Lies We’ve Believed | An AMH Blog Series
A few weekends ago my husband, sister, brother-in-law, and I took a weekend trip to Chicago. We explored the city, eating amazing food and capitalizing on any free activity we could. One of our exploits took us up the Trump Tower elevator to the highest floor we could visit without a room key. We thought we were being so clever, hoping to take in some views of the city from a better vantage point. Our plans quickly fell flat as the doors opened to the desk of a seating attendant at a fancy restaurant. She took one look at our blue jeans and Columbia jackets, and it was clear we didn’t belong. Like a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar, I immediately stuck my head out of the elevator, waved, and said, “Hi!” to the seating attendant in the most innocent, smiley voice I could muster. At my gesture, her face lifted to a smile as she chuckled, and told us to “Have a good night,” while my brother-in-law swiftly hit the button to go down.
It was after this excursion my brother-in-law stated that I was the one in our little group that could keep us out of trouble because I always looked innocent.
I’ve Always Been the Good Girl
His revelation was something I’d realized early on in my life. My long blonde hair, big blue eyes, and round featured face has always given me the appearance of childlike innocence, even at 28. But it’s more than just that. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the “Good Girl.”
The kind one.
The honest one.
The encouraging one.
The happy one.
The good one.
I’ve worn the Good Girl badge proudly. It is what people had come to expect, and not being one to disappoint, I delivered. For years I felt like I was good because everyone around me believed I was.
But…something was missing.
I knew the right things to do and say: what my family wanted, what my friends wanted, even what I thought God wanted. I was polished on the outside, doing all the “right” things, but on the inside, I was selfish. I was angry. I felt inadequate. I was driven by performance and perfection.
The struggle to be the Good Girl led to an eating disorder and other compromises.
I felt like I’d been the Good Girl God wanted me to be. That I was the Good Girl everyone affirmed I was. But I was hurting and confused. I didn’t understand why I was doing these “good” actions but still didn’t feel “good.”
In a moment of complete heartbreaking surrender, I invited God to search me.
It was humbling.
My Goodness Wasn’t Godliness
He revealed to me the deception of my own heart, its capacity for evil, and the fact that nothing was too treacherous for it. He showed me the reasons for my failures and insecurities. Ways I had not trusted Him. How I had thought I could do better, have more fun, and be more fulfilled if I could just be in control…. If I could just have…if I could just do…if I could just, could just, could just…
I had been trying to be good on my own strength. I tried to be good on my own terms.
In Ephesians 2:8-10 we read, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
In the book Lies Young Women Believe that our AMH Team has been reading for this blog series, Nancy Wolgemuth DeMoss writes, “Whether you’re a swimmer, a ball player, a straight-A student, or the leader of your youth group, every effort you put forth should be for God’s glory, not your own (1 Corinthians 10:31). If you are feeling pressure for the things that you do to make you valuable, you are doing them for the wrong reasons. God does want you to do good things, but only as an offering back to Him for His great gift to us (James 2:12–18).” (pg 81)
Like Nancy points out, I had been doing good works, but not necessarily for God. Not that I was completely doing them for myself either, but I’d been doing them to be the Good Girl I thought God wanted me to be and to validate what everyone believed about me. God created me to do good works – not to prop up myself and my reputation, but to bring Him glory, to advance His cause and to help me grow in fellowship with Him. God didn’t just want me to be a Good Girl. God wanted me.
Together, God and I did some serious renovating on my heart and on my will. The woman I am today is a product of His faithfulness in taking the mess I had made trying to be good on my own and transforming it into a testimony of His redeeming power.
Today, I’m a Good Girl because of who I am in Christ. I now know it’s not because I am good or because other people think I’m good…it’s because of He who is faithful to do a good work in me.