Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Impressed series. Be sure to follow the rest of the series HERE.
I remember that feeling so vividly, the feeling of anger welling up inside because how could they do that, how could someone I know sin so badly and make such a stupid mistake. I remember feeling if they loved Jesus they should have never made that mistake, never made that choice. But also feeling bitter because they were the ones getting all of the attention, all of the support and I, the good girl, was getting nothing. That there was nothing for me so I needed to try hard and do better.
Growing up, I was always known as the “girl good,” not only by my family and friends but all throughout my school. It was like I had it tattooed on my forehead (but I would never get a tattoo back then so that would be impossible) and everyone who came into contact with me knew it. There was probably a little bit of an attitude that came along with this, and if you are/were a good girl, you know exactly what I’m talking about. That attitude of I’m better than you but I will never come out and say it so I will just tell you everything you are doing wrong but with a smile on my face. I believe I was suffering from what I call “The Graceless-Good-Girl Syndrome.”
I thought that doing all these good things meant that I would be a better Christian and know God better, but I realized that was not the case.
For the most part I had grown up in church, and in high school the legalistic good girl came out in full force. Looking back, I was never asked to do drugs, drink or do anything provocative, because people knew that I wouldn’t, probably because I had been very vocal about never doing those things. It made me feel good to look down at others for their sins and tell them they were wrong and that I would be “praying” for them. Because heaven knows I would never do anything like that. You would never catch me being the prodigal son.
But as I got older, that try harder and do better attitude really began to wear on me. I was tired of always being the one who was good, the one who never seemed to have any fun because I was trying to do what I thought God wanted me to. The girl who never got dates because I was looking for a guy that fit the list I had made about the guys that I would date back in high school (and let’s be honest, only Jesus could fill that list). I thought that doing all these good things meant that I would be a better Christian and know God better, but I realized that was not the case. I recognized it was only leaving me tired, empty and bitter.
I was scrolling through an online bookstore one day and came across the book Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman. I don’t think I have ever clicked “buy” so quickly in my life because just the title alone screamed my name. The moment the box arrived, I ripped it open and sat down in front of a hot cup of tea and began reading. I didn’t get through the first chapter without wondering how she could have pulled out the lies that I believed in my head and put them on paper. But more than that, I was impressed how she could use the grace and love of God I had been working so hard to earn to show me that I was doing this thing called “following Christ” all wrong.
The word “weak” is not a bad four-letter word but a word that reveals my need for the Lord because when I am weak, He is strong.
“When we believe that God expects us to try hard to become who Jesus wants us to be, we will live in that blurry, frustrating land of Should Be rather than trust in The One Who Is. We will do whatever we believe it takes to please God rather than receive the acceptance that has already been given. We will perform to live up to what we believe his expectation is of us rather than expectantly wait on him.” (pg.32) Reading this book was like putting a mirror up to my face and here are a few things that I saw needed to be changed:
- My fear of failure was an idol that I held onto thinking that God or others would or would not love me based on my performance. I was more worried at night lying in bed wondering if I could have done something better, helped someone more, given more of my time instead of seeking Christ. I was missing out on depth and an intimate relationship with Him because of my always doing and performing attitude.
- God’s grace is big enough to not only cover what I thought were the ultimate sins, but also to cover my sin of perfection and legalism. I am learning to see my sin for what it really is, sin. And to know that God’s grace is big enough to cover me, the girl who always walked the straight path, felt left out, tried harder, and became emptier. Me, the recovering good girl.
- The word “weak” is not a bad four-letter word but a word that reveals my need for the Lord because when I am weak, He is strong (2 Cor. 12:10). It is okay to admit weakness and that you can’t do it all – there is a reason they call Wonder Woman a fictional character. In fact, weakness is freedom. Freedom not having to carry everything on your own but give it to the One whose burden is light (Matt. 11:30).
- He is enough. No amount of try harders or do betters will make Him any more or less, but right now where I am, He is enough to satisfy this heart.
I am so thankful God uses women like Emily Freeman to speak truth about God’s grace and help me walk through those false ideas we manifest about who God says we are and what He desires of us. We don’t have to live behind the mask with Him or anyone else, but are free to live in Christ through what He has done for us, not what we can ever do on our own! Can I get an AMEN sisters in Christ!
Interested in reading Grace for the Good Girl? Click HERE to read!
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