Letting Go of How Others Perceive {and Receive} You by Holley Gerth

by | Oct 3, 2013 | Uncategorized

The first time I read Holley, I thought she must’ve been listening to my cerebral conversations or read my mail before I got to it. Ever meet someone like that? It seemed like she was answering the questions I didn’t know how to ask. While on vacation in Canada, I found one of her books in a small selection at the corner store that sells ice cream and fish bait. The next day I bought a Dayspring greeting card, and there she was on the back. I took that as God pointing his finger and saying, “Pay attention to this one.” I had the privilege of meeting her at the Jumping Tandem Retreat where I spoke in April and today I’m honored to have her as my guest.


 Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of all meaningful experiences. —

Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Anytime I go somewhere to speak it’s an adventure.

And it’s five minutes into the conference and I have a sudden realization: I’m not wearing deodorant.

Did I mention I’m leading the conference?

And that speaking makes me sweat? {It also makes me feel like I have something in my nose–but that wasn’t as much of an issue at the moment.}

I try to keep my arms pinned to my sides. I strategically plan hugs to keep faces as far as possible from the danger zone {which may have landed some people closer to my chest than they would have liked–sorry about that}.

I make it through the first night and go home stinky.

The next day I put on deodorant fourteen times. Layer upon layer until I feel like a frosted cake.

I walk out the door with more confidence. But God has other plans.

He whispers to my heart, “Shred the notes girl. I want you to get up there and tell your personal story.” I burn through those deodorant layers in one syllable: “What?!?”

Did I mention this conference is the biggest one I’ve ever done?

And that it’s in my hometown? So God is asking me to bare my soul to women I might just run into at Wal-mart. Good grief.

The clock is ticking and my heart is pounding. I tell my friend who is there with me about the change of plans. “You’re about to speak and you don’t know what you’re going to say?” she asks with wide eyes. I nod and look at the exits–wondering if I can make a mad dash and grab a cupcake with each hand on the way out.

And then it’s time.

I sit on a stool and tell everyone that God is messing up my agenda. Then I tell them all the ways He’s messed up my oh-so-good plans for my life too. And how it’s the best thing that ever happened. I share the ugly and the hurt and the wish-I-could-take-that-backs. And I tell the glory and the joy and the pinch-me-I-can’t-believe-this-is-happenings.

All of it.

With gravy on top.

A few minutes later a girl gets up and reads a beautiful blog post. And I catch my breath because some parts of my story are so much like hers and some parts of hers are so much like mine. Neither one of us knew. But God did.

He also knew that what I thought would be the stink of my life–what would drive people away–would turn out to be something totally different and unexpected. The “pleasing aroma of Christ” {2 Cor. 2:15}.

I walked out of that room less alone, less afraid…and maybe even a little more like Jesus.

{But I’m still putting back-up deodorant in my purse next time.}


Holley Gerth

holley_gerth_crop3Holley Gerth is the best-selling author of You’re Already Amazing and several other books. She’s also the cofounder of www.incourage.me and loves hanging out with women at www.holleygerth.com too. Holley has been married to Mark for thirteen years, lives in the South, and says “y’all” a whole lot. She’d love to have coffee with you.



Join us in the comments and for further discussion at Redemptions Beauty Book Club as we dive in to the deep end of authenticity and perfectionism from The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown this week. This is day 3 of 31 Days of Letting Go in the Deep End. Find out more here and join us for daily posts delivered to your inbox by adding your email address to Subscribe in the sidebar. It only takes a few seconds and it’s painless, I promise.


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  1. Deidra

    Yes, ma’am. Holley Gerth is one of those people God always uses to confirm something He’s already said to me. Just share from my heart. Be me. A week ago, I heard someone say, in response to a question about how she prepares for her speaking engagements, that what she says on the platform or the stage is an overflow of the time she’s spent with Him. No notes. No outline. Just a conversation about what He’s told me when we’re alone together.

    • Shelly Miller

      I believe every word of that Deidra, she’s awesome like that. So glad that our paths have crossed, she’s been such an encouragement to me.

  2. Lori Harris

    She had me at No Deodorant.
    Already love her honesty and her love of the Lord. Now I love her friend-factor. Everyone needs a friend like Holley.
    So glad she served us here.

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too Lori, she’s a good one.

  3. Christie Purifoy

    Today I was working on a talk I’ll give next week and wondering just how personal to get. My inclination? I want to keep it general, somewhat superficial, because, really, I don’t want to get up there and unload my mess.
    But you’ve reminded me how powerful our personal stories are – all the messy details included. Our stories just might be some of the most beautiful things God has made.
    Thank you, Holley and Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      I say go for it to the point it scares you a bit. The stories I’ve told with trepidation, fear and a bit of quaking are the ones that usually resonate the most. And its really not about you so much as the way God uses your stories to set someone free.

  4. Kris Camealy

    Thanks for this, Holley (and Shelly). I’m learning that our less than perfect stories are the ones that hit home for people, the ones that open doors and break chains and let others know they are not alone. God’s so good to use our messy for His glory. It never ceases to amaze me what beauty he picks from the rubble of our lives.

    • Shelly Miller

      I just said the same thing to Christie. I agree Kris. Those stories that aren’t perfect but vulnerable are often the stories that resonate the most and give people courage to share their own.

  5. pastordt

    Can I just say how grateful I am that God has NEVER asked me to wing it? I’m sure it’s coming somewhere down the road, but man – all the deodorant in the world would not help me one bit. This is grand storytelling, Holley. One only you could tell and be completely believable. Thank you!

    • Shelly Miller

      I know Diana, me too. H doesn’t use notes when he speaks and people comment about that all the time. I’m in awe, but then again I’m biased.

  6. MsLorretty

    Group hug. Awkward group hug. I feel like home here.

    • Shelly Miller

      You are welcome, take the comfy chair and stay awhile.

  7. Karrilee Aggett

    Love this! Two of my favorite writers in one space! Aaah – the choice to risk it all and follow His crazy lead… so scary – but so much better than any other plan we may have mapped out for Him to take!

    • Shelly Miller

      What a lovely thing to say Karrilee. I’m honored to share this space with Holley and glad you’ve pulled up a seat.

  8. dukeslee

    I shudder to think what would happen if God told me to shred my notes. I burn through my deodorant even WITH my notes!

    That Holley. She’s a good one. Love her to pieces.

    • Shelly Miller

      I love you to pieces. So glad you are here Jennifer. You never know, the way God is opening doors for you, shredding the notes could be in your future. *wink*

  9. Laura Boggess

    This is better than a chainsaw massacre (sorry, Shelly, couldn’t resist! just came over from FB :)). I love Holley and the transparent place she writes from. It gives such freedom. Thanks for sharing this story, Holley, and for hosting her, Shelly. Love visitying you both in one place!

    • Shelly Miller

      Ha! I almost deleted that status update Laura. Bad word choice – eek. At least it got people’s attention.

      • Laura Boggess

        I thought it was cute :). And it made me smile. I think I knew what you meant in the first place 🙂

  10. Missindeedy

    That trust that you’ve developed with God, Holley, – that’s the aroma of Christ that makes your heart so beautiful to me. You just go with it. It’s scary, for me, to let go of that need for control. But the times that I get brave and do? Those are blessed bits of time. Oh, they are! I get to see how very trustworthy God really is. Love those confirmations (and I always carry a back-up deoderant. That just makes good sense.) 😉

    • Shelly Miller

      Loving your word choice there – trust as the aroma of Christ, ahhh. I’m praying for that.

  11. Ashley Tolins Larkin

    This was so funny! Thank you, Holley and Shelly. Oh, boy, I’ve got a crazy memory in my past — nursing mama, sweating with crazy hormones. All the deo in the world didn’t save me, and I had my notes to guide me. I love that God asked you to wing it, Holley. He does seem to use our weakest places to shine and draw others to himself. Amazing.

    • Shelly Miller

      So true Ashley, how he uses our weaknesses to draw us to himself. Good point. Though it isn’t something I look forward to accepting if I’m honest.

  12. cheryl

    I am behind on reading and discussing. Yesterday I asked Holy Spirit what is the main lie i am believing. Not only was I startled by the immediate and definite reply, I was surprised by the answer and I realized that I have been placing too much value on my experiences and interactions with others and what they think. If I have a negative interaction with someone, I immediately think I need to make adjustments. Until yesterday, when I asked for what the truth was, it had Never occurred to me, that I am fine the way I am and am actually someone that people could instantly like when they meet me.

    • Shelly Miller

      That is huge Cheryl, what a wonderful epiphany. Rejoicing with you over this kind of freedom. This is what the road to loving yourself looks like right here.

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