I’ve been staring at a blank screen, bouncing my eyes around the room as I try to find a good way to start this. Does that happen to you when you know you’re going to share something from your heart? Do your words tumble out and become run-on sentences? Do you stumble over everything you’ve planned in your mind to share? It seems I always have the best, wittiest, deep sentences to write but when I open my computer…they just disappear.

Yet I can guarantee I’ll end this post with way too many words. It always happens. I’m a rambler.

Emily has started a summer book club for her book Grace for the Good Girl. Every Thursday she’s writing on a few chapters and then there’s community to discuss what we’re thinking, learning, growing, changing, etc.

{It’s only Week One so it’s not too late to jump in. Go. Jump.}

What’s funny is that I’ve always considered myself to be a good girl. I’m the one that never really had to sign up to volunteer in high school because everyone just expected I would be there – Because I always was. I never missed Bible Study and I got straight A’s in school (minus that one B+ in History that will bother me for the rest of my life). I was always the girl that people could talk to about life; I would listen and then check in with you later because I truly cared.

I was the good girl.

I didn’t sneak around with boys, heck I never even had a boyfriend. I didn’t do drugs, didn’t cuss my parents out.

I did all the right things.

From the outside looking in, at least.

But inside I struggled. I made some mistakes, but at the end of the day I had always felt like I was expected to be the good girl, so that’s who I was. I performed. But it wasn’t all a performance…I truly felt like I was that good girl.

But here’s the problem: when you’ve always been good, how can you know why you’re loved or accepted? Is it for what you do? What you don’t do? Or for you, yourself, flaws and all?

I never really knew, so I just kept going. There were definitely times I thought I had it figured out, but looking back I can see the masks I was wearing, and still sometimes wear.

The funny part, though? That good girl would have been all over this book club/summer bible study. She would have (re)read the book in preparation for the discussion. She would have gotten on her computer Thursday morning to dive into what Emily and other women were sharing. And then she would have shared part of herself in return, opened up a little bit.

She never would have been late, gotten behind, and waited until Monday evening. And if she did, she would have given herself an internal, stern reprimand. She would have felt guilty for not being on top of things. She would have felt like she had let someone (though it was just herself) down.

Instead I feel just fine.

There is so much power and change for me in that sentence, because I can really see that I’m becoming so much more okay with who I am, masks aside. I should have had 3 chapters read by Thursday but instead I’ve been living life just crafting and watching tv with my family. I sat down this afternoon and read chapter one and just had to sit and digest it all. Because although there’s much further for me to go, more masks to recognize and remove, God has been helping me with this process for months and I’m okay sitting here on a Monday night instead of a Thursday morning.

It actually feels good. Freeing, even.


Enough of that, though, lets get onto some of the quotes from chapter one that stood out to me as I read it this time.

(And no, I’m not going to do chapters 1-3 today because, well, I haven’t gotten that far with my (re)reading. Such a rebel of a good girl. Ha.)

Before the book even begins, Emily shares:

My hiding was so clever that I had everyone fooled, including myself. The masks I chose to hide behind were not obviously offensive…my masks were nice. They were lovely. They were bubbly and likable and attractive…Yet, I hid behind them.

These masks became so natural to me that I didn’t even know they were masks. I thought they were just part of my face. I moved through life hiding behind the good and lived out the mess in secret. 

Can you relate? I could have written those lines myself (if I was a talented book writer :]) because those are straight from my Story.

But then from the mess of good things, there’s Jesus.

We have a God who sees and cares and notices. He will not come undone. He remains un-overwhelmable.

Mmm. Yes. Thank you Lord Jesus. Every time I read this I have to just sit back, soak in the Truth of Him, and thank Him once again that my mess is not going to overwhelm Him. There’s nothing I can say or do that would make him come undone.

I stay strong when I feel weak and I fake happy when I want to cry because my ideal image has everything to do with put together and nothing to do with falling apart…I hide behind my smile and my laid-back personality. I hide behind fine and good. I hide behind strong and responsible. I hide behind busy and comfortable and working hard toward your expectations. And if I do not meet your expectations, I hide behind indifferent.

Well. That’s me to a T. Or it was before I read this at the beginning of college, as God began to prick my heart and nudge me, showing me the masks I’ve put on. Freshman year has done so much for me – I’ve changed in ways I don’t think I could ever put words to. But part of the change has been realizing that I can be weak. I don’t need to always be happy. No one is always fine and good. And for me, showing that I’m weak is actually me being strong.

He’s tested me on this. Time and time again, even in the space of one short year.

I’ve given my absolute all academically, and still gotten my lowest grades ever. I’ve had to learn that I am not my good grades. My success doesn’t define me.

I’ve gotten sick again, on my own, when I’m supposed to be perfectly normal. I’ve had to learn to share my Story with the weaknesses, crying because I’m too burdened to carry it on my own one more day. My strength, or lack there of, doesn’t define me.

I’ve built friendships in one year that I will treasure for a lifetime, but all the while I hear whispers of “What if it happens again? What if you lose them all, too?” My past, rejection, it doesn’t define me.

This fear of rejection drives me hard, eating away at my courage. And so I am cautious in my love.

That is who I’ve been. So worried that the past could re-play itself again in my life, so consumed with doubts and questions over whether people really love me for who I am, or if they’re just pretending, so worried that if they only saw the mess behind the smile…then what?

Cautious in love.

And once again, God has looked at that part of my heart and said, “Now sweetheart that just won’t do. We’re gonna have to change that, okay?”

Lord knows I’ve loved deep and hard this year, and am all the more thankful for it. I realize what I could lose, and I love even harder for the time I’ve been given.

I’m a recovering good girl.

Join me every Thursday, or perhaps a Monday evening thrown in every once in a while? :)

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