“They may have hurt you,
but don’t let them define you.
Because the truth is,
Jesus came to stand
between you and that hurt.(1)”
This book continues to tear me open in ways I did not expect. Its title gives no hint at how dangerous it is to those myths I believe about myself and my brokenness.
“To admit that the offense hurts is necessary to our healing. To feel the pain caused by the failure of others is honest and human and okay. I do not know the extent to which someone else has hurt you. I do not know how deeply their failure has affected you. But I do know this: you will never be more free than when you let go of your right to be the good one. (2)”
So much of my story has to do with not feeling loved in word or deed by those children expect to love them. I learned early and often that no matter how hard I tried I would still be “the” reason for an adult’s bad day, bad behavior, or bad choices. I heard and saw evidence of it so often that it I came to believe it was me who was bad. So I tried, oh how I tried, to be so very, very good. So good that I slowly died on the inside and squashed down the little girl who loved to sing, dance, paint, and run.
I learned to walk on eggs shells and let my “feelings” be determined by those around me. And yet it never quite worked. No matter how hard I tried it was never enough. I lost sight of who I was and that I was beloved.
Emily shared these words of Presten Gillham’s:
“Worry and fear are simply the belief that I have gotten myself into a place where God is not. And so that brings us to the truth, that God, through his determination to share his heart with me, was willing to go to my ungracious place to be with me. He would rather die than live without me, even if it means ungracious places.”(3)
Whether my brokenness was because of me or the result of what those around me were doing that I let define me, I truly felt God was not, could not, be where I was. This truth that God is in that ungracious place with me…it is frightening. I let my identity and all I thought about myself be determined by the truth I heard and saw as a girl who never felt she was good enough. It is scary to set that aside and truly, truly believe God would rather die than be without me. How could God love me when the ones that were supposed to love me were so broken by life their love didn’t feel like love?
And so as this book draws close to the end it feels as though this work is just beginning. I want to believe the truth that I am beloved…unconditionally. I catch glimpses of it more frequently now. I am still learning to paint, know I hate to run, and perhaps someday will sing. I hold no anger toward those in the old dance yet I can no longer move in those ways. I am dancing a new dance and my partner has changed. I have had to make choices that were hard and often still hurt. I also pray for the day we dance in praise of healing and wholeness, together.
Group Discussion from Emily's blog:
The last four chapters of the book focus on the freedom of being found, how we are safe even in the midst of fear, failure, and feelings. The title of chapter 15 is Safe, Even When it Hurts. I was surprised that something as seemingly small as an unresolved high school relationship could follow me around for so long. Can you think of a time when you were unexpectedly forced to confront your own frail humanity?
One of the good girl’s most basic fears is failure. It takes different shapes and forms and may have varying degrees of consequence, but failure is part of our human condition. Do you recognize your own ungracious places and how is Jesus showing himself to you in the midst of them?
(1) Freeman, Emily P. (2011-09-01). Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life (Kindle Locations 3099-3100). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.
(2) Kindle Locations 3044-3046.
(3) Kindle Locations 2957-2960