About the Author

Emily P. Freeman is a writer who creates space for souls to breathe. She is the author of four books, including her most recent release, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their twin daughters and twinless son.

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  1. Oh Emily, yes, I’ve carried this shame and fear for so long! But God is working to undo it, slowly but surely. It’s seen me start a public blog in October to do the Write 31 days challenge with the wonderful help of Crystal, it’s seen me submit a guest post here, it’s seen me compile a 49-chapter manuscript of my testimony to God’s Love and it’s seeing me starting to believe God when He said He’d see it published. He’s been placing people on my path to guide me through it. Just this Sunday I cried myself to sleep praying He’d send me someone to help because I couldn’t do this alone: so Monday I walk in to my church’s Mums’ group to find one of the Mums having her own manuscript critiqued by a friend: turns out she’s a published Dutch author and she immediately gave me her email address, offering to help with any questions I had and design/formatting. Then another Mum offered to ask for help from her publishing friend and asked me about having it translated into Dutch (I live in the Netherlands). I don’t have the funds to pay an agent, so these kind of offers are SO precious.

    And slowly but surely He’s teaching me to follow His voice and not the internal criticism that says I’m not good enough: because in Him, I am and more so, I am a precious child of God equipped to do the works He has prepared for me in Christ Jesus.

    • Yes! Don’t you love those answers that you could never have planned for but work out just right? I’m so glad to hear it, Anna.

      • Oh yes! I do! It always amazes me, every time…and I’ve had a lot of them this past year especially!!

  2. Emily,
    I remember, as a teenager, going to the mall with some girlfriends. Different friends admired different pieces of clothing…picked up purses they liked…all the while I never picked up or pointed out anything I liked. Why? Because I was afraid that they would not like what I liked. Afraid that they would judge my taste as being bad. Afraid of just being me and being comfortable in my own personhood and liking what I liked. It’s a painful existence. Thankfully, God, in His grace and mercy has brought me so far from that young, insecure girl. I am not only allowed, but cheered on by God as I fit my piece of the puzzle into the big picture. Great reminder this morning!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • I did this too when I was younger, Bev. We are allowed our opinions! And our tastes! It’s seems so small, but is so very big.

  3. Hey friend,

    You know what you’ve done here, and beautifully so? You’ve extended permission. Sometimes we just need a person to do that for us. A good word to give…and receive xo.

  4. These “I’m allowed to” statements rocked me this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever said those words to myself. Thank you for telling me I can.

  5. I’m great at encouraging (sometimes pushing) others to get out there and be their best self. But I know I don’t do the same for myself. Your words pierced my heart today and I will encourage myself to claim rather than deny my personhood. Thank you!

  6. Oh, this is too good. Thank you for sharing … this seems to be a theme for me this year. And at twenty-six years of age I think it’s finally time to let God work this freedom into my life.
    Thank you for writing! I appreciate it.
    And keep up living in freedom! 😉

  7. Hi Emily,
    You are so right, many people do not understand us. They believe we are simply making excuses. They don’t understand the insecurity that holds us back and keeps us stuck in familiar routines. However, unlike most people who struggle with this, I know where my issues come from. I simply don’t know how to break it off of me. I was raised in a difficult family where I received the short end of every double standard they had. So, I grew up feeling like THE EXCEPTION to the rule. Everything good applied to everyone EXCEPT me and all the leftover crap ONLY applied to me. Once in a while, I break out of my shell, more because I feel obligated to give back to those who have actually helped me than because I feel capable of doing what’s needed. If I sign up for something and I’m not contacted back, it feeds my rejection/ insecurity issues and it makes me more reluctant to sign up the next time. For example, my church is in the middle of moving. I want more than anything to help. They asked for volunteers to sign up. They’re aware that I have transportation issues; but when they didn’t contact me to find out my availability, what went through my mind was they don’t think I’m good enough and/or they don’t want to take the time to run me back and forth so I can contribute to the church I love. Intellectually, I know this church would bend over backwards for me. They’ve done it so many times before; but it doesn’t register emotionally. How do I get free in this area?

    • Keri,

      I don’t know if Emily will get to reply but I will! I know how delicate it feels to be in that place! The only thing I would say is face the rejection. Face the fear. Do it anyway! In facing the fear you will grow stronger – though you must set your heart to keep going. Shrinking back doesn’t cut through the pain. Sometimes the pain lasts a long time. Reach out to people – find others who might understand the pain or have some success. Just giving yourself place and acknowledging that you are “allowed” is a great feeling – even if the outcome isn’t what you want right away. Keep reaching. A disappointing outcome is not the end and don’t let it have the final say.

    • Hey, Keri! I read your comment and thought I would respond to it. Here are some tips that I thought of:

      1. Write down truth. As women, God gifted us with tons more emotion than men, and because of this, we can often bog ourselves down with our emotions. However, while they are good and God-given, emotions can sometimes cloud the truth. So while “intellectually” you may know something, you may not “feel” like it. My advice to you is that you surround yourself with truth. Our emotions will not always line up with what we know to be true, yet we must cling to our foundation. Satan loves to manipulate our emotions so that we “feel” unworthy. So, surround yourself with truth and believe it! If it helps, pull out a piece of paper and write down what you know to be true, not only about you identity but also about God (e.g. He is faithful in His promises; His mercies are infinite; His love is everlasting). When you believe truth, you can detect the lies Satan will try to tell you. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isa. 26:3) “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2-3)

      2. Pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit! When we get caught up in our emotions, ground yourself in what is true, but also plead with God for comfort and wisdom! When we know God intimately, we will desire Him and His truth more. And when things seem hopelessly, ask Him for strength and a desire to know Him. Seek after Him, and He will always respond. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8)

      3. Know that you are unworthy, but Christ is worthy. The gospel is where we find the freedom to live. Although we were sinners, Christ loved us and paid the penalty for our sins. Therefore, as believers, we have a relationship with God. And because of this relationship, He pours out grace upon us when we repent. This grace allows us to live with God in freedom. We must constantly live by the gospel. The gospel provides us the way to live with God in truth. Surround yourself with it.

      I really hope these will help you. If you need further encouragement, I suggest these books:

      New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
      Gospel by J.D. Greear
      Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

      Thank you for opening your heart to us, and I will be praying for you tonight.

      Love, your Sister in Christ

      • I would also add speak the truth. Meditate on it. When the negative words come remind urself what the truth is and speak. You are wonderfully and beautifully made Keri. You were made to bloom. Much love

    • Keri, the suggestions made here are good ones.

      I would add get some RTF (Restoring the Foundations) based prayer ministry to break off the spiritual roots and heal the pain and trauma that is causing these patterns over and over in your life.

      God wants you to be whole.

    • Well these other lovely friends have answered you so thoroughly here, Keri! I will simply add that I understand that feeling of being the “exception” (so well-said). But the truth is ultimately, in the deepest part of who you are, you are okay because Christ is there with you.

      So even when you are misunderstood or disregarded by people? You are held and you are free in Christ. This is taking me a lifetime to work out, but the first step is knowing what He is working within me. And within you, too! Sending love.

  8. Wow, Emily. You’ve offered such needed permission this morning. Thank you! I’ll never forget the moment my Grandma looked into the van & made a big deal about how I was “sure filling out” when I was 12. Now that I’m an adult, I realize she was saying I had developed a chest–but then all I heard was, I take up too much space in the world. A lie that resulted in many years of struggle with eating disorders and followed me around for far too long. In fact, I think it still crops up only with different words to describe it. So the part about being allowed to take up space in the room (literally), brought me back to this in an encouraging, still-have-work-to-do way. Thank you, friend!

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you, Angela. My grandmother was very plainspoken, and that sounds exactly like something she would have said. I think people used to be more prone to say just any old thing about a person’s appearance, especially a child’s. Now we seem to know more about how even one off-handed comment can affect a person, as you unfortunately experienced. I have to remind my husband of this sometimes (he’s the outspoken one between us). We are expecting our first grandchild, and I’m determined to be mindful of such things being said about/in front of them.

      • Thank you for your kind words, Bonnie. I try to be careful with my words with my own kids too…but evenso, they have taken things the wrong way and interpreted them incorrectly at times, so I’m just thankful when they’ll talk to me about it so we can dispel the lies right away. Congratulations on your 1st grandchild…exciting!

    • Wow Angela. That’s a really powerful memory. Your self-awareness about it is powerful as well. Sending love to you this morning.

  9. Were you in my head recently? Getting kind of personal here….*smiling*… a couple of things hit home in your list. “Submit a post to (in)courage,” being one of them and being worthy. Thank you, Emily, I appreciate when people get in my face with truth.

  10. Thank you Emily, for being the voice for those of us who totally get what you’re saying! I did a facebook thing yesterday when you ask your kids questions about you. And they know I love them and they know what my job is. But they don’t know what my favourite food is – and I realised that’s not surprising – do I even know what my favourite food is? Here’s to more self discovery and less fear of personhood

  11. Isn’t it just like the enemy to get into our heads like that? What a crafty way to debilitate our purpose. I fully get what you are saying. I am fifty-one years old and have only just begun to put my finger on this lie! Thank you for your good and true words, Emily. Thank you and keep it up!

  12. P.S. I LOVE the artwork you chose. Beautiful! It looks like you–What I have seen of you in your writing, anyway:))

  13. Yes, oh, yes. The fear of my own personhood has kept me from so many things. I tell myself the skills, the talents, the books, the opportunities…they’re for everyone else, not me. Thank you for the encouragement and the conviction to bring this before the throne of grace and allow the Lord to work in my heart, healing and showing me truth.

  14. I printed from your bold words down through all the “I’m allowed” statements. I’m adding it to the binder I keep to change my thinking. This is a big deal for me!! Thank you for sharing – it is wonderful to break free from stuff like this! I love that you recognized that’s what your clapping was about. That was a break-through for me too when you shared that. Love it!

  15. Yes, I cried after reading this too. Recently, God showed a damaged soul as very young girl where strong words ” quit trying to draw attention to yourself”, caused a fear of inner expressive creativity to be wrong. I have been asking God “Why am I having such difficulty giving myself permission expressing the worship You have given to me?” I go so far in my writing, and then do not allow myself the permission for classes to improve in technique or even think past a blog. ” Don’t draw attention to yourself’.”
    It is a healing process. God loves the little girl from the 1960 who was dancing up and down in front of the camera. He is healing and releasing the personhood He created my soul to express and enjoy. 🙂
    Thank you Emily. Sometimes the fear to go forward in our personhood can be a result from words/lies thrown at us from our past. God can heal those wounds as well so we can go forward.

  16. And I’m allowed to comment?! “Fear of your own personhood”—wow, what a powerful (and scary) phrase, and, sadly, so often so true of me. Just yesterday God was showing me something about myself that I need to own and embrace rather than trying to hide, so it’s lovely to have that permission and freedom echoed again here. Thank you, Emily!

  17. I didn’t realize how deeply I related to this post until the tears began rolling down my cheek while reading, “I’m also allowed to stay home, to wait, to listen, and to be fully myself without having to prove anything.” When I stayed home with our young sons, I felt no guilt, only joy. It was a gift. Now our boys are grown with children of their own. My husband supports my staying home so that I can write and do other types of ministry but I feel guilty, perhaps even shame, when I don’t feel like I’m producing enough to justify my being home during the day. I feel guilty when I daydream about future posts for my blog or when it takes forever for a project to come together. I unknowingly equate down time – waiting and listening – to doing nothing, and then guilt emerges in different and unsuspecting corners of my life. Thank you, Emily, for this post. I’m delighted to be a Hope Writer and I thank you for the encouragement that group offers as well. Blessings!

  18. I’ve never quite looked at it this Emily, that whatever it is, it’s for other people, but you’re right. I have my excuses. The end of last year I decided I was going to submit to a few blogs. One was actually, (in)courage. Since it’s been a few months and I’ve not heard anything, I assume it was declined and I’m okay with that because I took the step, that really felt like a leap. My goal was to take the risk. Now, to tackle a few of the other things you mentioned. Yikes! 😉

  19. Weird how I got here from my inbox but right before I clicked I thought “wonder if I could ever write for a site like incourage” and then it was typed on the screen once I clicked, “incourage accepts submissions”. Thank you for this, it has stirred me up.
    “Art coming from honest hands shows us beauty, stirs up longing, and touches us deeply.”
    –Emily P. Freeman 🙂

  20. Thanks Emily. Why is it taking me so long to even begin to figure this out? Can I send this in a time-travel letter to 20-year-old me please. And God – help me teach this to my daughter now.

  21. And now I want an abstract canvas and a dance-y exercise class and to submit an (in)courage post. : )

    I love this post. I am this post. {Totally see why you cried at the end. }

  22. Over the last 20 years, I have spent forgotten who I am. And here I am today, finally remembering what that 14 year old girl knew way back then. I needed to read this today. I’ve been praying about this for months. Thank you. I’m not a person who comments, but today, I AM Allowed to be here. 😉

  23. Emily,
    You hit the nail on the head with this one!! I have low self-esteem. It takes a lot for me to sign up for things. God has graciously given me the courage to do sign language to music in front of the whole church! Usually I let others go ahead and do things while I step back and just assist or do nothing. We need to give ourselves permission with God’s help to get out there and do and enjoy life!!
    Blessings 🙂

  24. I’ve never thought about it in those terms, but this is my struggle: allowed to put my name in the hat or allowed to be ___. Thank you for bringing this forward and putting words to feelings. This was so needed. (Maybe I do need counseling :))

  25. You know, I’ve never thought about things from this perspective. There are a lot of things I don’t do-my excuse is almost always that we don’t have the money. Honestly, that is often true as we have some really big goals for getting out of debt. However, I don’t know that I will be any better at spending the money on the little things I’d like when we are completely out of debt. I definitely struggle with self-doubt, especially when I consider submitting a guest post to somewhere like here. You’ve definitely given me a lot to think about. Thanks for the post.

  26. Emily,
    Such a great post. I’m delighted that you’ve granted yourself permission to live on purpose, to try new things and to enjoy them. You ARE that girl! I’m compelled to be equally courageous. Keep it up.

  27. Yes. Just, yes.. I launched my first blog about a week and a half ago, and do you know how long I’ve been feeling God’s gentle nudge on my heart to start a blog? 5 years! Yes, 5. I’ve been TERRIFIED of it for 5 years, yet desperately longing to join the ranks of bloggers, and not really understanding why. I finally did it a week and a half ago. This spoke so very much to my heart, because I can so personally relate to this debilitating, confusing fear that can paralyze a person in their tracks. I’m hoping that I’m on the path of making small, baby steps to move past that fear now.

  28. Gah! How do you do this?!?! Speak my very heart. You are a dear one, Emily Freeman. Thank you for all the words you dare to put out there. I pray for the grace to become most fully myself. Bless you!

  29. I don’t quite know how I ‘found’ this site and the site of Emily P.Freeman. If clicked to watch a friend’s video on YouTube and Emily popped up next. I couldn’t believe someone was speaking about the me I had hidden so long. Every post I read was like a sigh leaving my heart. A little unravelling has begun and I feel held for the first time in a long time. No good girl pretending just internal time out. Thank you that you found me.

  30. I love this. So very much. I realize I walk around in so much of my life waiting for someone to hand me a “permission slip” to do anything and everything. What on earth?!?!? Thank you for sharing this. For understanding the struggle. For helping lead the way to freedom. For reminding us that we already have full permission to be fully who we are.

  31. As a recovering “retreater” let me just encourage all to step out in faith. God has so much in store for each of us and desires, I am sure, for us to reach our full potential in Him. Who do you think put those good desires in Your heart? Who gave you those gifts and graces to be used for His glory. He did and it honors Him when we courageously use them. Likewise, when we let the gifts languish out of fear or false humility surely His heart is hurt. Think of your own children and how much it hurts you to see them exhibit signs of shame or fear or poor self worth despite all you have done to build them up. Is our heavenly Father any different? Not only that but the Kingdom is diminished. In recent years circumstances have challenged me to try things I would never have dreamed I was capable of (ok …kicking and screaming along the way) and He has met me at every turn. Take the smallest step of faith and watch what our God will do to meet you!
    For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,but of power and love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

    • oh yeah and how about this…”I can’t” is nothing but a big fat lie of the enemy. Who ya gonna believe?

  32. Thanks for the reminder that I’m allowed to be here. The automatic thought “that’s for other people” is limiting in so many ways, but it’s a thought that comes all too often. This is definitely a habit for me to work on changing.

  33. Thank you for this Emily. I totally get it. It takes a lot of bravery to step into your own personhood but, man, it feels good when you do. My kids do it well–I should study them more often. Thanks again!

  34. Emily, this is not the first time I have read something you have written that was so custom written for me that I about fell out of my seat reading it. You see, just last night, feeling defeated and weary for a million and one reasons, I stood in my kitchen and said, “God, why do You insist on always making me show up? I want to hide in the corner where no one will see me. Nobody will notice I’m not there anyhow.” And then the dark, condemning thoughts began to pummel me — thoughts of worthlessness, insignificance, invisibility. Conviction snapped me out of my pity party pretty quickly, thank goodness, but that oppressive condemnation has been getting worse and worse lately. This usually happens when God and I are on the verge of a breakthrough, so I’m sitting tight waiting to see where He will lead me.

    God tends to teach me one particular lesson during a season, and this season’s lesson is authenticity. I keep hearing that gentle voice: “Remember who you are.” For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m beginning to remember, and once again, He has been gracious enough to lead me in the direction of your words here to confirm that He really is speaking to me, and that I’m not going crazy! Anyway, thank you — the words don’t seem to be enough, but somehow, I know you know the deep gratitude that comes with them. ~ Lisa

  35. Do you know how I know this is me? I find it nearly impossible to own pieces of my “personhood” and instead speak around them as only (less important) components. As in, I would never call myself a “writer”….no, I would say that “I write.” And even in the profession I actually get paid for, I catch myself saying “I perform ultrasounds” rather than “I’m a Sonographer.” It sounds ridiculous, but there really is a huge difference! I never understood why I did this or the implications that come with this tendency, but now I do. Thank you Emily for giving me the vocabulary for it; it makes so much more sense now. <3

  36. “I’m also allowed to stay home, to wait, to listen, and to be fully myself without having to prove anything.”
    My favorite thing read today. I think I’ll go chalk-art it on my board. Thanks, Emily, for yet another word fitfully spoken!

  37. Emily, you must be my younger self trying to tell my older self – l i s t e n – you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned not taking a chance on submitting writing opportunities because — wait for it — no one knows who I am 🙂 Thanks, again for your good words…

  38. Emily, Thank you. This is exactly what I have been carrying around for — oh my, well, we aren’t too sure for how long….My personhood got lost in the day to day living and I am fighting to get it back. For some reason, I grew ashamed that I am a dreamer and a visionary. For some reason I developed a guilt about my ideas and my presence. I don’t feel like these writing and speaking places are for me (and even as I type that a weird thing happens in my stomach) but I know it is how God made me. I come alive in these places. But for some reason, I started questioning God on who He made me to be and therefore shame has clung tightly to aspects of my life. I am currently begging God to get down to the nitty gritty of who He made me to be and allow myself to dance (or Zumba!) in the freedom of that. Thanks girl! Your words were just what I needed….fighting for my personhood in my Savior.

  39. Absolutely love this. You’re absolutely right to observe that a lot of us let our own personally limiting beliefs stop us from doing so many things – even ultimately following our calling. But this limiting belief can affect everything from the microscopic decisions about how we spend our time everyday to whether or not we’re fulfilling our vocation. Beautiful writing, and beautiful encouragements xx

  40. Yes. Thank you for putting into words something that I really didn’t realize was happening in me, until I read this.

  41. YES! One of my favorite quotes is “define yourself or someone else will.” Yet, I have such a hard time living by those words. It’s a combination of not wanting to disappoint others and not wanting to be judged. I’ve been trying much harder this year to be present. The struggle is REAL!

  42. Yes! it’s so odd, but I’ve been noticing the same thought pattern in myself lately. Every time I watch “Fixer Upper”, I notice myself telling myself that those are houses for other people, that I don’t deserve or am worthy of a house like that. Crazy. It shows up in other areas too. I know I’m not promised anything like a Joanna Gaines designed house or anything, but I still think it’s a pretty sinister form of self-bullying. God has only recently brought it to my attention, which usually means He wants to work on it. I really hope He does.