We Can Stop Apologizing for Who We Are (What I Learned from Allume)

October 28, 2013 | 63 comments

So, sometimes you have to fly far out of your safe zone to discover who you really are … and to realize you don’t have to apologize anymore.

I was half a country away from home, at a bloggers’ conference called Allume in South Carolina. About 450 souls gathered there to link hearts, instead of blog posts. To share life, instead of Facebook statuses.

Pixels became people. We looked into eyes instead of screens.

allume 2013, emily wierenga, michelle derusha, lynn morrissey, shelly miller, laura boggess, jennifer dukes lee

emily wierenga, jennifer dukes lee

On our last morning, a corner booth hemmed a few of us into one another. We shared secret soul-places where the wild revelation of God exhales like fresh wind. Holley looked into my eyes and asked me what I would take home from the conference. I put down the fork on my plate, next to two eggs over-easy, and I leaned in close to tell her:

“I want to be bold. I want to lose my timidity. I want to stop diminishing the gifts God has given me. I want to stop apologizing for who I am.”

I knew it felt safe to tell Holley. Because Holley Gerth’s ministry is grounded in encouraging women to embrace who God has created them to be.

She reached over the table and squeezed my hand, then waved her pinky in the air. “Let’s pinky promise.”

She wanted me to make an oath, a pledge with her and with God, that we don’t have to apologize anymore for using our gifts for His glory.

About a week ago, Holley had written these words on the incourage website:

Stop trying to downplay your gifts.

Stop trying to minimize your successes.

Stop trying to skim over your strengths with, “Oh, that was nothing.”

It was not nothing.

It was the spark of God within you.

It was who He created you to be shining bright.

It was what He called you to do coming forth into the world.

Don’t listen to the whiners, the discouragers, the critics, the-good-in-your-life-makes-me-feel-bad-crowd.

You have nothing to be sorry for, sister.

~ Holley Gerth (read more from Holley’s post by clicking here)

 

Sister, let me tell you something. You have the God-given right to boldness. And these are the moments when, awakened, we can be dangerous to the enemy of our heart. So many Christian women I know have a skewed view of humility, like we have to brush off what we do, shake off a kind word, apologize for doing something well, or deflect any “thank yous” we might receive because are worried we’ll look arrogant.

Sometimes, we turn in on ourselves, shaking our heads vigorously to deflect the words of others who tell us we made a delicious cake, wrote a touching blog post, hosted a fabulous dinner party, snapped a beautiful photograph. We have no trouble claiming our weaknesses, but shudder at the thought of claiming our strengths.

But what if we’re robbing the praise of God by deflecting the kindness of those who were touched by His work in us? What if, in diminishing our gifts, we’re diminishing the Creator who prepared good works for us, in advance of our earthly existence?

We can be dangerous to the enemy of our hearts when we:

1 – Release our gifts boldly into the world, knowing that whether praise or criticism comes, both ultimately belong to the Father, if we’re offering our work in obedience.

2 – Never discount our gifts by saying, “Oh, it’s nothing, really.” It IS something! Our lives exists inside Christ, and Christ exists inside us. What comes out in His name is a product of what He designed us to do. We will come more alive to ourselves, our Creator and our callings when we recognize that we bring value to our world.

3 – Remember that our spiritual gifts are given “so we can help each other” (1 Cor 12:7). And our gifts are actually designed to be shared courageously to make the world a better place. “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well” (Romans 12:6)

4 – Model courage by using your gifts to their fullest. Our boldness gives others permission to be fully themselves. 

4 – If someone praises our work, let’s stop deflecting. Let us offer thanks to the person, and to God. It’s this easy: “Thank you, friend. And thank you, Jesus.”

We finished breakfast, and Holley and I walked toward door, into our world and into our callings. But before we stepped into the light, onto that stone-paved sidewalk, Holley turned around and held out her pinky once more.

And I wound my pinky around hers, tight.

And friend, I’m turning around, holding up a pinky. Are you with us?

“Don’t ever diminish who you are to make someone else feel better.”
~ Lisa Whittle (from a breakout session at Allume)

“I can’t imagine anything more dangerous to the enemy of our hearts  than people who know who they are.”
~ Emily P. Freeman, from her book “A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You were Made to Live.” 

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
~ 2 Timothy 1:7

 

Photos 1 and 2 by Laura Boggess. Used with permission.
Photo 3 by kubacheck. Sourced via Flickr, Creative Commons.

 

by | October 28, 2013 | 63 comments

63 Comments

  1. Deidra Riggs

    That verse? It’s the one I wrote in my journal, on the airplane, just before we landed in South Carolina and Allume and everything God had waiting for us. When our kids were little, Harry and I made that verse into a song and we’d sing it to them when they got ready for the first day of kindergarten, or when they had to see the dentist, or when they said they were afraid of the big things, or when they wondered if God is really who He says He is. I need that truth for myself. Always have. I’m really just a kid at heart.

    The other day, my daughter, now a grown woman, called and told me, “Mom. You know what my new word is?”

    “What’s your new word?” I asked.

    “Bold,” she said. “I think God want us bold.”

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You’ve raised her well, D. Also? You model boldness. I have watched time and time again how you step to the edges of your comfort zone, then cross right over the line into whatever God is calling you too. Keep jumping tandem, my dear friend! You inspire the rest of us.

      Reply
  2. Crystal S.

    Linking pinkies with you, girl. Let’s walk boldly in Christ and do the thing He’s set before us. He must want me to receive this message, too, since I re-read a post I wrote for my 31 days series that went out while we were at Allume and saw that He had me write similar words!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I feel you sweet pinky wrapped up with mine, Crystal. Let’s do this!

      Reply
  3. ro elliott

    First let me say…I love…love those pictures…especially of you and Em…so precious…and I nodded all the way through this…God is challenging me in this very place…to receive…receive through others His words of love to me…I have let the wrong voices in for too long…and God is longing for each of us to receive His love…truth…and grace to the fullest…and yes many of us have a skewed view of humility ….God showed me the underbelly of this in my life and it’s the very opposite of humity …but it is pride…so I am linking pinkies with you my friend….to walk in Holy boldness and opening wide our hearts to be receivers so we can be true givers~

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      With you, Ro. We were made for this. I love the verse in Romans 12:6 that says we were given gifts “for doing certain things well.” There is no wiggle room there. He.Has.Given.Us.Gifts. And we are called to use those gifts to “do things well.”

      Reply
  4. tammy@meadows speak

    Beautiful….makes a girl tear up, I’d say. So glad you’re not shrinking back from the gift….:)

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Tammy,

      Someone is going to have to hold me accountable. I have grown so accustomed to the shrinking back, so this whole boldness thing makes me feel like I’m wearing new skin.

      Grateful for your words here in the comment box.

      Reply
  5. Flower Patch Farmgirl

    So good and true. Thank you for this reminder. I sometimes find myself worrying that people will thinking I’m showing off. I had never thought about diminishing my gifts as robbing God of praise.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Shannan,

      Thank you, friend. And thank you, Jesus. <---- Trying to practice what I preach here. 🙂 I hadn't thought of it either, until this weekend when I encountered these women who were living it out. On the plane home to Iowa, I read and read and read through the Gospels and Paul's letters, trying to sort some of this out. And in all the passages about gifts and callings, there isn't one iota of timidity. I felt a pulse of boldness and purpose. So glad that you use your gifts for His glory, Shannan. You serve Him well with your words at Flower Patch Farmgirl. (Were you at Allume? Did I miss you? I would have loved to meet you...)

      Reply
  6. Sarah

    This is lovely and true and so worth spreading around….thanks for sharing the wisdom God showed and is showing you…

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Sarah, and … thank you Jesus. <---- See there? Practicing what I preach. 🙂

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      A million thank yous, Holley, for all the love and friendship you’ve offered. I love you!

      Reply
  7. Logan Wolfram

    Yes and amen! I pinky promise with you too! Let’s be dangerous together friend! So so blessed to have finally met you in person!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You are dangerous in all the right ways, Logan. Thank you for all you did this past year to prepare a place for hearts to connect. You’re beautiful and bold for the Lord. I am “for” you.

      Reply
  8. Jennifer Camp

    This is what I heard too, echoes of “be bold, be who’ve I’ve made you to be” each day of that beautiful weekend. So grateful for your boldness and your humility and your beautiful, giving heart. I am so grateful for your hands in mine, on Saturday morning, your loving prayers. You are such a gift, Jennifer. I am with you, too, pinkies linked, girl.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I’m thrilled that we had a chance to connect on Saturday. Let’s chat soon. Would love to hear more about your weekend.

      Reply
  9. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson)

    What a gift–getting to spend the weekend with such bold, brave, beautiful (and funny) sisters! You captured it so well here. So glad to get to spend some time with you 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I miss your sweet smile, your laugh, your yellow fingernails, … YOU! xo

      Reply
  10. Shelly Miller

    I love the way God met us all so individually with a specific message. I feel like I won the friend lottery when God decided to bring you into my life Jennifer. I am so thankful for who you are, for the way you enrich my life for just being yourself and pressing into courage. This is worship my friend. You are giving us all permission to be real and authentic.Your generous spirit is truly a gift. We don’t need to apologize for the way God made us, no we don’t. Pink swear (let’s keep each other accountable, yes?).

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Pinky swear, friend. Always “for” you, standing with you, believing big in all that He is doing in and through you.

      Reply
  11. Kristin

    Ro took the words right out of my mouth. . .so all I got to say is. . .linking pinkies with you girls! 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Pinkies linked, yes!

      Reply
  12. Amy Tilson (@ACTilson)

    Making a pinky promise with you! This weekend’s experience was so me. I think some others recognized it, called it out and it was a little uncomfortable at times. I’m going forward not just embracing that but not downplaying it anymore. Bold is hard when you’d rather be the wizard behind the curtain. Thanks for these words.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I am with you, Amy! We can move forward with God-fidence.

      Reply
  13. Sharon

    The sad truth is that so many do diminish the power of God working in and through us when we fail to recognize the gifts and abilities that God has poured out. As I read this post and then the following comments I was reminded of Paul’s words throughout 1 and 2 Corinthians, that if I must boast about the gifts that God has given me then I will boast in the Lord.

    It’s hard sometimes to find that balance, I think. I really don’t want to draw people to myself, but to the power gospel of Christ. Any strength I have, any good I am able to do is because of His work in and through me.

    So on one hand I do not want to diminish His work in and through me, but on the other hand I desire to give Him all the glory and honor for what is truly His.

    Does that make sense? 😉

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Sharon, On the way home from Allume, I pored over those two books of the Bible in preparing for this post. And yes … all glory and honor to God!

      Reply
  14. Chelle

    Jennifer, I am so grateful you went to Allume in order to bring this word back. And this…”You have the God-given right to boldness. And these are the moments when, awakened, we can be dangerous to the enemy of our heart…” will be my new battlecry-I’m going bold and dangerous for the Kingdom.
    Thank you, for sharing your gifts, and sharing this experience with those of us who weren’t there.
    Peace and good to you in Jesus’ name,

    PS-I can absolutely see Holley with the pinky swear-she is completely adorable!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Chelle … She is positively charming. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  15. Laura Rath

    Love this Jennifer! God calls us to be bold in Him!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes! Let’s be bold together, friend.

      Reply
  16. Lorretta @Dancing On The Dash

    So much beauty and truth Jennifer! Thank you for your gift of wisdom and your sweet, sweet spirit! I want in on the pinky swear too–tired of being my own worst enemy and it’s just time to walk the talk I preach to others and always forget to apply towards the girl in the mirror. Bless your HEART! 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I’m so glad I got to steal a few moments with you, Lorretta. You’re bold and beautiful.

      Reply
  17. lynndmorrisseyL

    Jennifer, I pinch myself to think that I have had the amazing privilege of meeting the Mother of Lydia Lee in person twice now. And to think that you know my friend Christin Ditchfield, too. Wow! THat was such an affirmation to me that God is afoot and that He is our powerful Divine Networker. I will never forget the love, kindness, and encouragement you showered upon me this past weekend–how you reached out in a very bold, yet sensitive way to offer hope, help, and encouragement. Thank you beyond words, Jennifer! And I love what you say here. I could NOT believe it, but when I was showering this morning, with water and tears pouring down as I recalled the beauty of the weekend, and yet the fear of moving forward to where God may be leading, that verse from Timonthy emblazened itself like a banner across my mind, and emboldened my heart with its courage and truth. The thing I confessed at the banquet (of all places for us all to do this–very unexpected! 🙂 was FEAR. Your post, your conversation, your life are all fear-busters. You are walking forth in boldness, Jennifer, powerfully using the gifts He’s given to make a difference. How I love and admire that in you. I think that God has enabled you to strike the right balance, of boldly using and acknowledging the gifts, and yet attributing their origin and power to the Gift-giver, from Whom all blessings flow (and flow and flow)! To answer one of your readers above who struggles with that balance, which I fully understand, a beautiful friend of mine–a Baroque-expert singer whose angelic voice soars to the stratosphere on the wings of Bach melismas–graciously receives thanks, and simultaneously gives God the glory. I will never forget in a worship service once when she sang a heartrending Spiritual, and our Presbyterian congregation applauded (which we rarely do), she simply pivoted quietly, faced the Cross in the chancel, and dipped down on one knee. Then, she silently walked away. It was her way simply to acknowledge the Gift-giver. There is no question that she knows she’s gifted, because she is boldly singing some of the most difficult, breathtaking music on the planet. She accepts and perfects her gift. But her eyes are always on the Savior. I love that that is where *your* eyes are–always. I love that with every word you write, the “knees of your heart” are bowed. I just love you, period, Miss Jennifer!
    Love
    Lynn

    Reply
    • ro elliott

      Lynn…wow…I am so excited to hear you went this past weekend…that is awesome and I just know God will continue to lead you right into the center of His heart for you…keep walking with your eyes fixed on Him…in HIs perfect love…and you and all of us can walk without fear. blessings and grace to you dear Lynn.

      Reply
      • lynndmorrisseyL

        Wow is an understatement, Ro. I had NO idea that I would be here, and I had hoped to travel w/ friends, but it was not to be. So it really felt unnerving for me. BUt the Lord so graciously and overwhelmingly overcame my fears, and it was an incredible weekend. How very much I appreciated your continued love and encouragement. You are one of the very first bloggers to tuck me in your heart, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you. What an encourager you are. And your words here truly minister. God just gave me this message this morning to fix my eyes on Him……so now, reading your confirmation, those eyes are teary. God bless you Ro. You minister so much in this place.
        Love
        Lynn

        Reply
      • dukeslee

        Always appreciate you here, Ro. Thanks for the encouragement.

        Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you for your love and encouragement, Lynn. It was a highlight getting to spend some time with you. I love you.

      Reply
  18. Floyd

    The words of Paul to Timothy were ringing in my ears, “You were not born with the spirit of timidity…” A good reminder for all of us who are called to deliver a message from our Father, even if it is one of action. I’m happy for all of you! I saw a similar picture over at Shelly’s, how cool! It looks like the Who’s Who of the Christian blogging world! Good for all of you for getting out of your comfort zone to find even deeper relationships with your sisters and Father…

    Reply
    • lynndmorrisseyL

      Floyd, you are such a cheerleader. I really appreciate you!!!!
      Lynn

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      It was such a great time, Floyd. And guess what? There were even a few dudes there. They had a man cave and everything! 🙂

      Thanks for your words and encouragement.

      Reply
  19. another Esther

    Yes, pinkies twined with you. Because of my choral and theatre background, I used to thrive on praise from others, all those flowers after a show. I was also tormented NY a voice telling me I was nothing but an ego-crazed diva. Years later, after all theatrical curtains dropped, and now a Christian, I have been called to lead…get this….music worship. I was plagued by that lying voice at first, unable to look anyone in the eye after a solo and unable to accept a thank you. I’ve been growing in this for a year now and am so grateful for this blog entry and the opportunity to be bold with you and other sisters here. I love the response Thank you and thank God!
    So excited for us to be freed from shame and guilt. Let us be who God created us to be. And may we do all things only for His Glory!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh, I am so glad that these words ministered to your heart, “another Esther.” I am thrilled to hear how God is using your voice to glorify Him — something that can be done in a theatre or in a sanctuary. I pray now that you continue to sing boldly with the beautiful gifts He has designed JUST FOR YOU!

      Reply
  20. Monica Sharman (@monicasharman)

    Very, very good. So insightful. I believe part of true humility is an unselfconscious boldness resulting in God’s glory.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      That means a lot coming from you, Monica. You’re both bold and humble. Love you, girl.

      Reply
  21. lynndmorrisseyL

    Oh and Jen, I forgot to tell you (as I had at Shelly’s blog) that you amazingly got me to pose for that photo above without my eyeliner! Ah, such persuasian! =]

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      And you look positively stunning, Lynn!

      Reply
  22. Diana Trautwein

    Well, honey pie, this is just right up my alley. (And strangely reminiscent of a recent facebook conversation too!) You go, girl! And in going, Jesus is praised. Every second. Yes.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks so much, Diana!

      I still maintain all rights to declare myself as feeling “messy” sometimes. 🙂 And I still stand solidly behind what I said in that Facebook conversation. That’s part of my boldness, too — not capitulating when I feel strongly about something, even if other strong, well-respected voices challenge me. Love you so much, friend! Thanks for modeling BOLDNESS.

      Reply
  23. Emily Wierenga

    Just… oh. So, so moved by this. YES. Let’s be bold Jennifer. Joining you in this, applauding you and lifting you up, higher and higher to our Father from whom all blessings flow. I LOVE YOU so much.

    Reply
  24. tara pohlkotte

    i love this. I love seeing bold drip heavy and messy, running streaks of grace all over you. so glad you are embracing this call and one another. wish I could have squeezed you all in person too!

    Reply
  25. Dena Dyer

    Oh, friend…I’m so thankful you heard this message, and are shouting it here. It’s so needed. We shrink back, don’t we, too often. Just to make others think we’re not show-offs. Just to prevent ourselves from getting “too big for our britches.” But God doesn’t ask us to be humble in a way that’s mealy-mouthed or diminishing. He asks us to be humble by acknowledging that our gifts are from Him, and then using those gifts boldly and unashamedly for Him, through Him and to His glory. You go, girl. Light up the world with your gifts. I’ll always be cheering you on! I love all of you bold, godly, beautiful sister-writer-friends. (I want to see y’all more. We need to have quarterly meet-ups or something!)

    Reply
  26. Diane W. Bailey

    Yes, Pinky promise…now if only the application were easy. There are days you wonder if it all matters. But it really doesn’t matter if you (me) feel like we matter. If it is who you are, then live it. Nothing is impossible with Christ.

    Reply
  27. Lea

    Great stuff Jennifer! I’ve heard great things about the conference from others as well. Sounds like a real blessing for sure!

    Reply
  28. Susan Stilwell

    Pinky promising with you, Jennifer. Someone once told me that deflecting a compliment was really a veiled insult. So yes – there’s a gracious way to accept praise, and I like your suggestion to thank Jesus. Perfect!

    Reply
  29. laura

    Amen! This is such a good word–I’m trying to take it to heart! It’s been such a joy to watch you grow into your gifts. Keep preaching it. I need to hear these good words too. Cheering you on, friend. I’m for you, my friend.

    Reply
  30. Jacque Watkins

    Oh Jennifer…my encounter with you this weekend changed me. God has been calling me to boldness…to write some crazy hard things…topics that are raw and uncomfortable but so so needed. And when I met you, you embraced me and welcomed me with such authenticity and kindness. And when you told me I was a good writer, it’s like God used you to speak that to me from His heart to mine. He used you in my life, in deep ways, and I am holding up my pinky promise to walk in the boldness of His calling. And I am praying for you as you do the same…birthday sisters together, shining and pointing to Him. Love you so… #supernova

    Reply
  31. Rebekah

    That verse – I’ve had to print it out this year and clip it up on our wall in our great room. Thank you for expressing with authenticity your beautiful heart and desire to bold to the glory of God and the building up of the saints. I’ve read a number of posts about this conference and it seems it has had quite the impact on many. May God keep this desire strong in you to the praise of His glory, as the weeks pass and the memories grow dim of this conference.

    Reply
  32. Kim Hyland

    Going to battle for the glory of our King seems to be a theme since Allume! Your words here, that quote from Emily Freeman (I just tweeted it today!), and my own takeaway. The verse that rang in my head all weekend was “She is clothed in strength and dignity” from Proverbs 31. I love it when our Father speaks similar words to His daughters’ hearts! Thanks, Jennifer!

    Reply
  33. Alia Joy

    Linking with you in this, Jennifer. I must have said it a hundred times and for the first time, I’m wholeheartedly believing it. I am made for this. God is at work. When someone says how my writing has touched them, I’m learning to say thank you and in turn thank God because I’m finally in a place where I’m ok being what He made me to be and not apologizing for it. Love you and I was so glad to be able to hug you. Your words mean so much to me.

    Reply
  34. T

    Lets be the brats we are…

    Reply
  35. Deb Anderson Weaver

    Pinky promise…

    Deb Weaver
    thewordweaver.com

    Reply

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