My Grace for the Good Girl small group has started and we had an awesome discussion of the first three chapters. I'm going to try really hard not to quote the entire book on my blog - that is how much this book has meant to me.
I think one of the most important questions during our discussion was this:
"Describe your invisible good girl, good Christian, good wife, good mom. What does she look like? What does she sound like? How do you feel sitting next to her?"I got to spend a lot of time thinking about this last night. The hubs took all the kids out for dinner so I could spend some quality time getting some work done. As I cleaned, I thought about this, trying to discover lies that my "invisible good girl" or my emotionally photoshopped version of myself tells me. Because if you can recognize the lie sometimes you can avoid the melt-down.
I have been finding answers to this question all over my life. Like "a good mom's kids would never have messy rooms because they would have been raised to be more tidy" or "a good mom's kid would never loose their Library book." or rip up a Library book, or steal their friend's toy or lie to my face. That good mom constantly shames me. She constantly points out my failures.
And I'm not talking about little things here and there, I'm talking about gut-wrenching agony, the ugly cry, the silent scream. Have I permanently scarred my kids? I wonder after I've lost it again, after I realize that I haven't folded my laundry in a month, when I realize that I've been letting my kids watch way too much TV and have been way too emotionally distant and physically unavailable. I have experienced a lot of emotional distress when my self-image is so disconnected from who I really am they are hardly even similar anymore. I think I ought to be this and this and this and this. As a wife, as a mom, as a Christian. But I'm not. And that sucks.
I think recognizing the lies of the good girl facade comes down to two things - one is self-confidence and the other is how you define yourself. They are closely related and constantly affecting each other.
Sometimes I define myself by my lack. I hide because I am so aware of my less-than and not-good-enough. I see myself when I behave the way I wish I wouldn't. I see my crap, my mess and I allow that to define me. I'm that lousy Christian who struggles with quiet times (even though I'm learning that maybe that's not such a bad thing) I'm that awful wife who keeps having the same fight over and over. I'm the lame mom who is lazy and decidedly un-awesome, the distant friend. When I let my lack define me I am denying what God says about me.
But I also deny what God says about me when I define myself by my strengths. I might be reliable, super-committed, a good listener, a mature Christian... whatever. Jesus made it really clear about what he thinks about people who define themselves by their strengths. When I define myself by my strengths I often get too busy to be involved in what God wants me to be and become overly self-reliant.
Because this is where it comes back to confidence. Where is my confidence? Is it in my performance? Is it in the fact that I had my quiet-time, did my small group homework and reading and participated in the discussion? I paid my tithe and volunteered in the nursery? Or do I avoid drawing near to God because I'm struggling or even failing in an area (or two or three) of my performance? Where does my confidence (or lack of it) center?
Why is it so hard to draw near to God, confident of our acceptance in Christ and allowing our awareness of our lack to fuel our dependance on God? Wouldn't it be such a beautiful thing if I could come to God with my mess and my lack and say "I want to be with you, spend time in your presence and let you make me more like who you created me to be" and cry out to him with our neediness and live day to day like he has already answered that prayer? Trusting that He will be provide.
We have just got to allow the gospel to define us and draw our confidence from what God says about us - we are His bride, his beloved ones. His daughters, perfect because of what Christ accomplished on our behalf. Which has absolutely nothing to do with our performance...