Grace for the Good GirlWhen I first heard of Emily P. Freeman’s book , I thought, “Grace? Check. Good? Check. Girl? Check.” All those words were familiar to me, so I thought I didn’t need this book.

But then I saw the sub-title. Letting go of the try-hard life.

And I knew this book was for me.

Like many young women who were raised in the the church and homeschooled, I know all about being a good girl. I know all the rules and just how to play the part. And I know, just like you, how much work it all is.

As I immersed myself in Emily’s delicious prose (it’s as enjoyable as a bubble bath, friend!), I began to feel like she knew me better than I knew myself. Her story was as gripping as a novel because it was like a backstage pass to my life. She described my own childhood, full of hidden doubt and fear, my struggle to find true relationship with Christ through my teens, and even the guilt and shame I felt as a young mom who never seemed to find time for devotions and prayer. Emily’s been there, too.

But the Lord has patiently guided Emily beyond the try-hard days to a life lived from His perspective. She’s learning to see her worth through His eyes, instead of slaving for people’s approval. She’s found her identity is not in what she accomplishes in a day, but in Whose she is. And she takes you along on the journey, allowing you glimpses of the freedom to be had, and giving vital hints for finding your way out of the good girl treadmill.

Chapters detail the many ways we hide — behind performance, reputation, spiritual disciplines, indifference, and our comfort zones. Then she reveals how we can be found — through truth, trusting, worship, service, and setting our minds. Finally, she assures us that we are safe — even in hurt, failure, and when things are out of our control.

I found this book refreshing and exciting. To know that someone else understood my hidden fears and ridiculous drive for affirmation, and that there’s freedom and joy available for this good girl, even when I mess up. It’s so good, I wish I could buy cases and cases of them and give them to every good girl I know — to all of you! Alas, I’m not that good. 😉 But two of you will get your own copy of Grace for the Good Girl through this giveaway…

Do you remember the first time you felt like a “good girl”? Was it based on something you accomplished, or your appearance? Share one of your “good girl moments” in the comments to be entered for the book giveaway. Then ponder the fact that God loves us because HE is good…  (Giveaway ends March 23.  Congratulations to our winners, commenters #12 and #14, selected by random.org: Leah and Bekah!)

Visit Emily’s website to read the first chapter of Grace for the Good Girl.  And if you’re a high school girl, stay tuned!  Emily’s new book just for you is now available for pre-order: Graceful: Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life.

34 Comments

  1. I’ve wanted to read this book for a while, now. I grew up in a very works-based, psychology driven church. The kind that insisted that being in church 3 times a week, tithing, mission giving, etc… was necessity to how God viewed you, and to what level of “good” you would find yourself. It took me several years (and coming out of that church) to realize that my good girl status is as filthy rags before God. It is the grace, and righteousness of Christ that I can rest in. It’s not that those things I learned are void, but grace has been teaching me that proper faith produces proper works, not the other way around!

  2. I hope its not to late to enter the giveaway…
    Growing up as an MK in a conservative family, I have often felt like the “good girl” when around certain friends priding myself in my “righteousness”. There have also been times when I feel like I need to be perfect and keep up the “good girl” image. It’s so discouraging to keep trying and failing. I often need to remind myself that all I need to do is focus on Christ and pleasing Him. As I do so, He will work on the oh-so-many failing areas in my life.

  3. I’ve grown up being the “good girl.” I naturally tend to have a quiet sort of personality, so I thought I was doing good…when I was younger I was quiet and outwardly obedient. When I was older, I dressed right, knew Bible answers, and generally conformed to the mold of a good Christian girl. I’ve realized lately, though, how dangerous that was…because it’s easy to be “good” when you fit in, but once those outward things aren’t comfortable, it becomes obvious that your “goodness” was only superficial. True goodness comes from your heart; it’s not put on, and it’s not about how you look or dress or what you’re doing or not doing. True goodness can only come from Christ.

  4. I have always been a good girl. I won’t miss church without a “valid reason”, I will always try to be early for meetings, I eat “well”, study hard, help others… but sometimes it just feels so empty… that something’s lacking…that I’m just not “good enough”. I read the description of Grace for a Good Girl and I cried. I have always prided myself for being a good girl.. but it’s been so tiring, so draining… I talk about relying on God’s strength all the time but it is only recently that I’ve been truly, sincerely coming to know and accept what His grace meant for me, that I don’t have to strive hard for men’s acceptance because Love has already found me. and He will never leave me, nor forsake me. Truly, amazing love.

  5. I really need to read this book. All my life i’ve tried to be the good girl, at school we had a system of de-merits, which you got for doing anything wrong! I never ever lost one and felt that I was pretty much perfect. Since getting married and growing in grace i’ve realised that there is nothing good in me, at all. It’s all of Christ.

  6. I was a “good girl” as long as I can remember, because I paid attention in church and Sunday School, and dressed more modestly and had longer hair than most of the other girls. I knew my parents were proud of me when they compared me to other kids…but those were their standards, all outward, not God’s standards which begin in my heart. I’m just now beginning to learn that God cares more about Who I Am than What I Do.

  7. I can relate! I was as “good” as a girl could be! I read my bible every day, prayed, was very involved in church, only read Christain books, and only had Christain friends. I thought I was a Christain, by doing so many good things, but I had no real peace. For months I struggled with anxiety and depression, not realizing what I was missing. REPENTENCE AND TRUST.

  8. Lydia Borengasser says:

    There have been many moments when I’ve considered myself to be “the good girl.” How I have been reminded lately that I am anything but good! I cannot earn favor with God. By His grace, I am alive. By His grace, I have been redeemed. By His grace, I am becoming more and more like Christ. By His grace, He sees me as righteous. I have nothing….He calls me His own, so I have everything.

  9. I’ve struggled with this. I’m currently working as a missionary overseas and the struggle between “just keeping up the good girl image” and just absolute realness, is tough. It somehow feels that those who are looking up to me, do, because I’m a missionary… and missionaries are, as they should be, expected to hold to a certain standard. Its not a new standard to me– its one I’ve been held to all my life. Its not a bad standard either, its just I’m constantly having to re-evaluate “Why am I living by this standard, again?” To bless the Lord, not to impress Him I hope. When I “collapse” in exhaustion and defeat I know I’ve been carrying the burden of trying to produce my own fruit. And I start from square one again.

    “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you , and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart : and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  10. It was rather frustrating growing up because my siblings termed me as the “angel,” the “perfect child,” or the “good girl who never does anything wrong.” I knew in my heart that I didn’t do everything right and messed up countless times. Maybe they said that because I did try my very best to behave and be good and it showed by my actions.

    I do recall having a difficult time “guarding the edges of the Sabbath.” From early on, we were taught to get the cleaning done or any major cooking done well before sundown on Friday because we keep Saturday as the Sabbath. I wouldn’t clean after sundown, but sometimes would find myself rushing during the last 30 min to get everything done, which wasn’t very restful.

    So as I grew older, I realized I needed to change something and decided to clean throughout the week or at least do most of the cleaning on Thursday so that come Friday, all I would have to do was cook for Sabbath and tidy things up. And that’s what I ended up doing and I felt much more restful and really felt like I was being a “good girl” ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I first realized my worth as a “good girl” after I went on my first real date with a guy when I was thirty one years old. I felt like a good girl because I conducted myself in a lady like manner. I dressed modestly, watched my language, and used the proper manners my mother always taught me while I was growing up. Even though things didn’t work out between me and the guy I went out with, I can still look back on my memories of that night and be proud that I didn’t throw myself at the man who took me out. I just trusted the Lord to lead me every step of the way and He did.

  12. I can recall thinking of myself as good specifically relating to a church program. We’ve been part of AWANA for as long as I can remember. I remember hearing people talk about Awana, people with questions, people who thought they knew how the program went… my family knew everything. Both my parents were leaders, my sister and I completed our handbooks and the extra credit and more every year. We scored highest in Bible quizzing. We were good. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It took years to realize that saying the verses word perfect wasn’t the final goal. Having the trophy wasn’t the goal accomplished. The journey to humility is long. Now involved as a leader in Awana, I try to bring application into the often hectic schedule. Engraving God’s Word on hearts and minds has lost none of its value. But I know that the purpose must also be constantly before me.

  13. Carmen Marie says:

    Here’s my “good girl” story. I hope it blesses someone!

    I am a violinist. I’ve never felt like it was something to be proud about. I knew that the reason I could play at an advanced level was due to my own hard work, & hours upon hours of practice, years of lessons, & a lot of dedication. A year and a half ago, everything came crashing down when I was in so much pain that I could not play. Then, a dear friend invited me to a workshop that was taught by an excellent Christian violin teacher & during that week, God taught me so many things about myself & my violin playing. God showed me that I had been depending on my own strength to play the violin, when it is only God that gives us the strength necessary to do anything at all. I realized how desperately I needed His wisdom & strength to learn to play the violin. Many changes were necessary for my to continue playing violin. It has been a long, hard journey. I am constantly in need of God’s help. I have come very close to giving up. I’m still learning & growing, and by God’s grace I will not quit but will continue to play for His glory!

  14. When I was in highschool and I would look at all my public school friends in youth group, I felt like a good girl. I always obeyed my parents. I didn’t dress immodestly. I didn’t listen to hard music. I read my Bible every day. I didn’t run around with boys. When I compared myself to them rather than to God, I felt perfect.

    1. Bekah, you’re one of our winners for this book. Praying it’s an encouragement to you in your try-hard life.

  15. I SO can relate to this! It’s hard because people often label some girls as that, often just because they’re homeschooled. And sometimes we think it’s a great accomplishment or something, but other times we’re crushed under the pressureโ€“either way it is a burden.

    For me, a big part of dealing with this issue is fear. Ironically, God has been dealing with me on this the past week. I’ve been so afraid to mess up and disappoint in my work that often I don’t step out of my comfort zone and accept the challenge God presents: Don’t just try and be a “good girl,” let me make you into “God’s Girl!” Don’t seek success or great achievements; seek ME, and I will determine your future. Whether you win, or lose. Whether you succeed, or “fail.” Whether you run, or crawl. Through it all I will receive glory. Let me take you where fear cannot.

    And you know what’s great? The fear melts away when we realize that God determines the results/outcome of every endeavor. If He chooses we don’t “succeed” by the world’s standards, there is no shame.

    It’s so beautiful! The way He loves so unconditionally, you know.
    I still fight the “good girl” label, and yet still sometimes I proudly stick it to my chest like a name tag. Praise God that His grace is sufficient!
    Crazy, isn’t it? Two of the most “irrational” things are at war within us. Fear (which comes from Satan), and Love (which comes from God). Don’t get the two confused. Fear will drive us to do “great” things. But Love, Love in it’s true, pure form will ALWAYS bring God the glory.
    Fear leads to doubt, depression, guilt, shame and eventually death. Love brings faith, hope, joy, and wonderful freedom!
    God doesn’t ask us to carry the responsibility for the results. He’s saying “Have faith, live in my love, and let me handle the outcome.” Oh wondrous grace!

  16. Thank you so much for this giveaway–I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now!

    Pinpointing a specific time is difficult…I suppose one would be when those around me are having conversations that aren’t God-honoring and I don’t join in or I even change the subject. The temptation to feel self-righteous is always there…I know this is an area where God is still dealing with me…:-/

    1. And, you get to read this book! Random.org selected commenter #12 — that’s you, Leah. Praying it’s an encouragement to you!

      1. Thank you so much–I’m really excited! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. hmm, I can’t think of a specific time or place or when exactly I’ve felt like a “good girl” but I know I have; especially in my teen years. There were times where I made all 3 meals from scratch and I knew we had eaten incredibly healthy that day… those type of things made me feel like a good girl! And sometimes it was incredibly self-righteous of me =/
    But now, I think I’m more balanced in life. I don’t try to measure up to anyone anymore. I just follow God and His will for my life and thank Him daily for the Grace and Love He bestows upon me.
    When we compare ourselves to Christ… well, we can see just how far off we are but that’s the standard I want to live my life by.

  18. Ahhh, the first time I felt like a good girl…I can’t pinpoint a specific time! Too many…A friend and I were just talking about this the other day, though: how heart-quiet sins can sometimes deceive. And I’ve blogged before about the “sometimes a good girl” moments. ๐Ÿ™‚ http://www.rachellerea.com/2011/10/sometimes-good-girl.html

    Oh, what beautiful truth that He loves us no matter what! ๐Ÿ™‚ Praise Him!

  19. Emily Niswonger says:

    I feel like a good girl when I’m at church doing something for someone else. Such as when I help mothers with their young children. Sometimes it’s more of a self-righteous feeling. Guess I need to work on this.

  20. Does being a ‘smarty pants’ count as a ‘good girl’? That was the very first nickname I remember being called… I must have been three or four years old and we had just been let out of Sunday School. I had gotten to play “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” on the teachers lap. Some big girl in hot pink pants was jealous and called me ‘smarty pants’. The idea seems to have stuck. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I have heard so much about this book! The first chapter alone has changed my life already and I MUST read the rest now!

  21. When I hang a load of cloth diapers on the line, I feel like a good girl. But I know that I care far too much about what others think of me and not enough about what my Heavenly Father thinks of me. I would appreciate this book. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. OH, Gretchen – that would make me feel like a good girl, too! LOL You will love this book.

  22. Kirsten D. says:

    I think I’m somewhat in the “denial stage” on this one…denying that I’ve been trying hard to win approval. Yet deep down it’s there, the knowledge that I can’t admit to anyone that I’m having a hard day, that I failed, that I don’t always have a bright cheery smile and voice…the question of what people would say if I did admit to my faults and failings and weariness of trying to be better on my own.

  23. I want to be perfect too, and I want to be the “good girl.” But I know that’s impossible.

  24. Audrey Ellen says:

    A moment when I was the “Good Girl”. There’s a problem with that statement moment is not plural. I have Moments.Days.Weeks. when I am the “Good girl”. I Have been told or even congratulated on being “good” Reminds of Mark 10:18, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone.” I wonder if people saw the real me if I would still be good? I mean lets face I.AM.NOT.PERFECT. There I said it i have doubts, and fears sometimes I struggle and fall. The good news? He always picks me back up! And promises to carry me through the struggles of life as long as I let Him, and who am I to tell God no? ๐Ÿ˜€

  25. Miss Good Girl has been my name for a long time. Last year, I did my utmost to keep this title. I tried to be perfect in every possible way. I rose early to read my Bible and pray, exercised faithfully, worked on losing weight, watched every bite that went into my mouth, memorized Scripture thirty minutes, dressed well, studied hard, and kept a vigilant schedule. The problem? I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hold myself together. I couldn’t seek God hard enough. I wasn’t good enough. I crumbled under the pressure and fell into depression. I became worn out physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I came to the absolute end of myself. And there, with nothing left, God found me. He overwhelmed me with His grace. Since then, I have been slowly learning of God’s grace for me. For me!

    1. Julie, your testimony meant so much to me. I’m so glad you shared it. All us good girls need to hear the truth that at the end of our efforts, there we finally get to meet God the way He wants us to see Him. Hugs, Trina

  26. I relate to this. I think I feel like a “good girl” if I never make a mistake. I want to be perfect. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best person you can be, but it’s hard to understand that you WILL make mistakes and you will NEVER be perfect. You do the best and let God do the rest, that’s what I try to live by. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I can relate to what you shared here. This sounds like a book I should read. A time I felt like I was a good girl… it happens so often it’s hard to think of one in particular :/
    What comes to mind now was when I used to talk to my best friend about my relationship with Christ. I would compare myself to her and think that I was a good girl because I was better than her. I have tried to stop comparing myself to others and start comparing myself to Christ. I know if I do that, I won’t think of myself as a good girl any more.

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