Lies Good Girls Believe5:33 AM
"I definitely want to cover what to do when you feel you've lost your salvation," I babbled. "This is so huge. I know so many girls struggle with this -- with feeling like they'll wake up in hell -- and then beg God over and over to save them and never feel like it does any good."
My friend stared at me, slightly horrified. "It's so strange," she said, after I looked up, "so strange how we're so different."
"You didn't ever feel like that?"
"No, not really."
Sometimes there are these moments when light bulbs click and you blurt out, "Wow, I thought I was the only one!" Who knew it was true? I couldn't wrap my mind around it. We were so similar, she and I. We homeschooled. Our parents were sincere, active Christians. We shared a good chunk of our spiritual journey together over the past five years. I felt certainly her greatest struggle would have been mine -- helplessly fearing the wrath of God, tortured in accusations and guilt, running so hard and falling so short.
In my observations of homegrown Christians (a.k.a. we second-generation Christians), I've come across two types: the apathetic and the work-a-holic. In her younger years, she struggled with apathy -- overcoming the rote religion of being baptized, going to church and growing up in a Christian family and really making Christ the number one priority. Me?
I cried myself to sleep at night -- if I slept at all, lest death should take me. I heard altar calls and froze up, feeling for certain I was and wasn't saved. I walked around guilty, burdened and unloved. I distanced my filthiness from the holy God I feared with every ounce of my consciousness. I emotionally whipped myself, struggled up every day to try again and hid the blisters and bruises from everyone I knew.
I was a good girl. Good girls don't show their imperfection.
Needless to say, apathy was never an issue with me -- though of course I insisted it was, since how else could I explain my failure at perfection? My salvation was based on bits and pieces of His grace and for the most part on hamster-wheel work.
Interestingly, we grew up in different circles, different denominations. She'd never heard of stay-at-home daughters and Vision Forum. I had no clue what all this talk about grace and the Spirit was. I grew up Baptist, conservative -- the fundamental kind, the anti-beer, anti-tank tops, anti-everything type. She grew up more inwardly conservative -- more "normal," for lack of a better word. If grace was preached, I must have been asleep.
No lie: the ultra-conservative lifestyle is very performance-based. We know it. We feel the pressure of wondering if we're modest enough, demure enough, motherly enough, feminine enough, just plain good enough (especially if it involves snagging a godly guy). I consider myself an outdated fuddy duddy on many issues, but I can still say it: it's very performance-based. Come to think of it, all the friends I knew who struggled with the fear of losing their salvation grew up extremely conservative by the world's standards.
I like conservative. There's great freedom in being modest, feminine and godly, sure. I just feel that there's a different set of temptations for us "good girls" than the girl who wears skinny jeans to the public school and doesn't blink at it. It's Satan's big secret. Satan knows it's no good trying to get us to party and drink, so he attacks on a different front: guilt. And then -- and he loves this -- he convinces us that this guilt and fear is really the essence of Christianity. Thus, we recoil at the thought of God's love, God's grace, relief from the relentless press of ungodliness. "Antinomianism!" we scream. "Grace abusers! Spineless Christianity!" This leads to abject misery, ballooning pride or atheism. We never once touch grace or faith -- because how could Christianity be divorced from floor-length skirts and homeschooling?
Girls, we read about modesty, courtship and obeying our parents. There is so much more to Christianity than this. You're most likely not going to face the temptations of bad boys and low-cut blouses. What you will face? Lies like these:
The point of Christianity is obedience -- obeying morals, rules and convictions to please God. Half-truth. Our obedience expresses love, yes. But Christ died not to primarily convict us that we're ugly sinners, not to lock us into a strict moral system and not to enable us to be good people. He died that we may have access to the Father. There is therefore now no condemnation. We are not by any means "good people" (good girls don't yell at siblings and neglect the laundry), but we are justified in His sight, able to stand before His presence and experience the grace and truth that conform us to the image of His Son.
Everything works by formula. If a prominent Christian leader has not endorsed your particular choice, you're wrong. Lie. Each receives a gift, a call and the Spirit to guide her. Your individuality reflects the diversity of the church and the care God shows toward you.
God cannot stand you. You grieve Him. You annoy Him. Big fat lie. God loves you. Not in the cuddly Care Bear sense -- this love moves mountains and it is directed toward and for you. He wants you -- to reason with Him if you have questions, to rest upon Him when you're weary, to ask Him for anything. Forget about fixing your messiness: He knows you're a mess. He's conscious you're imperfect. But He loves you anyway. You don't think He didn't know how horrible your sin was when He died for you? He gave everything for you. Good girls are very comfortable with the idea that God loves everyone; we feel it's heresy to think that He actually loves and died for us individually.
So many lies run along this same train, blocking us from grace and truth, producing self-hatred, confused womanhood, and petrified rote obedience. This guilt and despair thwarts the true repentance and obedience necessary to put on Jesus Christ wholeheartedly. Embrace grace. Embrace truth. Embrace God. Then live Him out.
To start where I began, what do you or did you struggle with? What lies do you believe? What do you wish you would have known that you know now? What confuses you? What do you need to hear? I hope we can wrestle with these questions together and pray for the truth that sets us free.