Wednesday, July 9, 2014
'Grace for the Good Girl' by Emily P Freeman
Many of us believe that we are saved by grace--but for too many, that's the last time grace defines our life. Instead of clinging to grace, we strive for good and believe that the Christian life means hard work and a sweet disposition. As good girls, we focus on the things we can handle, our disciplined lives, and our unshakable good moods. When we fail to measure up to our own impossible standards, we hide behind our good girl masks, determined to keep our weakness a secret.
In Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman invites women to let go of the try-hard life and realize that in Christ we are free to receive from him rather than constantly try to achieve for him. With an open hand and a whimsical style, Emily uncovers the truth about the hiding, encouraging women to move from hiding behind girl-made masks and do-good performances to a life hidden with Christ in God.
Every now and then, a book comes along which just hits the right spot.
This book was written for those of us who have always tried to do the right thing. We please people, we always have a smile and polite reply, we never make waves or cause trouble. When those with messed up pasts come forward to receive affirmation and positive feedback for changing, we sit with plastered-on smiles wondering where we really fit, longing to recognised too. And we hide our deepest hurts and insecurities for the sake of looking good and not bothering others, who we then secretly resent for believing our lies that we are fine.
Several times, I found myself nodding, 'Oh yeah, I've been there.' Wearing masks starts off as a game but becomes an exhausting burden we don't know how to shake off. If people don't seem to buy our acts of 'niceness' we make it our self-imposed job to go to any length to change their minds. Other people become measuring sticks for our goodness and we gauge our performance by their behaviour toward us. No wonder we're exhausted. It's like putting on a live stage show all day long. I felt a lump in my throat when Emily Freeman wrote some of the 'good girl' catch cries. 'Please notice me! The energy it takes to live for your is killing me!'
People wouldn't necessarily think 'good girls' need books to be written, but our need for help may be more desperate than anyone's. Freeman explains the serious position we may be in, as we subconsciously try to convince ourselves that we're good enough by our own efforts. As Christian 'good girls', the magnitude of what Jesus did for us is lost in our own efforts, our determination to be important, right, liked and good. It's hard to deal with the hidden wilderness of sin when we're trying hard not to even acknowledge it. We have a lot in common with the Prodigal Son's brother.
Freeman manages to emphasise the seriousness of this, while retaining her understanding, sympathetic tone. Without knowing, 'good girls' may live our lives with as big a checklist theology as any Pharisee. Like the Prodigal's brother, we misunderstand the sweeping extent of our Father's love and acceptance, and work hard for something we already have. Truly, we need to accept ourselves in the position of the Prodigal for a change, because receiving grace and being able to finally relax may be one and the same for us.
This book may truly be a life-changer for me.
Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life available from Amazon