Barbequed steak, baked potatoes, fruit salad, caesar salad, rhubarb crisp, raspberry punch. With friends. And books.

Our book club met last night. I’ve missed the last few meetings, so getting together with these women again was a great pleasure.

Grace for the Good Girl, by Emily P. Freeman, is a challenging book in so many ways. It’s the kind of book I feast on, each bite chewed slowly and thoughtfully. In fact, I think it would be better suited for a study group, a chapter a week, because there is so much to talk about.

Masks. Good girl masks. I can relate. Hiding behind the masks of good performance, good reputation, fake “fine”, acts of service, spiritual disciplines, strength and responsibility, comfort zone, and indifference. Been there. Visited each stop on that crazy try-hard road.

Here are some of the things the author said:

I fear I fall through the cracks because my story draws no attention.

Fear drives. But love leads.

When bad girls perform to get their needs met, they get in trouble. When good girls perform to get the same thing, we get praise. That is why the hiding is so easy for us.

Character refers to who you are. Reputation refers to who people think you are. I generally care more about who people think I am than who I really am.

I knew the one-liners about changing the world one diaper at a time and all that. I believed those things to be true. But when you are in it, it doesn’t feel true. It just feels ordinary.

… service is an act of faith. It isn’t me doing work for God, but it is me trusting God to do the work in me.

“Martha, Martha. You are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary” (Luke 10: 41-42) … What are your many things?

The mask of the spiritual disciplines is one of the hardest to put down for the good girl who has been living according to the law. The reason we hide is because we fear if we come out from behind it, we won’t be enough.

Since when does the awesomeness of my testimony depend upon the extremity of my rebellion?

… my lack of common ground with the prodigal son has kept me from experiencing the limitless, compassionate love of Christ. My unwillingness to admit my kinship with the prodigal, much like the older son, left me both right and lonely. It caused me not only to be unwilling to receive forgiveness from my heavenly Father, but unable to freely offer it, especially when it seemed it wasn’t asked for or deserved.

I couldn’t sleep the other night because I was thinking of all the ways I should be doing life better.

In the try-hard life, your behaviour determines your identity.

God’s desire is that we live in freedom and drink from the wide deep, powerful River of Life. The masks we hide behind keep us from experiencing the fullness of life the way we were meant to live it. Do you dare believe it is safe to take them off and live like Jesus is a real God-man who really is and really makes a difference?

And then, Ms. Freeman spends time talking about how to live in this different way. Without the masks.

This second section was where our discussion faltered. The author begins with this statement:

I can’t tell you how to walk with Jesus, but I can share my stories. The flat, bullet-point, how-to Jesus I feebly worshipped while hiding behind my masks is an imposter. The real, alive, redeemer Jesus longs to take his place in our lives.

Truth. And yet out conversation progressed along these lines:

I wish she explained better how to do it.

I didn’t really know what to do with it all when I was done reading.

I wish she had more concrete examples.

But there is so much that needs to be done and someone has to do it.

We walked this conversational road for a while, and turned the corner at … maybe I just need to begin the living and breathing of it, and the mystery will reveal itself as I go along.

YES!

What a fun evening, and what a fun and exciting challenge to take home. To live Jesus. To daily delight in him. To find myself in him. To quit the trying-hard and to take of the masks.

With the mask off, I can finally breathe.

**********

Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Him set the pace.

Sarah Young – Jesus Calling

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