Grace for the Good Girl: A Review


I am a good girl gone bad.

My friend Emily would call me a “recovering good girl.” Actually, she did call me that in her new book, Grace for the Good Girl.

Emily Freeman and I met online in 2009, and we were instantly drawn to one another through the similarities of God’s grace-work in our lives. We were both girls who grew up without dramatic salvation testimonies, and we were both learning the truth that “good girls” weren’t so good as we had tried to be all our lives.

I’m a girl who knows all the right things to do and the right ways to act and exactly how to keep all my plates spinning all the time so I look like I’m doing everything right. I consider myself a “good girl gone bad” because I simply don’t do it anymore.

Before Emily wrote her book and asked me to share my story with her, I had walked out on what she terms the “try-hard life” into the nebulous, seemingly unproven idea that grace was more than “the power to do what is right.” I recognized a huge gap between “yielding” and “doing” and I quit trying to “do the right thing” and started learning how to yield myself as an instrument of righteousness unto God.

In the following years, God blew my idea of grace wide open, transforming my perspective on sanctification, retooling my view of myself, re-explaining grace in the context of Spirit-work and not in terms of “don’t you dare sin and take advantage of this grace.” He taught me how the sin that separates happens in the heart before it ever makes it into the actions, how wearing masks in order to be good was not the same as clothing myself in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

For a long time, I felt alone as I quietly — or not-so-quietly — figured things out. I walked out on faith, hoping God would confirm what He was teaching me in the lives of others. But the culture I was in and the people who surrounded me unconsciously lived “Christ-plus” lives, accepting the Cross as the understood and getting to work proving their spirituality.

Emily’s book is the most refreshing read I’ve had in a very, very long time. And I don’t mean refreshing in “oh this is so new to me — amazing.” I mean refreshing in the way that one is refreshed with a place to rest after a long, difficult journey. I mean refreshing in the “sit down in my living room and let’s talk about God together” sort of way. I mean refreshing in that I felt like my soul was breathing new air as I read what she wrote about her life (not so different from mine) and her walk with God.

Like Emily identified herself in her book, I was the responsible one; I knew that I put on masks to live my life every day. I have been – still am – the older brother Emily describes in her book, looking in at the Father celebrating the prodigal son, not always remembering that what I have is relationship with Him, whether I am good or bad.

Emily writes as a friend to her readers — she always has at her blog — and I closed her book feeling that I was no longer alone on my journey into grace. Her very personal voice – her book is almost a journal in places – fosters an intimacy that invites her readers into relationship with her and with the God who gave her grace.

If you’re a good girl, or a good girl gone bad, or even a bad girl ashamed with herself for not being good, this book is for you. It is mostly about redemption and all about grace, and the to-do lists for fixing yourself are conspicuously absent from Emily’s writing. Emily writes with love for her God and love for her readers splayed over every page.

I thought I had a boring testimony because I’d never gone through a rebellious stage, but God knew better. Grace isn’t just for the prodigal son. It is also for the one who keeps the rules.

The Gospel is not so much about overcoming sin as it is about sin that Christ overcame. Emily’s grasp of this truth makes Grace for the Good Girl one of the most freeing books I’ve ever read.

Grace for the Good Girl Giveaway Winner

grace-for-good-girl-2Thank you to everyone who entered for a chance to win a copy of Emily Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl and Kelly Sauer’s 8×12 fine art print of this photo, “Grace.” We chose our winner, Amanda, using the’s Integer Generator. Congratulations Amanda! Please email your snail-mail info to Everyone else, stay tuned for our next giveaway.

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Kelly Sauer is a writer, wedding photographer, restless heart, wife, and mama to two. She makes fine art out of real life, revealing beauty where it wasn't. She shares her art and her real life at You can find her on Twitter as @kellysauer.

  • Erin

    I’ve had a rough year. I lost my job in August and I am starting to wonder if I will ever find another one. I try to seek God to find His plan for me, but I worry that I have let Him down too much for Him to help me. I would really love to read this!

  • Erin
  • In the last couple of years, I’ve learned that even the “good girls” with “boring” testimonies (like me) will have dark valleys. And now I’m learning how to show others the same grace that God and others have shown to me.
    I’ve seen and read quite a bit about this book and would love to read it.

  • Elisha

    My story I guess is simple, I was saved at five and have always been the “good girl.” The first time I knew I sinned after getting saved I asked God back into my heart. I didn’t understand that he would keep me. My childhood was spent on a swing making up songs to God. I loved Him.

    Then I went through depression in my teen years. My hormones went crazy, but I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through because I was the “good girl.”

    Then for years I grew with God, and just enjoyed Him. His grace always felt near. This last year knocked me off my feet, and not in a good way. I’m finding it harder to feel God’s grace in the midst of everything. I feel like just when I start healing, BAM, more heartache.

    God is growing me. I’ve never been so loving before. I don’t hold people to invisible rules anymore. The unseen and unsaid good girl feels abandoned, and that it is my fault. I did recently ask God if there was grace for me…and I guess He has a sense of humor.

  • I grew up in a Christian home, was saved at the end of second grade, and regularly attended church activities. I always thought my life was a bore and not as important because I did not have a “radical life-saving” testimony. Not until later, a co-worker reminded me that God did radically save my life. . . He spared me from the pressures of the “in-crowd” by protecting me with a godly family. My mom always called my sister and I her, Jesus Girls. That title I gladly wear, but I still cannot fathom His grace and mercy for me.

  • I just tweeted!

  • I am anxious to read this book…I know that I will be able to relate to it very well. I am the first born good girl in my family. I always felt like I had to mediate and help my parents, help my brother and never had ‘big’ noticeable sins to anyone. :) The past few years God has shown me how I am in need of His grace just as much as others. can’t wait to read this!!

  • I was the oldest daughter who kept things running at home when my dad gained custody of us after a divorce when I was 5. I got good grades, didn’t party, and didn’t…well, that was my life, “I didn’t ______.” Over the years I have found God calling me to work in encouraging women. While so many want their daughters to have a childhood like mine, they feel they can’t relate to me because I didn’t ______ like they did. I think reading this would help me articulate to these women how I need God’s grace the same as they do.

  • I can relate to not having a “dramatic salvation story”. And because of that, I’ve never felt like my story was worth sharing. I have always been a good girl, afraid to step out of line in any way. I guess I was afraid it would make me less deserving of God’s grace. But I’ve been learning over the past year, that maybe that’s not true after all.
    I’ve flipped through Emily’s book in the bookstore and would love to read the entire thing!

  • Laura

    I am a stereotypical good girl. I’ve never had a big rebellion against God, always done exactly what was expected of me, to outsiders I’ve always seemed like the typical Christian good girl. And as you say, in some ways this makes me feel like it’s harder to connect to God, like my story is less worth telling. So I really feel like this book would be a good read – and I’m going to add it to my reading list anyway!

  • LeeBird

    I stopped pretending to have all the answers. I stopped believing that I had to be perfect because I’d make God look bad if I showed the real me inside…the screwed up hot mess. It was exhausting to live that way for close to 40 yrs. I’ve been learning to be real for about four years now. I’m starting to get the hang of it. :)

  • I am a good girl – never rocked the boat, followed the rules and was saved when I was in 3rd grade. I never had that “light pouring down from heaven” salvation moment. God has always been quietly present just as He has been for me. I’ve heard such fabulous things about this book and would love to read it.

  • I was saved at a young age, and by God’s grace was spared from a lifetime of rebellion. However, I can see the “good girl” tendencies in my life. Growing up in church and in a Christian home I learned to play the good girl. Sometimes I did the right thing because it was right, other times because it was expected of me, and other times I did the right thing only because of the “rules” of southern culture. I would love to have the opportunity to read this book by Emily.

  • I have always been a perfectionist, trying to earn my way into peope’s hearts. God’s grace is such a difficult concept to grasp. I want so much to be good enough even though He says I don’t have to be anything except willing to accept His gift.
    I realized just how hard I try to earn His favor several years ago. My nine year old daughter passed away from an illness and it was so hard not to believe I had done something to anger God. I spent so much time trying to figure out what I had done wrong to deserve such punishment. Most of the time I am able to keep these thoughts away and rest in His comfort but there are still many dark days.
    Trying to be good enough is so exhausting. It is good to know I am not alone.

  • Kristin Etem

    I actually was going to see if our library had this book so I could request it. I’ve been on a reading rampage the past 3 years since I started homeschooling my oldest. Never really knew I was reader, but something with homeschooling has brought it out in me. My first year my motto/mantra was to allow myself grace, grace for each day b/c I had been told if would have it’s ups and downs,challenges, and frustrations. I think my husband and friends would label me a “good girl”, I can’t tell a lie w/o it being completely obvious and except for the few years in college that I partied I also stayed pretty true to my beliefs, faith, and trying to honor the Lord and my parents. I would love to win it!

  • My testimony has a prodigal daughter ring to it. Repeatedly. Always, was the Lord there to welcome me home. Each time I have pulled away in 37 years. I am so grateful for His love and Grace and Mercy.

  • Tweeted about this article. Here is the URL:!/frugalandfree/status/154010395378597888 Thank you. :-)

  • Melissa

    I’m a typical good girl. Grew up an over-achiever and was the one my brothers made fun of because I “liked church.” It was my parents divorce that pulled the rug out from under me and showed me I was relying on my own merits instead of God’s unfailing love. My faith grew tremendously and I began to believe I had a story even though I didn’t have a seemingly dramatic story of redemption. But I began to tell that story. the story that is a story of redemption–they all are, even for us good girls ;)

    But! I actually already read this wonderful book before passing it on to a friend who needed it too. I really hope to win one so that I can sneak some wisdom from it, and then pass it on again!

  • Laurie Rolfe

    I find myself intrigued to read more about the difference between “yielding and doing.” As a busy Mom of 7 and a pastor’s wife, something about that line caught my eye and refreshed me just in reading it. I think it’s because the older I get, the more I need that quiet place of yielding to the Lord or my efforts are just “wheels spinning.” I’d love to read this book.

  • Reading this post made me feel as though his book were speaking directly to me. I was raised in church, am married to a preacher, and try my hardest to do everything “right.” I could certainly use a grace reminder.

  • Such a great review of Grace for the Good Girl. I too, could relate in many ways as I have the tendency to be more of the older brother- the rule follower, at time judgmental, critical, etc. I have learned a lot about grace and have much to learn still.

    I pray this book will be used to touch a lot of people as I have no doubt it will.

  • Amanda

    I’m pretty sure I would be “the bad girl who tries to be good, but can’t seem to break these chains.” My resolution this year is to break these chains!

  • I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I saw the little promo video for it. My husband was peeking over my shoulder while I was watching it and immediately told me that I’m a recovering “good girl.”

  • I sent out a tweet (from @cttRachel).

  • Sadye

    The idea of grace is conceptually alluring but practically illusive…I would love to hear how the gap can be been brought closer for each of us.

  • Justine

    What a genuine, refreshing thought – grace for the good girl. Similar to the author, I, too, struggle with understanding how my story of faith is worth hearing. Growing up in the church has been a blessing, for sure, but I often wonder how my story can impact the lives of others. I believe this book could be a tool that God could use to help me understand His grace in my life.

  • This book has been on my to read/get list for some time. I think I am caught between good and good gone bad but either way the grace is for all and learning to live in the grace is my challenge.

  • Shannon

    I would like a copy of this book in order to hear about a fellow good girl’s grace experience. Thank you.

  • Lisa B

    I have definitely been “the good girl” all my life – and I’ve always felt that my testimony is uninteresting because there was no dramatic reversal from an outwardly sinful life to an outwardly godly life. Now that I’m an adult, I see that struggles with sin in my heart can be as hard to overcome as sinful actions, and that serving God is not just about the things I don’t do, but the things that I should do as well. I would love to read this book and be reminded that God’s grace is for everyone.

  • Amy

    2 Corinthians 12:9 has been one of my mainstay verses recently. We talk about powerful life-changing testimonies and often are in awe of how others with more visibly broken pasts come to the Lord. But there is still insidiousness in quieter lives of trying to earn a sense of worth through works and living with the label of grace over us that doesn’t permeate our heart and being. I would love this book to read, and would then hope to mention it on my blog to other readers. x

  • Jennifer

    This books sounds really good. I grew up as a pastor’s daughter in Germany and then as an MK in Africa. I was pretty sheltered, though that never bothered me. There were times when I wish my testimony was more juicy, but I am now so thankful of all the things that God protected me from.
    Having children has really humbled me because it has shown me all of my “secret” sins. I never knew how impatient and selfish I could be until I had my kids. At the same time God is using them to grow me.

  • Jennifer

    I tweeted it :)

  • I relate with this quote below. At the back of my mind, I am amazed how it is easier to obey God when it is done in his strength and not me trying to live it out and not take grace for granted. It is a part of my journey I AM SO THANKFUL FOR.

    “In the following years, God blew my idea of grace wide open, transforming my perspective on sanctification, retooling my view of myself, re-explaining grace in the context of Spirit-work and not in terms of “don’t you dare sin and take advantage of this grace.”

  • I tweeted!:)

  • LoriM

    Another MK good girl here – and I’m 52….my story is much too boring to share….but I totally relate to all you gals are saying. I’m learning about grace, too, for all my hidden sins…. Will wish list this book in case I don’t win it….

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Grace for the Good Girl: A Review

by Kelly Sauer time to read: 3 min