Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman (Book Review)

Title: Grace for the Good Girl
Author: Emily P. Freeman
Publisher: Revell

About the book: You're strong. You're responsible. You're good. But. . .

. . . as day fades to dusk, you begin to feel the familiar fog of anxiety, the weight and pressure of holding it together and of longing left unmet.  Good girls sometimes feel that the Christian life means doing hard work with a sweet disposition.  We tend to focus only on the things we can handle, our disciplined lives, and our unshakable good moods.

But what would happen if we let grace pour out boundless acceptance into our wornout hearts and undo us?  If we dared to talk about the ways we hide, our longing to be known, and the fear in the knowing?

In Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman invites you to release your tight hold on that familiar, try-hard life and lean your weight heavy into the love of Jesus.  With an open hand, a whimsical style, and a heart bent brave toward adventure, Emily encourages you to move from your own impossible expectations toward the God who has graciously, miraculously, and lovingly found you.

My thoughts: I could - can - relate to the good girl that Emily Freeman is talking about in this book.  

"Still, I like knowing the rules.  If the sign says Don't Touch, I don't touch.  If it says Keep Out, I stay away.  If the form is due on Friday, I'll turn it in on Thursday just in case. . . .And even though I admit to occasionally bringing candy into the movie theater, I am always worried that the ticket person will search my bags and throw me out for smuggling in a bottle of water and two Peppermint Patties." (Grace for the Good Girl, p68)
This is very much me - but it would be a can of soda and Three Musketeers! I was the good girl in high school - good grades, didn't like confrontations, didn't smoke, didn't really drink. . . When my dad passed away the end of my junior year, I kept the mask on for weeks that everything was fine before I could even let myself breakdown and cry.  That mask of responsibility that I had to be strong for everybody else.  And then I went into my first marriage.

"She also believed she was supposed to form her opinions around his.  She loved peas but wouldn't cook them because she knew he didn't like them.  She waited for Charlie to come home for dinner before she would eat.  Even if he called ahead to tell her to start without him, she refused and suffered through hunger headaches for the sake of being wifely." (Grace for the Good Girl, p90)
This is pretty much how the first couple of years of my marriage went and when my husband would go out to sea, I would basically fall apart because I had no one to "be a wife" for, so I didn't know how to act.  After we got a divorce, I came to realize that many of my "favorites" were not really my favorites at all - but were my ex-husbands favorites.

I often think know, who in their right mind thought that I was responsible enough to take care of three kids?  I am 45 years old and still don't feel like a grown up.  I listen to other women talk and feel like I am an inadequate teenager playing a game of dress up.  Do I show this?  Of course not.  I am still pretty good at wearing masks.  I know that taking off these masks is not something that is going to happen overnight. 

"I understood at an early age about the first rescue.  Jesus came to save sinners.  He came for the lost, the broken, the hurt, and the lonely.  He came to heal sick people and to raise dead people and to die for the sins of everyone.

Never once did I consider he also came to save me from myself.  I'm a good girl who has done good things and has good intentions for the world around me.  What harm could I do to myself?  But then I reconsider, and I think of the effort and the work.  And then the shame.  I think of the worry that keeps me up at night and the fear that perhaps I've not done enough.  I think of the way I compare myself and the pain that comes when I grasp for worth and security from my husband or my job or my children." (Grace for the Good Girl, p124)
I can remember when I quit work when my son was born 7 years ago, how I didn't feel "needed" because I wasn't working a 40-50 hour a week corporate job.  I was feeling worthless, but didn't realize that I had staked so much of my worth on that job.  It took me a very long time to come to realize that my worth as a person did not diminish because I was a stay-at-home mom.  I still struggle with it from time to time.

I don't want to say that there are "steps" that she outlines in the last part of the book, because accepting Christ and living in Him should not and does not follow a  checklist. I have yet to learn how to stop trying so hard to be good and do good in order to be good enough for Christ.  He has already paid the ultimate price, all we have to do is receive Him and remain in Him.  I need to learn to let go of trying to control everything and rest in the peace that ALL things are in Christ's hands and His control - then maybe I can take off all the masks once and for all. I am looking forward to rereading the last sections of this book to reaffirm what I know, but seem reluctant to embrace.

Oh - there is a study guide at the back so that this book can be used as a small group study.

~I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review from Revell.~

“Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
Publisher/Publication Date: Revell, Sept 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1984-5
257 pages

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