Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Grace for the Good Girl - Emily P. Freeman

Grace for the Good Girl
Title: Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
Author: Emily P. Freeman
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 257
Genre: Faith / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I think Sarah on Pantsuit Politics mentioned it.
Date Completed: 6/22/18

Summary: The pressure for a woman to be "good" can be debilitating, particularly in faith communities. Freeman addresses the heavy expectations and how freeing life is when you step out from under them.

What I Thought: I enjoyed this both more and less than I thought I would. I know that's a contradiction. Let me try to explain.

I'll start with the more. I've read a lot of books like this in my life. Not on this topic in particular, but a variety of subjects. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in Lifeway stores. I was submersed in a culture that really celebrated and encouraged this type of writing. Since that time, my faith journey has been winding and I do not find much joy in cliché Christian culture. I haven't been in a Christian bookstore in years and am 110% cool with that. So, coming into this book, I felt some apprehension. I wanted to hear Freeman's message because I was pretty sure it would apply to me (spoiler: it did), but I was worried it would be all fluff I've heard before. I mean, even the cover looks like it came directly off the Christian-ese assembly line. 

Thankfully, I was (mostly) wrong. Maybe it's just that Freeman's message really applied to me so, so much. I knew I was on the same page as Freeman when she self-described like this:
"Even though I admit to occasionally bringing candy into the movie theater, I am always worried that the ticket person will search my bags and throw me out for smuggling in a bottle of water and two Peppermint Patties."
I could relate intensely to her story and the pressures of being the "good girl." I've modeled that role in so many ways throughout my life and it gets exhausting. To have someone speak into your life - even through the written word - and say it's ok to let that go, that you can rest in Jesus....that's freeing. Even though there wasn't anything particularly new for me in this book, it felt good to be reminded. 

The "I liked it less than I thought I would part" was the writing. I guess "less" isn't the right word. I should not have expected great writing. I've been spoiled on Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey and others writing about their faith in such lyrical prose. Freeman is not a bad writer, but she jumps around a lot. She starts a lot of thoughts and doesn't dwell on them long enough to really let them resonate and sink in. She's always moving quickly from a thought to a story to a new idea. I would say she needed a better editor, not better content. 

This book was a nice reminder to me that the pressures I put on myself are exactly that: self-imposed. I don't have to live up to the expectations of others. I only need to seek my identity and worth in one person and that Person loves me regardless. 

This book is part of my 2018 TBR Challenge!
Quotes I Loved:
  • "The best part of hiding is being found."
  • "Good girls aren't needy, they are needed."
  • "I see myself as irreplaceable when I think that the work won’t get done unless I do it. Instead of looking to him to provide what is needed, Martha rolled up her sleeves and took on responsibility for things that may never have been meant for her."
  • "When you are a good girl who finds your identity in your performance, then mistakes mean punishment."
  • "I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel responsible. I was responsible to be right. I was responsible to look good. I was responsible to have it all together. I was responsible for being responsible."
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: I doubt it.
If You Liked This, Try: Of Mess and Moxie / One Thousand Gifts / Bittersweet

A Reduced Review: A great reminder that the pressure to be perfect is often self-imposed and not an accurate indicator of our worth. 

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