In Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman invites you to release your tight hold on that familiar, try-hard life and lean your weight heavy into the love of Jesus. With an open hand, a whimsical style, and a heart bent brave toward adventure, Emily encourages you to move from your own impossible expectations toward the God who has graciously, miraculously, and lovingly found you.
My Rating: 5 Stars
My Review: (I know it's long, but I thank you so much for taking time to read it)
I am a good girl. In Grace for the Good Girl: Letting go of the Try-hard Life, Emily P. Freeman has opened up a whole new world to me. For the past five years, I’ve been like a sponge soaking up as much as I can about God, His Word, and being a Christian, but much of the truths that Emily reveals in this book are things that I didn't know. I can't even begin to tell you how much this book has blessed me! Emily's writing is profound, inspiring, and encouraging! She brings glory to God through her words, and I see that He has truly blessed her with the gift of teaching His Word. She shares from a place that is easy to relate to, with a discernment of the Bible that she conveys effortlessly. It's not a how-to fix yourself book, as Emily says, "Grace for the Good Girl is not a doing book, it's a believing book. It's an invitation for the tired good girl to give up that try-hard life she's been trying to live, and to realize that the God that she's been looking so hard to find, has actually graciously, and fully, and completely and lovingly found her. That she does not have to manufacture her own safe places. But that in Christ, her life is hidden and she's safe there in that place."
Early on in the book, I was amazed by how much Emily and I are alike. She says, "Because I care so much what you think, my hiding has everything to do with you. I desperately want to manage your opinion of me. Nearly everything I do is to convince you I am good. If I sense any hint of disbelief on your part that I am good, if it seems your opinion is other than what I wish it to be, it becomes my job to change your mind (page 17).” When I first read this passage, I felt overwhelmed. Emily had just perfectly described me! For as long as I can remember, that is how I’ve lived my life. The tears came instantly, and I knew that this book was going to open my eyes and change my life in a positive way. I always care what others think of me, I never want to disappoint others, and I never want anyone to be mad at me. I want to do it all right and be good. And when I don't do it right and good, when I fail, that's when the guilt and shame come in. I hear things in my head like, "What kind of wife are you? What kind of mom are you? You call yourself a Christian!" I'm ready to stop listening to the lies and stop believing them.
Emily breaks everything down for us in three parts. Part I of the book is about "the hiding," showing us the common masks that good girls hide behind -- what it looks like when we depend on ourselves, instead of depending on Jesus. When it comes down to it, we have a choice to make -- are we going to listen to and believe the lies, or are we going to believe the truth? “The masks we hide behind keep us from experiencing the fullness of life the way we were meant to live it. Do you believe that it is safe to take them off and live like Jesus is a real God-man who really was and really is and really makes a difference (Page 121)?”
Emily talks about how our lives are hidden in Christ with God (Colossians 3:3). God loves us, and we already measure up in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). Our needs are met in Christ (Philippians 4:19), and our spirit has been united with God's Spirit (Colossians 3:5-11). We are righteous because of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is in this place that I can rest, receive peace, and experience God's grace.
In Part II, Emily discusses "the finding," where we move from mask wearing to resting in Jesus. We must receive Jesus, not just for our salvation, but for life. “To receive God's truth in a personal way, you have to let go of the false hiding places and let yourself experience the truth of hiding in his presence (page 139).” I must remain in him, be still, and let "the Great I AM be." John 15:1-5 says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener . . . Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Our job is to remain. What happens after we’ve received Jesus and remained in Him? What is it going to look like after that? Emily says, “This is where the masks become a blurry memory and Jesus shows up in mighty, God-sized ways: in true worship and authentic service (page 151).” We respond in worship and service, not because we’re trying to earn something or pay Him back because we feel obligated. We respond this way because “. . . worship and service are the natural responses of a girl fulfilled by love, compelled to look beyond herself (page 160).” And finally comes the remembering. We must remember to keep our minds set. If we don’t keep our minds set, they have a tendency to fall back into their old ways. We need to remember to keep our minds set on truth. “It does not come naturally; it comes supernaturally as we depend on Christ to remind us of truth that is already true, to call to our minds the reality of the victory he has won (page 166).”
To sum things up, briefly, in Part III Emily shows us how there is freedom in being found. We’re safe. Safe, even when it hurts. Safe, even in failure. Safe, even when it all goes wrong. Safe, even when you don’t feel safe.
Needless to say, Grace for the Good Girl is beautiful, complex, and profound. My words don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the truly amazing gift you will receive by reading this book. It’s filled with golden nuggets of Biblical truth -- a treasure-trove of what we need to move forward; to move past the hiding, into the finding, and ultimately the freedom of being found. It shows us that there is life-changing grace found in Christ!
I highly recommend this book to all good girls, recovering good girls, and even those who aren’t good girls. Emily P. Freeman has written a very special book, one that I will be forever grateful for having the opportunity to read . . . again and again.
**Thank you to Revell, a division of Baker House Publishing, for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.**
**Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**