Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grace for the Good Girl Discussion: Chapters. 1-3

Grace for the Good Girl is a book published by Emily Freeman, author of the blog Chatting at the Sky, which I have been following for a while now.  Her writing is Christian based, which is good for me because it gently reminds me of the presence of God in my life, and is also encouraging and enlightening.  Reading her posts is like taking a breath of fresh air.

For those of you who have not read the book, the first three chapters of Grace for the Good Girl focus on the tendency for women to strive for perfection in certain areas of their lives (or all areas!), at the expense of hiding behind masks so that others don't discover that they are truly not perfect.  By hiding, these women do not allow themselves to truly be themselves, nor can they truly follow God's loving lead.  As I read through the chapters, I discovered that I have some masks of my own that I have hid behind over the past several years, fearing that people might find out that I am not as perfect as I might appear to be.  Here are my answers to some of the end-of-chapter questions highlighting the areas of the book that spoke most to me:

What are your "sometimes truths"?
I am a very faithful Christian and look to God in some way or another every single day, but I don't pay as much as I should and almost never pick up the Bible to read it.  I may come across as very confident, but I have many insecurities.  I base some decisions on what other people will think about me.  I have struggled with bouts of intense anxiety for many years.  I think I could be a better mom to my kids.  I am afraid of becoming a nagging wife.

What aspects of your performance are you unwilling to let go? 
A funny thing happened when I turned 30, I became less of a perfectionist.  This, I'm sure, is a blessing.  I began letting the house get a little messier (ok, a lot messier).  I stopped putting on makeup EVERY day.  I cared less, much less, about what people thought of me.  When this happened, I felt closer to my true self than I had in years.  But there is an area where I am unwilling to let go, and this is being a military wife. During all three deployments, people would tell me, "I don't know how you do it."  During this last one, which my regular readers know was painstaking for me, my daughter's pre-school teachers stopped me three months into the school year to ask me if my husband was deployed because they heard Keira talking about it in class.  When I said yes, they were shocked because they never would have known based on how well I kept myself together.  When I hear these things, it makes me proud to think that I can portray myself as a strong woman and military wife.  But what people don't see behind the doors is the struggle that captivates my mind when he is gone.  I am half supportive wife, and half resentful, overtired, overworked, get-me-out-of-here woman.  Most of the time, I have no idea how I get through stuff because my mind is so frazzled that I can't remember much of anything.  And I have this crazy issue with not being able to ask for help, at least not unless it is absolutely necessary.  But I somehow get through it without letting others see the frantic side of me.  The deployment eventually ends and people think I got through it with ease.  This is something I don't want to let go of.  I think the idea that people see me as the strong, I-can-do-it-all wife and mother that they do actually helps me keep going.  It gives me something to strive for.  And honestly, it feels good at the end when I am congratulated for a job well done, at least in their eyes.

What would be a reputation nightmare for you? 
Well, I can't tell you what my current reputation nightmare is because if I did that, I would be creating that nightmare by letting people know it.  But I can tell you what it used to be.  Most of the friends I have gotten to know at my current home know me as a neat freak.  Every time any one of them saw my house, it was spic and span.  Any time I hosted playdates, I would clean up the toys as the kids were still playing with them.  I talked about how I was constantly cleaning the house, and I really was CONSTANTLY cleaning (for this reason, my kids have always watched too much TV!)  But what no one knew was that behind the areas they could see, I wasn't very neat.  Closets were stuffed full in a very unorderly manner.  Under-sink cabinets were not organized at all, and often had dirt, debris, or stains from something that spilled.  If they were to open my dresser drawers, they would find my clothes unfolded and jammed in.  The shelves in my pantry were in disarray.  I was trying so hard, not just for others but for myself, to maintain a reputation of being a neat freak that anytime I knew someone was coming over, even if it was during a deployment and I was beyond exhausted and it would only be for a minute, I would clean up as much as I possibly could within sight.  But the cupboards and drawers and closets got ignored.  There was a time when I would have hated for someone to know this.  But as I mentioned above, since I turned 30 I just don't care.  I now let the visible areas of the house become messy and simply pick up at the end of each day, or wait until the morning when I have more energy.  I used to dust everyday, and now I do once or twice a week. I still vacuum every other day and disinfect regularly, but this is for the sake of my family's health rather than what everyone else thinks of me.  I'm not sure if this is just the realization that it is impossible to keep things neat and tidy in a house with kids or if I am slowly gaining the wisdom to learn to be more relaxed.  Whatever the reason, I now know that my perfectionism doesn't have to control me.  There are better things in life than incessant cleaning.  And now, I have more time to write!    

If you haven't already checked out Emily's blog, I encourage you to do so.  Also, it is not too late to join in on the book discussion.  You might learn something about yourself that will change your life for the better. 


  1. This sounds like a book I should read! I'm facing some of these issues right now with trying to put the house together, decorate, organize, stay clean, paint, make drapes, refinish furniture, etc. because I don't want people to see a less-than-perfect home. I have to stop and realize that we have only been here 2 months, and I have a baby who keeps me busy most of the day. Thanks for helping me realize that I can give myself the gift of time and take a breath. :)
    Can't wait to see you in Myrtle!!

  2. Beautiful blog and that book sounds great. I am a new follower from the blog hop. ;0

  3. I'm visiting from the Facebook group and I LOVE your blog. Orange is such a wonderfully cheery color! I didn't stop wearing makeup everyday until I was 33. You're ahead of the curve! Looking forward to getting to know you, Jennifer.