I’ve always been a “good girl.” Straight A student. Rarely in trouble. Picked the right college, the right fella, the right outfit. You get the idea.

Turning my life over to Jesus ripped my story into two halves: life before him and life after him. Still, there isn’t a lot of drama in the “before” part. No skeletons in the closet. No criminal record. No massive public failures.

Skewed Picture

I know this is why the gospel has always gone down smooth for me. Yes, God forgave me of my sins. Yes, that is good news. But honestly, there wasn’t that much to forgive. I’m a good girl, remember? But I’ve been walking with the Lord for almost two decades now. And the strangest thing has happened. The longer I know him, and the more familiar I become with his Word, the uglier my heart looks. It’s like one of those optical illusion pictures that just looks like a bunch of squiggles at first. But the longer you stare, the more the edges of a hidden image start to emerge.

Unfortunately, the image of my heart is not a pretty picture.

Sure, my behavior screams “good girl.” But my deceitful heart whispers “jealousy, pride, envy, hate, anger, bitterness, greed.” It’s not a pretty picture. And a wrestling match has begun in me. Suddenly I’m painfully aware of my desperate need for grace.

Here’s the truth: there are no good girls. The Bible tells us no one is good except God alone (Rom. 3:10). The achievements, accomplishments, and attitudes we polish up squeaky clean are destined to looking like filthy rags next to his blinding holiness (Isa. 64:6).

Goodbye Good Girl

My sin nature still seems superglued to me. Being a good girl doesn’t dissolve its adhesive effect. Following the rules doesn’t make me righteous. Acting like Pollyanna isn’t the same as having a pure heart. So week after week, as the communion cup is passed, I wrestle, and I weep. It has taken my entire life, but my good girl facade has cracked. Praise God. Even on my very best days I’m still a wretched sinner. But while the bad news has been pinning me to the mat lately, the good news keeps picking me up and dusting me off:

The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)

I am thankful the dam of my goodness has broken, because God’s torrential grace has come pouring through. Grace doesn’t always feel good. Facing up to the reality of our sin hurts. But when I wrestle with the gospel, the gospel always wins.

No, being a good girl is not enough. But the grace of a good God is. And not-so-good girls like me find that to be very good news.

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