If I were your mother, I’d warn you that people will tell you to be a “good girl” or a “good boy.” It’ll feel like a badge of honor, and you’ll want to hustle to earn it. But as a former good girl, I want to tell you the truth about that badge: It’s dangerous.
It makes you think goodness is something you can manufacture or hustle for. Something someone else can proclaim over you in approval: “Yay! You followed these rules! Good girl.”
If I were your mother, I’d tell you: Goodness doesn’t have a thing to do with you. Don’t take on that burden of “good” like I did. It’s more than a liar — it’s a heavy load, a lead backpack. It’s heavy, oppressive, and pointless. Do you know why? Because despite our efforts, we can’t be truly good. Look at the hateful thoughts that swirl in our heads and the jealousy that fills our hearts! Look at our attempts for “good”: hoping we might make others like us or trick them into thinking we’re perfect. That’s not good — that’s bad.
If I were your mother, I’d tell you that we can’t be “good.” But you know what we can do? We can draw close to the One Who is good, God Himself. When we get close to him, he obliterates our understanding of the word “good,” revealing that our gray-scale attempts at goodness don’t hold up next to His technicolor.
And if you were my mother? I’d tell you, in childlike faith, the same thing: You don’t have to carry around the burden of “good,” wondering if it’s a word the world will assign you.
You don’t have to seek the approval of the world, because it will leave you exhausted and enslaved, wrestling with hundreds of layers of questions: Is my child eating well enough? Is my child polite enough? Is my child smart enough? Is my child well-dressed enough? Is my child talented enough?
The world will always ask you to prove something. Mama, the pursuit of “good” will crush you.
If you were my mother, I’d remind you about freedom. That when we seek God’s approval, he grants us rest because Jesus has already conquered it all on the cross. There is nothing to prove. The unbelievable truth of the gospel is that when God looks at us, he sees Jesus’s righteousness. We don’t have to hustle to manufacture our own. The answer to all the questions is IT IS FINISHED.
And so we get to mother from a place of joy and freedom knowing that is it not in our attempts for perfectionism that God is glorified but in our obedience to him.
If you were my mother, I’d tell you that you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be near to and obedience to our perfect God.
Oh, his goodness shines brighter than we’d ever imagined, and if we can humbly toss aside our threadbare badges and admit our true nature, we will discover a goodness beyond the technicolor: what they call Amazing Grace.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a” — a good girl like me? No, dear one. A wretch. A wretch like me. That’s what makes the grace amazing. Because we didn’t deserve it. Not a bit.
“Good girls” and “good boys” don’t know how to give glory to God for His goodness and Amazing Grace because they haven’t realized their wretchedness. They can’t see the blazing colors before them. That’s why, if I was your mom or if you were mine, I’d tell you to toss that word aside — it was never intended to label you. It was only intended for One alone.
Be free from that burdensome illusion of good, dear one. Just fall in love with our good neon God. May it be a delight to you to follow him, and may he make you more like himself every day.
So stop being a good girl, because you’re not. You’re something better: a redeemed woman.