Have you ever read a book that you want to keep reading over and over again? I can honestly say that I have not. There have been very few books that I have read and then wanted to pick up and read again. The book I read recently that I literally cannot put down is called Nothing To Prove by Jennie Allen. I would go as far as to say that I think every woman should read this book.
Let me take you back a couple months.
I didn’t want to read this book, in fact I tried to avoid this book like the plague. I kept seeing sponsored posts on Facebook and our pastor and his wife kept talking about it at church every Sunday. I kept thinking to myself that this book was the last thing I needed in my life right now. Somehow I knew it would be a very emotional, deep book even though I knew nothing about the book or the author.
Our church was hosting the author for a live speaking event to discuss the book and it was promoted everywhere.
The advertisement for the speaking event basically said something to the effect of “Do you feel like you have to perform? Are you tired? Are you afraid? Come let me help you with all of that.” I thought to myself, ok, yes, I am tired, I do feel like I am on a constant stage and I have more fear than I would like to admit, but how could this book possibly change any of those things?
The advertisement took over my brain and I couldn’t stop thinking about the “what ifs.” What if this book could help me get rid of some of my fears? What if I could in fact rest? What if I could feel more peace? I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head.
The thing I was most afraid of with reading this book was that it would be time intensive and change the way my life was being done currently. I liked was ok with where I was in my life.
In a safe box.
I was comfortable, not needing too much. I felt like life was going ok and I felt content.
Then when I got real with myself and thought about life more, I realized that I felt so much pressure. I felt the pressure of getting up every morning to take care of 2 kids, trying to pack them healthy lunches like you see on Pinterest, and taking care of my husband – trying to support his every dream.
I also felt the enormous pressure of trying to run a successful blog. I was trying to keep up with a posting schedule of 2-3 times per week, learning how to market myself, make money from my blog and live our dream life of traveling and working from home.
I also felt the pressure to have a spotless house since I don’t work full time hours anymore and make sure dinner was on the table every night and try to avoid leftovers as my husband doesn’t really like leftovers.
So then I started thinking “Ok, Jennie. How are you going to solve all of this for me?”
The Sunday before Jennie Allen was to speak at our church, I felt as though I was supposed to take notice and finally sign up to go to the speaking event. There would also be a 5 week extension to discuss the book in depth and our pastor’s wife was leading the class. I love how she teaches so I decided to talk to Greg about it and we decided I could go as our schedules actually worked out and he was home to watch the kids.
The speaking event took place on a Friday night. It was really great and there were several different speakers. Jennie spoke about the book and also walked us through a little bit of the gospel of John.
Based on her speaking, I knew the book was trying to help me rest, rely on Jesus and set down my heavy backpack full of “junk”. That’s about all I knew of the book.
I started reading the book over the weekend prior to our first evening of our first extension and honestly, I felt more anxiety as I read the first couple of chapters.
I felt so anxious and almost regretful that I started reading the book. Books have a way of making us feel certain emotions and for me, the emotion for the first few chapters was anxious. I still felt like nothing would ever change. I still felt pressure and fear. I still felt that I wasn’t any closer to Jesus. I cried and felt angry mostly. I think I was angry at Jesus for making me read the book!
As the reading progressed and our Tuesday night classes continued, I felt a mix of emotions. Suzi asked if I would be a table leader before the class started and I agreed even though I felt like she missed the mark on that. I don’t like to speak in public unless I am super knowledgeable about a topic and the Bible is not something I know that much about.
But, nonetheless, I agreed to lead our table. The second meeting we had was BIG. Our pastor’s wife felt led to bring out some pretty heavy emotions that women feel:
We all were given the assignment to go to the area where we identify the most with and mine was fear. I looked around the room and I saw most of the women were either at Fear or Pressure.
Our group of fearful women started to exchange why we were so afraid. We started letting out these heavy emotions. These big, real fears we were experiencing in our lives and man were they heavy. Some of us cried. Some of us poured our hearts out that night and some of us felt already a little relieved that we got things out in the open.
Sometimes it’s just nice to have a safe place to talk openly and not worry about judgement. That night was not about anybody judging anybody. It was about healing and being vulnerable.
I started to realize that this book could be a really good thing for everyone in that room. That night we all talked about what we were carrying around with us, I prayed publicly for the women who were plagued with fear. Was it perfect? Nope. Did it make sense? Probably not. But I overcame a small fear of praying in front of people. I did it because Jesus helped me overcome that fear.
As I kept reading through the chapters of the book, there were so many emotions that I experienced. Honestly, at times, I was afraid to wake up to the powerful emotions I was experiencing. Some days I was so sad and I didn’t know why. Some days, I felt like, “wow, this book is changing me! I can see a difference – I feel a little less pressure today.”
This was exactly what I was afraid of when I started reading this book. I was afraid I would go through all these crazy emotions and feel worse about myself and for a short time, I did. I felt like I had so far to go to actually have Jesus walking with me in this life. I felt so ill equipped and unworthy.
The good news that I eventually realized in this book- I don’t have to be enough for anyone, because God is. I won’t ever be enough for anyone. I finally started to understand the name of the book- Nothing to Prove- but I was unsure of how it fit into my life and how I could carry on the message of God in my own life.
I was confused about how I could actually help others because I am weak and afraid. I am not suited to help anyone. Sure, we finally got our financial lives in a better place, but we are not perfect. We still get off track. I am a little better about my diet, but I still love Oreos. What the heck can I really do to help anyone?
Furthermore, I don’t know how to spread the good news of God. I don’t even have very many verses in the Bible memorized!
As I kept reading, the chapters jumped out at me.
No Longer Tired.
No Longer Afraid.
No Longer Ashamed.
No Longer Lonely.
I wanted all of those. I desperately wanted to feel like I could accomplish the tasks that God had set forth for me. I wanted to stop being afraid. I wanted to stop feeling tired. I wanted the enormous pressure from my backpack lifted so I could live a happier more free life.
The best news of this whole book was that I am not enough, but I know that God is enough and I don’t have to be.
I don’t have to compare myself to others and feel like I am less worthy than someone else.
I don’t have to be afraid because I can give that to God.
I can finally get over my fear and start living because of the truth in this Nothing to Prove book.
Yes, this book completely wrecked my life. The emotions were crazy but necessary for me to rebuild and be a more complete person that can now walk through life with Jesus instead of for Jesus.
As I neared the end of the book, I finally saw some action steps. They were simple, yet they seemed so complicated. Be with people. Read the Bible. Live like Jesus.
It seemed so simple.
I started thinking immediately about what I could do to help those around me and a few things stood out.
I visited a friend whose grandson suffered severe burns. He was in surgery so I visited her at the hospital. Simple, right? I just felt like I could offer a familiar face and maybe help pass the time by talking to her.
I prayed for my little table of women. I asked for any prayer requests and I have been praying for them daily. This isn’t monumental, but these women are amazing and I can already see God working in their lives in amazing ways since reading this book. I think we will all feel a little more free just from reading this book.
I spend each day reading the Bible. Honestly, the gospel of John is crazy good! If you haven’t read the Bible, start there. It will give you some immediate hope for your life.
These are all very simple things, but they all revolve around people, prayer and Jesus.
So here is my cry to you to you, Mama:
If you struggle with fear, know that Jesus can take your fear away from you.
If you struggle with shame and you feel unloved, Jesus will always love you. You are worthy of love and you are worthy of connection to people.
If you struggle with addiction, Jesus is better. Become addicted to Jesus and follow Him. You will automatically 10X your life.
When you are feeling sad, angry, joyous, mad – pray. He can take whatever emotion you throw His way.
One verse I came across that resonated was John 14:13-14 “You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it so the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name and I will do it.”
This is such good news because it means whatever you are trying to do or get over, you can have it. Pray fervently for it, repeat your favorite verses like the one above when things get hard or your mind starts to wander and give all the glory to God.
If you are fighting and eating disorder like Jennie Allen did, she prayed her way out of it.
If you are fighting debt, ask God for guidance like we did and still do. He will help you with your money.
If you are fighting fear, give it to God and take little steps to overcome your fear.
This book is so memorable and will wreck the person you are now if you let it. Allow yourself to take the time to read it and grasp the message in the book. It will change your life for the better if you believe the words in this book and just start taking simple steps to create the life you want with Jesus.
For nothing will be impossible with God. ~ Luke 1:37
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