Good Girls say they’re fine

On Thursdays, author (and unfortunate recipient of my online stalking) Emily Freeman, hosts a book club on her blog. She writes more about her book Grace for the Good Girl and invites readers to join her in the discussion. Emily wrote Grace for the Good Girl for me. Somehow, she knew across the ocean, living in a little gray house, surrounded by children and a tissue-eating poodle, sits a woman with a good girl heart. Here on the blog, I write often of my struggle to break free from my good girl tendencies. Most of them look great on paper. They look like responsibility and kindness and rule following. People like good girls because we always do the right thing. We can’t imagine living life any other way. But, “doing the right thing” often holds hands with “for the wrong reason”. My motivation for making good choices comes from a place of fear, not a place of grace.

I read Grace for the Good Girl last year, and as I read, the door to my heart opened a crack. A sliver of light slipped through and illuminated the good girl stuff gathering dust on the inside. In chapter five, Emily writes about good girls hiding behind our smiles and our fake “fine”. I smiled, a real one, when I read this chapter because truth slipped in with the light and smacked me in the face a little. In the not-too-distant past, I answered “How are you?” with “Fine”. Always. The only people who heard anything other than fine were my husband and my closest girlfriend, and as a result, they heard it all. I made everyone else dig so deep, they stopped before they hit the truth.

This week Emily asks readers why we hide behind our fake “fine”–what motivates us to hide the truth behind smiles and platitudes? She suggests we operate this way out of fear or out of laziness. While I don’t struggle with this as much as I used to, it remains my default position when I feel insecure, tired, and overly emotional. My false fine rises out of the belief that you aren’t interested. You have better things to do than listen to me talk about my failure or anger or disappointment. I think I’m doing you a favor, but in reality I cheat us both. The more thought I gave to my false fine, the more I realized it essentially boils down to fear, just like Emily said. (She’s good, hence the stalking.) I fear disappointing you with the truth. I fear boring you. I fear you will misunderstand.

It’s good to call these things out. They love to hide in the dust and shadows, and as we call them out for what they truly are, we take a step closer to grace. Maybe you have bad girl tendencies. Maybe you’re a good girl like me. Or maybe you find yourself somewhere in between. Regardless of where you find yourself, I hope you’ll read Emily’s book and come out of hiding. Why not hop over there now and see what other women have to say about hiding behind “Fine”.

Subscribe

  • Sometimes I say “Fine” just because people don’t have time to hear the real story. In fact, I’ve experimented with this. A few times in the past few months when things weren’t so fine, people ask “How are you?” and I would answer something like, “Not good at all. Things with my extended family are hard. Thank you for asking.” They stand there, stunned. They don’t know what to say and they don’t want to go deeper into it sometimes simply because there’s not time.

    When people ask “How are you?” I think it’s just a way for them to quickly communicate, “I’m glad I saw you. I care about you and hope that you’re doing well.” Our culture shortens that to “How are you?”

    And we usually answer “Fine” as a way to say, “I’m glad you asked, that you’re glad to see me, and that you care enough to ask about me.”

  • Kimberly?

    That line about you across the ocean in the little gray house made me cry. I’m crying again, repeating it here. This world isn’t so big after all, is it?

    This post is beautiful. It seems you have a firm understanding and intuition about yourself. And if I may? We talk about conviction of sin often, and maybe that’s what a lot of my book is – realizing those ways we hide but ultimately, sin. And you seem to get that.
    I hope you are also becoming convicted of your giftedness, your talent as a writer. You turn words like buds turn color. It is delightful to watch. I hope you’ll keep going.