princessemmablog

A Work in Progress: Walking with Jesus

Good Girls (and why we shouldn’t always try to be one)

 

A few years ago I attended a seminar about working with teenage girls. I was hoping for some useful tips, inspiration and new ideas, and I came away with all of those. But I also came away with something a little more unexpected- a revelation about myself.

This seminar introduced me to the concept of the ‘Good Girl’- one I instantly identified with. Good Girls like to please. They tend to overachieve. They don’t like getting into trouble, and care very much about the opinions of those around them. And this behaviour is held up as a model, something to aspire to. Compliant teenagers?! The Holy Grail! But of course, scratch the surface, and underneath lurk the same swirling mire of complicated, hormone-driven emotions that are an integral part of growing up. Good Girls tend to suppress these emotions, rather than display them. Rebellion may be internal, or (as was in my case) concealed; they aren’t looking for the attention that confrontation brings, but seeking to avoid it at all costs. Parents of Good Girls may drift along in blissful ignorance, unaware of the double lives their apparent model offspring are living. And of course, the danger then is that if Good Girls do derail, they do so in spectacular style.

Recognising this trait in myself was the beginning of a journey of discovery for me; realising that other people’s opinions of me are not the be all and end all, and realising that God’s opinion of me does not change according to how I behave- He loves me unconditionally, for who I am and not what I do.

I’ve been reminded a lot about this recently. For one thing, my girls and I have been watching Frozen (a lot). And listening to the soundtrack (on loop in the car, much to my husband’s dismay. Although he does do some good Sven impressions. But I digress.) Readers of this blog will be aware that I am a big fan of the movie (see previous post Fearless not Frozen ) and every time I watch it I find more in it that makes me think. At the start of the film Elsa, one of the principal characters, is an archetypal Good Girl. She has been taught from an early age that she must hide her powers away from the world, and protect her little sister at all costs:

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see,

Be the Good Girl you always have to be,

Conceal don’t feel, put on a show…

Make one wrong move and everyone will know…

But (spoiler alert- if you live on another planet and have not yet seen the film) this does not turn out well. Unsurprisingly, trying to suppress who she really is and constantly put on an act for everybody else eats her up inside; consumed by fear she is unable to harness her powers until she embraces who she is, and is accepted for who she is by those she loves.

Another reason this has been at the front of my mind is that I have the makings of a Good Girl myself. A compliant, eager to please, academically gifted child to whom expressing her emotions does not come naturally. I am trying to encourage her to share how she feels, and to reassure her that getting angry is not always a bad thing. To tell her often that no matter what she does, her mummy and daddy (and her Daddy in heaven) will love her just the same. To make sure she knows that she won’t be able to please everyone, all the time, and that that’s OK. That being herself, knowing herself, standing up for who she is and what she thinks is right is more important than keeping the peace.

My hope and prayer for both my girls is that they would feel able to be themselves, wherever they are and whoever they’re with; that they may be thermostats that influence the environment around them, not thermometers that merely reflect it. And that they would realise that ‘Being Good’ is often not all it’s cracked up to be.

 

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Fearless not Frozen

Yesterday, my husband and I took our girls to see Frozen, the new Disney extravaganza loosely based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. We all thought it was fantastic, but the sequence above and the song it contains completely mesmerised me. In it the young snow queen, Elsa, starts to use the powers she was born with but has always been told she must hide away. As she starts to experiment, to draw pictures in the sky with frost and ice, and then to get more adventurous and conjure up an elaborate ice palace, you see her start to come alive, to become more confident as at last she is released to be the person she was created to be.

In ‘Let It Go’ she sings

The fears that once controlled me

Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do

To test the limits and break through…

It brought tears to my eyes as I watched it (not hard, as I am a Disney girl through and through and  so emotionally labile I have been known to cry in certain adverts…!) But even after we’d left the cinema, back home, I kept coming back to this scene in the film. At the start of a new year, full of promise, hope, expectation and uncertainty, what a great reminder that we need to use the gifts we’ve been given. There is freedom  in being who we were made to be. And using our gifts helps us to hone them, to employ them more effectively. In the film it is only through using her powers that Elsa discovers just what she can do and how she can control them and use them for good.

I don’t think that anyone I know has the power to turn anything they touch to ice. We all however, without exception, have our own unique set of gifts and talents, and most of us will have some that we aren’t using. Maybe we’re afraid, like Elsa, of the reaction of those around us. We may be afraid of failing if we step out into something new. We may be comfortable carrying on doing what we know we can do, happier in our comfort zone than out of it.

For me, the challenge this year is to keep writing. To stop making excuses about being too busy (if I have time for Facebook and Candy Crush I have time to write, right?!) To stop worrying about what people think about my writing and just do it. To stop being afraid of not being good at it and keep on keeping on. To stop reading books about writing books and just get on with the blinking thing.

I don’t know what your ‘thing’ is, but I bet there’s something. In the words of Orrin Woodward

It’s not the gifts you don’t have that hold you back as much as the gifts you do have that you don’t use.

So let’s get out there in 2014 and be the unique and wonderful people who God created us to be, all different, all complementary, all with our own particular part to play, not afraid of failing but free to be who we really want to be, who we really are. Oh, and go and see Frozen. It’s great.

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