get tired of pretending that I am fine all the time. I am tempted at times to respond to the question, How are you? truthfully but most of the time I assume the person asking isn’t really wanting to know, it is just an informal greeting. I do sometimes wish that I could just lay it all out there and not worry about how others perceive me.
If I were your enemy, I would make you numb and distract you from God’s story. Technology, social media, Netflix, travel, food and wine, comfort.
Through reading this book I acknowledged that I had been numbing myself in order to avoid dealing with pain, struggle and hard parts of life. I became more aware of the strategies the enemy has been using to keep me from being truly free.
I’m convinced nearly all of us feel this incredible pressure to prove we measure up in some way. Every morning we face the list of tasks left undone the previous night, the expectations of our family and coworkers, the burden to be the beautiful, strong, and gracious ideal humans that we’re convinced the world, the church, and God require.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I definitely have struggled with feeling like I am not measuring up, that I am inadequate, that I am not enough. It has finally begun to sink in that, perhaps, that is what God wants me to realize. On my own I am not enough. I need God. He wants me to depend on him, to consistently seek him in my life. This realization has started to remove this burden that I’ve been carrying around unnecessarily.
To get to the place where God can be enough, we have to first admit we aren’t.
I have finally, deep down in my soul, reached this place where I know I need God and I believe that he is enough for me. In him, I live and move and have my being. I will never measure up but that’s not my purpose. My purpose is to reveal God’s love to the world and how else can he do that but seeping through my cracks and imperfections?
There is no remedy for your striving apart from finding your identity in Christ. He is your enough, and the degree to which you believe that is the degree to which you will stop striving, stop performing, stop trying to prove yourself.
I believe that this is a true statement. I have striven for most of my life. I think part of that has been due to my type A, achievement-driven personality. It has not helped me to gain contentment and peace and I am now willing to try a new way, a way of rest and trust, belief and confidence in God.
Make it your goal to love and know Jesus as much as humanly possible and ministry will happen.
I am comforted by this statement. I do want to love and serve others in meaningful ways that honor God. If my focus us on knowing Jesus more, if I abide in him and keep myself attached to the vine, then fruit will naturally occur. Knowing God brings the living water and nourishment that is needed for effective ministry. I have to remember that my job is to stay close, God’s job is to produce the fruit.
There were so many wonderful things I read in the book. I probably underlined a good third of it. If any of the highlighted quotes from the book resonated with you, I highly recommend ordering a copy. If you are an achievement-focused person or scared that one day you will be exposed at not being enough, then definitely check out this book!