About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her at @anniefdowns.

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  1. “I don’t want to give them that choice.”
    That strikes at my heart. I like to think that other people’s opinions of me don’t matter, but when I dig deep, I recognize that is not true.

    Why is it that we are so fixated on living flawlessly when we know it isn’t remotely possible? As you note, it causes such pain, mostly to us.

    Thanks for your words today-they touched my heart.

    • I wish I didn’t care what others thought. I’m working on it… the first step is recognizing you have a problem, right?

      Thanks for the comment, Kim.

  2. Love your realness. May God bless your honesty and walk with you as you work out your ‘good girl syndromes.

  3. Oh Annie, I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’ll still love you no matter how many mistakes you make…unless you accidentally killed me because I’m not sure how loving dead people can be….seriously though I kinda struggle with the same thing…like what if now that they know (fill-in-the-blank) they’re only pretending to like me…what if they just feel like it’s their civic duty to act like my friend…thoughts that may be crazy but run through my head constantly…which come to think about it may be why I struggle so much with assertiveness–I don’t want people to pretend things are ok for me so I don’t ask them about my needs….

  4. isn’t it funny the little things that are used to cheapen his grace, and everyone else’s grace? i get it – the wanting to seem perfect – the not wanting to appear wrong. but it’s a hard thing to learn – isn’t it? thanks for sharing your heart!

  5. I never quite realized that I struggle with the same thing. Your own heart sharing gives me perspective that gives me hope in the possibility of freedom from that vice grip fear holds on me. I haven’t read Emily’s book yet, but I am reading the Bloom book on fear and realizing there are so many I haven’t identified as such, but rather have just equated to “who I am…and how I need to change.” This grace for myself is such a life transforming choice to receive, isn’t it?!

    By the way, I knew it was you as I began to read your post, Annie! It’s comforting to have a sense of your voice. [smile]

    Rich blessings in your own personal journey toward really trusting in the letting go and surrendering into Grace, for yourself.

  6. I’d never realised how much that attitude rules me: “Good girls don’t make mistakes and good girls aren’t supposed to screw up ESPECIALLY when the good girl is doing something, well, GOOD”. It’s so, so true. Definitely something I need to address.
    And btw, a tip from Wales, baked beans for breakfast is British not just Scottish. :0) Isn’t it interesting how different cultures use different foods!!

    • Becky, I wish I was going to have a chance to visit Wales. It sounds like such a lovely part of the UK. Forgive my mistake- you’re right, everyone in the UK eats weird. 🙂 KIDDING!

  7. Oh man, can I ever relate!! Thank you for sharing your heart openly here, you are NOT alone! How true it is that we want to be perfect and loved, not showing mistakes or our own depravity. How much more that makes us cling to our perfect Savior and his loving grace poured out on us totally imperfect, sinful people! Thanks again Annie for sharing. You are loved!!! 🙂

  8. Oh friend. That’s way too much pressure to put on yourself OVER AN ACCIDENT!
    God always knows our intentions. People may not but He does. Surely your dear friend would agree—-it was just an accident.
    You would never destroy his property with malice.
    Praying for your sweet heart.

    And BOO to satan who drags us around (when we’re vulnerable) to stress out regarding being GOOD ENOUGH!!
    I speak from experience. 😉

    • I know I know I know. Trust me, the whole time it was going on, I was also reminding myself that I AM TEN SHADES OF LOONEY. 🙂 Accidents happen and it was so not a big deal. It just revealed some bigger deals going on in my heart, didn’t it?

      A work in progress, that’s me. 🙂

  9. Thanks for this post. Reminds me of some comments one of our Pastors made during a sermon on God’s grace. If we’re nice enough, sweet enough, good enough, perfect enough, people have to love us. He called it “manipulation by goodness”. It is a form of manipulation. We aren’t being genuine, we aren’t being transparent, we’re behaving in such a way as to make people do what we need/want them to do instead of trusting God and resting in Him. It’s a hard one to deal with, but there it is. I’ve been struggling with this lately and needed the reminder. Thanks again!

  10. Oh Annie! If you would like to feel better about yourself, I JUST posted about my failures this morning! How funny to read this the same day. Isn’t ol Padnah GRAND. I am so grateful. Thanks for sharing fearlessly, or despite the fear.

    Joshua 1:9 is a good one.

  11. I totally feel the same way. I think if I make a mistake and people can see that I am flawed they won’t love me. Thanks for this honest post that rings true for so many women. But if it is true for so many of us why do we feel we are so alone in this? I am so performance driven and am really trying to realize that my worth in God is not dependent on my performance for God.

    • Right? RIGHT? You have such a great point. So many of us think these things and yet we fight the lies alone.

      I’ve had a “works mentality” as long as I can remember, but it’s only been within the last few years that I’ve learned to see it and fight it.

      Albeit, sometimes better than others. 🙂

  12. Sadly, I think I am even more of a “good girl” because I was thinking how you’d have stopped and picked up the apron proudly, getting even more points for having fixed it! I’ve found a little deeper hole in my own depravity. Sigh.

  13. Annie,
    I love you words, “And my own depravity made me cry”. How many times have I felt that way too? Our ideas about expectations can be so skewed; we expect perfection from ourselves, yet are willing to accept and love others despite their mistakes. I was actually thinking about this last night. It’s a hard road to walk when you feel like receiving love depends on your perfection. I know…I’m on that road.

    • The “good girl” in me is upset about a typing mistake in my last post! Correction…I love YOUR words. Oops.

  14. I hear you and I’ve often had similar thoughts. I guess I don’t understand why your “depravity” made you cry? To me, this is you becoming more self-aware and recognizing patterns of thinking and behavior that kept you from living openly and with trust. I don’t see how this was your “depravity.” That still sounds like you’re being too hard on yourself! 🙂

    • Elizabeth, thanks for your comment!

      I think, in that moment, it was the first time that I had ever realized that statement was true about me- how I avoid failure because I want to be sure I am earning everyone’s love. So that’s why it was so hard.

      But yes- in the same breath, you are right. Every revelation like that is meant to bring LIFE, not death. It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance, isn’t it?

      Great point. Thanks for sharing. You are changing my outlook on things today.

  15. “I think that as long as I am perfect, I deserve to be loved. If I make a mistake, and people know, then they get to choose whether the love me or not. I don’t want to give them that choice.”

    Wow ripped that right out of my subconscious. A true a ha moment for me. Thanks for sharing.

      • It is shocking when we realize how “wrong” our thinking is. What would we say to our bff if they said that to us!!! 🙂 Read your blog. I <3 u!

  16. Wow. Yep. One of the things from her book (I am almost finished with my first time reading it, but I know it will need to be picked up again, and again) that has prodded at me is… do I train people around me to believe that I have no needs, make no mistakes, and am perfect? Oof…

    So, thumbs up and an encouraging smile to you for accepting the grace. 🙂

    • Thanks, Frances!

      Yes- that part of the book totally stuck out to me too. And I’m looking around my life to see if that is true. Does anyone in my world think I have needs?

      That Emily. She’ll get ya. 🙂

  17. I keep hearing about Emily’s book! (I guess that means I need to read it, huh?) What a huge encouragement to be reminded that EVERYONE makes mistakes and that His grace is for EVERYONE – even a girl who would like everyone to think she has it “all together.”

  18. This good girl has a broken cookie cutter from 2 years ago stashed in her sewing basket. Which just makes a good girl a liar. Hmm. How did that happen? So need to read Emily’s book. Thanks for sharing Annie!

  19. It really gripped my heart when you stated that you don’t want to give them that choice. Sigh. So true. I think many of us feel this way without really acknowledging it. And I would cry too.

  20. Oh Annie,

    Screwing up occasionally makes you relate-able, if you never messed up or made mistake, how would we be able to know you or love you, or see the beauty of our own imperfections reflected to us? Your little trip ups allow us to love and accept our own – they are a gift. Go easy on yourself x x x

  21. Annie, I am right there with you girl! Praying that we both receive breakthrough in this area…and receive the fullness of Christ’s love that covers all our mistakes and yet still goes on loving us.
    Grace.

  22. Wow, I definitely just realized anew last night that this is where I was at. I feel so crushed every time God brings up for me how much effort I put into earning the love of others because I want to think I’m past it. I want to think that I’ve moved on and am living in freedom. But I’m not. And in a weird way, it’s encouraging to hear that someone else might be in the same boat as me. Thank you for being so transparent, Annie. You have touched my heart where it needed it tonight.

  23. The thing is–the real, hard, ugly truth–that having to have acceptance from others and not resting in the finished work of Christ is sin. It is wicked for me to put more hope (any hope) in what other people think of me than what God thinks of me because it shows that I don’t think of Him as the most important thing in my life and I’m not making Him and His grace look beautiful to others. I struggle with it all the time, for sure, but because I am IN CHRIST I have FREEDOM in Him. Because of that, I can mess up and even if it causes me to disappoint someone, I can accept it, ask for forgiveness, and continue resting in the fact that God IS pleased with me because when He looks at me, He sees Christ’s righteousness on me. That is the sweetest promise in which we can rest. God no longer sees my sin, my failures, and my frail frame. He sees Christ!

  24. Wow, you are speaking my language. The sad thing is no matter how ‘perfect’ we are, people can still choose to not love us or too reject us, or see fault even if there is none. It’s a losing battle this one isn’t it? Yet still we unconsciously live it out.
    Thanks so much for your honesty. May God continue to work this through in you… And me 🙂

  25. I couldve probably written this myself. I remove or attempt to remove everything that could possibly make someone reject me – if Im perfect and you reject me, what does that make you?? I dont have the problem YOU do!
    Oh mercy, the hell Ive put myself and others through for years with my “good girl” conditioning.
    Fortunately for us – Jesus has a cure for that! Thank you for sharing this blog, and being so honest, it was like a cool glass of water to this parched soul.

  26. Annie?

    This — it choked me right up, sister: ““I think that as long as I am perfect, I deserve to be loved. If I make a mistake, and people know, then they get to choose whether the love me or not. I don’t want to give them that choice.”

    I am so with you, friend.

    So with you.

    I send much love…

  27. Annie,
    Isn’t that what we all want?? To be loved! But it dawned on me one day that honestly, if we are perfect in others eyes, then we sort of become idolized. Then of course there is nowhere to go in their eyes but down! All idols fall at some point. So it released me from that fear that I had to be perfect… sort of. 🙂 I too struggle with this; but I have been learning that we have to be brought to the point of brokenness in order to repent of our lack of trust in the love of the One who loves us the most… because that’s really what it is. Do we REALLY trust Him to love us? Isn’t that all we should be concerned with?

    Check out this blog post.

    http://theconfidentartist.blogspot.com/2011/10/dancing.html

    He dances in joy over you. He delights in you. He was willing to suffer and die because He loves you so… and He wants you to dance with Him. Really. 🙂
    Blessings!