Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Grace for the Good Girl

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
By Emily Freeman
Revell September 2011
221 pages (plus a study guide) 
From my tbr shelf 

If you attend church, then you know this girl. She is the one who volunteers to teach in the Sunday School, brings really good cookies to the potluck and sings in the choir. She doesn’t go out drinking and has never been arrested, but she does have a smile for everyone who comes through the door. She’s the good girl. She seems to have nothing to hide but in her book Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman rips the mask off of the good girl and reveals what is really going on in the hearts of good girls everywhere.

So I read this book because I am basically that girl. My dad? A pastor. My husband? Soon to be a pastor. Me? Basically a good girl. I did go into the book with some reservations, though. I often find in books like this that the point is belabored well past my point of tolerance. But there was no worry necessary here.  Each chapter is well thought-out and important to the premise of her book.

The first part deals with hiding. Ms. Freeman looks at the different things that good girls hide behind: good performance, a sterling reputation, strength and the safety of a comfort zone. Instead of using these tactics, she advocates a four step approach to freedom – receiving the knowledge of God’s salvation, remaining in His love, responding through worship, and remembering to continue these practices regardless of what is going on around you.

Freeman holds nothing back while sharing her own experiences. She admits to the things she hides behind and the ways in which living as a good girl failed to bring her freedom, peace, and happiness.

“Growing up a good girl was natural for me. But there were those times when it was exhausting to try to measure up. Good girls are good listeners. Good girls are always there for everyone. Good girls don’t get mad. Good girls are laid-back. Good girls roll with the punches, go with the flow, follow the leader (as long as the leader is a good girl, of course).
I was a good girl and I wanted to be a good girl, but it often kept me from saying what I really meant. In fact, my desire to be good even kept me from exploring my own opinion, and I grew up to believe that my opinion didn’t actually matter much anyway. I avoided vulnerability for fear of being rejected or being labeled needy. Good girls aren’t needy, they are needed. And so instead of living free, I lived safe.”

This book is written as a small group study, but you can read it alone (as I did). However, I would suggest that you space out the chapters instead of barreling through them in just a few days (as I also did). This is the sort of read that calls for some reflection on your life and the ways in which you can implement the things that you have been reading. If living up to everyone’s expectations and always doing the right thing is not bringing you the peace and happiness you expected it would, this is the book for you. 

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