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  • Writer's pictureBeth Hildebrand

It’s Hard Being A Good Girl

Playing good girls in the 1930s was difficult, when the fad was to play bad girls. Actually I think playing bad girls is a bore; I have always had more luck with good girl roles because they require more from an actress. ~Olivia de Havilland

Actress Olivia de Havilland said that many years ago. She had several lead roles in movies during the “golden age of classical Hollywood”, Gone with the Wind, being one of them. So is that what you think too? In this world, where our lives are a story, would you rather play a role as a “bad girl” or a “good girl?”

When I was in middle school, I performed in a few different plays at our church and even went to some summer theater camps at the Raleigh Children’s Theater. I never had a lead or assisting role, but I enjoyed being “disguised as someone else”.

And as a teenager, that played over into my real life – not just on stage. I tried hard to APPEAR as a good girl, in order to hide some poor choices I made. There were a few times I probably fit in with the Urban definition good girl: “a bad girl that hasn’t been caught,” or I felt like one of those “good girls gone bad” and I worked hard at never letting anyone see that part of me. I wasn’t living up to the expectations that I was supposed to live, even though I was raised in a Christian family and church. I wanted to be good but when I tried to work on being “gooder” and failed, it felt like an endless, defeated cycle. But deep down I knew that even when we fool the world with our goodness, God sees and knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves.

But my life changed February 4, 1993 when I asked Jesus to live and breathe inside of me. That day I felt the weight of sin and regret replaced by the weight of God’s glory. That felt so good!

Somehow though, I still want to be a “good girl.” When I was younger I tried hard to APPEAR a good girl, and now as a Christ-follower I STRIVED to be a good girl. Goodness becomes an expectation: go to church and bible studies every week, volunteer, and post “perfect family” photos or bible verses on social media. I’m trying hard to be good! But recently, I’m realizing that it’s not about ME striving to be better or “gooder”.

I’ve been reading, praying, and even getting some counsel from godly women I trust about the Fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I’ve found myself striving to be those attributes, including goodness. While I’ve been meditating on Galatians 5:22-23, throught conversation, I’ve heard God say to me, “It doesn’t say in the Bible, ‘The Fruits of Beth’; it says the Fruit of the SPIRIT – the One who produces. If I try to live up to my personal (and others) expectations of being “good”, couldn’t it be that I’m aiming to better myself versus following the Holy Spirit which will produce that fruit for me?”

I read this  in She Speaks Truth: “If we allow God’s Spirit to rule our lives, if we make up our minds to not focus the things of this world but to focus on the things of God, we will be transformed and will be able to know God’s will and choose to do what is right. ‘Goodness’ is a natural outcome of living your life in line with God’s will. Reading through God’s word will also teach you how to live rightly, and we always have Jesus’ example to look to for how we ought to live our lives and what ‘goodness’ looks like.”

Friends, whenever we think we can do goodness on our own, we are saying we can be the essence of God without the presence of God.  But we can’t!

In Ephesians 5:8, Paul tells us, ‘at one time you were darkness.’ All of us have been. And we’re learning again and again and again: our self-made fruit does not rid us of our darkness – it doesn’t have that power. Only God can make us light.”

I had allowed goodness to become an expectation – a good mom, a good wife, a good Christian. At least that’s how I’d lived instead of inviting God’s Spirit of goodness to shine through me. I can BARE the fruit of goodness – but I can’t produce it myself. It’s not about me. It’s about Christ – God’s Spirit living IN me. I want to hear, feel, and follow the Holy Spirit because HE will produce goodness (and the other fruits) in me…and you.

“May His goodness follow us as we draw near to Him, and may we dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Oh how abundant is your goodness!” Psalm 31:19

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