Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Conscience :: The Curse of Being A Good Girl

"You are my conscience."

The voice of my cousin, who also happened to be my childhood and teenage best friend, echoes in my mind from years gone by.

And I guess I was.
Her conscience, that is.

Although I did not really mean to or want to be. I just seemed to always have this innate sense of right and wrong. And I would feel VERY uncomfortable in situations where someone around me planned to tip toe EVEN close to the line. So soon enough, friends counted on me to let them know when they were going to far. Adults expected me to keep those close to me from crossing over. And I wore that mantle with pride.

You see....I AM a Good Girl.

A Recovering Good Girl, that is.

Yeah. I guess it is kind of like being an addict, but not like you would expect.

Emily Freeman in her book, Grace for the Good Girl, walks the reader through the expectations that she put on herself to not only be a good girl, but a good Christian, a good wife, a good mom.

And I felt like she was reading my mail, as they say.
But even more than that, like she had opened up my secret, private diary and exposed the lies that I have bought into for so many years.

"I never seriously considered being a rebel....
I wondered why I couldn't simply lighten up
and have some fun.
But I just didn't have it in me."

"I hated going to street witness.
It was awkward, uncomfortable....
I didn't know any real, relevant answers
to questions people were actually asking.....
I worried because I thought good Christians
enjoyed sharing Jesus with people.
But I didn't.
I felt like I was supposed to share it {the gospel},
but the truth was I didn't really know what it was."

"My insatiable desire to be the perfect wife weighed heavy,
but I was dangerously unaware....
Expectation began to speak:
'Good wives keep a clean house
and don't cry about paint.
Good wives make good food for their hungry men
and anticipate their needs before they have them'
.....Good Wife stood in the corner of my living room
...so put-together,
so strikingly perfect,
and so very ashamed of me."

"As a girl who accepted Jesus at a young age,
I couldn't relate
{to those with testimonies who went from bad to Jesus}.
In fact, I admit to sometimes wishing
I had a few years of rebellion under my belt.
Then my story would be interesting and dramatic too."

I have known for a long time that I am a perfectionist.
I constantly work to overcome that
Or more accurately I constantly try to simply let go.
It is often a daily battle.

When I realized that, even more than the perfectionistic voice in my head, the desire to be good, to be pleasing, to be acceptable ruled my very essence, I thought,

"Well, yeah, but I have overcome that...or mostly anyway.....Right?"

However as I read through Emily's transparent words, my mind drifted back to moments and memories where the good girl was solidified inside of me....sometimes through things that were GREAT.

The pastor's award at my Christian school
when I was 8 years old,
when normally only teenagers got that award.

The slightest inflection or inntonation of disappointment
from my parents or any respected authority
could put me into the throws of despair.

In the 4th grade I secretly decided to read a Psalm a day,
and when I got behind,
I felt like a failure, a disappointment to God.
I could barely choke out my confession to my mother,
who had no idea of the pressure I had placed upon myself.

Revelations of His grace in college helped in many beautiful ways
but have never quite curbed the duress that I experience
in my relationships to be THE BEST {insert relationship}
that I can be to that person.

And I think I succeeded in fooling everyone, including myself for years after that, until I got married.

And then Emily's explanation above was me.
I mean REALLY me.

Add to that a bit of psycho personal crazy, random sickness, being in full time ministry, and I thought I had seriously lost my mind. I mean good girls who have prayed for THE ONE, and actually get it {Hello!! God even brought him from Africa to this little town in Pittsville, America, where I was working} DO NOT go into depression.

But I was.
And I did.
And I hated it.
But most of all, I hated myself.

About one year after we said, "I do," Arno's spiritual dad said something that helped opened the cage to the trapped good girl inside of me,

"Lindsey, you are not called to be everyone's wife. You are only called to be Arno's wife."

The words were simple and few. No great power or magnificence in their simplicity, yet that day, they transformed my life.

Arno & I at a car show
{doing something he loves to do}

It was a revelation to me not only in my marriage, but a reminder that I OFTEN give to myself in many relationships.

I do not always get it right
but I am trying,
better yet, I am learning to let go.

I mean, I am a recovering good girl after all.

What about you??

Momma Day By Day

I am linking up with Momma Day by Day and other brave recovering good girls as we journey through Emily P. Freeman's book Grace For the Good Girl and share our journey in {RE}discovering His grace, His heart. I am a bit behind as I had my dear best friend in town last week so my posts may be a slightly different reflection that the other lady linkups, but I have decided to GIVE grace to myself....don't you think that is a good idea??

Would love to hear from YOU!!
Have you read Grace For The Good Girl?
What in this post resonates with "the good girl" in you?


hyacynth said... Best Blogger Tips

Lindsey, I love the discovery He's given you about yourself. Your story is special and He made it for you, and I'm glad you are embracing that. xo 

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, my friend! You are a true encourager in every way! I appreciate you even MORE after having met you at Relevant.

Christina Gilliland said... Best Blogger Tips

This is beautiful! Man you can write, girl! I too flinched at the slightest disappointment or disapproval from my parents. I too longed to fill some kind of "pastor's wife" format but wasn't...I needed to remember that I am the unique mom to my two daughters, and wife to a creative, independent man. We are going to do things different! 

I continue to be thankful for you!

Meredith said... Best Blogger Tips

I am so thrilled that you are linking up... because I cannot wait to read more. This book is rocking my world..
And I have to be careful, because of all the emotional turmoil that is being deal with, I have been turning to food for comfort.
(After having conquered that sin in my life before...)
I will be praying for you (and all of our recovering good girls) as we go through this journey.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

I am glad you challenged us all to this journey last year! What we have been learning together makes us "better" to those God has given us too...better because His grace defines us...not our outward works...

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

How are you feeling on the food front in reference to dealing with the emotions since we started this? Is the Must Love God site helping in having people to walk alongside?

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