When You Think You’re Not (Fill-in-the-Blank) Enough
Some people can make you feel like your story doesn’t matter.
You know what I mean. You’re sitting in the corner of a friend’s kitchen at her Pampered Chef party, and you begin to pull back a bit of the tightly-drawn curtain on your life, so she can see on the insides a little. You start to tell her how much life hurts sometimes. And you can sense it right there, in the moment when she’s looking over your shoulder at someone else who walked into the room. You begin to feel like your story doesn’t matter, so you drawn the curtain tight again.
It might not even be true, that icky thing you’re feeling. She might actually care. A lot. But because you don’t feel your story is worthy of anyone’s attention, you drop your chin to your chest.
Yes, some people can make you feel that your story doesn’t matter. And sometimes that person who makes you feel that way … might actually be you!
We doubt the value of our stories, and sometimes, our very lives. We don’t believe we are smart enough, witty enough, shimmering enough, promoted enough, sexy enough, put-together enough, funny enough, skinny enough, (fill-in-the-blank) enough.
HIDING OUR STORIES
I’ve seen it replayed again and again, in my own life and the lives of other women, how people hide their story:
* In Bible study classrooms, women shield the scrawled answers in their workbooks, because of shame or rejection. (Or a sense that no one would care anyway.)
* Women keep quiet about their dreams, because we fear that if we speak them out loud, we’ll fall flat on our faces.
* Writers drop their heads on their keyboards, because they think that the story has already been told better, or more artfully.
We’re scared of our shaky voices, the thundering sound of our own hearts, a narrowed set of eyes in the audience — real or imagined. We’re scared enough that we just sit down.
I’ve felt it. I have.
THE COOL KIDS’ TABLE
The most insecure parts of me have tried to muzzle my voice. I’ve felt, at times, that my story doesn’t matter. Some of you don’t know this, but there are lists out there. Lists that rank bloggers, and tell us whose stories are most influential. The lists can tell you that you really AREN’T enough. Lists tell you that you’re not sitting at the cool kids’ table.
Most of you reading this post aren’t bloggers, so this all might sound a tad ridiculous.
But in your own way, maybe you’ve felt it, too? Because there are invisible lists everywhere. And maybe you’ve discovered that you weren’t invited after all.
YOUR STORY MATTERS
This noisy world can drown out that little story you want to tell. Can I pull you in close and whisper this one in your ear: Friend, you ARE invited. You are on the list. Your story matters. Because God stuck it right inside of you, for such a time as this.
That’s the fuel behind one of the objectives here in this new space, JenniferDukesLee.com. I want to encourage you to tell your story, or in this case, to #TellHisStory — not just in writing, but mostly in your very life!
Next Wednesday, we begin a #TellHisStory community, the sequel to God-Bumps & God-Incidences. I’ll be telling faith stories every Wednesday, just like always, and I invite you to tell yours.
A #TellHisStory is a simply a story that connects your life-moments into the larger story of God.
You will be able to link your stories up on the blog. (In addition, I will feature authors, editors and others who will offer us tips and encouragement. You can find out more about #TellHisStory right here.)
We want you to feel free to tell YOUR stories — not just in blog posts. But in your very life! Your story matters. Even if you think no one else cares. We do.
You are enough.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~ Ephesians 2:10
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Your gift of encouragement penetrates through the screen…reaching out and touching the heart of those who come here. Blessings on your new venture here~
Hi Ro … I’m glad you feel encouraged. That’s important to me. That people know they matter — not just their stories, but their very lives. My regular, everyday, walking-around life is filled with people who don’t think that their stories or their lives are worth a hill ‘o beans.
Jennifer, I so love this post and what you are doing here! I understand it from a number of perspectives–of sometimes feeling I had no story to tell or that my story wasn’t good enough, of opening up and telling my story aloud and having someone look beyond me to the next person in line, and thinking that she wants to hear that person’s story more than mine, and of not seeing my name on a list of those chosen for something I wanted to do. And I have seen it as a Bible-study and journal facilitator, when I try to draw women’s stories from their souls and they are too afraid or ashamed to share. But when they do, something so beautiful, so extraordinary, and so wondrous happens. They realize that they have a beautiful story and a gifted voice, because their stories are permeated with *His* story, and, therefore, have great worth and dignity. Often, they are overwhelmed not just with others’ stories that they hear, but how others react to *theirs*. But they need an opportunity to share. So many don’t have a place to do that. So I am so grateful you are providing women with that precious opportunity right here at your new site. I think of these words from Ps. 107: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” Oh, may the redeemed flock here, Jennifer, to tell the story about how He is real in their lives, one right after the other…..creating the most glorious list—a list of lovers and loved ones of God! You are certainly loved by God, dear one, and I love you too!
That verse. Wow. How have my eyes always overlooked that one?
And you articulate so well the purpose of this post today, Lynn. I appreciate what you’re sharing here, how you’ve seen it from both sides.
Right now, I’m remembering a recent blog post from Emily at Chatting at the Sky. Here’s the link:
It’s a story about being picked. And yes, God picks us, and we know that theologically, but we also have to — as Emily writes — “pick ourselves.”
Thanks for being here.
Lynn, I never heard that version of Ps 107 verse… love that about telling a story!
Well, friend, your timing is just right. Last night I finished leading a Bible study about Elijah, and I’m feeling as inadequate as ever. Thanks for your encouragement that comes through here. And thanks for your reminders of what is TRUE.
(And your first paragraph? Yeah, that (minus the Pampered Chef setting) describes exactly what I’ve experienced before.)
Ooh, and God is convicting me…that in that party scene, *I* have been the other side too—the one looking over the other person’s shoulder.
Monica, I always, always associate your heart with God’s Word. It’s so much a part of you. I pray that God continues to be your strength, right there in your weakness.
Regarding the first paragraph: I have been on both sides, too. Yes… Convicting.
Monica, Do you see the journal used in the last photograph? That’s the journal you sent to me!
Stories are a part of my heritage. One of my cousins on my Mom’s side is a well-known Southern storyteller and my grandfather on my Dad’s side loved storytelling and could tell some good ones too. I love how God weaves the tapestry of our stories in and out of the thread of His story on the earth. He’s such an amazing teller of stories! 😀
Daniel, It sounds like you MIGHT have your grandfather’s penchant for storytelling. YES? I sense that in you. Would love to hear your stories, and how God is weaving threads of His story through you.
I would love to share them, Jennifer. And yes I do have a penchant for storytelling, but I usually like to do it face-to-face over a good cup of tea or coffee. Either you must find a way to come to Kansas City to visit me here or I must find a way to come visit you there in Iowa. It would be so much fun to meet you & your family! 😀
It was great to hear this today. Thank you.
I’m glad this was an encouragement to you, Brenda.
Thank you for this post today! I am looking forward to the stories to be told!
I hope you’ll join us on Wednesday, Kelly! Take care…
Jennifer, for so many years i felt as if I was not thin/pretty/good enough…I felt it all the way to a significant bout with anorexia that still occasionally rears its ugly head. Oh not to the extent that I starve myself, but enough so that I ‘feel’ fat. I know the ‘I’m not …enough’ script.
When I began writing and blogging, I purposed in my heart to be very transparent about my struggles and I have. My Legacy Bible study holds several very transparent stories. Because of it, and my tranparency in my blog and on my FB page, I hear over and over how others can identify with me.
Our stories do matter and they need to be honest stories about real struggles and the real Jesus that gets us through them.
Leah, Your transparency is so evident … and refreshing. And you’ve witnessed the harvest of transparency — opening a door for others to share and identify. I pray, right now, that God opens more doors for you to share with others.
Ah, looking forward to this!
OH, Sylvia … I do hope you’ll come along for the journey! You’re a delight, you know that?
Jennifer…Yes our stories do matter! I have been on the list and not on the list. I also have my own lists. I often wonder where do I fit in. Thanks for you beautiful way of story telling and encouragement.
Me, too, Kerry. Me, too. And maybe you and I are in the position to be sensitive to others, in those moments when we’re counted “in”, to stand in the doorway and invite even more, because we know how it felt to be left in the cold. No one should be left outside. I really believe that, and I know you do, too. Everyone is invited. God said as much. “Come to me, ALL you who are weary …”
I reckon you are right, but it doesn’t make it much easier when a person’s on the outside looking into the room…
(I’m in the beginning of Esther. Again. Right now, Mordecai is the one speaking loudest to me.)
Darlene, I know. I really do. It’s not fun to be on the outside. I’ve been there. Often, I find myself there. But I’m also in a position, through Christ, to know that I’m “in” even if someone says I’m not.
Yes, it hurts. Oh friend … I hear you.
Cheering for the ESTHER in YOU! 🙂
I’ve been thinking along these same lines lately as i work on a new page on my blog about my artwork as telling a story of someone’s home and family (and I can really relate to your opening example of sitting somewhere, bearing your soul, when the person you are sharing with looks over your shoulder. It’s usually because that person is feeling the host or busy with other stuff, but it does make me clam up, feel like my story isn’t so important or valid compared to others…) I can’t wait for more here. Beautiful and encouraging as always! Love your new blog look (and your beautiful photo-shot up top 🙂 )
Pam … I think you’re right, about how — quite often — the hostess is busy. Body language speaks so loudly, doesn’t it? And I know, for SURE, that I’ve been guilty of looking over a shoulder because I think I need to be doing something somewhere else. God reminds me that the interruptions are often the actual work He has for me. And that interruption might mean that instead of being the hostess, I will sit one-on-one in the corner with a woman who needs to tell her story…. Still learning, and leaning in Christ. Grateful for your input here, Pam .
I’m excited for your new venture. Thanks for the encouragement that our story is for such a time as this. I so relate to drawing those curtains tight, not voicing dreams, not feeling like I have much to contribute – but more because I’ve been so very blessed with a strong heritage that I don’t feel like I have much of a testimony. God’s gonna use this, sister! Hugs to you 🙂 Michelle
PS – I can relate to the blog insecurities, too – my pictures (if I even have any!) aren’t as awesome as others, not as artfully worded as others. Ya know. Just bein’ honest.
Michelle… Sending you hugs right back, and thanking God right now that he has given you a strong heritage. His testimony in YOU sounds like one of how being raised with a firm foundation set you on the right course! And that’s a BEAUTIFUL TESTIMONY!
Tears here, Jennifer…Thank you, sweet friend 🙂
(((Dolly…))) Always good to see you here. Always, always. Here’s a Kleenex. I’m always dripping tears, too, so I keep ’em close. 🙂
Wow, this looks like it’s going to be a safe place — where our stories will be truly heard and affirmed. What a precious gift to offer the body of Christ. Thank you, Jennifer.
I do pray that it’s so, Julie. I pray that you are heart and affirmed. And I’m really, really glad you’re here.
OMG. What a beautiful, new place this is — and what a warm invitation to others to share.
You are special.
Yes! I can comment. FINALLY.
Harriett… HARRIETT! Is that really you? I’ve been waiting for you. … Waiting and hoping you’d finally, FINALLY, be able to comment. I utter now a forceful, “yes,” with my triumphant fist raised skyward!
It’s Ps. 107:1-2, NIV, 2011 edition. It’s such a beautiful verse.I agree w/ you about Pam’s site!
Pam I meant I agree w/ you about Jennifer’s site, but I love yours, too! =]
I read NIV usually, but never noticed that phrase on there. 🙂 Love it. Thanks! (No prob – I had a typo in my comment above too… bearing when I meant baring… 🙂
My great-grandpa used to tell me the only thing we can treasure in this world are our stories. Because they were written by His hand and the only thing we can take with us…;)
Thank you for reminding me to hold my head high…
Jennifer – really, you speak my heart and I’m excited for this series. Thanks for your encouragement and for making a place for His stories!
I hadn’t read that verse either, and I’m thinking it’s because I had an earlier edition. So do note that it is 2011, from where I got it. Yeah, “doncha” just love typos? Drives me nuts, and allows the perfectionist in me to be fanatical. Trying to let it go….but hard. =] Love you, Pam!
Jennifer, you make me feel as if I’m the only person you’re speaking to…thanks for letting me know that I can tell my story through my life, because I don’t have your gift of writing so beautifully and expressively. Keep it coming, friend, and I’ll keep soaking it in!
You have such a gift for getting right to the heart of the matter sweet girl. I often feel not only outside but that I don’t really have a story to tell. We will see if I have anything to write.