Interview: Jennie Allen
Have you ever felt stuck, maybe by a situation at work, a tough relationship or a besetting sin you just couldn’t conquer? Jennie Allen felt the same way. That’s why she wrote Stuck, a new Bible study experience for women. Here’s what Jennie had to say about the story behind the study.
4word: What inspired you to write Stuck? Is there a story behind that?
Jennie: I did not brainstorm a catchy name. It was just how I felt. It wasn’t something I could even put into words at the time. The outside of my life was bright and shiny, but inside I was a mess: anxious, lonely, afraid and looking for significance.
I wrote this study because I know I am not alone in this. I am convinced that every one of us is fighting something. Yet we look out from our secret wars and see people who smile peacefully and seem to be all right—and we smile back at them.
I’m done smiling.
God wants to do something on this planet and in me, but as long as I am privately fighting and losing inside, He can’t. He has a plan for these spaces inside of us, the places we feel broken, but we have to go to Him.
4word: Can you explain what you mean by that?
Jennie: I think we all live wishing to be “fixed.” We want to be happy, put together and content. I think God wants more for us. He wants us to need Him. What if our lives were perfect, and we were never needy, but perfectly secure and happy every day? We would love that, but we would never go looking for God.
We all feel more messed up inside than we would like to admit, but there are purposes for the aches and broken spots inside of us. They point to something more, something bigger that is broken. But we have to go to Jesus, not some self-help fantasy that only works temporarily. He is a person, and He wants us to go to Him because He alone can heal us.
4word: Why do you think that we are often reluctant to turn to God from the midst of our stuck places?
Jennie: I hate answering for others’ souls, but I know my own pretty well, and honestly, I think we doubt God is real enough to fill us. We find more instant satisfaction from Facebook than Jesus. I’m not convinced that we know how to look Jesus square in the face and talk to Him. We are often holding onto the idea of Jesus rather than Jesus himself.
I once asked a friend going through an incredibly trying time if she had stopped to pray. She nodded yes and moved on looking for more practical answers. I made her stop and asked her, “When and where did you tell God everything you are feeling?” She could not answer me. We talk more about prayer than we actually pray. Jesus is our hope, our healer, our answer but we have to face Him, pour out our souls to Him and wait for Him to fill us. We have to be humble enough to run to Him.
4word: If it’s true that we are all fighting something, then why do you think that so many of us walk around with a “bright and shiny” exterior? Why is it so hard for us to admit when we’re stuck?
Jennie: Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
To be unconditionally loved and accepted is our deepest need and desire. When we transparently share our struggles and then find grace and acceptance from one another, it is one of the most beautiful moments in life. But we are afraid, and the devil wants us afraid. He wants us hiding alone, scared to ever be known.
4word: Why is it so important to “band together as women” as we work through our stuck places?
Jennie: Our spirits are strong, but our flesh will fail us every time. We need friends willing to pull us by the hand and drag us back to obedience, even if it is costly.
This is a war, and our souls are at stake. No one fights wars alone. One of the best things about surrender, and following Jesus with friends who are doing the same, is the depth of friendship you build at war. We cry, we pray, we bleed together. I’ve always dreamed of friendships like that. The best of friendships are built in the trenches.
If you’d like to hear more from Jennie, you can visit her blog or follow her on Twitter @JennieSAllen. Her study, Stuck, is available now from Amazon, Thomas Nelson, Barnes & Noble and ChristianBook.com.