Greetings Good Girls and Truth Seekers! If you've had a chance to read my blog the past couple of days, you will have noticed that I'm doing a 31 Day series about telling the truth. This series coincides perfectly with our study on Grace for the Good Girl because so much of what is in this book is hindering me from being completely truthful. As we dig in to Week Two of our study, I want to share my truth #5: I am so scared at being in trouble.
I've had this fear for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl and was mean to my baby brother (one time I put makeup on him and teased his curly hair like a clown and made him cry) my dad would give us a spanking. My mom would too but we would usually escape her hand as we shrieked down the hall in laughter instead of fear. But, when daddy got out his belt, I knew he meant business. Now, before we go any further I want to make clear that my dad was a disciplinarian and did not beat us for no good reason!!!! Anyway, when I saw him stand up from his meal at the kitchen table and begin to unbuckle his belt, an immediate sense of fear gripped by body. I would run from him crying and beg him not to spank me but he had to give me my punishment to teach me a lesson. Oh, even when I was on the bed with my fanny pointed toward the ceiling I would even try to stop him by kicking my feet up to defend my dairy-air. He would just tuck my feet in my panties and finish what he started.
From that moment on, I did my best to be a good girl.
In Chapter Four, Emily shares another mask of a good girl, hiding behind her fake "fine." She says, "Many good girls have a natural disposition of sweetness that can morph into a mask of false happiness and steal authentic joy that comes from the Lord. We value harmony above our own opinions or emotions, and we smile and smooth over rather than risk disappointment or worse, rejection." I have honestly struggled with this since high school. It has been years of experiences that result in my fake "fine." Like, the time when I was a sophomore and the cute boy that asked me on a date never came to pick me up. When he half-heartedly apologized later, instead of telling him how hurt I was, I just replied, "it's fine." Emily experienced this hurt too. In this chapter she says, "when I got hurt, rather than facing the hurt and being honest about the fact that it was there, I hid the hurt behind my mask and hoped it would fade away. Instead, it seeped into my skin and came out in other ugly ways: passivity, disconnectedness, anger."
I feel like I've struggled with "fine" especially with my friends. It goes back to that truth of not wanting to be in trouble aka losing a friend because I voice my opinion. I am shaking as I write because I know right now I need to tell a story that has never been told on the blog. It is a story that I've struggled with for so many years in dealing with my mask of fine. It's hard to share but here goes nothing:
In college, I had this one friend that was truly like a sister. We were inseparable. We traded clothes, went to band parties together, and she knew how much I missed my boyfriend back home. Without her, I don't know how well I would have done at Auburn...she really helped me meet people and find my place on such a large campus. Over time, we got involved in different things, met new people, and just honestly didn't have the time to be with each other as much as we used to. We started on new paths that were similar yet very different from each other resulting in a disconnect in our friendship. I never really shared with her my feelings, I just kept them to myself out of fear for our friendship. After a series of events, those feelings blew up into one tearful conversation that has since left me with a lot of pain. I had masked my feelings for so long that they exploded on her in that moment of emotion resulting in the loss of a dear friend. We weren't there to walk each other down the aisle or to welcome our newborn children into the world. Instead of resolving the issue, we have gone our separate ways, acting as though everything is "fine."
It's scary putting that out there because I know that some of you have wondered about me and that friend. I learned a lot about friendship and forgiveness after that loss but I must be honest and admit that it has resulted in me being afraid to share my opinions out of fear of losing another friend. I hated that feeling of being in trouble with that friend and I'm scared to risk that again when differing opinions begin to show themselves in my current friendships. I'm so like Emily when she says, "Is there a way to be honestly, blamelessly emotional? Is there a way to take off the mask of the fake fine, to speak the truth and not sin?"
She ends Chapter Four with this beautiful example of grace, "To embrace the color and fullness of our emotional, un-fine state is to open wide enough to receive compassion and grace. Only then will we be able to offer that same compassion and grace to others in honest and authentic ways." So, since I wore my heart on my sleeve with that example, I must ask you this:
What is your version of fake fine?
In Chapter Five, Emily shares the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible explaining that Martha is a great example of a good girl who did not hid behind a fake fine. She demanded of Jesus, "Tell her to help me!" Emily explains that Martha didn't stay hidden behind her servant mask to suffer as a silent martyr. She could have faked happy until Jesus left and then blasted Mary for her lack of help. Instead, she took her frustration to the one whom she knew could do something about it.
But, as we know from the story, Jesus honored Mary for choosing to sit at his feet instead of serving. He says, "Martha, Martha. You are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary" (Luke 10:41-42 NASB). Now, I don't know about y'all, but I would have been scared out of my mind to get in trouble with Jesus in the flesh. I would have hid that fake fine behind a smile of sweetness instead of voicing my opinion in a heartbeat. But, what is so great about Jesus is that He knows that about me. He knew where Martha was coming from with her emotions and that is why he corrected her so gently by saying her name twice instead of scolding her. Emily says, "Choosing to please God sounds right at first, but it so often leads to a performing life, a girl trying to become good, a lean-on-myself theology. If I am trying to please God, it is difficult to trust God. but when I trust God, pleasing him is automatic."
In what ways has your desire to please clouded your willingness to trust?
Are you more like Martha or Mary?
Finally, in Chapter Six, Emily talks about how the good girl is the rule follower (the one who doesn't like being in trouble!!!). Emily writes that her personal truth was I have to be perfect. And when I'm not, I have to pay. Girl, I couldn't have said it better myself.
She explains that God gave us a law we could not keep to show us how very perfect he is. The law wasn't made for us to be perfect. In this life, I struggle so much with perfection and the idea of being right and worrying about getting into trouble if I do something wrong that I forget that Jesus has already acted on my behalf. She says that the law wasn't given for us to try to keep. It was given to show us we can't. Here is a quote she gave from Dudley Hall:
Grace is not Jesus helping you live up to the law. This keeps us focused on the law. Jesus came to fulfill the law so we don't have to look at it anymore. I no more listen to what the law is saying, I listen to what Jesus is saying.
What has been your relationship to the law in your life as a believer?
Before we close, I want to remind y'all to journal this study. Emily advises us to consider our thoughts on Mary in the account of Mary and Martha. Honesty record how you feel about her. Answer these questions:
What kind of story did Mary's life tell?
What about Martha's life?
In what ways is your life like the lives of these women?
Here is our truth to remember: "The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God" (Heb. 7:18-19 NIV). Go ahead and read Chapters 7, 8, and 9 and we will meet back here same time next week.
Till next time, let your light shine!
Truth #1 – The Truth
Truth #2 – I hate laundry
Truth #3 – I’m bad at memorization
Truth #4 - My dogs drive me crazy