Monday, July 23, 2012

Hey good lookin’ -- Thoughts on spiritual playacting

Grace frees me to be the child I am and to ask my Father for help. Grace changes things. As Kleinig explains,

“With that request for help comes an end to our playacting before the imagined audience of God and the people around us. (Grace Upon Grace, Kleinig, p. 39)
Pinned Image
photo credit

When you put it that way, it sounds so silly:
“playacting before the imagined audience of God and the people around us.”

Playacting, like "the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others." (Matthew 6:5)

I picture the Pharisees belting out holy-sounding words in the streets. I picture the muscle man strutting his stuff at the beach. I picture overly-dramatic stage voices and lots of makeup.

I barely even wear makeup. 

And yet, I have had to ask myself, do I playact? Do I perform?  Do I make myself look as good as I can for people around me and for God?
Do I play the part so well that I actually believe it?

I never thought I did. 
(but God…)

I’m a good girl. As a kid, I got good grades and I generally did what adults asked me to. I was not a “partier” (haughty sniff) or a “slacker” (eye roll).
I was a people-pleaser. (Ok, I am. His work is in progress.)

I like to be liked, and I am good at making people like me, especially if they give me clear rules I can follow.
I like to know the right thing, to do the right thing, and (best of all) to be SEEN doing the right thing.

And I bring my shiny little self proudly into church and I find myself wrecked. Exposed. Naked.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37)

Wait, love?
Not get good grades and gather people’s respect?
Not avoid guilt or criticism?
And the Law opens my eyes and I see, even this “good girl” sees: Even my best works are tainted with selfishness. My works are filthy rags.
The good that I have done I have done out of fear and approval addiction, and other selfish motives. And many times, I have neglected to do what I ought to do because I fear people more than I fear God.

I was HORRIFIED when I first realized this. I could hardly believe it. It called into question everything I knew about myself.
Most tellingly of all: it made me question my status with God.

I was exposed. Unworthy, and deceived. I had believed the part I was playing: the good girl, earning His love and worthy of it. I believed the lie I told.

What is left, without the lie, when our hearts are exposed and we are undone?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23
The basic truth of the gospel, given to sinners like me (and you.) It is NOT of works. You must know this as you delve into God’s Word. God WILL expose the selfishness of your heart, even in the best things that you do. His Law is much higher than we realize, His love much deeper and stronger than our weak imitations.
When you see this and feel it, when you are exposed and naked, do not run from him! Run to Him, the one who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for YOU.
He sees through the playacting. He always has. And yet, He loves you.

Do you play the part of the good person for the people around you and for God?

Has your act ever been exposed?  


Like this topic? Read this book: Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life. In fact, I'll be blogging about this more in September. I'd love it if you would read along with me. (Local moms- this is our next book! I can't wait to read it with you!)

Read more: My Weakness/His Strength 


  1. Great post and I love you blog background! so pretty!

  2. Thank you for commenting on my blog so that I could be drawn here to read this. I'm going to pick up the book next time I am in town. Honestly, I brought this topic to God earlier today & He used you to answer my prayer :)

    Oh and always "be kind" to your body. You have to take care of the Holy Spirit's Temple: 1 Corinthians 6:19

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. That is wonderful- I am always glad when God uses my words to bless others!

      (Working on the kindness thing... so far, I am helped and things are going well! Thanks for the encouragement!)

  3. I love this post. I am definitely guilty of playacting. its time to replace that lie with truth.


    1. I think we all are :)
      So glad for grace.

  4. So true, Emily. The Word reveals a truth we cannot run from. We are all guilty and God is all grace and there is nothing we do to deserve His love. It is a pure gift. Blessings!

  5. How do you find the "good" books??

    1. um... luck. ? It's not easy is it. I read plenty of bad ones.

      and I loved her blog so I read her book.
      Her blog is here:

  6. God's Word reads us like a book! It's horrible when He puts His finger on something in our lives which is not pleasing to Him.

  7. So true, God's word is definitely living and active. it cuts through our pride and self sufficiency like a knife

  8. Convicting post. I love the photograph and quote. So thankful for God's Law AND His love.

  9. I found your blog over at Deep Roots. Thank you for this message. It is always good to be reminded of God's unending love for His children. I love the quote! I'm visiting from I think we have a lot in common :)

    1. Nice to meet you Lindsey! i'll check out your place today!

  10. What a GREAT post...and when you said "I fear people more than I fear God", if that doesn't stop you in your tracks I don't know what will. Good Word my friend. Thank you for linking up to Into the Word Wednesday!

  11. Wonderful post! I really needed to read this! :D

  12. We're neighbors today over at Kris' Encore link up. And I'm certain it was no accident.
    because I'm going through this right now, too. Well, it started during Lent. When God held out a mirror and let me see the real me. ouch. and it still hurts as I'm peeling back my "good girl" layers one by one.
    And yet He loves us. OH how He loves us. I pray I never grow tired of saying that.

    So thrilled to meet you today! Thanks for stirring my heart!

    1. So glad we are neighbors :) Welcome!
      It's so hard, isn't it?

      I highly recommend this book on the subject: Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P Freeman

      Hope to see you again!

  13. Hi Emily! This post resounded for me in a big way. This is something the Lord has been working out of me for the last 6 years or so. The people-pleasing was exhausting me, the striving for perfection was driving me to depression. It's been a long, hard road, but I am way more healthy in this area than I was before. And a lot freer as well!! I'm trying to be more myself at church, in Christian circles, in my friendships, and in my marriage. It hasn't all gone over very well! But I know it's what I need to do so I can be fully myself and fully present to those around me.

    1. I think it's something he'll always be working on for me :) So glad he is patient! You are right, there is quite a bit of freedom in learning to see things as He sees them- to please Him even if it doesn't please the people around me!

      Hope you are having a good week!


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