Confessions of a good girl

I was ending my sophomore year of high school when the conversation took place.  Her fair blonde hair was pinned perfectly away from the gentle curve of her neck.  A few curls framed  her face and spiraled down to her shoulders.  She was lovely as she spoke.  The gist of what she said was this, "I don't know if it is a sin or not, but if cutting my hair is going to keep me out of heaven, then I'm not going to do it."

I admired her conviction, her "better safe than sorry" standards.  I'd never really thought of it as a sin, and although my father didn't allow us to cut our hair my mom would trim it straight on occasion.  I began to wonder if it was wrong.

I was always a good girl.  A rule follower.  I worked well within boundaries, as long as I knew what they were.  Without realizing, I began to work hard at not failing.  I wanted to please people, and I wanted to please God.

The school that I went to was rigid on rules.  I believed that if I followed them, then everyone would know I was good.

My sister was a year ahead of me, and as much as I loved to follow rules, she loved to challenge them.  Her out loud living spoke more clearly to those in authority than my quiet compliance, and we were soon lumped together as "trouble."

Something soured within me.  I perceived a judgement towards me and realized all of my try hard ways would never adequately place me in my chosen category.  I couldn't control the situation, so I left it.

We switched schools the following year, and I was able to start over with a clean slate.  Crisis averted.

Many years later I find myself in a small casual meeting for church.  The conversation is light, and I make an off hand comment about a mutual friend.  My words come back to me challenged.  I realize then that they seemed disloyal to this mentioned friend, and I try to explain myself.  Unfortunately, I am a miserable failure of spoken language.  I am left unable to edit and revise, and I know how awkward I sound.  I was caught off guard and the confrontation crumbled me to an embarrassed heap of shame.

There was no taking it back, so there I sat feeling like a horrible friend and gossip.  The mask was gone, and it was me sitting there in my imperfectness.

I was a mess long after the meeting was over.  I cried far into the night, head under covers, shaking in my misery.  I greeted the next morning with swollen eyes, and a dull ache surrounding my head.  My own devastation surprised me, and I thought often about this unraveling.  Why did I care?

Time brought revelation, and I see how I am flawed.  I am trapped behind this facade of always being good.  I've allowed no room for errors intentional, accidental, or perceived.  I try to not need grace. I hate to make mistakes, and when I do I come down hard on myself.  I try to control how I am viewed, and when that falls short of my ideal, I am ruined.  It is the nature of my sin, present inside of me for as long as I can remember.  I leave little room for a Savior, and I am realizing how that makes me even more desperate for one.

I know the truth of grace.  It is freely sufficient and unlimited.  I only need to accept it, and this is my journey. . .

Ephesians 2:9-11

New Living Translation (NLT)
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Psalm 139:23-24

New Living Translation (NLT)
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.


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