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.