Monday, November 7, 2011

Grace for the Good Girl

My apologies for the weird changes in font size. Something happened in the formatting between writing and posting that I had no control over.

I hardly know where to begin. When I ordered this book, I knew I needed it. Bad. I was so ashamed of the failure that I saw myself as. I tried so hard to do things right--be a good sister, a good daughter, a good friend, a good home maker--and I just couldn't do it. I was supposed to be strong. I've always been the strong one. Everyone thinks I'm a strong, very good girl. But here I was, finding myself helpless when it came to knowing what God wanted me to do about a job, constantly messing up with my family, and even my friends. I felt so weak, so broken. To be honest, I was depressed for a couple weeks, feeling my failure so keenly. Knowing I was depressed made me feel like even more of a failure. After all, good girls don't get depressed!
Those who sow with tears 
will reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping, 
carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, 
   carrying sheaves with them.
Ps. 126:5-6

Opening this book was like opening my heart's journal. Emily took the time to talk about the ways we good girls have made ourselves prisoners. We create expectations for ourselves---"I must be a good sister"---and then we create definitions to go along with those expectations. We define "good" as "perfect". When we can't be that perfect someone, we feel guilty. Not only do we feel guilty, we feel ashamed. We can't see past our own failure. It keeps us from moving on, and, most importantly, it keeps us from God.

"But then something happens to offer a bit of encouragement, and I find the strength to redouble my efforts at goodness...I feel empowered, and so I try again. Then, I fail again. I don't like to fail and I certainly don't want you to know I've failed. And I'm embarrassed at the predictable pattern of defeat that my life has become." Grace for the Good Girl, page 25

"Guilt says I did wrong. Shame says I am wrong.
Guilt deals with behavior. Shame deals with identity. 
Guilt leads to repentance. Shame leads to hiding."Grace for the Good Girl, page 117

Another miserable part of being a good girl is the masks we wear. We want everyone to think we've got it all together. We don't let the walls down and let them see that we're not so strong. We might get hurt. And good girls run from pain. 
"One of the worst consequences of the Fall is the elaborate barriers people erect between themselves and others." Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
So we leave our messed up lives in secret, ashamed before God. Ah, but we forget. 

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42
We've forgotten what is better. We've chased so hard after being good, that we stay in the kitchen, away from Jesus. 
"But Jesus is calling us to a deeper, truer, freer identity. All He wants is simply you--minus your good works, minus your perfect attendance, minus your politeness. When you really believe that, you may discover that all you want is Jesus, simply Jesus. Not just to get to heaven or to help you be a good person or do the right thing, but to simply love and be loved by Him." Grace for the Good Girl, page 36
"So now I stand at a fork in the road: I can try to figure out a way to continue making life work on my own or I can accept defeat and accept Jesus' invitation to simply Come." Grace for the Good Girl, page 25

Oh man, the freedom I found in taking that road of just going to Jesus! I quit trying. I couldn't do it. 

"Lord, I lay my good girl images before you. I can't be good enough for my parents, myself, or anyone else. My righteous acts are filthy rags. Father, I want to become a Jesus girl, not a good girl! Please, live my life for me! Let me walk through you alone! Mold me into Your image, not that of a good girl." Journal entry, 10/12/11

As Emily went on through the book in her warm personal style, identifying many of the lies that she had believed, and sharing the truth about them, I began to see the lies in my life.
"What have I been doing to make me a "bad" good girl?
-Creating expectations for myself--good sister, good daughter, friend, wife, housekeeper
--Creating expectations for my image
--Defining "good" as "perfect", instead of "walking with God."
Truth: The only place I should go to hide is the shadow of His wings.
What does being a bad good girl do to me?
--I fail to reach my expectations and feel guilty and ashamed.
--I begin to think that if I fail, I'm a failure.
Truth: My failure has been redeemed.
Truth: I will never meet God's expectations, but Jesus did on my behalf. I am freed from trying.
Truth:"We Know that God gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty."~Elizabeth Ann Steton
Truth: He will satisfy in every longing and comfort in any pain.
Truth: If the Lord delights in a man's way He makes his steps firm. Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand. Ps. 37:23&24 "Journal Entry, 10/17/11

A fresh start. A new beginning. Learning to stop trying, and just rest in Jesus. Emily delved into many practical areas of life as well, such as dealing with sin and having quiet time.
"Quiet time is no longer something I do. Rather, it is a description of what happens when I am with God."Grace for the Good Girl page 149
"There is a difference between the discipline of sitting down with God and the pleasure of knowing his voice.It is one thing to make yourself do something. It is entirely another to find pleasure in relationship." Grace for the Good Girl, page 76

It's difficult to detail the things that the book said, because, as has happened with other life changing messages in my life, the memory of what was said fades into the background of what God said to me through it. All I can say is to come broken to Jesus, and ask Him to take over. If you, like me, need some help in knowing where to begin, Grace for the Good Girl is a good place to go. Otherwise, just pray. Pray, pray, pray. Instead of trying so hard, just pray about those things that you failed at. Pray about everything! Ask God to help you get up in the morning. Ask Him to help you be self controlled and disciplined with your eating and exercising. Ask Him to give you His love for someone. Ask Him to change you from the inside out into a servant. Ask Him to give you grace with others while you head is hurting.
"Do this. Change your definition of prayer. Think of prayers less as an activity for God and more as an awareness of God. Seek to live in uninterrupted awareness. Acknowledge His presence everywhere you go. As you stand in line to register your car, think, "Thank you Lord for being here." In the grocery as you shop, "Your presence my King, I welcome." As you wash the dishes, worship your maker." Max Lucado, Come Thirsty
Above all else, seek God. Desire Him above all else. Ask Him to become your one delight and passion. When you desire nothing but God, everything else changes. 

"Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you." Psalm 73:25

"My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek." 

Ps 27:8

Overall, this book is definitely rated a ten! I'd say it's on my list of current top five books.
1. Radical by David Platt
2. Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman
Set Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy
4. Wrestling Prayer by Eric and Leslie Ludy
5. Praying for Your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer


  1. Hmmmmm, I think a certain "good girl" in this house would benefit greatly from reading this book!!! ;) Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. You're welcome to borrow it Shonya! I'm working in L. now, so I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to get it to you.


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