Good Girl Syndrome

I hate to burst bubbles. Bursting the “But I’m a good girl” bubble is one I pop fairly often. It happens when a girl shows up to campus bright eyed and bushy tailed. She has sailed through the hoops life has presented so far with nary a scraped knee. She may have stumbled over a few obstacles, but either via some personal fortitude or harrowing parenting she has hidden away any failures or less than stellar performances and come to campus with a spotless personal and professional resume.

Then she does something terrible. Something so awful she can’t tell anyone for a while. Something that stands in such stark contrast to the image she has projected and begun to believe is really her – it’s unutterable. The “something” is so many things – and anyone who has walked on a college campus can fill in the blank pretty quickly.

And then she finally confesses. And she feels better. And she just knows she won’t do it again, because she is good and doesn’t fail and doesn’t do “things like that.”

But she does. And I do. And we do. Because we aren’t good, and we do fail, and we DO do all the things.

Knowing that about ourselves is the first step to actually living the way we hope to.

I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:21-24 (I’ll give you the cliff notes in case you don’t know who rescues Paul and us – Jesus!)

When we admit we have the capacity to do all that we hate, we begin to recognize what Jesus has paid for in his death for us, we recognize our need for daily grace, and our real dependence on Him and on others.

I don’t want to send my own kids to college with this syndrome, but it’s surprisingly easy to build our kids up too far, where failure and struggle are what they dread rather than what they learn from.

If I don’t want them to come to campus with good girl/boy syndrome – I can’t spend all my energy protecting them, and/or their (MY) reputation.

But I want to.

That means I can’t go out in front of them all the time and make darn sure they don’t go down some wrong path. It means I can’t walk behind them and quietly sweep under the rug the evidence of poor choices.

But I want to. 

One of my mentors told me rather than praying for my kids NOT to do things that are wrong, to pray that I would always find out.

God has honored that prayer – as hard as that’s been sometimes.

It makes me look like a slacker mom occasionally. I know that. Of course we have standards and expectations and they get support and love and affirmation and I don’t do this thing perfectly. Obviously. So obviously.

It’s just I am forcing myself to live with a little “messy” right now and I’m holding on to the hope that they might know grace and the power of forgiveness before they leave me. I say “I hope” literally – uncertain and unsure, but with eyes resting on my own Savior who has seen me fall innumerable times – and I’m not talking skinned knees here.

I’m grateful for my village who are withholding judgement on my kids and on me. I really, really appreciate it!

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