if you’re feeling something other than amazing

March 8, 2016 | 37 comments

I don’t know exactly when I first felt like I was something other than amazing. But one of my first memories came when I was a first-grader. It was a warm spring day, warm enough that all of the kids had stripped off their heavy coats at recess and left them in a big pile. As I walked past the pile, I heard voices. The voices belonged to two girls in my class.

From underneath the pile, they were calling me horrible names.

I burst into tears and spent the rest of recess hiding behind the evergreen trees on the edge of the playground, wiping my tears away with my sleeve.

At age seven, I hadn’t developed the inner strength to fight off the lies that came from that pile of coats. So the lies eventually became “truth,” magnified whenever I found myself on the outside — which happened quite often.

This is the lie that began to feel like truth: “You are un-amazing the way you are. Be someone else.”

So, I did a lot of things to try to be amazing and compensate for my flaws. I tried to wear the right clothes, surround myself with the right people, join the right clubs. But most of the time I just felt … weird.

It took me a lot of years to find that my own brand of weird was actually quite wonderful. It took me quite a long time to realize I was preapproved.

That journey toward loving myself — as I was, not who I was trying to be — began in college. The thing I loved most about college was finding people who were like me — who had the same kinds of dreams, and interests, and desires. I was able to surround myself with people who helped me be the best version of myself.

That was a huge step toward embracing who I was, and becoming all God created me to be.

Like my friend Holley Gerth writes, “The journey of life isn’t about how far we go — it’s about who’s with us.”

What’s true at age 7, is also true at age 19, 28, 42, 55, 78, 92.

Who we surround ourselves with makes a big difference in who we will become.

Here are four principles to apply, so that you can live freely as the most amazing version of yourself:


1 – Be with those who help you be you.

You are wired the way you are for a reason — to make this world a better place, and bring God glory, with your unique set of gifts. Surround yourself with people who want to nurture that person.

2 – Be with those who believe in your dreams.

We need cheerleaders on our journey. We need people who will see the best in us. We need friends who will help us stand up when we fall — because they believe in our dreams as much as we do.

3 – Be with those who make you better, not bitter.

There’s enough negativity in the world; try not to insulate yourself with people who see the worst in everything. Negativity is contagious, but so is positivity. Find the positive people, and be one of those people.

4 – Be with those who aren’t afraid to hold you accountable.

Often, the people who believe in you the most — the ones “who help you be you” — are the same people who aren’t afraid to speak truth when it needs to be spoken. Keep those friends especially close.

My sweet friend Holley has one last bit of advice for all of us.

“No matter how ‘spiritual’ we are, we will need other people in our lives. While God doesn’t want us to avoid relationships, he does want us to be wise about who has access to our hearts. ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it’ (Prov. 4:23). How do you know if someone in your life is safe? The short answer: if they love you the way God does.

Let these words, from Holley, be our anthem:

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.33.57 AM

Print “A Commitment of Words” by clicking here. 

It’s a joy to share with you about Holley’s new LifeGrowth Guide, “You’re Already Amazing.” Find out more on her blog, or on Amazon.


From the back cover:

With her bestselling book You’re Already Amazing, Holley Gerth dared and empowered women to discover who God made them to be and pursue his purpose for their lives. Now Holley helps you build on that foundation and experience even greater life transformation.

In this interactive LifeGrowth study, Holley will guide you through an engaging process that helps you apply heart-freeing truths to every aspect of your life, from relationships to work to how you pursue your dreams. God’s plans for your life are better than you can imagine, and you’ll see them unfold in new ways as Holley guides you to embrace this life-changing truth–that you truly are already amazing.

1. Who God Created Us to Be
2. What’s True No Matter How We Feel
3. Our Amazing Journey with Jesus
4. God’s Plan for Our Relationships
5. God’s Purpose for Our Lives
6. How We Can Thrive for a Lifetime


Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is Amanda Jones. Her story about struggling with where she places her identity and worth remind me of Love Idol. But aren’t these words beautiful? “If God is a good good Father and I have accepted Him… my identity is simply that: daughter of God, loved by God.” Find Amanda here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂 xo Jennifer

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by | March 8, 2016 | 37 comments


  1. Deborah Will

    Jennifer I love your story today. I remember some of those same days, but thankful today I know who I am in Him, and He is who matters.

  2. Faye

    Thank you so much Jennifer. I will never forget at a women of faith we were asked who we were wearing (as in a clothing brand) and Barbara Johnson looked at the tag in her jacket and said “God” Something I try remember when I am not sure if I fit in.

  3. Trudy Den Hoed

    Thank you for these encouraging words and insights, Jennifer. Those hurtful words can cut so deep, can’t they? But I was just thinking how God used these very experiences to help you understand us more deeply and to encourage us to grasp the truth that we are pre-approved by God. Blessings and hugs to you!

  4. Carly

    Helpful advice about the kind of people we should surround ourselves with- and I love the “commitment of words.” Words are powerful and can do so much damage but they also have amazing power for good if we are intentional about using our words to encourage others. Thank you for your encouraging words here today.

  5. Mary

    I have read several reviews of Holley’s book and yours just adds to me wanting to put it at the top of my list. Holley is the real deal (as are you, Jennifer) and her words speak truth. Your story of the pile of coats absolutely breaks my heart. Having been a teacher for 30 years, I understand that this happens, but our identity is not in the pile of coats or in the voices of first graders who just want to make themselves seem better than others. You are a pre-approved child of God. I love being here with you each week. Your words are a blessing.

    • dukeslee

      Amen, sister. You are speaking a good, good word here. Bless you, friend!

  6. JosephPote

    Beautifully written! Yes, God called each of us to be the person He created us to be…not the person someone else thinks we should be.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Joseph! So good to see you here. You’re always an encouragement.

  7. Kristi Woods

    Amazing how the words of others impress upon us so much, isn’t it? Your coat pile story clutched at my heart, Jennifer. Thank God He offers a better way of living life and seeing ourselves than a batch of coats can offer. Enjoyed the review. Holley’s book and guide are on my list.

    • dukeslee

      Thanks for stopping by this week, Kristi. You’ll enjoy Holley’s book.

  8. Nancy Ruegg

    I appreciate all four principles you laid out for friendships, Jennifer. Number 3 spoke to me particularly. There have been times in my life when I’ve used friends as sounding boards for venting. I wish now I hadn’t! My heart’s desire is to be positive, adding encouragement and hope into each conversation, so that others feel uplifted when they leave, not deflated.

    • dukeslee


      I can speak from experience about you: You are a picture of positivity! You’ve been such an encouragement in my life. So grateful for you.

      • Nancy Ruegg

        Oh, praise God, Jennifer! You’ve made my day, knowing that I’ve been an encouragement to you. Hurray and hallelujah!

  9. Tiffany

    Such great attributes to pursue in friendship. As an introvert, I often prefer to do this thing alone, but it’s true – life is so much sweeter with sweet sisters by our side. Thanks for pointing us toward Holley’s book.

    • dukeslee

      I’m an introvert, too, and I can so easily lock myself away. But when I am with a few friends whom I can really trust — and when I’m intentional about that — I never regret it. It sounds like we’re a lot alike that way?

      • Tiffany

        Yes! Being “intentional” and choosing to cultivate those close relationships isn’t always easy for me (likely because of past hurt), but I’m learning to do it because it’s what God wants me to do, not because I’m expecting something in return. Of course, in the land of social media, meaningful connections become all the more precious too. 💛

  10. Elizabeth Giertz

    It is so encouraging to be among people who get you – the real you! This is beautiful! I pray for those who never really get to see themselves as God does.

    • dukeslee

      Amen! Glad you have those kind of people in your life, Elizabeth.

  11. Dawn

    The commitment card is fantastic!! I have finally stepped out in faith and invited women into my home to sit close and snuggle near His Word without worrying about what they think of me, my house, or my ‘stuff’ and this card is exactly what I want them to know they can expect. Friendship, grace, prayer… I love it. It took a long while to get the courage to be vulnerable and I wonder why I let it hedge me in so much. I also have read Holley’s book and it is full of so many beautiful affirmations of His heart towards us.

    Blessings to you Jennifer!

    • dukeslee

      I loved the commitment card, too. Holley is so wise, and warm-hearted.

  12. Sue Donaldson

    just spent three days with some amazing women who knew how to speak truth and love into each other -Canyon Creek Pres women’s retreat in Santa Cruz – a blessing indeed. (who survives 7th grade as a girl anyway? Praise God we do and learn who we really are by His grace.)

    • dukeslee

      Yes, if we make it through seventh grade, it’s proof there is a God!

  13. Anna Smit

    Thank you for sharing these four kernels of wisdom in seeking friendship. I’m learning how precious the number 4 is! It can hurt like crazy: but often the more it hurts, the greater freedom and blessings it brings. The number 1 also really fits with number 4: good friends can help us see our true selves (and deep need for the truth of who we are and who we are not, and who God is and who God is not).

    I pray that God would also use me to bless those He brings into my life in these four ways.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you for sharing your insights, Anna!

  14. Jolene Underwood

    Oh Jennifer, I relate so well. You’ll see this in the piece I linked up today, “I Do Not Fit In, I Fit Out”. I love your brave story-telling, which you do in such a way as to meet people where they are and encourage them towards the sights of Heaven. And how God sees each and every one of us.

    Thank you for being your own kind of (wonderful) weird! I love it. I’m wonderfully weird in my own wonderful ways too. So grateful God knew what he was doing when He created us. I just pray I can always be grateful for His plan and His ways. Blessings!

    • dukeslee

      Your encouragement is like a warm cup of tea this morning, Jolene. Thank you!

  15. Alisa Nicaud

    Wow, this post if full of nuggets of wisdom! My favorite was this: “How do you know if someone in your life is safe? The short answer: if they love you the way God does.” I can’t even count the amount of times throughout my life I listened to the voice of those who really were not friends that loved me the way God does. I can’t wait to share this little gem with my girls. Thanks for sharing!

    • dukeslee

      Yes! I loved that good word from Holley, too.

  16. Tara Ulrich

    Thanks for this post Jennifer! I so can relate too. I was the kid that was relentlessly teased in elementary school and the tears were frequent. I think when one is teased relentlessly, it is so easy to get caught up in the eyes of the enemy. It took me a long time too to realize I was pretty great just the way I am. God created me; created each of us as “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I am so glad that I have wonderful people who love and accept me for who I am. May we all be that lucky and blessed.

  17. Meg Bucher

    Jennifer, I really feel like college brought me back to the happy, confident kiddo I had been before my family moved when I was halfway through the 3rd grade. I never broke through all the kids that had been friends since pre-school, after leaving my own tribe of “life-longs” behind. I desperately wanted to fit in, and took every snide comment about my awkwardness to heart. I feel like took me thirty years to be confident enough to wear leggings and skinny jeans! But you know what, I love how God took those hurts molded me into a more compassionate mother ..and less judgemental friend.
    I loved Holley’s Life Growth Guide. It really solidified my direction in this season of my life.
    Happy Wednesday!

    • dukeslee


      I so appreciate your insights about the way that God took those hurts to mold you into a more compassionate mother. Beautiful!

  18. Susan

    I believe I was confident in my youth but digressed somewhere along the line! Having a husband who left me for a 17-year old didn’t do me much good in my late 20’s! I can look back now and see God’s gracious hand in all of it but at the time? I felt pretty low and detestable. God has redeemed what the locust stole!!! xo

    • dukeslee

      Wow, Susan. I can see why you had the joy sucked out of your life. I can’t even imagine. So glad that God has redeemed what the locusts stole.

  19. Lyli Dunbar

    I love everything about this encouraging post, Jennifer. Thanks for helping us choose wisely and not let those Negative Nellies out there drag us down. — I love Holley. Everything she writes strengthens my spirit when I read it.

    Continued prayers for your dad and the entire family in this season of change and adjustment. Hugs

    • dukeslee

      Holley rocks!

      Thanks for all your prayers. Your recent posts on my Facebook page were such an encouragement to me. You’ve been there!

  20. Meghan Weyerbacher

    Wow this was like I was reading part of my childhood diary. I remember getting shoved in lockers…
    I love Holley Gerth and I love these tips about surrounding yourself with those who speak Life into our lives. I think our ladies group at church should print out the declaration and all take part in this. Powerful!

    • dukeslee

      I am often accused of reading other women’s diaries. I know that Holley is, too. You know what I think that means? A whole lot of us are struggling with some of the same pesky insecurities and lies, and that when we bring them out into the open, others realize they aren’t alone.

      I, too, loved Holley’s declaration! It’s in the LifeGrowth Guide as well.

      thanks for stopping by Meghan!



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