About the Author

Jennifer Dukes Lee is the author of several books, including Growing Slow. She and her husband live on the family farm, raising crops, pigs, and two humans. She’s a fan of dark chocolate, emojis, eighties music, bright lipstick, and Netflix binges. She wants to live life in such a way...

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Reader Interactions


  1. Jennifer,
    I think I came out of the womb being a “people-pleaser” asking the question, “What will people think of me?” I still vividly recall window shopping at the mall with my girlfriends in high school. While others picked out random tops or dresses, held them up admiringly, and gushed,”Isn’t this SO cool?” I held my opinions back. What if I picked out something that I liked, held it up, and they all looked at me like that is the ugliest rag I’ve ever seen? I’ve come a LONG way since those days, but ingrained habits die hard. Like you, I have learned to live to an audience of One. To live is Christ….Amen! There is really only One opinion that matters when it comes to our identity and guess what? It’s already been decided long ago on a rugged cross. Jesus died so that God would never think more of me or less of me because He now saw me as Perfect through the blood of His precious Son. I still slip into old habits from time to time, but then I am reminded just whose I am. Loved this post, Jennifer, such truth and yes, our call….
    Bev xo

    ps. If you haven’t read Jennifer’s latest book, “It’s All Under Control”…..it’s awesome 🙂

    • Thank you so much for recommending my book in this space, Bev. You are so good to me, and to the message of It’s All Under Control.

      I can truly relate to this message from your comment … ” ingrained habits die hard. ”

      For me, it requires constantly laying my reputation, my opinions, my needs, at the feet of Jesus.

  2. Silently saying both ugh and hallelujah this morning, Jennifer. I’ve seen the truth of this in my own walk: “You become both master and slave: a master at reinventing yourself in the image of whoever you think you’re supposed to be, and a slave chained to your own approval rating.”
    And yet God continually gives me opportunities to throw off the chains in both directions and trust Him for glorious outcomes.
    Blessings to you!

  3. Jennifer, thank you for this. For the transparency. So many times I let what I think people might think hold me back from who God wants me to be. I am in my late 40’s and have just really started this journey of not being a people pleaser.

    Being determined and confident in who God made me to be is a journey and I am so thankful for Jesus’ patience with me!

  4. Well, this was for me. It is something I’ve struggled with all my days, and at almost 41, that ONE THING I want to be free from. Out of everything I’ve experienced, that question has haunted me and held me back from some awesome opportunities. I feel washed up and unusable because of how many opportunities I’ve squandered with that fear at the helm of my life. I was just praying last night about this and asking the Lord for help. It is no surprise to me that this was in my inbox this morning! Today, I will start replacing those crippling questions that have held me back with, “to live is Christ”. Please keep me in prayer for steadfastness in this. It is a season of breakthrough and freedom for me. I’ve already had another breakthrough connected to this, and I want that complete freedom more than I’ve ever wanted anything. It is tied to my calling and my identity. Freedom in Christ, here I come!

    • Michelle,

      I am always amazed at God’s timing … how he creatively reassures us and equips us in the most unexpected ways. Thank you for letting me know that this post has been a tool used by God to find a bit more freedom. Saying a prayer for you right now!

  5. This struggle is so true for me, more so in my past but it tears its ugly head when I least expect it. Thank you for being real and talking about this…it is reassuring to know I am not alone. I already know this but talking about it out in the open gives us all connection ‘a same here’ comment and allows us to see it for what it truly is….and where it comes from. I pray God have your daughter the confidence to play and kick the fear and self doubt to the curb where it belongs!

    • Thanks so much, Jas. It’s been fun to watch the girls make choices out of a place of firm identity, rather than fear and approval. We don’t always have a “win.” Like me, they are works in progress. But I am so proud of the young ladies my girls are growing up to be. xo

  6. Jennifer,

    This is so me. I’m the secretary at our church. I feel like I have to be some totally different then who I am because of my job. It’s hard to live like this and no fun. The Lord is helping me learn to be me. To be myself. I don’t want to live in a box, I want to be free and with God’s continued help I will be.

    • Oh how interesting and fascinating. Do you think that it’s the job in particular that has you feeling like you have to be someone that you’re not? Or someone there who puts you in a box? Are there strange expectations placed upon you? Praying for freedom for you, dearest Kathy.

  7. Hi Jennifer:

    Do you believe you were born with the name I actually desired to “have” and I even rehearsed in my mind over and over in my childhood that I wished my name was “Jennifer”. As you went down memory lane and all the mind chatter (aka LIES!) that held us back from leaping forward into “becoming who we are”, I resonated and could get snapshot glimpses of moments in time when I let the tug of a lie manifest in a paralyzed action step. So many moments!

    As I am NOW looking back and God is doing a “grand work in me”, I can see all the moments and the decisions that kept my talents and my giftings and my longings hidden.

    What a sham and a shame!

    Thank Goodness that Our Father,Jesus and His Living and Loving Spirit is so filled with Abundant Grace and they know (knew) the mistakes, regrets and challenges that would be there trying to mock us and knock us off of the FIRM foundation we have when Jesus holds us up on His Steady ,Solid Rock and whispers gently to our hearts that are being healed:

    “I have loved you with an Everlasting Love; I have called you and YOU ARE (caps for emphasis on the firm and resolute Truth) Mine”.

    And He begins a NEW work in us – creating us aNEW in Him, refining and restoring the lost dreams and setting us up “In Him” for abundantly beyond what we could hope for or imagine.

    And “In Him” , we get to start again – as He makes us brand NEW in His Loving Image …until a billion zillion years from now….(and beyond to Infinite Reality)

    WOW! What a blessing to be reMINDed of that…we have access to Our God who cleans the slate and loves us like that – with a Lavish Love that knows us best and Loves us Beyond.

    I am very grateFULL for you amplifying those 4 amazing words that Paul penned. And Paul (formerly Saul) made so many detours as He was conforming to world constraints until Jesus gave Him His loving restraint…Paul’s devastating decisions were wiped out when Christ taught Him to embrace and proclaim: To LIVE is Christ

    When we are tempted to revisit the old (often and a lot) in lamentation,shame, hurt, disappointment or past mistakes and regrets, I pray the Spirit will jolt us to make a swift mental U-turn …to look at that silent signpost that will always point us in the Right Direction:

    To LIVE is Christ.

    In yellow mustard colour.

    To Live is Christ.

    To truly LIVE is Christ.

    To Live “abundantly beyond what we could hope for or imagine” is:


    WE ARE NEW Creations “In Him”…the old has passed away. Behold, all things are new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

    “[She] who looks to Him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed.” (Psalm 34:5)

    May we all SHINE forth into the present and future Radiance He has waiting for us , in this day and around every corner and bend on our journey “In Him”.

    Thank you for inspiring encouragement today Jennifer

    • This is so beautiful, Janine.

      So funny story… I dreamed of having any name BUT Jennifer! I was in a school where four of the 35 kids were named Jennifer! So I never felt original. I love my name now, but not at the time!

      Thanks for sharing your enlightening thoughts here in the comment box today.

  8. Jennifer, this is balm this morning. Thank you. I, too, know my true identity but struggle with wrangling the lies and replacing them with truth. And sometimes? It takes so much energy I feel like I don’t have… So thankful He sees, He knows, and He sends help when we need it (like this post!). I hope your daughter just went for it! May we each more fully experience real life – Christ – today. Hugs!

  9. “Yes, I really do know where my true identity lies. And more and more with each passing year, I am living what I know. But I still struggle. I want to know: How can I truly live unchained to man’s approval, with my face tipped to the heavens in complete freedom?”

    Ummm, yes. The struggle is so real! My life is a constant rewiring and renewing, trying to get my heart to match up with the truths in my head. Thank you so much, Jennifer, for sharing and for being real about it… Because I may not be the shy, scared little girl on the outside anymore, but inside I still feel myself wanting to hide in a closet if the circumstances could result in rejection or disapproval. Luckily, Jesus has placed some dreams on my heart that make me face these feelings head on (thanks God ;). I’m trusting that since this has been a weakness of mine, He will make me strong.

    Thanks again, Sister! And congrats on the release of your new book. Totally ordering it. 🙂


    • Thank you, Becky! The themes of this particular post really are at the core of my first book, Love Idol. But to be honest, some of those same issues drift over into wanting control, right? I’ve wanted control over a lot of things, including what people thought about me. Thanks for your support of the message of It’s All Under Control. I hope it blesses you!

  10. God’s timing is always perfect. This. In my inbox. On the day I begin teaching a simple class in a new environment to teenagers I’ve never met before. That ache for acceptance. I want to be liked. By the other teachers, by the students, by their parents. Perfect timing. To live is Christ. And in my Bible study this morning, the call to bring God glory in everything I do. So armed with soul-courage from Scripture, I will enter that unfamiliar territory and be who God made me to be. To be pleasing to Him is what matters eternally. Amen.

    • Thanks for sharing your particular struggle; I can so relate. God bless you and make you aware of his presence and pleasure in who you are and what you are doing in faith!

  11. Isn’t this crazy how we let those words affect us so much. My daughter is the complete opposite of me. She goes for whatever she wants and she is not afraid to do so. She took it upon herself to enroll for orchestra without her dad and I and even the music teacher had no idea who she was. She simply left her brother’s old violin in his class with a note for him to fix it and that she will be enrolling in his class soon. He had to ask around who this girl was, keep in mind she was only in 4th grade at that time. And then the call I received from the school principle one day during that same year about her distributing religious materials in school. She attends a regular public school and she was bringing in these cards from our church and handling them out to everyone whom she thinks need Jesus. I was super happy she was so excited to share the word of Jesus and yet scared of these very words, what will the educators at school think? I have learned it doesn’t matter what others think… We are called to bring the good news to those who need it and we never know whose lives we are influencing by doing that, by stepping out of our comfort zone and having courage to do so. Thank you for sharing this message!

  12. So good. I’m 44 & am struggling HARD with this right now. Have been praying about how to let it go. Good words.

  13. Thank you for this post this morning. Sadly this is something I’ve struggled with my whole life and I’m in my early to mid sixties. The bit about it magnifying as we get older it’s so true. God is moving me in the direction of relocation and that means looking for another job. Fear and lack of confidence/need for approval rears it’s ugly head. I pray for release and His approval.

  14. Jennifer,

    Women want the approval of others. We are so afraid to be ourselves-the person God made. What if they laugh at me or scoff me? Emily P. Freeman says in her book Grace for the Good Girl we are afraid to take off the masks & be ourselves. We feel we must please everyone. Our lives must mirror what society says or else. Society doesn’t help any. They say look/act this way. Do this not that. You’ll be loved by many. God says it differently. He already loves us just as we are-made in His image. Growing up I was shy. Born with two punctured ear drums I didn’t have good speech & my hearing was diminished. I was afraid, I think, of what people would say when they heard me speak. Fast forward many years. My ears are healed. I have this mantra: “If you don’t like me or how I act-talk to God”. “He is the one who made me this way. ” I say it’s high time to remove the masks & be ourselves. People may just like you that way.

    Blessings 🙂