This will really be a two-part post. The review of Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen and my own personal reflections and journey with this idea of having “nothing to prove.”
The truth is I totally wanted to give this book a negative review. You might wonder why… I kind of even do too… Why would I want to give such a wonderful author, who has impacted so many people in such a HUGE and positive way, a negative review. Simply put I just couldn’t believe that the book could be as good as Anything written by her and re published a handful of years ago. I know, because I experienced it, and saw first hand that it was so transformative for so many people; but I couldn’t imagine another book written by the same author could also be as good as the readers claimed it was.
It came out on the tails of IF:gathering and this is something I’ve been a part of for four years since its beginnings. I have helped coordinate an if:local for four years now and the truth is I firmly believe in what Jennie Allen is doing. Or rather what God is doing in and through her. I have been inspired by her willingness to say yes to God’s leading in her life.
When I looked on Amazon and saw that this book literally had
almost a perfect review score and the only negative review I could find was about formatting of the book I just couldn’t believe it.
Here’s the deal, I took my time because I am going to be facilitating a small group through it this spring, and this book truly gets five out of five stars. It spoke to me personally and I can completely see how it will speak to other individuals differently. I am waiting with great anticipation for my group’s spring season to begin so I can dive in again.
While transparently and authentically sharing Jennie Allen includes bits of her own story, but also practically walks her readers through a process themselves. She wove Scripture into the book beautifully, she incorporates obvious questions that you could ask of a small group participants (highlighted by large spaces in the layout) and less obvious questions that just rumble around in your heart and mind for days on end.
The themes she covers in each chapter really are common themes I’m seeing with modern Christian women authors. (fulfillment, connection, rest, risk, hope, grace and calling – are all covered in Nothing to Prove) It seems to me that God is really doing something, it’s like a movement has begun… Common themes of freedom, simplicity, the spiritual disciplines, focusing in on the little things rather than the big, and realizing that God is enough are the threads I am seeing woven into so many Christian writers’ books, blog posts, social media profiles. It’s been talked about forever, they really aren’t new ideas, but having so many women share their stories through these lenses and letting us see God’s call on their hearts to let Him be enough – seriously it’s powerful.
The book itself covers a lot of ground and truly is written in such a way that a reader can dive deeply into the topics chapter by chapter. Even though I said I taking my time this time around I’m also limiting the amount of interaction I have with the text because I’m going to be facilitating this group in the spring and I want to have a genuine experience with my group members. That being said there are so many things that Allen writes about that have just been resonating in my heart and mind.
“You don’t have to keep searching for what you already have.”
“When we hide, we diminish ourselves, we diminish our worth, we diminish our belief in God.”
“Our joy, or our lack of it, is a direct result of where we most spend our time and thoughts and energy.”
“Do you want to know what you truly believe will satisfy you? Look at where you spend the most time.”
“To feel our thirst is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. To recognize our need or God is the beginning of finding Him.”
I truly believe that is a sign of a well written and good book. I hope you will grab a copy and read it with some friends.
As far as my own life I really have come to this, I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone. And in all the areas that I am not enough, God is enough. He sees my heart and my mind and it is Him who I follow. I am held accountable to Him.
Social media, even blogging, leadership roles, my place in our family, they are just so many opportunities to be aware of the fact that I fall short and to participate in the hustle of this world. But I’ve just said forget it. I don’t care and I truly have nothing to prove. At this moment I can honestly say the competitive bone in my body grow smaller and smaller by the day, the tendency to compare, the belief that the grass is greener on the other side is just fading away, the need to prove myself disappearing.
As my focus shifts even more on the Lord and who he is; and as I use spiritual disciplines to grow in my relationship with Him, I find that less and less actually matters. What really matters is my relationship with Him and doing justice to the unique gifts, talents, and callings He has given me.
Truly this is the book to read if you are feeling less then, feeling the pressure to prove your worth, or just feel tired in your journey.
If the topic appeals to you I would encourage you to grab a copy of You Are Free by Rebekah Lyons (Happy 1 months anniversary- TODAY!) because it too is a great study and memoir written about the same topic. You can read my review here. Reading them in the same season really gave me a special gift. You are Free is written in a very different voice and with a different perspective unique to Lyons. Like I mentioned it seems like God is doing a work and seeing different perspectives on similar topics really helped me develop fully what I thought and imprinted on my heart what God was teaching me. For me it really began when I read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist and I find it coming full-circle as I complete this two beautiful books.
I’m grateful for Allen’s obedience to the Lord. I truly felt a part of the story, which also may have influenced my overall enjoyment of the book, because of my involvement with IF:Gathering; as well as having the privilege of watching her put this book together in one of her Facebook groups. These two things made me to really feel a part of this story – which I just didn’t anticipate. I guess in the beginning I just was a bit skeptical and I’m rarely skeptical. Let me tell you, as I complete this review and reflect on what God taught me during my reading of the book, and in anticipating what he’s going to do in my heart as I read it again, I just can’t put words to help grateful I am for Nothing to Prove.
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17
I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.