Welcome to the second week of our loosely organized summer book club/discussion/read-along. Today we’ll be discussing Chapters 4 – 6 of Grace for the Good Girl. You may also wish to join us on Facebook where we’ll continue discussion in a closed group, for those who aren’t comfortable leaving their thoughts in the comments.

if I had it to do over again…

If I had it to do over again, I would have made part one shorter. At the time, I felt I needed a full nine chapters to really unpack the good girl issues, to paint a clear picture of her struggles and give women every opportunity to connect with what might be going on beneath the try-hard, pleasant, strong surface.

Now that I have a couple of years of writing and relating with women on these topics, I wish I had condensed those chapters simply to get to the hope part more quickly. When I outlined the teen book on this same subject, I organized it differently. I’m not sure younger girls would hang with me for long if they didn’t see hope.

So thank you for hanging with me, for doing the hard work of discovery and listening. I hope as you’ve been reading, you haven’t felt too stuck. I made great attempts to weave hope and victory throughout these early chapters, but when you are uncovering some of your hiding ways, it can be hard to see if you aren’t looking for it.

the chapter that isn’t in the book – hiding behind her apologies

One interaction I am not surprised to see during our discussion so far is how many of us apologize for stuff – from being too honest to not reading the chapters on time. It’s actually kind of funny, if you think about it. Put a crowd of good girls in a room (even a Facebook room) and we’re bound to start apologizing for things we feel ashamed of.

In a way, obsessively apologizing is part of the hiding. We sorry our way right out of our own personalities. We apologize for not being fine. We apologize for needing help. We apologize for being emotional, inarticulate, not having answers. Sometimes we even apologize for apologizing.

When guests come over, have you ever heard yourself pointing out the mess to them and apologizing for all the imperfections even though you know that they probably don’t care and it doesn’t really matter?

When the dinner dishes still sit in the sink from dinner two nights ago, do you hear yourself apologize to your husband for it, almost like you want to point out the flaws first before he gets a chance to do it even though he’s not that kind of guy?

I completely accept your flaws but I am strictly opposed to my own. What I’m really saying is, Attention everyone! I have a very important announcement to make – I am a human being and I am ever so sorry about that.

But a true sorry is not about me. Saying sorry is a bad idea when it is used to cover up our beautiful, vulnerable, fragile humanity.

Save the apologies for real wounds, for soul sorrow, for widow grief. Save the apologies for when you really wreck things up and need to seek forgiveness. Save them for when we need to hear it. Otherwise your apology is just an empty space filler, something you are expected to say like, “I’m fine, how are you?”

more on the hiding

I nearly left chapter four out of the book. I wrestled with it, struggled through it, worried that it was coming across like we always have to tell everyone all the time how we feel about stuff. And I don’t think that’s true.

Chapter four would wake me up at night in hot sweats, worried I would be misquoted or misunderstood. You know how much good girls hate that. I wanted to be sensitive to the real problem of women hiding behind I’m fine, how are you? while still recognizing and respecting the fact that there are real, clinical and physical issues that need professional counsel and perspective. And that simply being honest about your emotions isn’t always enough.

We talked about two reasons good girls hide behind their fake fine. The first is fear, because if I’m really honest with you, you might run in the opposite direction. The second is laziness, because sometimes it just takes too much energy to tell you what’s going on. I’d rather just keep to myself because it’s easier and maybe you don’t really want to know, anyway.

Hiding behind fine can be a dark, lonely place to live.

Chapter five is packed full with good girl ways. How I would love to sit in Martha’s kitchen and ask what was going through her head that day when Jesus came for lunch. Martha strikes me as a different kind of good girl than me. It doesn’t seem as though Martha would ever hide behind a mask of fine. When she was un-fine, she was not afraid to say so. I really like that about her.

She and Julia Sugarbaker could have had their own show.

But the other thing about Martha, the part of her I see in myself, is this intrinsic belief that if she didn’t do the work, it would never get done. How much we miss out on when we think we are irreplaceable, when we think we have to hold everything together. What would happen if we dropped all our balls and ran full speed into the arms of God, elbows and legs Phoebe-flailing as we go? That feels like a risk.

The beautiful truth of the gospel is that Jesus took the risk on our behalf. We don’t have to figure out how to let go of all the stuff we’re holding onto because Jesus ran full speed onto the dirty, broken roads of earth. He ran full speed to us. He meets us where we are. He fulfilled the law so we don’t have to.

At the end of chapter six (a chapter so close to my heart it’s hard to put in a tiny blog paragraph), I quote Dudley Hall and I’ll quote him again here:

“When you get miserable enough to die, you can be free. Go ahead and live under the law — give it your best shot. Ultimately the law will make you so miserable, you’ll want to die. Then you will find that someone already died for you.”

He really takes being un-fine to the extreme, doesn’t he? But isn’t that ultimately where we have to go? Jesus goes all the way to the cross and so must we. All this good girl junk? The cross is big enough to handle it. And the life of Christ is powerful enough to overcome.

What if instead of brushing our emotions aside and apologizing for the brokenness, we invited a few people into it? What if instead of pointing out the mess on the floor, we welcomed them to sit with us among it? Perhaps we would finally see that we were made for greater things than this. We are living in the midst of provision, abundance, skill. Giftedness. We were made by design and on purpose by an unapologetic God. Dare to receive His making of you. And don’t forget to say thank you.

group discussion

Because there is so much to discuss with these three chapters, I’ll post a question per chapter and you can either answer all three or the one that resonates the most. I will post the questions on Facebook as well and you can answer them there – it might be easiest to keep the answers all in the same thread so we aren’t hopping around the page.

1. What is your main reason for hiding behind your fake fine? Is it because you are afraid (what will they think of me!), lazy (it takes too much work and I need a nap and a bowl of ice cream), or something else?

2. In what ways do you resonate with Martha’s good girl ways? (see pages 62-64 if you don’t know what I mean)

3. Has your idea of the spiritual disciplines and the purpose of the law shifted in reading chapter six? If so, in what ways?

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 21 :: Chapters 7 – 9
June 28 :: Chapter 10
July 5 :: Chapters 11 – 12
July 12 :: Chapters 13 – 14
July 19 :: Chapters 15 – 16
July 26 :: Chapters 17 – 18

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