#TellHisStory: The One Secret to Finding Your True Self

January 14, 2015 | 26 comments

This is a story about a girl named Gracie. It’s also a story about YOU.

Three years ago, Gracie had a different name, a different home, and a mommy who gave her life, but couldn’t keep her for life. That baby girl ended up in an orphanage. And when that orphanage imploded in corruption, she ended up in another orphanage. At age two, life was a ragged jumble of uncertainties. She was too young to understand what it means to hope, but old enough to know what love was.

And then, God gave her both — hope and love. God saw fit to give her parents. They adopted her, loved her with a ferocious love, and gave her a name — “Gracie.”

They brought her home a few months ago. And something really special happened to the little girl.

She came alive to who she was. She burst forth, like a bloom, from the seed that God planted in the center of her being. It’s really spectacular to see. She’s like a firecracker, in pink cowboy boots.


When you meet Gracie, she’ll tell you, in the loudest toddler voice possible: “I GWAY-SEE!!!!” (Translation: I Gracie.)

She points one stubborn little finger at her heart, lifts her chin, and with a smile widening across her face, she’ll say it again, impossibly louder than the first time: “I GWAY-SEE!!!”

The kid has some serious lungs.

Just for kicks, we harass the poor child, taunting her like this: “No, I’m Gracie.”

To which she responds with the most precious protests, in ever-increasing decibels, assuring us that she is who she is, end of story.

Gracie has something important to teach us.

When I look at Gracie, I think about the millions of women who have forgotten who they really are. I think about the women who know they’re named Jennifer or Kathy, but are pointing to their hearts, pretending to be Michelle or Kate. These are women who have forgotten that the most beautiful part of them is built within. But they are so timid, that they won’t raise their voice above a whisper when someone asks them who they really are.

Friend, do you know who you are? Do you know today what a treasure you are? Are you alive to who you are?

Do you know that the most amazing part of you is already within you? You arrived here, awesome. It was a package deal. When God created you, He planted your awesomeness inside of you, and ever since then, He has been watching you, waiting for that moment when you, like Gracie, can point a stubborn little finger to your heart and say: “This is who I am! I’ve been adopted. I’ve always been loved with a ferocious love. I’ve been given a name.”

There’s a name for that:


It takes courage to discover that. It takes digging. Sometimes you’ve got to spend years digging through layers of masks, and layers of identities that others have put on you, and layers of self-rejection. Self-rejection is incredibly debilitating. The layers get so thick that you can’t find the real you anymore.

But it’s there. Your best YOU is inside you. And it’s not because of what you did to earn awesomeness. It’s because of Jesus. It’s all because of Jesus. 

Yeah, for some of us, it takes a whole lifetime to see the beauty that was there all along. Some people die never really knowing.

But we know better. … Don’t we?

And if we don’t know, can we learn today from GWAY-SEE?

Let’s do this together, right now:

Take a good, long look at the center of your being. Go deep. Behold the hand of God, caressing the soul He fashioned with His own design — the fullest expression of who you are. It’s there, I promise you.

When I see my little friend Gracie, I pray that she’ll always know who she is. Because for girls, there’s a sad loss of identity that comes, before we hit junior high. We try on new faces and new names, and that’s when the self-rejection begins to layer up like a thick crust.

May Gracie remember what she knows today. And may we remember it, too. We are loved. We are treasured. We are defined, deep within, by Jesus.

Brennan Manning always said there’s really only one way to define yourself. It’s like this: “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”

You are a glorious creature. Slip on your own version of hot-pink cowboy boots, point your finger at your one-of-a-kind heart, and see yourself as you really are:



IMG_5252 2
Thank you, Jon and Anne, for letting me share your beautiful daughter, Gracie, with my readers. GWAY-SEE mentors us with her sweet life.


“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”

~ George MacDonald



Hey friends! Have you come by for the #TellHisStory linkup! One of the best parts about our little community is how you encourage one another. It would be amazing if you would visit the blogger who linked before you, and encourage her on her blog!

by | January 14, 2015 | 26 comments


  1. Paula Jenkins

    Thank you for this post, it really resonated with me. I’m reading Women Food and God, and some of the same themes permeate that book. That our “deficits” are only curable by looking inside, by removing the layers of hurt. And that we come to this world without those judgments that make us question the way we look. It’s hard to get over that stuff, but feeling better only happens when we put in the work.

  2. Becky Keife

    You are a cheerleader for hearts longing for freedom! Keeping writing friend. We need your stories.

  3. Mary

    This was a good word for my heart today. The time it takes to forget your real self and become someone else is so quick. Today, with your encouragement, I feel loved, beautiful and accepted. I am Mary! Blessings, Jennifer and thank you for words that hit at just the right time.

  4. JViola79

    I love the Brennan Manning quote! May that be the only identity we stand & rely on! Thank you for sharing Gracie with us all. May God’s blessing & favor rest upon her all of her days!

  5. Michelle Anderson

    So awesome!

  6. Lisanne

    Profound, gracious and timely. Thank you for touching my life.Finally joined the Linkup with a recent blog about finding God in my difficulties…Finding my Key.

  7. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Ohhhhh, Jennifer, so glad to finally ‘meet’ Gwa-cie. Powerful–our true self is within. Your words always bless me, friend.

  8. Bethany Boring

    Love this post SO much!!!!!

  9. Plan Beautiful

    What precious truths! Thank you for sharing this, Jennifer. I desperately needed to be reminded of this today.

  10. Kamea Hope

    What a wonderful story! We can learn so much from a little child. I join you in praying that the love and hope that has taken root in this young life will continue to grow and flourish. My little girl is named Grace as well. She feels special when she hears the word grace in songs of worship or spoken from the pulpit. She, like Gwa-cie, is a gift, and I thank God that she experiences the love and self-worth that God has placed in her heart. For myself, it has been a struggle to learn who I am in Christ – but has definitely been something worth fighting for.

  11. Karrilee Aggett

    So… Oh My Gah! I love it when God is speaking the same deep truths and I am so glad I didn’t read this before I finished my own piece because, oh my goodness, how He didn’t just lead us to say the SAME things (which are so obviously heavy on His heart!) Thankful that we are His… and we are standing up in knowing who -not just Whose- we are! Love you, friend! xoxo

    • dukeslee

      Oooooo…. Can’t wait to read your post! I love reading what God puts on your heart, Karrilee. Headed over soon. Thanks for being a part of the #TellHisStory community.

  12. Paula Gamble

    I needed this, Jennifer. Tears. Thank you for pouring your heart into these words. I read this over and over, and just ask God to make these words sink in. I know about the layers of self-rejection and shame – so many layers, but I can trust that my Maker will keep peeling them away so that I can be the real me. It’s hard for me to believe that I could be good at all, but if God says it, then it’s true even when I don’t see it.

    • dukeslee

      You are so dear to me, Paula. I hope you sense God’s special love and approval of you today, that that assurance is louder than all the other voices.

  13. Trudy Den Hoed

    What a delightful story about “Gwayc-cee.” 🙂 And such an important lesson in it, too. I love Manning’s quote, too. Thank you for brightening my day, Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      Brennan Manning is my fave. Thanks for being here, Trudy.

  14. Jenny

    Don’t those pictures just make your heart break out into a big ‘ol smile!

    • dukeslee

      Yes! I couldn’t wait to share those pictures with you, Jenny. Gracie is precious.

  15. Lisa notes...

    How encouraging to read this story of Gracie! I know another Gracie in my circle of friends whose life has also been refreshed by joining a family who loves her incredibly much. God’s love can do amazing things for all of us if we let it! Thanks, Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      It’s been amazing to watch her bloom. I am completely smitten with Gracie. She teaches me so much with her little toddler life!

  16. Kim

    For years I was the timid whisperer, but I have recently done the years of digging and uncovering masks, identities and self-rejection. I am finally accepting who God made me to be, from deep within, to how I look on the outside. Yep, I have found my sparkly pink cowgirl boots and I have chosen to wear them proudly. I have decided the next time I am criticized me for leaving my hair “going gray” and that I look like a grandma, I will proclaim, “No, I look like ME!”

    • dukeslee

      I LOVE it! Those boots look great on you. 🙂

  17. Kate

    Beautiful truths, Jennifer. Thank you.

    • dukeslee

      You are welcome, Kate. Glad you’re here.

  18. Mary Hill

    So inspirational. I hope all women can grab on to this simple truth. God designed us to be marvelous and loved. Thanks for sharing. 😉

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Mary!



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