Continued from here.
When I was a teenager, I did try to “be good” and was mocked for it. I was called a “goody goody,” “goody two shoes,” and other such nonsense by my peers. I wrestled with “right” versus “wrong.” Adults wanted me to “be good.” My abusers “punished” me through severe abuse for “being bad.” My peers mocked me for “being good.” It seemed that no matter what I did, it was never “good enough:” I was never “good enough” for the adults or “bad enough” for my peers. Whatever I did was always “wrong” in somebody’s eyes.
As a child and youth, I was terrified of “being bad” because this came with dire consequences. My abusers would set me up to fail and then “punish” me for that failure through severe abuse. To this day, the dynamic of being placed in a position in which there is no possible outcome but failure triggers my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, despite all of the grace that God has lavished on me over the years.
Because of this deep fear, I came across as a perfectionist to the people around me. Everything needed to be “just so” for me to be OK. (This developed into Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in my 20’s and 30’s.) However, my underlying drive was not that of a perfectionist – it was one of sheer terror of the consequences of something not be “just so.” My “perfectionism” was driven by a severe anxiety disorder.
I tried really, really hard to “be good,” but I simply could not do it. No matter how deep the terror of falling short, I was unable to succeed in “being good.” “Being bad” (selfish) comes as naturally as breathing while “being good” (godly) feels like being told to walk on the ceiling. It is completely unnatural, and all the willpower in the world cannot make us successful at it.
News Flash: It is not possible to “be good” in our own strength. Thank God for sending us a Savior to do this for us!
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace running in fear over the words, “Nope. Nope. Nope.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]