how your book title will follow you forever

A few months ago, a friend told me about another friend of hers who she thought might like my book. “She’s a good girl like you,” she said.

“Well I’m a recovering good girl now,” I said, wanting to distance myself from that title as much as is possible.

She looked at me, firm smirk, head slightly tilted forward, unblinking. “You’re still a good girl, you know.”

Grace for the Good Girl :: Chapters 17 – 18

Sometimes it hurts, this having you read my journal, this everybody knowing all my junk, my insecurities, my shortcomings, my lessons. It feels risky because as the reader, it feels like you have the advantage. You have the high ground. You can still protect yourself. You can still hide. You can point to the things I wrote in the book and then point at my life and the ways I forget and tell me I haven’t changed a bit.

She’s right, I still struggle with this good girl. I still have dark lies to slay when it comes to knowing how to live free even when you don’t like me, even when it hurts, even when I wreck it all up. I still need to be reminded of the truth, especially when my feelings shout in no uncertain terms that it is time to hide and it is time to hide right now, woman; get your face behind a mask before somebody sees.

You can point to my outside and you might not be impressed.

But the wonder and the miracle is that I am learning how to care less about impressing you. I am changing on the inside and you may never know how much. And the fact that I don’t care if you know how much?

Well that’s a victory all on its own.

And besides, this isn’t about me, anyway. Women ask me all the time – so what now? I know you’re telling us to let go of the try-hard life, but what does that even mean? What am I supposed to do? What does that even look like?

I have an answer for that, but I’m not sure you’re going to like it.

Here it is: What will you be doing when you get up from the computer? Because whatever that is?

That’s what it’s gonna look like.

Pulling out the laundry basket, heading up the board meeting, putting on your work shoes, taping up the skinned knees, praying in the darkness, laughing with your lover, seeing how they’re hurting, reaching for a friend.

It looks like life. Boring, normal, spontaneous, busy, hilarious, full, heartbreaking life.

I can’t tell you what to do. But I can tell you what Jesus said when people asked him that question.

You can read about it in John 6. He had a full day of water-walking, food-multiplying miracles. And the people followed him and begged to know how he did it, what was his secret, how did he make food out of nothing. “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28) They were willing to do it, I think. They were inspired by his miracles and looking for answers. Their hands were open. Their feet were ready. They wanted bread.

And Jesus answered them in their own language and everything. But I imagine the words he spoke were not the ones they expected. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29)

He gave them bread, the kind that lives, the kind who breathes, the kind we can’t really live without.

Do we have the courage believe him for that? The work of belief requires more of us than the work of our hands ever will.

Not just a belief in spirituality or peace or goodness or mercy. Belief in Him whom He has sent.

group discussion

In chapter 18, we read a series of questions you can ask when you find yourself in a situation where your safety seems to be challenged.

  • What is the truth?
  • What will I choose to believe?
  • What will I choose to do?
  • Will I give up the right to feel as if the truth is true?
Of these four questions, are you stuck on one in particular? Do you struggle remembering truth, believing truth, acting from the truth or giving up your right to feel as if the truth is true? Finally, (and maybe this is my favorite part) name some activities, people, hobbies, or responsibilities that bring you life and make you feel alive. Are you experiencing any more freedom to explore those things now that you are letting go of this good girl perfectionist expectation?

closing thoughts

Thank  you: I know we’ve been kind of quiet in the comments here, but it has been a gift to discuss this book nearly 800 of you on Facebook. Your honesty and insight really does inspire me.

My next book: My next book, Graceful, is for a new generation of good girls. They look different from us, but the root of the struggle is the same. It’s shorter than the first book, completely different layout and content but similar heart. You can pre-order now and it will arrive in your mailbox late August or early September.

Local event: If you are local, I will be speaking at Westover Church in Greensboro, NC next Thursday August 2nd. You don’t have to have read the book to come, but we would love to know if you plan to be there. Just send an email to emily at chatting at the sky dot com and put RSVP in the subject line. Hope to see you there.


  1. says

    Thank you so much for hosting this book club, Emily! So beneficial and I truly appreciated having my eyes opened, the weights (masks) lifted off and the reminders of truth.

    I think for me the fourth question is what I’m currently stuck on the most. *…resting in the sufficiency of the life of Christ* like you said in the end of your book. It’s one thing to believe it and another thing to live like I believe it and trust in it. Always an ongoing process – worth it all the way.

  2. says

    Thank you for being open to sharing your deepest fears. It frees the rest of us to acknowledge our struggle and move toward wholeness. I have begun to surrender and let the Holy Spirit do His powerful work within me rather than continuing that relentless striving. To nowhere. Grace is sooo good.

  3. says

    Fabulous post, Emily. Absolutely fabulous. Your honesty, transparency, courage and heart inspire me…

    I felt the sting of your friend’s words and know the shrinking feeling you must have felt as her words struck deep. I’ve been in that same place before and it hurts and makes you want to hide. I also know where those words ultimately come from… from the one who would like to pin us down, shut us up and keep us small. But, hallelujah, by the blood of Jesus, he has been defeated and his words mean nothing and hold no power. There’s a much bigger voice, a louder voice and his words are true and bring life… and give us the grace and strength to continue to be. Blessings on you…

  4. Rachel says

    Ok, so I have been following from a distance… that’s just me. Never posted a comment before. I have major struggles with the “good girl”, the striving, totally losing sight of God’s grace. Because I really am a failure you know. I feel that way now with my current struggle. My good just isn’t good enough, never was. I imagine people saying “well , you know about that Rachel”….. the pointing fingers. Makes me want to slink into the corner , pull a blanket over my head, and not respond to anyone, even people reaching out. I have appreciated this blog but really internalizing this truth and living free is SO difficult for me. I appreciate your honesty. But wondering if the only person who REALLY loves me is Jesus and having trouble with that. Wondering if my friends really see if like you do Emily? Because I really am not good enough…..never was.

  5. says

    I read the last two chapters this week with held breath, because I so needed to hear it. Feelings aren’t always true… but God’s Word is. Thank you for this book, and for providing us with a place to link up.

  6. says

    This verse: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” has been in the front of my mind all week. Love that you used it here.

    Thank you Emily, for bravely walking this path in spite of your fear and sharing with the rest of us.

  7. says

    John 6. That point you make there about the people asking Him what to do next is a really good point. Was that in the book? If not, it should be. I love that. John 6. I’m going to go read that. Thanks for pointing me back to Jesus when my heart leans away from him and more on me.

    After reading the book, I felt a big “well, what now?” The book exposed my good-girl-ness, and showed me a lot about myself. I tried to do nothing about it. I tried to let go and think about it. It’s been good. I made a decision to step out of some roles for a season, and that’s been good. Great, actually.

    What was missing was the focus on believing. Asking myself the hard questions.

    ps…as a side note, the second thing that customers bought when buying your book on Amazon was a post-it value pack. Only good girls keep Post-It in business. This is evidence.

    • says

      That is hilarious. About the post its.

      And the John 6 part is in my next book Graceful. Tell the whole story. It’s interesting how these truths keep digging deeper into me. I wrote Grace for the Good Girl in 2010 and in 2 years, I’ve learned even more.

      I don’t think its so bad to be left with the “well what now” I think that shows us our desperate neediness. What now is not a what. It’s a WHO.

  8. says

    I just started reading your book, and it has been so good for my soul! I am going to be in Greensboro on the 5th and I so wish I could sneak down a couple of days early for your event and meet you.

    Thank you for being so honest and open with your life on your blog and in your book. I am sure it does feel pretty risky, but I’m sure you also know that even if God has used you to touch one person, it’s 100% worth it.

  9. Rachel says

    It is later in the day and I certainly am NOT a morning person. I am re-posting because after I read my earlier post I realized …….No I am NOT good enough but that is where the awesome grace of God comes in……that is why Jesus came because even on my best day I am NOT good enough. HE is! And HE loves me!. Isn’t that amazing!? Each time I catch a glimpse of God’s Grace I feel a huge burden roll off my shoulders. Emily , I first linked up with your blog from the Charles Morris website. Immediately identified with the title and you. I am a good girl who for a while at least has fallen down. But kind and caring people are helping me recover. SO difficult to admit that I need help! Cringe!. I appreciate so much your honesty and being vulnerable. I actually called a friend today. She had been reaching out and I was in the corner hiding. Thanks for showing me the way! Maybe many of us are in the corner hiding????? Thanks again!

  10. says

    We’re done already? This has been a great addition to my summer! Thank you, Emily for hosting. I think I’m going through each of those questions regularly as I’m living this risky life of speaking the truth about me and about my Savior. Thank you for leading the way for good girls everywhere and for doing it first!
    And yes, I am absolutely experiencing more freedom in pursuing the things that bring me life!
    This morning I was asked to speak to a small group of ladies at my church. The only reason I could say yes was because of the safety of His grace! This message is so desperately needed. Grace for salvation and Grace for the power to live each day. I’m looking forward to Graceful!

  11. Rebecca says

    I definitely struggle with the last question the most. “Will I give up the right to feel as if the truth is true?” Somehow then I am not sure how to know truth. I mean I try to think of what God would say is true but it isn’t always that easy. It is a learned exercise that takes more work than feeling. But that is really where I need to go for truth. I struggle to remember truth and then to stand up to my feelings at times.
    Things that make me feel alive: keeping Sabbath and spending purposefly rest time with my family each week, inviting people into my home no matter what it looks like or how ready i feel, attending and speaking up at my ladies bible study, running/exercising, making decisions on how my kids and I will spend our time and what homeschooling curriculum/methods we will use based on my own convictions, and looking for ways to serve others genuinely without the mask.
    Thank you so much for all that you put into this study Emily. I can’t wait to read and pass on the next book.

  12. Rebecca says

    This line was incredible powerful to me. I am still tossing it around in my brain. You have a wonderful way with words. WOW!
    “Do we have the courage believe him for that? The work of belief requires more of us than the work of our hands ever will.
    Not just a belief in spirituality or peace or goodness or mercy. Belief in Him whom He has sent.”

  13. says

    That is the tough part. Pouring out all your junk into a book and baring it for all to read. It is my main reason of why I have had a hard time writing down my testimony for the past 4 years. Even my husband was not okay with it. We all have this need in us to show others that we have it all together. But the reality is that NO one has it all together. And it’s encouraging and inspiring to be welcomed into someone’s heart and learn more about their story and allow it to teach us a little something as well. After 4 years of wondering how I am going to share mine and if I even can, I have finally started to write it down. Not to mention, my husband is on board as well. Just another example that God’s timing is always perfect.

    Thank you once again for such a great message!

  14. says

    wow! this is sooo deep and living…. my souls breathed.

    I like the Jesus quote you quoted, and I liked the Jesus’ answer (John6: 20-29)

    28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
    29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

    …… the workOfGod is to believe not in the works, but in the One that the Father has sent. Not to believe in the bread nor fishes. but the “worker” of the “works”, not the works.

    _______This is breath-giving/peace giving/grace-reminding________

    …….For salvation comes by grace, not by works :) Ephesians 2:8-9

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