Grace for this (recovering) Good Girl

“Good girls sometimes feel that the Christian life means doing hard work with a sweet disposition. We tend to focus only on the things we can handle, our disciplined lives, and our unshakable good moods. But what would happen if we let grace pour out boundless acceptance into our worn-out hearts and undo us?”

{emily p. freeman in “grace for the good girl“} 

That little quote pretty much sums up a lot of my experiences. All my life, I’ve been a “good girl” — you know the type — the rule-keeper, the first grade tattle-tale, the sword-drill winner — the biggest little Pharisee in the body of a 2oth century girl. It’s easy to classify my story as boring, but we know that whenever the Lord raises a dead girl to life, there is nothing boring at all.

I had the privilege of being born into a Christian home with a rich godly heritage on both sides of my family. While this was a blessing, it also served as a point of confusion for a short period in my life. I was a “good girl” by most standards. The problem was, I was not a “good girl” by God’s standards. Even in my goody-two-shoesness, I was still dead in my sins. Every little thing I did that looked good in my eyes and even in the eyes of others was seen as filthy rags before God. The best minute of my life was still tainted with sin. But one day the Lord mercifully opened my eyes and showed me that there was absolutely nothing good in Sarah Caroline Wainright.

I can’t pinpoint the day I saw myself as a sinner. I can’t pinpoint the day I realized that Christ as the all-sufficient sacrifice for my sins. But I thank God that while I was hopelessly destined for Hell, He interrupted that destiny and applied His blood to my heart. He mercifully planted a mustard-seed-sized bit of faith in my 9 year-old heart and has grown it ever since. Fifteen years later, I see myself as an even bigger sinner than I did then. The most beautiful thing is, I see Christ as an even greater Savior. The grace that saved me is the grace that still keeps me and enables me to live a life that is worthy of the calling to which He has called me.

My biggest “hole” is probably self-righteous pride. It’s really easy to slip back into my old Pharisee costume and start taking credit for good things “I” have done or doing good things for the wrong reasons. But when I slip that costume off (it’s too small anyways!), that’s when Jesus shines the brightest and makes me whole. I constantly have to remind myself…sometimes every other minute…that the only good in me is Jesus, the One who makes me whole. I have been made complete in Christ. I no longer have to live to impress people around me and make them approve of me. I am accepted in the Beloved. When God looks at me, He sees Christ’s perfect, spotless righteousness.

By the power of the Holy Spirit living within me, I long to live a life that makes much of His Name out of gratitude for the great grace He has shown to me. It’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. If only I could remember that with every breath I take.

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2 thoughts on “Grace for this (recovering) Good Girl

  1. Beautifully written Sarah. I too have a similar testimony, saved at 5 and the only real rebellion was not cleaning my bedroom growing up. Like you, I was a good girl who heard the truth and knew being good was not good enough; I needed a propitiation for my sin (a word I did not know at 5 but I concept I did know). I was headed for hell apart from Christ. I am thankful for what I was saved from. Many are thankful for what they are saved out of. That is the benefit of being a “good girl,” I did not have to experience the hurt, pain, and consequences of a lot of sin because of the early guiding of the Holy Spirit in my life and the prayers of my newly saved father. As I raise our two boys, it has always been a conscious effort to inform them of their sinful state apart form their “goodness.” Raised in a Christian home can muddy the waters at times (although it is a tremendous blessing at the same time) but no one can refute the truth of Romans 3:10 and Romans 3:23. God sees our heart and no matter how “good” the world labels us, we ALL need Him.

    • Amen and amen, Geri! I love the way John Piper says, “I was saved from a life of drugs and sex at the age of 8.” So very true.

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