The Myth of the ‘Good Christian Girl’

goodchristiangirlThere it was, blinking at me from my inbox…an email from a former college friend’s mother. After a wordy paragraph explaining her concerns about her daughter’s choices, she wrote, “I wish you two were still close. You were always such a good Christian girl. You would be such a good influence on her now.”

And all I could think was “if you only knew…”

Later that week, walking in the door of my church I was enveloped in a hug by one of our most beloved greeters, she whisper to me, “I just love you so much! You are such a good Christian girl!”

And all I could think was “if you only knew…”

What they don’t know is the seed of selfishness and self-pity that grows in my heart when my friends don’t invite me to their latest hangout. What they don’t know is that if I go anywhere NEAR temptation, I will give in. What they don’t know is that while I love my church, sometimes serving each Sunday absolutely exhausts me. What they don’t know is how hard it is for me to love certain people in my life. What they don’t know is that my Bible reading is so dry I wonder why I make an effort some days. What they don’t know is that  I struggle with selfishness and pride every hour of the day.

I look at myself and I don’t see a good Christian girl, I see a mess.

The Comparison Trap

And isn’t that what we do as women? We are constantly looking around at other women, comparing ourselves, seeing who makes us feel good about our lives, and who we should be jealous of…

We look around, see girls wearing the right length skirt, dating the nice boys, leading the biggest small group, and helping out at VBS each year… They seem to have it together. She is the good Christian girl that we can only hope to be.

A few years later, we look around and see the perfect young wives and pregnant mothers, the kind with clean houses, monogrammed towels, weekly Bible studies with the Pastor’s wife, cool birthing plans, obedient children’s play groups already scheduled… They seem to have it all together. That woman seems like the good Christian grown up girl that we can only hope to be.

The thing is, I’ve met these girls. I am friends with these women. And much to my surprise, their lives aren’t as perfect as they seem from the outside. Whether they are putting up a front or we are projecting that perfect Christian image on to them… or both – it’s a lie. We are human. Messy, sin-riddled humans who, by God’s infinite grace (Eph. 2:8) and unconditional love (Rom. 5:8), have been saved from sin into righteousness. But it’s not a righteousness that comes from us, but a righteousness imputed to us from our perfect Savior, Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:3-6). Our salvation and sanctification comes from Jesus, not from us pretending to have it all together! (Eph. 2:9)

Let me just say – The good Christian girl is not actually a thing. She doesn’t exist.

“She” is a lie from Satan. He deceives us into living in guilt, hiding our human flaws and sticking the messiness of our lives under the bed. He does this because it is in the dark shadowy corners of a hidden life that Satan has the best vantage point to attack and imprison us. Then come doubts, guilt, hiding, lying, self-incrimination, temptation, distance from God, and sin.

None of us have it together. We are just blessed to be girls and women who have a Savior and Lord who has it together for us. As girls and women who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, our lives should not be about perfection or portraying the perfect image.

The Real You

Bad hair days. Disobedient children. Troubled relatives. Sinful pasts. Broken marriages. Struggling saved sinners. Me. You. God. Just as we are. Vulnerable. Real.

1. Because vulnerability allows us to be accountable, so that we become more like Christ.

Being real with other trustworthy, believing women is vital in our battle to leave sin behind and be like Christ. Accountability is crucially important in the battle to overcome sin. Honest accountability allows someone to encourage you, to rebuke you, to teach you, to rejoice with you, and to weep with you through all of the wonderful, terrible and messy moments of your life.

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb. 10:24-25

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

2. Because vulnerability allows us to live in community, so that we are not alone in this walk.

The church is the body of Christ. Each of us are important in the body of Christ and each of us are essential to the proper functioning and growth of the body. We were not created to struggle through the Christian life alone, but in fellowship with other believers. While we may not tell every member of our church every detail of our lives, it is important for each of us to be honest about our lives so that others can pray and support us and we do the same for them. We are all part of the family of God, after all.

“But God has put the body together… so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Cor 12: 24-26

3. Because vulnerability allows our messy lives to glorify God, which is the whole point.

God is glorified when His people praise and worship Him for what He has done for them: saving their souls, transforming their sinful minds, teaching them to love their enemies, purifying their heart, giving purpose to their life. That is our testimony! And when we praise God for it and share it with others, He is glorified. It is from the midst of our mess that He is revealed in all His majesty!

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Cor. 12:9

Appearing as if you have you it all together as a Christian isn’t why Jesus died on the cross.

He saved you because you were a sinner in need of saving. He saved you for Himself. He saved you because He loves you. He knew you would never have it together, no one does but Jesus.

Sanctification is simply a process of spending time with Jesus and with His people and allowing His presence to change us, refine us, cleanse us. The girl or woman being sanctified isn’t called to project christianize “it-ness” to the world, she is called to reflect her Savior to sinners.

Confession: I am not a good Christian girl…
I am just a girl with holy, loving and forgiving Savior.
A girl trying to be with Him a little bit more each day.

It’s about Him.

17 thoughts on “The Myth of the ‘Good Christian Girl’

  1. Well said Gabrielle! It is easy to read this and have it resonate, but then we have to go to church or small group or bible study or the young moms gathering. We step out of the car and the mask goes on. Women don’t feel safe to be real because often our churches are preaching gospel”less” messages that simply exhort “do more try harder” routines. It may sound like Christianity but in reality it leaves little need for Jesus. So we set out to accomplish that life believing we must in order to attain to a righteousness that in reality has nothing to do with us. I love the church and I love my church and my hope and prayer is that our churches become penetrated with the good news of the gospel that sets people free, so we can go from being churches that are not the place to go with your troubles to churches that are the one place you would go with your troubles.

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I teach a ladies’ class at my church, and I try to emphasize “being real” with them; I try to BE real with them. Because I’m a mess – I sin just like everyone else.

  3. I started writing a post called “There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Good Christian'” the other day, but was having trouble getting past the title, so I set it aside. Then a friend “coincidentally” shared your article with me. It’s way better than I would’ve written, so I’ll share it and scrap my own post 🙂

    “struggling saved sinner” – yep, that’s me in a nutshell.

  4. Excellent points here. This is my first time reading your blog and I am so glad to have found you. Thanks for the honesty and candidness, it is much needed.

  5. Age doesn’t make a difference in this issue–I’m 58, and still see the struggle, especially after having raised my 4, and having people think “I’m wonderful”–no, just scarred and healed, and perhaps a little better at knowing how to pray. Yes, some sin I don’t struggle with much anymore, but other issues always seem to be waiting in the wings. No matter how old, we are still fallen (on our own), and still need Jesus and the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. Maybe that’s what I know best–how much I desperately need Him.

  6. thank you, Gabrielle for your post. Can definitely relate with it…and yes, vulnerability works. Thank you for that reminder. 🙂

  7. As a young single male in my late twenties, I have to ask.
    If all that I see in church from the female gender is a “mask” how can I find out what is real?
    I can deal with the good, the bad and even the ugly as long as it’s honest and real. I cannot deal with lies and will walk away in an instant. Lies to me are a breach of trust and loyalty.

    Please explain.

  8. i disagree 2 an extent. the good christian boy and girl does exist. i WAS one; its just that not enough attention was paid to people who appear to have it together; cuz they thought we were strong. that we needed 2 teach othas and that we will neva tire. wen the truth was we were loosing strength until finally there was a hollow mess and a front to prevent others from knowing wat was really goin on. the good christian is nt a lie from satan; then jesus wud b a lie, stephen wud b a lie an otha countless martyrs who died young for the cause.
    but nowadays there is no real pressure to be righteous things hav gotten so lax while temptation has gotten REALLY string. it is a lie fform satan that it is IMPOSSIIBLE 2 b “good”. Not sinless, understand, but basically a good person; that is possible its just that it has been given such a bad wrap everyone sees it as unattainable..sigh

  9. This is an amazing post, I really appreciate such honesty! I struggle with trying to be perfect and because I have grown up in church I feel the pressure of being a model of young Christian life. I feel like I have so many struggles and things I have to hide. This truth is amazing and liberating. The line “vulnerability allows our messy lives to glorify God” is so great. Personally, it is so hard for me to be vulnerable. I always want to have my protective covering of good deeds shielding me from other’s scrutiny. I know that other young women feel like we (Christian women) are divided and that we often can’t be real with each other, so I love this encouragement. I was talking with some friends just a few days ago about how women in the Church need to show each other grace and mercy, just like the Lords shows us. Very timely and a wonderful reminder. Thank you!

  10. I really like the post. As I have gotten older I realized that I was blessed to be a man, because it is so much harder growing up as a woman. They are judged by everyone, and women are even tougher on other women. Not sure how you all do it.

  11. Thank you. As a mom with 3 under the age of four (4, 2 &5 weeks) the house is always a mess, the dishes are stacke in the sink, and we are grateful for clean but wrinkled laundry! I often think about this mess we arein as a family! There is a Bible study on Romans that is fantastic, it is from the Joy of Living and another goodbook is Hope for the Weary Mom ( where God meets us in our mess ) I found it Kindle books. Thank you for the encouragement!

  12. THIS WAS A BLESSING TO READ! THANK YOU FOR POSTING!!!!!! Thank you and GOD help you and me too!!! See you upstairs someday!! ❤

  13. Yes, many “good Christian girls” so easily give-up their Christian innocences to the wrong type of men. They surrender their Christian virginities to nonChristian men & allow these pagan fornicators — not the the good Christian men they may later marry — be the first to enjoy their womanhoods. Wonders if they think of their faith or convictions as they “put aside” their morality as they feel the guys’ passionate thrusts into these Sister in Christ. But am sure it works in reverse as well.

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