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Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life Conference

When I first saw Emily P. Freeman’s book titled, “Grace for the Good Girl” I thought, “I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘good girl’.” I struggle regularly with self-centered living, comparison-thinking, pride, wanting to be seen and admired, and oh, oh so much more. When I think of a “good girl” I imagine an ideal version of myself – a voice in my head who haunts me with her perfection:

She shows love and kindness to everyone;

She’s always patient and never wants to hit the bumper of the slow driver in front of her;

She quickly forgives others for being jerks (and doesn’t call them jerks – only wisdom is on her lips);

She calls all the women in her family regularly and invests selflessly in building rich relationships;

She serves the poor in her community tirelessly and with deep respect;

She serves with no desire for recognition because she knows it’s what God sees that matters;

She has lovely skin because she eats fruits & veggies in copious amounts, drinks buckets of water a day and never (I mean NEVER) overeats – especially fried or sugary foods (as if she ate these in any amount);

She wears relatively small sizes of clothing, that fit loosely on her toned frame because she exercises daily (for fun no less);

She contributes income to her family and uses coupons for everything she does not already find on an incredible mark-down;

She has birthed several children naturally (epidural huh?), and raises other people’s children too because she is abounding in a nurturing spirit and just loves lots of children (picture Mary Poppins and then make her sweeter);

She is never late, never worries, always trusts and embraces every obstacle she faces as “opportunities”;

She reads her Bible every day, sometimes with each meal because she knows it’s the “bread of life” and wouldn’t feed her body while neglecting her soul;

She goes to sleep the same time every evening so she can wake early for exercise, make a healthy breakfast for her crew, look lovely as she sends her troops off to the day and then jumps in her clean car to go change the world;

She never watches tv and rarely watches movies, never reads magazines or squanders her time on social networking (and always has witty posts and picturesque shots to upload because she exudes creativity!); and

She seems to have no enemies! She has many dynamic friendships with women of all ages as she mentors, is mentored and is always available for meaningful conversations with everyone.

She not only exudes perfection in every area of her life, she says to me that I must “try hard” to meet her standards, or else…I will be a failure, will be unloved, will be less than.

Do any of you relate to having a “good girl” who speaks to you too? What does she say?

This description of my “good girl” brings to mind one of my favorite quotes in Pride and Prejudice. After Mr. Darcy and Mrs. Bingley describe the characteristics of a “truly accomplished woman”, Elizabeth Bennett (maybe my favorite female literary character of all time) retorts back, “I never saw such a woman. She would certainly be a fearsome thing to behold.”[1] Perhaps indeed. One thing is for certain, she needs to know of Christ’s grace!

When my gaze drifted to Emily’s by-line to her book, “Letting go of the try-hard life”, I felt my shoulders relax and my soul come back to life again. Ah! Living up to that “good girl” ideal leads me to try hard in this life. Yet this is not Christ’s Gospel. This is NOT what God intends our lives to look like. As I poured through the pages I was amazed by how many ways I strive to please the “good girl” in my head and meet her endless demands. Or in the alternative, I hide because I already know I won’t measure up. She’s not bad for being good, I just can’t be good enough, long enough to satisfy her.

If you are exploring Christ and His life, you may look at Christians and think this is what it’s all about – striving and trying to be this “good girl” you’ve conjured up. Even if you have put your trust in Christ for your eternal life, you may believe this about the Christian life now too! Well, the good news for me is that Jesus owns my heart now, so He has been and will continue to nudge me from within in good-producing ways as I relate to Him in my daily life! It may not be overnight changes, or even 1-year changes, but He will bring His goodness out through me in His timing. The “good girl” will always be there taunting me to feel guilt and shame for not being her completely, but though she may do good things that are praiseworthy and well to choose, I am not measured against her for my value. Jesus established my worth when He died on the cross for me – just as I am.

I know I’m not alone in this journey of “letting go of the try-hard life” – at least Emily gets it! Many women have experienced joy in the “letting go” and have been blessed through Emily’s gift of communication – and now you can too.

Come join other women in “Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life” on Saturday, August 10th from 9-2pm! We have amazing musical guests joining us to lead worship and share their new album “More Than Rubies”!

Tickets are on sale now here at GFC, or at Lifeway Christian Stores in Johnson City.

I hope to see you there, even with your “good girl”!

Heather Yates

[1] Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Ed. R. W. Chapman. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1969, Chapter VIII. See also,

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