My Quiet Confession
I didn’t go out looking for a big vision for my life. I woke up the night of my thirtieth birthday and couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t shake the phrase spinning through my mind: disciple a generation. It was a silly thought. I was a mom of young kids and a pastor’s wife of a small church. I didn’t have a platform or influence. I didn’t even have a Twitter account. What was I supposed to do with this?
I remember for two days it felt as if my bones hurt, I was so burdened by what God wanted me to do with such a ridiculously nebulous and enormous task. I mentioned it to a few good friends, who wisely told me, “If this is God, Jennie, He will make it happen.”
Nine years after the sleepless night that brought the weighty conviction to disciple a generation, IF: Gathering was no longer just a dream. I found myself behind a curtain peering out at women who’d come hungry and expectant, wanting more of God. It was our third time to gather, and now over one million women in more than one hundred countries watched and waited for the video broadcast to begin.
Six steps were all that separated me from the stage.
It did not help that this was one of the biggest stages in music history. Wrapping the backstage halls of Austin City Limits at the Moody Theater were iconic images of some of the greatest artists of all time, all who have commanded this same stage. Willie Nelson. Mumford and Sons. Diana Ross. They haunted me. They mocked me. This is the music stage of Texas. This is the stage the greats play.
They all must have walked up these steps with confidence equivalent to their brilliant talent and gifts.
I kept staring at the steps and wondering what would happen at the top, when I looked past the heavy black curtains and into the waiting eyes. The world would say to me, “You are successful. You’ve done it. You are finally enough.” Yet I will tell you a secret. As I stood on what should have been miles past the thick black line of my expectations, it still loomed just out of reach, mocking me. Enough is a mirage that cannot be caught. You and I can keep chasing it, or we can quit the childish game the enemy taught us young.
In that moment I could have owned what the world was telling me. It would have been nice to agree for just a moment that maybe I had arrived, that I am a confident leader with a crystal-clear vision. But standing there, I knew that I was not . . .
brave enough . . .
smart enough . . .
gifted enough . . .
sure enough . . .
strong enough . . .
to lead this movement.
I knew I was not enough.
Six steps. I walked up them, and that day, rather than pretend I was enough, I stood on that historic stage and I let out my quiet confession in front of more than a million people.
I am not enough. And I am done trying to be.
It was one of the most peaceful and freeing moments of my life.
While God may not be prompting you to announce your inadequacy from a stage, I’m going to guess that something in your life requires more than you can deliver.
Maybe you are in a difficult marriage and every day is a struggle. Maybe you are buried in debt and unpaid bills. Maybe you have a child with special needs that requires you to wade deep into complicated paperwork, psychologists and psychiatrists, and therapies. Maybe one of your parents is slowly fading into dementia. Maybe you feel paralyzed with anxiety or isolated by depression.
Whatever it is that set your world reeling, how will you move forward? Striving, pretending, white knuckling—or free? My dream is that you would embrace your worst fears head on and find that our God is enough for them. My prayer is for you to start enjoying the freedom that comes when we quit trying to prove ourselves, when we surrender what is out of control to the One who is in control.
We strive to be seen, to be known, to matter. We’re desperate to believe we are doing a good job at whatever has been entrusted to us.
But we are not enough. We are not God. We don’t have all the answers, all the wisdom, all the strength, all the energy. We are finite, sinful beings. And that is okay.
In fact, it is the confession that unleashes the freedom we are aching for.
Excerpted from Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard by Jennie Allen. Copyright ©2017 by Jennie Allen. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Jennie Allen, author of Nothing to Prove, is a staunch believer in the power of just one life beautifully lived – and she is determined to pass her belief on to women everywhere. With her own purpose to disciple a generation as inspiration, the in-demand speaker, author, and teacher officially launched IF: Gathering, an innovative forum for women, in 2014. The event has since become one of the fastest growing conferences and movements in the world, empowering participants across continents and denominations to live honestly and deeply. With stark candor, humor, and vulnerability, Jennie connects women to purpose by sharing her own struggles through her blog, acclaimed books, talks, and more. Jennie lives with her husband Zac and their four children in Austin, Texas. For more information, please visit www.JennieAllen.com.
Image courtesy: Unsplash.com
Publication date: February 1, 2017