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 and loves hanging out with women at 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.