I always thought I had this easier road, and frankly--a boring story. But the more I learn about God’s generous grace and my tendency to take it for granted, the more I see myself as I truly am: completely incapable and stubborn in the muck of my sin. This good girl thing I’ve got going on doesn’t change the truth one bit. Jesus had to shed just as much blood for my sin as he did for the most radical rebel, the battle was just as hard won for my soul and the depths of my darkness don’t produce one glimmer on their own.
See good girls don’t just put on a mask for the world, we live in a facade and it’s hard to remember that there’s anything past what we see in the mirror. We’ve created this whole alternate world where perfection is within our grasp. If we just work hard enough and strive long enough...we can get there. We imagine that others are there, and that this hilltop of perfection is somehow better, easier, clearer, enriched with good friends, good food, clean houses and successful careers and most of all... a sense of achievement. And we good girls, we forget that we need Christ. We spin our wheels and “hustle” ourselves right back into our prison cells.
I recently had the chance to do an in depth personality assessment and I won’t go into all the details, but dang y’all. God used, what I thought would be lighthearted and interesting, to expose this internal battle in me and it seems like I’ve been fighting on the wrong side. Our family has been in some variation of a season of stress for a loooonnnggg time now. But most of the time I forget that I’ve still got tons of transitions and adjustments that aren’t stopping anytime soon. As soon as Austin got all settled into his job at the church (which he loves), we were moving again into a month-to-month rental. And then out of our month-to-month and moving again into the house we bought. And in the midst of move 2 and 3 I started a new job, and now I’m transitioning into a different job that is more suited to our life and my desires...but again...more transition. Then I’m gonna go and turn 30 and a couple days before that I’ll take my first baby to his first day of school and leave him there all day long and then keep taking him back for the rest of what feels like forever. (But I’m fine guys, it’s fine...pass the tissues...it’s fine.)
It’s a lot.
There’s been lots of feelings. Lots. And when the feelings and circumstances started getting out from under me-- I just bared down and tightened my grip. It should be a pretty good sign that I’m in the weeds when this little saying starts molding my time: “I just NEED everything to be perfect. I just have to be perfect. And the house. And the kids. If I can just get everything under control...then I’ll be good.” And hey--shocker-- that never seems to work out for me. And it’s so not about looking good for anyone else, I know that for some people that struggle is so real, but this is a struggle I would deal with even if I lived alone on a desert island. It’s about earning my worth, proving to myself that I can be or have what it is that I want, I can be my own god.
I try contorting myself into this image that’s born in my mind, my little golden calf if you will, and why am I surprised that I feel imprisoned? Why am I surprised that I’m like a man in an isolation cell, loosing my grip on what’s real and my worth and the grace that’s staring me in the eyes.
Cause my prison cell has a wide open door--not just unlocked--open. I’m free. I’m free, so why am I sitting in this dank, dark place?
I’ve been working so hard and coming up even shorter and heaping shame instead of grace onto my plate. But grace is what has been given to me through Christ. Grace is what I need, and if I’d stop idolizing perfection I’d see that grace is really what I want.
See- I told ya my sin was was stubborn and my stuff was mucky. And I know that I’m not the only good girl out there, fighting and straining to be perfect. I know mine was not the only the rebellious heart that believed the lie that if it wasn’t drugs or crime or trauma that my salvation wasn’t as exciting, or important, or weighty.
It’s just as valuable and just as costly.
My prison may be different than the next guy’s, but I was bound all the same. I was captive and if I’m not careful I’ll go back in and stay awhile and forget that I’m free. He fights hard to love me and pursue me, and it matters. It matters that I stop and receive His love and put down my idols. It matters that this perfect image of a perfect me and a perfect life is shattered. It matters that I see the grace-blood that covers me underneath my mask and changes who I am and what my purpose is.
“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
James 1: 21-25 (emphasis mine)
I know what I’m not being a “doer” of: I’ve been worshiping myself and my ability to make stuff happen and get junk together...kind of, sort of along with worshiping God, if that’s even possible. But that’s not what God’s word commands of me. I’ve forgotten, disregarded, minimized what I look like, what my identity is as a follower of Christ. I haven’t been living my life for His glory, I haven’t been joyful and content in all circumstances, instead I’ve only been joyful and content when I feel like circumstances are under [my] control. Being a doer of the word for me today looks like letting those spinning plates fall. Being a doer means walking through that open prison cell door and walking through it. It means putting aside perfection and in my freedom seeking sanctification through Christ’s goodness to me.
What do ya say good girls? Are you with me? Let’s fight for the right side, let’s stop trying to be perfect and take the grace. Let’s tell the world, because our God is doing the craziest, radically wild work in us. He’s making us new, He’s set us free even from being “the good girl.”
Second photo by Jared & Julie Photography, last photo by Christina Gregor Photography