On Old Hymns and Being the Good Girl

 

I hear the Savior say, 
"Thy strength indeed is small; 
Child of weakness, watch and pray, 
Find in Me thine all in all." 
Jesus paid it all, 
All to Him I owe; 
Sin had left a crimson stain, 
He washed it white as snow. 

I remember hearing this hymn as a child. Standing amongst a chorus of voices in that small church with the red pews, singing along to words which at that point in my life, didn't entirely hold the weight of their meaning.  

I found my solace in being the good girl. If the teacher said, "stay seated and quiet," I didn't move. I sat with hands folded in my lap against my corduroy overalls. Still enough to not even make my seat creak, even if the teacher left the room. I crossed the street at crosswalks only. Obedient to the law. Reverent of authority, bordering the point of fear. Not perfect, but not a rule breaker by any means. 

Until curiosity climbed from the passenger seat to the driver's side. Giving way to the temptation that now dominated the fear and need for approval. I found that even the good girl has a rebellious heart. Prone to wander into the dark, despite being warned about dangers that might meet me there. Prone to wander just because I can. 

I was well into my adulthood before I realized there was a lie nestled in the core of my heart. God loved me based on my performance. When I behaved. Never disagreed. Didn't break the rules. Went to church. Prayed enough. All of the things on my exhausting and self-created checklist. At some point, the lie knocked on the door asking to be believed, and I flung the door wide open and gave it a room.  

"God, search my heart," I prayed. Like that spotlight search bar on my computer. Search my heart for what is stored in there that I am unaware of. Downloaded and forgotten about, but now affecting every aspect of my life drenched in shame. 

I saw it one day in my mind at a women's retreat. Like a time travel glimpse into the past. I saw the little girl version of myself standing before my father. I saw the tears in his eyes. The face marked with sadness, which as an adult I understand with time and clarity. But as a little girl, I misinterpreted as otherwise. There must have been something wrong with me. Sarah causes pain. 

So I strived to be a good girl. And this exhausting effort seemed to work for a while. I could at least try and mostly succeed at being on my best behavior.  

  

And then one night, it all changed. On one warm September night that I never saw coming. Suddenly I found myself sitting in a detainment room with my hands folded in the lap of my beige cotton jumpsuit, the uniform color in the county of my confinement. Sentenced to the Ohio Department of Corrections, a foreign term I would become fluent in. 

And now what, God? No more of the good girl. She has exited left of center stage. Show over. Curtains on that act. A disastrous ending. She couldn't keep your rules anyway. 

The old hymn of her youth plays out quietly in the memory of her heart, where lies and truth collide. 

 

I hear the Savior say, 
"Thy strength indeed is small; 
Child of weakness, watch and pray, 
Find in Me thine all in all." 
Jesus paid it all, 
All to Him I owe; 
Sin had left a crimson stain, 
He washed it white as snow. 

 Find in me thine all in all. Not in yourself. Not in your list of rules and self-determined goodness. 

Jesus paid it all. So that you don't have to. So that you can live a free and abundant life knowing that nothing can separate you from His love. Literally nothing

What lies do you believe in your own life today? I pray that God will search your heart and bask those lies in His light of truth. You don't have to work at being loved. You are meant to rest in it. You are loved as you are. Right here. Right now.

 

1 comment

  • Kristi Smith

    Kristi Smith Hamilton

    Thank you. I had to put my list away also. I am so thankful for God's faithfulness to teach me all i need

    Thank you. I had to put my list away also. I am so thankful for God's faithfulness to teach me all i need

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