When I turned six, my sister was two days old. She was and is the sweetest gift I’ve ever gotten for my birthday. Shortly after her birth, she was re-hospitalized, we moved across the state, rented a home, and started building a new one, and I started first grade.
Back then I was a shy little girl, but I was also gregarious to some small degree. At least in my memory I was. My first grade teacher was Ms. Hitchcock. I was a kindergarten dropout due to my sister’s birth and illness, and it was my first experience in a “real” classroom with a desk. The desks were lined in rows, and I sat behind the only girl I had officially met before, Stacey from church. I liked to talk to Stacey from church as well as David, the teacher’s nephew. I talked so much I got in trouble.
The first time was no big deal. Ms. Hitchcock yelled a little and reprimanded me. My face flushed red, and I got quiet. The second time I got caught talking was different. She got in my face and yelled, and then forcefully, my desk and me went on a ride from the back of the room to not just the front of the room, but outside the room by the door. I don’t remember much about after, but I was humiliated.
This is just one example of many misfit moments in which I decided that I must always strive for goodness and perfection. Mom always said, “Be good,” and so I was.
My sister however remembers that I told her the truth about Santa Claus, and that I made her be the servant to me, as I was the princess. Apparently, so she says, I never let her actually be the princess. I on the other hand, recollect none of that, in all seriousness.
“Good” girls are girls that have super skills at hiding their misfittedness, and it is lonely playing pretend by oneself all the time.
The journey to finding, giving, and understanding God’s grace for myself as been at times slow and tedious, and yet there are moments of swift revelation from the Lord. I grew up in the church, and even though I was part of the denomination that says, “once saved, always saved,” I didn’t get grace. I still felt the requirements – baptism, bible reading, and a checklist of things not to do in order to truly be godly. Sure, I’d accepted Jesus, but I was still striving to be good apart from Him.
Honestly, I’ve understood grace more from the online community than anywhere else – reading and listening to stories just like Michelle’s. It was through these stories that God showed me the depth on my own depravity, and that I could never be good enough. That in all honesty, I am not a “good girl” at all, but I am His beloved misfit. These stories were like a light bulb shining truth on grace for my heart to see and understand.
Granted what I do portrays who I love, but He does not love me because I do the right things. He loves me because He does and because He knows how very much I need that love.
“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19 (MSG)
Jamie S. Harper blogs at Brown Paper and Strings. She spent much of her life awkwardly quiet, shy, and as a good girl and people pleaser. She felt God’s calling on her life while attending college. After graduating, she walked through a valley of darkness, wondering if God had deserted her. Instead she found Him to be ever near with love that was deep, wide, high, and long, but she was still trying to save herself, and make Him love her more, until grace dug her out of her own good girl and people pleasing pit. Connect with Jamie on Twitter at @bpaperstrings, Pinterest at bpaperandstring, Facebook at Jamie S. Harper, Brown Paper and Strings, and Instagram at jamiesamharper, and of course, on her blog at http://www.brownpaperandstrings.com.
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