#TellHisStory: Even if It’s Scary

February 5, 2014 | 47 comments

It had been one of those days.

Scratch that. It had been one of those weeks, the kind where you’re not sure whether you’ve anything left to say that will matter.

Which is a lie, because we all have something to say. But I don’t know a writer (or any person on the planet, for that matter) who hasn’t entertained that thought a time or fifty.

Someone might call it writer’s block. Someone else might call it stage fright. But it’s something more insidious: It’s believing a lie. It’s listening to a deceiver who wags a wrinkly finger in your face and promises you that personal failure is imminent.

I have believed the lies. I have distrusted God, thinking he will not come through when I sit at an empty screen, this gaping hole that threatens to swallow me up one day.

Here’s the simple truth: I’ve been scared of cursors.

It’s that single line on your screen, winking like a mad man, like it knows you’re going to trip over your own semi-colon.

And it makes you think that if you do have something to say, someone else has said it better already.

The better half of my two-faced heart knows the truth. I’ve told the truth to other writers: “Your words matter to God. And your words matter to people.”

Because that’s the God-honest truth echoing down through the ages. Our stories matter. Words matter. If you don’t believe me, visit an airport lobby today, and see what people are holding in their hands. Better yet, try to open the Bible to a page that doesn’t contain someone’s personal story.

Furthermore, believe this: the only person who can tell your story is you. If you don’t do it, it’s not only your loss. It’s ours.

I know this whole self-doubting thing isn’t just me.

And I know it’s not just the affliction of writers.

The deceiver is the enemy of all people, and he tells us us that our lives are sub-par. The oppressor makes you think that your style stinks,
your parenting offends,
your work wallows,
your ministry lacks,
your personality dulls,
and your metaphors are mixed — even though you’re burning the midnight oil at both ends
. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

I’ve heard your self-doubting words. I have. I heard when you said you’ve been scared to write another story, or to speak into the microphone. I’ve also watched at the Bible study table. I see how you shield your answers in the workbook, and how you’re afraid to share openly because you fear you’ve come to the wrong conclusion. You’ve identified the others at the table as “scholars.”

So maybe all of us are doing it: We’re editing our stories before they’re written, and if they don’t look good enough, we throw our drafts in the trash bin. I stand guilty, on all charges.

This is the very best way to destroy a story: never tell it.

And when you don’t tell it? You deny yourself the opportunity to help the rest of us make sense of this great big world. You shut the door on the miracle.

Tell yours. Uncrumple the paper. Live more of life unedited. Hurt, out loud. Laugh, in community. Find beauty, in miserable places.

Make friends with the cursor. Follow where the blinking line leads, filling a cavernous space with consonants, vowels and everyday miracles of living and dying and messing up and tripping over ourselves, and finding that God’s arm was not to short to save us as we lived out our real story.

Tell your story, any story, and discover that you’re not aloneWatch how stories are more than just an antelope in the living room, a 42-year-old woman’s birthday party,  the clouds overhead,  the dirty snow under your feet

And maybe, just before you type the final period, you’ll make the most startling discovery of all: that the Hero of your story was in the room all along, just ahead of the blinking cursor, pulling this single thin line across an empty page.

Write your story… Could this be our anthem?

So, what’s your Story? A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.

You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.

Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.

Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.

Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer or a grammarian to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?


For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here.

[badge url=’https://jenniferdukeslee.com/tell-his-story/’ title=’#TellHisStory – a community of God/’s storytellers’ image=’https://jenniferdukeslee.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/tellhisstory-badge.jpg’]

by | February 5, 2014 | 47 comments


  1. Jenna Guizar

    SO beautiful, Jennifer. Incredible!!! You rocked me to my core. I question this lie, and often. And I appreciate so much hearing that I need to say “get behind me, Satan!” and just live the life I’ve been given with the gifts that I have. I am worthy! I am important! I am special!

    And so are you, my friend. Thank you 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Oh Jenna … You’re doing battle beautifully there. Keep at it, sister. Your words matter to God, and they matter to people, and they matter to me!

  2. Barbie

    I’ve been believing that lie, that my words don’t matter, that I am dried up, have nothing left to give. Thank you for sharing this truth today!

    • dukeslee

      Press on, Barbie! You shine. You know that?

  3. Devi Abraham Duerrmeier

    I struggle with this all the time when I “open” the internet and it seems like words and stories are everywhere.. So thank you for your words and the reminder that stories need to be told.. and heard. It also encourages me to do more than tell my story/his story/the story.. it also reminds me to listen to the stories of others.

    • dukeslee

      I like that a lot, Devi. The reminder that we need to LISTEN to stories. If we’re all talking at the same time, no one is being heard. There’s only chaos.

  4. Ceil

    Hi Jennifer! Your topic couldn’t be more perfect for my ‘story’ today. I was scared! But sometimes God directs us to do some pretty scary things, while the negative voices tell us how unworthy, untalented…well, just like you said.
    Thank you for your wonderful blog hop! It’s nice to be here 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Ceil! I’m so glad that you wrote and shared your story. It’s not easy, is it? I hope to get over soon and read your words. And I pray that you receive affirmation, deep in your spirit, about how treasured and God-gifted you are.

  5. Candace Creates

    Your words are always so beautiful, Jennifer! I love the visual of “pulling this single thin line across an empty page”… That little cursor can really overwhelm me at times. I want to get in the habit of writing every day, even if it’s a brief period. This would be a great way for me to get rid of the intimidation that haunts me far too often. Thanks for your continued encouragement!

    • dukeslee

      Hi Candace, I have to pep-talk myself almost every day. That cursor can be so intimidating. I’ve been writing since I was 16. That’s when I took my first newspaper job. I’ve long been hampered by writer’s block, and at the root is fear. I know, because I’m so well acquainted with fear.

      When I was teaching journalism at the college, I asked the students to consider starting their first sentence, like this:

      “This is a story about …”

      That way they could write some words down and begin to chip away at all that white space. Later, they would delete those first words, because their story — by then — would have explained what the story was about. But that first sentence usually got the ball rolling. It seemed like a real antidote to fear. And for me, that first sentence helps me to remember what I’m really writing about. It’s a way to center my writing, anchor it down on a theme.

      • Paula Gamble

        Hey Jennifer, you told me that when I saw you, and I did that today. Thanks for the practical advise along with the inspiration you are!

      • Candace Creates

        That is a great tip! I will try it. The hardest part is usually getting started. Thank you, Jennifer!

  6. Michelle DeRusha

    Perfect timing on this one for me, Jennifer. Love you lots.

    • dukeslee

      Keep shining, Michelle. I can’t wait until Spiritual Misfit hits the shelves. One of the best stories I’ve read in a very long time.

  7. Shelly Miller

    Thank you for the reminder Jennifer, these ears need to hear this more than I like to admit. And also, for sharing my story within yours, you bless me continually.

    • dukeslee

      It’s always a joy to share your stories. You’re always been one of my favorites. Thank you for the ways your inspire and lead. xo

  8. Ginger L

    Wow….I have tears in my eyes as I finish reading your story this week. God knew exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart today, and for hosting this wonderful linkup – I am so encouraged as I go through and read the stories! *big hugs*

    • dukeslee

      I adore all of your stories, and your bravery. This community is growing and growing by the week, and I’m in awe of the beauty I see out there. You’re all making the Internet GORGEOUS!

  9. KristinHillTaylor

    Such a necessary reminder. Thanks for telling more of his story.

  10. Jean Wise

    Such encouragement. I need to read this today. Thank you. and just love our new theme song. You really made my day!!

  11. sheila @ LongingsEnd.com

    Such great encouragement, Jennifer. Thanks so much. We need to be reminded that the lies are leveled against us so that we’ll leave the playing field and walk away quietly, sidlined. But our words can hit home runs that help others find their way Home and nudge them to tell their story. And I so agree, it doesn’t matter what our style is or if we think someone writes better than us … He has created us to share and in so doing help set captives free.

  12. Eileen

    The best way to destroy a story: never tell it. Amen!

  13. Lisa notes...

    Sometimes when I’m awake in the early morning hours, I start asking, “Should I delete my latest post before it publishes? It might be too much or too silly or too pushy or too lame.”

    Yes, I often doubt. So I doubly appreciate your encouragement to write anyway. Everybody has a story that someone else is waiting to hear. I’m glad I get to hear yours, Jennifer.

  14. Jen Ferguson

    I’ve had a bit of self-doubt about my FUN! series. It’s my one word and I’m desperate to get to this place where God wants me – one where I can experience true enjoyment of life. And one way I know He’ll help me get there is through writing. Through having accountability within the blog world. So people might think it silly, but there has been such a response to my word and the pleas for help I have sounded, that it makes me wonder, perhaps there are more out there who are craving this fun, too.

  15. Paula Gamble

    As I read, “your words matter to God. Your words matter to people,” I just had to set my phone down and cry because I have been so paralyzed by fear and feeling like my life is a mess and I don’t matter. I just tell Jesus I’m sorry for believing so many lies, and to please help me to believe what He already proved, that my story does matter and my life matters to God and to people. Thank you for writing these words, friend.

    • Amy

      I’m jumping in here with a hug for you too, Paula. Loved what you wrote on your blog today.

      • Paula Gamble

        Thank you, Amy. I’ll take the hug, friend. Thanks for reading. You bless me!

  16. Alecia Simersky

    Hitting “publish” on our stories is scary-hard. But when I press through the fears and do it anyways, I’ve been so BLESSED. And it makes me feel good to know that I’ve been used by God in a small way to let others know they aren’t alone.

  17. Karrilee Aggett

    Oh sweet friend… I can simply say the same thing every single time. It will always be true and it never gets old. “I love you. That is all.” (See? Alway true!) I love that song too… reminded me of this one – that, not surprisingly, I have had on replay lately! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xl28CF5YHI

  18. Kris Camealy

    You always say just what I need to hear when it comes to these link ups. Thank you, Jennifer, for the nudge. See you soon! XO

  19. Lisa Kerner

    Thanks for this… “And know is is not just the affliction of writers.” When I push through the affliction, when I trudge through fear and internal accusation, the view form the other side is so worth the effort it took to get there. Thank you Jennifer for your constant reinforcement to Tell Your Story, how ever that is.

  20. Megan Willome

    I’m going to a writing conference today and READING tomorrow. Still not sure what to read. Really doubting myself. No one’s asked me to do this before.

  21. Katie

    Today I’m scared to tell… But your words push me to hit publish. My words matter because they tell who I am. And who I am is God’s.

  22. Ashley Tolins Larkin

    Oh, friend. Thank you for preaching it. I, too, stand guilty, on all charges. And I am continually reminded when I let go of my ego, my perfectionism and feelings of inadequacy that He is indeed the one guiding the cursor along. It’s a miracle really all the ways He guides our stories…and the telling of them. I am grateful for you and for sharing my “clouds” here. xoxo

  23. Beth

    Oh my goodness! Jennifer, THANK YOU for these words. I know this is touching many today because I know I’m not alone in those moments when we feel are words do not matter. I’m just about in tears because there is so much beauty and truth in what you have shared here. Bless you!

  24. Shanyn

    Thank you for this. You encourage me so much!

  25. Kelly Greer

    I did that just this week….My son called, he told me of his glorious story of change, I prayed, God inspired, I prayed, I asked permission, I prayed, He said, “Why wait? Maybe I can help someone else if we tell my story.” So, I prayed. I wrote the story. I prayed.
    And people read the story and were inspired, encouraged and moved towards hopefulness. Others started sharing their stories. And then, I freaked out!
    I started thinking maybe I shouldn’t have told the story, maybe my words would hurt someone somehow, even the very someone who said he wanted me to tell his story. I wanted to remove the story, remove the blog, remove the facebook posts, all the amens and the thank yous….I cried, I prayed, I breathed.
    What was that? This fear and dread and anxiousness to un-do what God had already done. I am pretty sure it was the enemy. Once again trying to stir up doubt in my heart. Doubt that his story doesn’t really matter, that just cause this story shows God’s glory, it’s not for everyone, or not forever, or whatever he wanted to throw at me to cause me to fall back into discouragement.
    So, I prayed some more. And I watched as others started sharing their stories. They sounded like the hard part of our story. And they needed the hope of the God part of our story.
    And then I read this, and once again God is affirming that he uses everything EVERYTHING for good. I will not fear. I will tell our story for His glory.
    Thank you Jennifer! I needed to hear your story today more than you know! Thank you!

    • soulstops

      I’m glad you shared for His glory and to encourage others 🙂

  26. Laura Risser Moss

    I plunged ahead and linked up today before I could chicken out (again) and even before I read this awesome, honest, encouraging, hope-filled post! And then, I read this: ‘It’s that single line on your screen, winking like a mad man, like it knows you’re going to trip over your own semi-colon.
    And it makes you think that if you do have something to say, someone else has said it better already.’ A lump the size of Texas landed in my throat and my heart screamed, ‘ME TOO!’

    Then, this: ‘This is the very best way to destroy a story: never tell it. And when you don’t tell it? You deny yourself the opportunity to help the rest of us make sense of this great big world. You shut the door on the miracle. Tell yours. Uncrumple the paper. Live more of life unedited. Hurt, out loud. Laugh, in community. Find beauty, in miserable places.’

    Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you.

  27. Dayle Allen Shockley

    Oh, yes … we must tell our stories, else they will never be told. I can relate to that writer’s block thing, though. It can be scary and consuming.

    Loved this and love this community. Thanks for hosting.

  28. June

    Jennifer your words, or God’s words spoken through you, are resonating deeply today. I’ve been comparing myself to others this week. It’s a discouraging exercise. Thank you for reminding me that my attention should be on HIM, and my energies spent on obeying His call on my life. Bless you for sharing your story this week!

  29. Kathy

    Thanks for posting such inspiring thoughts and words. I have been sloughing through my writing and feeling it is not up to par with others in my critique group. Your encouragement to just write and not to give up helps me just put the words down. This WIP is for God’s glory, not mine. It is essential to write to Him to allow Him to write His story on my heart (as the lyrics indicate in the song).

  30. Amy

    “And it makes you think that if you do have something to say, someone else has said it better already.” Been there, felt that. Thanks for reminding yourself and US of the power in our stories, Jennifer.

  31. Natasha Limberopoulou

    I have been listening to those lies that are being whispered to my ears these days! Thank you for such an encouraging post! Blessings

  32. Pam Cason

    “Your words matter to God. Your words matter to people.” Just the encouragement I needed.

  33. Nancy Ruegg

    Really?! YOU, Jennifer? You, who can weave colorful words into a stunning story-tapestry? YOU struggle with the blinking cursor and self-doubt?! We only believe it because you say it is true. Thank you for your humble honesty that fosters confidence in our hearts. We can do this! Let’s open the door to the miracles!

  34. Alyssa Santos

    Oh, man! When ISN’t it scary? I am so prone to wander into my own self-doubt and negative thoughts and I allow this traversing out of God’s best for me to clamp my mouth shut and minimize HIS story in my life. When I remember it’s his story, I don’t have to get so uptight or fear criticism or rejection. Thank you, friend in Iowa, for speaking this out — we need to hear it, again and again.



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