Hello to all of you out there reading this. Sorry about my two day hiatus from blogging. I’ve been working insanely hard on composing a song that I wrote. I’m going to be in an upcoming talent show and I want to sing a song that I wrote two years ago called On The Line. I’ve been working on this song for a while, but I think I’m finally getting it to a place where it sounds good (Yay!).
Anyways, my blog post today is going to be on the book Grace For The Good Girl: Letting Go of The Try Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman. I read this book towards the end of last school year and it was amazing. It’s a non-fiction book that I found to be very relatable and thought-provoking. Basically, the target audience for this book is all of the Christian perfectionists and “good girls” of the world. In this book, she refers to herself as a “recovering good girl”. Now this might sound weird, after all, isn’t it good to be good, and to try hard in life?
Absolutely, but sometimes, we can cross a line from trying to do the right things and doing our best at things to becoming paranoid of failure. Sometimes, perfection can even become an idol. I can think of countless examples of perfectionism throughout my own life. A good example of this is my younger, elementary school self. There were times that I’d take a spelling test and get the all of the words correct except for one or two. I should have felt proud of myself for getting an A, but instead, I was disappointed in myself. In the back of my mind, I felt that it could have been a 100% instead of a 95%.
If only I had tried a little harder.
That mentality didn’t just plague elementary school self. It’s a mindset that I carried with me for years (And still struggle with at times). I’d get paranoid when playing a sports game, wanting so badly to win. I’d obsess over grades, trying to get an A in everything. I avoided asking difficult questions about the Bible that I felt I was supposed to know. I started to view devotional books as sort of a checklist. Do this, and don’t do this. It even got to a point where life seemed like a checklist.
Emily Freeman describes this mentality as a mask, trying so hard to conceal weakness, and vulnerability. Though I never thought of it that way, I did realize a couple of years ago that while I still want to strive for my best in everything that I do, I need to let go of some of this stress, and embrace authenticity. I wanted to stop defining myself by things that I strived for and just be myself. Little by little, I’ve gotten better about that, but admittedly, still sometimes fall back into old patterns. Nonetheless, I’ve gotten up the courage to ask hard questions that don’t have simple answers. I’ve gotten better about not defining myself by academic achievement. And while I’m still competitive, I don’t define myself my how many basketball or checker games I win.
If any of this resonates with you, then I encourage you to open up about your questions and your weaknesses. To take off the mask, realize that you’re a work in progress, and realize that only Jesus is perfect. To stop defining yourself by achievement but instead realize that your worth was embedded in you at birth by God. While you should always strive for your best and work hard, don’t let your weaknesses define you. Sometimes, as the apostle Paul says
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV)
Sometimes, it’s in the areas that we’re the weakest in that we need to rely on God the most. This isn’t always taken well by the good girl (Or guy). We want to be strong, independent, and in control. But sometimes, we can’t control life. It’s in the areas that we’re weak that we’re often the most humbled. This is still a lesson that I’m learning myself. Nonetheless, I urge you to not feel discouraged by this. We’re all strong in some ways, and we’re all weak in others. You’re not any less because of those weakness, you’re just human. Sometimes, when we trust God and we’re honest with others, we end up doing a lot of growing. When you look at it this way, life becomes a journey. A storyline. Not a checklist. Not one giant report card, grading you in how well you’re doing at this thing called life.
Life becomes real, and we begin living it. We come out of our places of hiding and our masks of perfection and achievement and become authentic. In the end, I’d rather be honest about my life as it really is than just have awards of achievement handed to me, because the growth is achievement in itself.
If you want to read more on this topic, than I highly recommend reading the book Grace For The Good Girl: Letting Go of The Try Hard Life for yourself.
A song at the end seems to be the usual way that I end blog posts, so I’m going to conclude this one with the song Perfect People by Natalie Grant. I think that many of you out there who have struggled with the self imposed pressure to be perfect will relate to the lyrics of this song.
Note: Many of the points made in this blog post were from the book Grace For The Good Girl: Letting Go of The Try Hard Life, so I owe credit to the author Emily P. Freeman.