And now I know I’m not alone.
“Graceful: Letting Go of your Try-Hard Life” was written for the teen girl who feels like she has to get all As; the girl who has logged hours and hours of volunteer time because that’s what good Christians do; and for girls like me who grow up to be 40 and are still afraid to make mistakes.
I didn’t mean to choose this book for the Simply Faithful book club, but it kept choosing me. I first read about it on Twitter, then a blog I regularly visit. A week or so later, even though I had only asked about fiction books for teens, a publisher suggested I give “Graceful” a try. I’m glad I did. I hope you’ll read it, too, and join us as we discuss it in person starting Jan. 22 at Alpha & Omega Parable Christian store in Penfield, NY.
And will you invite your aunts, your grandmothers and your friends? Can we all come together – all of us women, of all ages – and talk about how we can stop trying to please everyone else and instead learn to rely more on the One who is perfect?
“I think this issue is ageless,” said Emily P. Freeman, who has also written a book for women called “Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life.” “(Being a good girl) often forms when we’re young, and it’s hard to get rid of when we’re older.”
So, who is this good girl Freeman writes about? Well, she’s the one who apologizes to the cashier for forgetting her reusable shopping bags – and then apologizes for apologizing. She’s the responsible one, the patient listener, the good influence. She’s the one who will take a peanut butter and honey sandwich even though she hates it, just so she won’t trouble you. And sometimes, she’s the tired one. The one who can’t keep up.
“We’re just exhausted,” said Freeman, who writes about learning to lean less on herself and more on God. “We’re all really busy chasing something and when we slow down, we realize we don’t know what we’re chasing. We even chase grace instead of letting grace catch us.”
It’s not a bad thing to strive for purity or good grades, she writes. But we shouldn’t allow them to become an obsession or a measuring stick for our value. We shouldn’t let other things, even good things, try to fill the space designed for God.
“We’re always asking, ‘What am I supposed to do?’” Freeman told me. “But the question should be, ‘Who am I going to believe?’”
God calls us his beloved, Freeman writes in her final chapter. And then after the notes and the acknowledgments, after the author’s bio, come some of my favorite lines.
Graceful, in this case, doesn’t mean perfect. Instead, it means free. Free to believe Jesus rather than that voice in your head that says you aren’t good enough. Free to hope even when things look and feel hopeless. Free to embrace the truth that no matter what, if you have received Jesus, then he has received you. And you are marked forever by his divine grace. Not because you’re good, but because he is.
Meet Emily P. Freeman
Learn more about author Emily P. Freeman at her blog: www.ChattingAtTheSky.com. You can also find her page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Look for @EmilyPFreeman.
Readers have the chance to chat live with her at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 on the Simply Faithful Facebook page.