Grace for the Good Girl :: Chapters 7 – 9

We are in our third week of discussion of Grace for the Good Girl. And friends? I have the heart but not enough hands to do all I so desperately want — to make the dinner and write the thorough posts and love the girl slipping under my arm. You too? Good. Let’s keep this short.

grace for the good girl

Have I introduced you to Jamie yet? She is the one who approves your requests to join the Facebook group. If you haven’t joined yet, we’d love to have you. There’s lots of amazing conversation happening over there.

I tell you this on purpose, because I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to jump into this book club if Jamie hadn’t said she would help. She is a great support, if in no other way but reminding me that someone is in this thing with me. She will tell you she hasn’t done much. I will tell you she’s made all the difference.

When someone is overwhelmed, it takes so little to encourage.

I was overwhelmed. She encouraged.

I tear up thinking about it, how self-righteously I wish I could handle everything on my own. How desperately thankful I am that I can’t. Why am I still tempted to think alone is better? Why do I sometimes still despise my own humanity?

pink shoes

Under this mask, we are hilarious and weak and brave and needy. Life is hard, we are broken, and some of us work long hours to cover that up.

We smile when we don’t feel fine. We cry when you can’t see us. We apologize for our shortcomings. We refuse to explore desire. We convince you we have no needs. We are jealous of the adventure of the prodigals. We are bitter when they get to come home.

And oh, how He loves us so.

He is unimpressed with our facades and unflustered by our messes. He points with his eyes straight into ours and asks us what it is we want.

“Jesus himself routinely asked people questions that helped them to get in touch with their desire and name it in his presence. He often brought focus and clarity to his interactions with those who were spiritually hungry by asking them, ‘What do you want? What do you want me to do for you?’ Such questions had the power to elicit deeply honest reflection in the person to whom they were addressed, and openend the way for Christ to lead them into deeper levels of spiritual truth and healing.”

Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms

group discussion

Last week I think it worked well to post the questions here as well as on Facebook for discussion. You can either answer all three or the one that resonates the most. If you are joining us at Facebook, keep your answers all in the same thread so we aren’t hopping around the page. Your discussion over the past week brought me to tears as well as fist-pumps more than once. It is a gift to get tiny glimpses into the lives of so many women I can relate with.

1. Do you teach people you have no needs and are you angry with them when they believe you?

2. I shared the story of the little girl who had to choose between the pencils or the activity book. Which would you choose? Why are you so afraid to discover what you really want?

3. In Chapter 9, we read about the story of a father and his two sons. The rebellious one gets a party when he comes home while the religious one refuses to go in. There’s a party going on – where are you standing? Inside with the celebration? Right outside with your ear pressed against the door? A mile out in the fields alone?

book club information

  • Get a copy of the book. It’s never too late to join us. (AmazonB&NLifeWayFamily Christian).
  • Join the closed Facebook group where discussion is happening as we speak.
  • Sign up for the book club if you haven’t already. If you already subscribe to get my monthly newsletter, simply update your preferences to include the book club.
  • If you are on Twitter, we’ll use the hashtag #graceforthegoodgirl (unless you can tell me something shorter)
  • If you have blog, consider writing your own post on Thursdays and hosting discussion with your own readers. Link up to your own blog post in the linky below.

Reading Schedule:

June 28 :: Chapter 10
July 5 :: Chapters 11 – 12
July 12 :: Chapters 13 – 14
July 19 :: Chapters 15 – 16
July 26 :: Chapters 17 – 18

Mark Your Calendars :: If you are local-ish, we are planning an evening event in Greensboro, North Carolina at the end of our study, Thursday August 2nd. I’ll have details coming soon, but wanted to whisper a tiny heads up for anyone who is close enough to make it, live and in person.

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  1. says

    I have your book but I am only on chapter 2 right now- but I know I am going to enjoy it. Just your question today: Do you convince people you have no needs and then get angry when they believe you?

    Um, yes. And when you put it that way, I can see how ridiculous that is.
    And His grace… it FREES us from all this ridiculousness!

    This post today reminded me of my favorite quote on this topic:

    With that request for help comes and end to our playacting before the imagined audience of God and the people around us. We also receive relief from the intolerable pressure to demonstrate how much spiritual progress we have made and to show how spiritually mature we have become. (Grace Upon Grace by John Kleinig p. 39)

    (read my blog post on this here- where I had to put this in practice in an awkward way in front of my children: )

  2. says

    It’s funny, I’ve always had a bit of a beef with not only the prodigal son story, but also with Song of Songs…as if the worst husband in the world would be honored to write that book. I don’t get bent out of shape about Eccl. but that one? He screwed up his life by women, and he gets to write the sexiest poem of all time? :/
    I don’t think I intently* teach people I have no needs, but that is more because I feel my spouse and I work on problems so well together, they often don’t get to ‘community need’ level other than prayer and sharing.
    I think the thing I get frustrated about is more that if I pour into people for a long time, that they aren’t there when I could use a hand, like it’s my perception that it’s all me giving, them receiving for a long time. I don’t even know if this is a true perception, or a skewed one, I just know I feel that way at times. I then feel I need to put out less effort in the future, and after awhile it leads to self-righteousness and that whole horrible lot.
    Sarah M

  3. says

    Yes, I teach people I have no needs and I begin to feel irritated and distant when they believe me. And, I would have chosen the activity book. Truth be told, I’d still choose the activity book today. Seeing so much of me that’s never been pointed out as I read. I think when this is all done, I’ll be going back to chapter 1 again.

  4. says

    Hi there,

    My name is Olivia Blackler, I am a New Zealander who is currently living in New Zealand but funnily enough I was living in Charlotte, NC last year. I married an American in January 2011 and moved to Charlotte where he had been living for the last 7 years. Anyway, I just love the way the Lord guides us to exactly what we need for encouragement. The truths you speak about in your blog (which I discovered through Ann Voskamp’s blog) is exactly what the Lord is teaching me in this season in my life. I came home to NZ to have my first baby and through this as well as trying to figure out my role as a wife, the Lord has been teaching me all about grace and highlighting how ungraceful I am toward myself. God is teaching me a lot about the burdens/standards/expectations I place on myself that are so crippling. These are not His yoke or burden which we are called to carry. I am excited to discover that you have written a book all about this and will look forward to reading it!


  5. says

    My goodness. Yes, I do this all the time. I teach people that I have no needs, and then I secretly resent them for believing it. And then, when I recognize that this whole awful cycle is taking place, I start to feel guilty for a) even having needs (after all, “the Father has given you all that you need”, you ungrateful wretch), and b) wanting others to be a part of fulfilling those needs/resenting them for not doing so (“geez, Katie, it’s not all about you, you know. Don’t be so selfish and worried about yourself all the time”).

    It’s sick, I know.

    I think I get so caught up in Paul’s “I’m all things to all people” and Jesus’ call to forsake everything for Him and His Kingdom that to set boundaries of any kind seems unloving/unserving/unwilling to die to myself/unChristian/etc. (e.g., “if you really had the love of Christ for that homeless drug-addicted sex offender panhandling on the street, you’d invite him to come live in your spare bedroom”)

    Yes, I’m screwed up. And I just graduated from seminary. And I’m going to be a pastor. And I’m really, really screwed up. But thank you, Emily, for this book. It came into my life at precisely the right moment.

  6. says

    Between the pencils and the activity book, I would have been like you Emily, I NEVER would have picked the pencils, but really, sadly, I would have chosen neither and walked away in defeat. I want someone else’s opinion because I can’t be trusted with my own. But when the opinion goes against what I really want I think, “forget it, I was right. I can’t trust myself.”
    Getting the pencils: you have probably made the wrong choice
    Getting the activity book: admitting that my choice was wrong
    If, however, I would have chosen the activity book just to please (whoever it is I’m wanting to please), I would have later become dissatisfied with the choice because that is not what i really wanted. I end up with a great deal of regret and resentment toward the other person. The good thing is that since they are the one that made the choice for me I can avoid taking responsibility for my own choices.
    Getting the activity book: if I don’t like it I can blame my dad
    I know, it’s twisted.

  7. Amber says

    I am continually shocked when it hits me that I don’t feel like I can call anyone. Here I spend all my time when I am not at work investing into people’s lives, but when I feel like I am going to lose it there is no one I can call. I get upset with the people in my life and then am quickly reminded I have put myself in this position. Nothing ever changes though- I fight through and rationalize my thoughts and feelings to where I don’t need anyone anymore. Then I continue to live life like I have been doing for 10 years. This pattern has built an incredible wall in my faith and relationship with Christ. I can’t be honest with myself so how can I be honest with Christ?!

    Hmmm… I would be at the celebration with a smile on my face, but fuming on the inside. Again, I rationalize that my feelings and thoughts are not valid and I just need to get over it. So, I put on the mask and give everyone a good performance.

  8. says

    I’m joining in late this week, but I continue to be thankful for all of you who are part of this discussion!

    1. Do you teach people you have no needs and are you angry with them when they believe you?

    Yes. I’m fine with everything until I’m not fine anymore and then wonder why a friend or my husband isn’t there to help me. I’m realizing that is probably because they believed me that I was fine and didn’t know anything had changed.

    2. Would you choose the pencils or the activity book? Why are you so afraid to discover what you really want?

    I probably would choose the pencils and then go home and think over and over about which one I should have chosen and maybe go back to exchange them for the book.

    Why am I afraid? If I chose the wrong one, I may be disappointed or it might be inconvenient. And if it was my choice, I carry all of the responsibility of the choosing. But I want it to be my choice. Crazy mix of independence and a desire to please others.

    3. There is a party going on in the Father’s house (Chapter 9 – the prodigal son) – where are you?

    I am thankful to be inside celebrating with the father that his son has come to his senses. I have compassion for the older brother because I was there once (and still am sometimes), too. And I’m so thankful that the gospel is for both those who are outwardly and inwardly disobedient to the Father!

  9. says

    “1. Do you teach people you have no needs and are you angry with them when they believe you?” I wouldn’t say angry with them, but disappointed because they didn’t dig deeper, but like you infer, not their fault, especially if their truly interested in the answer and I choose not to be vulnerable with them.

  10. Mary says

    Saw this quote on Pinterest today:
    “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steven Furtick

    Most of us know that just because someone makes it look effortless doesn’t mean it was.

  11. says

    Sooo, basically we are on chapter 10 tomorrow, but I like to live on the edge and wait until the last second to jump in. It is apparently how I roll, at least this week! I keep thinking about Question 2 and the activity book, but more from the parent perspective. I know I have posed these same “leading” questions with my own daughter, “So, where do you want to eat, Chick Fil A or Salsarita’s? Don’t forget, Salsarita’s kid meal comes with a cookie!!” Why do I want to control her supposed “choice”? Am I trying to turn my daughter into a “good girl” like myself? Thankfully, my daughter is brave like the girl who chose the pencils and would have chosen her fave lunch locale regardless of my suggestions. I just wonder how many people have watched me from afar as you watched this father/daughter relationship play out. Looking forward to discussing chapter 10!

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