This book is an invitation to lay down your try-hard good girl life and come to Jesus just as you are, rest in Him and let Him do the work in you.
I've always had a strong faith in God. Who He is and what He has done. I never doubted He parted the Red Sea, took Elijah in a chariot of fire or healed the blind. But it's not always easy to believe the things He says about me. He says I'm his chosen and precious adopted one (Eph. 1:3-6), he says that I'm the righteousness of God (1Cor. 5:21) and he says I am accepted (Rom. 15:7) and free (Col. 1:22).
These are hard things to grasp. This means I have to let go and trust Him. Let go of what others think of me and most of all let go of what I think of myself.
Christian girls are raised to be good, to do the right thing and we often do this in fear. Fear of what others will say or how we may be perceived if we fail. This book deals with these fears and the false masks of perfection we put on.
I can't tell you how much I loved this book. I could relate to so much of what the author talked about. She says here:
"As good girls, we subconsciously label ourselves as the strong ones, the responsible ones, the sweet ones, or the right ones. We try to stand tall and capable as the good Christian, the good wife, the good mom, and the good one. But Jesus is calling us to a deeper, truer, freer identity. All he wants is simply you--minus your good works, minus your perfect attendance, minus your politeness. When you really believe that, you may discover that all you want is Jesus, simply Jesus. Not just to get to heaven or to help you be a good person or do the right thing, but to simply love and be loved by Him."
"Jesus is calling us to a deeper, truer, freer identity"...isn't that what we all really want?
As good christian girls we are taught to do what Jesus did. But because we aren't capable of it, we try to cover our faults with good deeds. Emily talks about the difference between the girl who is always trying to do the right thing and the girl who is freed by grace:
"From the outside, you may not be able to tell the difference between a girl ridden with guilt and a girl freed by grace. But there is an overwhelming difference between the two. Good girls see Jesus as someone to copy. Free women listen to the voice of his Spirit who dwells inside them. "
"Are you trying to be who Jesus wants you to be? Or do you trust him to bring out who he had already created you to be? It is vital to recognize the difference between these two questions because one leads to death, the other leads to life."
My favorite chapter in this book was chapter 10 'hide and seek.' In this chapter she goes back to the garden with Adam and Eve. She does a thorough job explaining how sin entered the world. All the way back to the lie Satan told and how many still hang on to that lie today. She says here:
"Satan told the woman, 'You will be like God' (Gen. 3:5). But God had already covered that. In Genesis 1:27, God made man and woman in his own image. so what does that mean?
It means they were like God, made in his likeness, bearing his image. Satan was promising something to them that God had already graciously and lovingly provided. Satan convinced them to forget God's gift and try to work for it instead."
She goes on to say:
"But they didn't remember (the gift). Not only that, the gift was subtly twisted, and the holy, image-bearing truth of Genesis 1:27 was no longer enough. They didn't just want to be like God, bearing his image. They wanted to be God, self-sufficient and independent."
God could have just left them there to self-destruct. But he didn't. She goes on to say:
And so, God killed an innocent animal right there in the garden, the first sacrifice for sin that pointed to the future sacrifice of Christ. Because of his great love and compassion, God provided an escape for humankind by holding back the wrath they actually deserved. We call this mercy.
But simply providing escape isn't enough. Mercy, as beautiful as it is, is only protection. And so God made garments of skin for them from the sacrificed animal. In doing so, he gave them something they did not deserve. We call this grace."
I had to take a break after reading this because God's true character overwhelmed me. He is a Father who is merciful, who is loving, who is compassionate, who is gracious, and who is faithful.
She goes on to share the gospel of Jesus Christ:
"And a few thousand years later, he would send the Second Adam, one who lived a full human life and ate only from the Tree of Life, depending entirely on his Father in ways the first Adam failed to do."
"For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:17
Fear is a big part of the 'good girl' life and fear comes from unbelief. It comes from believing lies. Emily shares some common lies good girls fall for and God's truth in contrast:
"The soul screams, but the Spirit whispers.
Fear shouts for me to run.
The Spirit beckons me, Come.
Fear pushes me to hide, take cover, and protect myself.
The Spirit whispers, I have already overcome.
Fear hurls insults, chaos, and anxiety.
The spirit lavishes love, steadfastness, and peace."
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom..." Colossians 3:15-16
We as women are often ruled by our emotions, but God wants us to trust what we sometimes can't feel. It is so important to put our trust in God's Word and not in our own feelings and emotions. Emily says here:
"Setting our minds on the truth of God's Word will ensure that we don't stay captive behind those tattered, tired-out masks...When the truth doesn't feel true is when we begin to believe it isn't. Satan's biggest, most effective weapon against good girls may not be lust or slander or adultery or addiction. It is forgetfulness."
We forget we have been set free.
"Trust God's Word and His power more than you trust your own feelings and experiences. Remember, your Rock is Christ, and it is the sea that ebbs and flows with the tides, not Him."
These next quotes had a lot of meaning for me as I continue to learn to trust in God's truth and not in my own emotions or experiences:
"One of the hardest times to remember God's truth is in the midst of strong emotion. Fear, worry, or even excitement can cloud our perception of truth. If it doesn't feel true, it's hard to believe it is true."
"To experience victory, you absolutely positively cannot wait until you feel safe. Emotions don't have a brain. They are reactors. They may respond to truth, but they may also respond to lies with the same passion and conviction, sometimes more so. You must decide if you will trust the feeling or if you will trust the Truth."
"Along with the psalmist I can sing of stillness and of knowing that the Lord, he is God. (see Psalms 46). God does not say 'be still and feel like I am God." He says be still, cease striving, make space...and know. Know it as sure as oxygen and gravity. We have a fortress, a refuge, a safe place. His name is Jesus."
Emotions flounder and change, but Jesus is our Rock. We can trust him always, he never changes. He alone is enough.
I also love this quote from Matthew Henry:
"When I cannot feel the faith of assurance, I live by the fact of God's faithfulness."
If you get anything out of this book I hope it would be that you really believe, in the depth of your soul, that you are FREE in Christ. That He paid the price in full on the cross and you can rest in Him. Emily says here:
"I could pray for five minutes or for two days and I would still be as righteous as I would be had I not prayed at all. But the amazing reality is that now that I know I am righteous in Christ, there is new motivation to spend time in intimate communion. You and I can now go to Him in freedom and joy, not to gain favor but because we already have it."
I am thankful I was able to read this book and thankful to the Lord for using Emily Freeman to speak to my heart. :)
There were so many powerful quotes in this book. I thought I'd end this post sharing a few of them:
"It isn't me doing work for God, but it is me trusting God to do the work in me."
"If I am trying to please God, it is difficult to trust God. But when I trust God, pleasing him is automatic."
"The law says obey. Grace says believe and obedience will follow."
"There is no other hope but the truth of Christ in you."
Further reading: This book reminded me of a couple of books I've recently read. One being Mark Hall's 'The Well' which talks about coming to Jesus as our source of life.
You can read my thoughts here: The Well
And Andrew Murray's book 'The True Vine' which goes into depth on John chapter 15 where Jesus teaches he is the vine and we are the branches and that all life comes from Him.
"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:3-5
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