Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grace for the Good Girl

I am trying something I have never done before.  I'm participating in an online book group.  I have signed up for a few of these, but have never been able to stick with it due to other things popping up on the radar, or I just plain forgot to log on and join the discussion!  So this summer I'm giving myself some grace and am going to try again.

One of my favorite blogs to read is Emily's blog, Chatting at the Sky.  You can check her out here.  I love her writing, her photography and her perspective on faith and writing as art.  She writes with genuine authenticity and has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me for a few years now.

This spring, her first book was published and I knew right away that I wanted to read it.  It is called Grace for the Good Girl, Letting go of the try-hard life.  Although it was on my list of books I wanted to read, it wasn't until Emily announced a little summer reading group where she would be offering insight, encouragement, in-depth discussion and feedback as we read through the book together, that I actually got off my duff and went and purchased my copy and signed myself up!

It is a wide open study- anyone is welcome (hint hint!).  Our "discussions" will take place on Thursdays.  You can read Emily's intro to the study here and a link to week one here.  I'm excited about what I have read so far.  She has managed to put into words, some of masks we all wear from time to time and the powerful way these masks hide, lie and hold us back from the victory we were designed to possess in Christ.  She offers insight into the way some of us girls hide behind our goodness, our reputations, our fears, our dreams.

Here is an excerpt that really spoke to my heart from this week's readings...

...Because there is so much I believe I should be, there is also much I believe I lack.  And so my tendency has been to hide.  
   When we believe that God expects us to try hard to become who Jesus wants us to be, we will live in that blurry, frustrating land of Should Be rather than trust the One Who Is.  We will do whatever we believe it takes to please God rather than receive the acceptance that has already been given.  We will perform to live up to what we believe his expectation is of us rather than expectantly wait on him.
   Expectations aren't inherently bad things.  But I think they are misused by good girls.  Jesus didn't put expectations on himself.  He didn't micromanage his own image and constantly try to align his reality with his ideal.  Instead, he lived expectantly waiting for the next step.  His was a life of total and complete dependence and submission to the voice and will of his Father.
 - from Chapter 2:  Chasing Expectation

This (and many other parts too) really spoke to me because I am constantly catching myself "falling short."  I hold myself to expectations that are not real, and then when I fail to meet or maintain, I sink into a pattern of negative thoughts about and toward myself and my abilities.  For example, in my mind, the ideal mother does not have a kitchen counter that is CONSTANTLY cluttered with mail, piles of things, hair bows, chargers and the like.  Her counters are clear, crumb-free and she is spending intentional time with her kiddos instead of always putting things away, constantly filtering through stacks of random semi-important clutter, and unloading the ever-full dishwasher.  In my mind, I recognize the silliness of this example, but trust me, there are days when this "silly" example to me feels very real.  Like no matter how hard I work and strive, my counter (ie my home/my mind/my purse/my car) is just never perfect enough for me to rest.  And I'm not just talking about a few crumbs that are driving me crazy, its more that despite what I feel like is a constant effort to keep them clear, I cannot find a place to set something down because there is so much stuff on our counters...or that I cannot find my sunglasses because they are lost in the abyss of chaos that is my purse.  It's little things like this that while they start small, they lead to big negative thoughts about myself and my ability to "manage" or "control" my stuff and therefore my life...and what must other people think of me and my mess.

See why I'm excited to be reading this book?? Lots of grace needed here!

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