Sunday, December 4, 2011

You MUST Nothing!

"As a good girl, we are so used to hearing words like you ought to, you should, and you must. With those same ears, we listen to Jesus and it sounds as though He speaks the same language."
~Emily Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl

Although I asked Jesus into my heart, and meant it, when I was just 4 years old, I truly believe that the first bloom of understanding of God's grace began when I was a freshman in college, feeling un-popular, un-intelligent, and un-pretty compared to all the other beautiful, smart, talented AND Godly women walking around campus. Previously in my life, when I felt like a girl was prettier or smarter or more talented, I knew that I was "good," that I "loved Jesus more" {Ouch! Did I really just say that out loud?!?!}. Well, I did. And it made me feel good about....ME! All of my hard work to measure up and be good enough seemed to pale in comparison on this campus where everyone, or at least it seemed like it, not only grew up in a "Christian" home, but they, too, like me, really cared about doing God's will for their lives.

What was special about me now?

God took me on a journey of grace that first semester that has become a pinnacle moment in my life consistently reminding me of the Spirit's words to me on that chilly winter night in my 1970's inspired dorm room, "But for the grace of God, I could be the prostitute on the streets."

And I have never been the same since.
But grace is a life long journey. Like the ocean, it ebbs and flows onto the sands of our existence, consuming more and more of us as we yield to its work.

But ONLY when we yield do we see the world differently, including ourselves.

In chapter 6 of Grace for the Good Girl, Emily delves into law versus grace and the reason for the law and how it shows the hand of grace in tremendous abundance. I am not going to recount all of that here but I want to share the Scripture that has forever changed my life, and to truly "get it", you have to begin at Romans 7 which I will summarize for the sake of time.......

Pauls tell us -- What I want to do, I never do. What I don't want to do, that is what I do. I can't seem to get it together. My flesh is always in a battle with my spirit and the flesh ALWAYS seems to win!! -- and then he rounds off his rant by saying -- What a wretched man am I!

And then here comes the best part in Romans 8 verse 1.....

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus for the law of the Spirit of life has SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and death...."


Such simple words, but they pack a punch in the stomach of the devil and his lies into the ears of every good girl, including myself.

"When you get miserable enough to die, you can be free.
Go ahead and live under the law -- give it your best shot.
Ultimately the law will make you so miserable, you'll want to die.
Then you will find that someone already died for you."
~Dudley Hall

But what about when it goes beyond the law, beyond the spiritual disciplines, beyond the rules, somehow we just feel "responsible" for.....well....EVERYTHING!!

"It means taking things on as my own that were never meant for me to take on. It is the false belief that I, myself, am the cause or explanation for the bad, uncomfortable, or dissatisfied people or circumstances around me."

Emily talks about how she could never remember a time that she did not feel responsible. I can remember always feeling that way too. I felt like it was my job to make sure nothing went wrong...EVER! And if it did go wrong, somehow it was my fault, even when it wasn't.

She goes on to talk about those "blurry things" where maybe we could have changed this or that or said or done something different, and that becomes a whirlwind of angst in the mind and heart of a good girl.

And then suddenly even though, in most cases, this impossible job of responsibility came from self....

"I simultaneously feel resentful that I am the one to manage it all. Why doesn't anyone else fix this? Why do I have to be the one? Even though I was the one who wrote the job description and hired myself to fill the role, I want to both quit and fire myself."

I know that I have felt like this time and time and time again. I wonder why others do not step up to the plate or why I always have to be the one who is so strong and so tough.

Emily says this of her roommate in college...
"In my silence and refusal to be vulnerable, I inadvertently taught her that I had no needs, no weakness, and no reason to lean on her....Hiding behind a mask of strength and responsibility is a lonely place to live."

Wow! I have done that too, repeatedly, and, I, too, have felt utterly alone.

Brennan Manning says it best:
"There is more power in sharing our weaknesses than our strengths."

"The power doesn't stop there. If you are anything like me, then you know the fine art of how to be vulnerable enough so people believe you are authentic, but not so vulnerable that all your mess hangs out. You know how to be vulnerable with boundaries. Even though it is freeing and relieving to share our weakness with one another, that alone won't bring much relief in the long run....We may be able to hide some of the mess with each other, but we have a God who sees and knows and loves no matter what."

Oh how I perfected that art! And in fact, was proud of my great achievement in making others feel that I had been "open" without really and truly letting down my guard. I just cannot seem to resist trying to tie up my mess with a pretty little bow at the end of my conversations with people, instead of just allowing myself to be, and even more painful, to LOOK, weak.

Are you like me?
Feeling the weight of doing the "right" thing, whether it be a spiritual discipline, a chosen responsibility, or a need to be seen as strong?

Pastor Bert Pretorius in South Africa would often say,

You MUST Nothing!

We, myself included, habitually feel that we HAVE to do this or that or else something terrible will happen. But God doesn't work that way -- in MUSTS. He operates in grace, in love, in choice, in relationship.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
~Matthew 11:28-30

Momma Day By Day

I am reading and writing through Emily P. Freeman's book Grace For the Good Girl with Momma Day by Day and some other brave recovering good girls as we delve into our "good girl" tendencies and share our journeys in {RE}discovering His grace, His heart. This post is a reflection of chapters 6 and 7.

Read more about my journey through Grace for the Good Girl....


Kmaclear said... Best Blogger Tips

I think being real feels like coming out of the closet... I was afraid to be shunned by all the good girls. But after I shared my not so good girl moments I felt so liberated I kind of over liberated myself. Now I try to walk the truth but not hide when I mess up. But I still hide in the closet occasionally...

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Yeah...I think we all hide something and that is what connects us together no matter what camp we feel that we fall in. And you are right -- REAL -- is being honest and open and transparent and setting free the hold of shame that the devil tries to put on us.

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