Religion Can be Deceptive

This message is for all the good girls out there (or for the girl who tries as hard as she can to be seen as good). If you grew up in church like me, you have probably been conditioned to be “perceived” as good, and if you are not, you are a shameful and bad person.

Honestly, writing this still triggers some of my shame. This internal, fundamental hardwiring tells me that speaking my true thoughts or feelings is blasphemous and sinful.

Religious communities of all kinds can be insulating. When surrounded by all that is familiar, we can relax, feel safe, and find comfort in how predictable our world becomes. This tends to create the need for conformity from all the members involved. As humans, we crave predictability, so we make “community membership” our norm. This is where religion can be deceptive. We feel anxious if we can’t predict or control how the people around us will behave, so we make our existence about our behaviors rather than about knowing who we truly are and living with expressive freedom. In religious communities, “good girls” are highly praised. Girls who dress modestly, memorize scripture, babysit, learn to cook and sew—all these things are seen as good and therefore praised. These qualities magically make her a good person.

Here is the truth, Beauty: our behavior has nothing to do with us knowing our worth or who we are. If a girl is experiencing emotional, mental, or sexual abuse and is still forced to display perfect behavior, the mental hell she lives in every day is a form of silent torture, and it makes me want to cry. If a girl is only seen for how she behaves and not for who she is, she learns to stay quiet and please people to obtain some sense of love and belonging.

I remember being a teenager in youth group on Wednesday nights. The leaders were so vigilant about our behavior. We knew who the “bad kids” were: the kids who smoked sometimes or drank alcohol. We knew the kids who we thought were having sex. We would shake our heads in shame, and the youth leaders were so proud of those who were good. We were the examples. We had their favor. I was absolutely heartbroken when being good didn’t lead me to an authentic, honest, and abundant life. You see, I was the girl who had been abused as a child. I was the girl with all kinds of emotional turmoil and no outlet. As I matured, my good-girl choices led me farther away from my broken heart, not toward it.

I remember when our youth leaders did an exercise to show us what would happen to our hearts if we chose to have sex before marriage. They had us glue a pink heart to a blue heart and wait for it to dry. Then they asked us to pull the hearts apart. Every single pink heart was damaged, “ruined” by the blue heart. The blue hearts were just fine, but the pink hearts were forever damaged. Statistically, I now know I wasn’t the only abused girl in that room.

What an incredibly shame-filled message to send to a girl: if you had been abused by a man or chose to have sex, you were forever ruined. I would spend YEARS trying to prove I was a good girl, that I wasn’t damaged goods. I really can’t decide now if this makes me more angry or more sad.

It is tragic what we are doing to women and girls in the name of religion. We have a divine creator who imparted gifts and talents to each and every person on the planet. What will make you come alive, Beauty, is knowing who you are and allowing yourself to rip off the binding chains of good behavior and shame so you can deeply know your worth within your own heart. When you know what you love, what you want, and how you feel, you are alive not only to yourself but to everyone else around you. You feel settled, whole, abundant, and free.

When we know ourselves, we freely and deeply spiritually connect from a place of love and abundance, not from striving for obligation to be seen as whole and enough.

I am inviting you out of silence. Post your story in our group about how you were shamed in silence about “being good.” What has your experience been with being a good girl? Are there any changes you want to make? Sometimes it is hard to know where to start. If you are struggling with where to begin, book a free 30-minute consultation with me. I would love to hear your story, and if you want more resources to help you find your way, I am happy to share them.

You are deeply loved, Beauty, and you have so many divine gifts and talents that will bring you life and joy when you are able to express them from a place of abundance and love rather than an obligation to prove you are enough. You are not alone. There are thousands of us seeking the truth of who we are in the midst of what we believe. We all may land at different places on the continuum of faith, but I know the divine creator of the universe wants to deeply love and connect with us right where we are. Some people have asked me if I am against God, Christianity, and religion. The truth is, I am not against anyone. I am for you. I am for you connecting your head to your heart and being at home and peace within yourself. I am fully for that, and I will use all my gifts, talents, and abilities to help as many women as I can get there. My only true agenda is to help women deeply feel the wholeness of who she is.

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