You Don’t Have to Be a Good Little Girl Anymore

Apr 13, 2016Heal from the past

I recently took a walk in our local park just as the leaves were starting to emerge. I looked up, then felt that familiar pang that God was trying to say something to me. I remembered those teenagers when I was five. And for once I didn’t remember what they did. I remembered what I did. Which was obey. Acquiesce. Be a good little girl.

When I recounted the story to my daughter Sophie, I started crying. “I realized that I’ve long been that good little girl who obeys, even if it means being abused.”

My friend D’Ann has been a blessing to me, reminding me of when I’m over apologizing or allowing abuse to continue. Lately she sat across from me, flanked by my friend Leslie, and she said she saw growth in me, that as my book about worth releases, I’m actually, truly growing in this area of worth.

All this backstory to say, while it may have been helpful for me as a child to “obey,” (since maybe it prevented further injury), it is not a trait a grown woman should cultivate.

Because sometimes you have to push back. Sometimes you have to fight. Sometimes you have to see yourself as valuable and precious, scrapping for the dignity to live your life as God leads you.

Several years ago, I pushed back after taking abuse. As an innate people-pleaser, this was not a natural thing for me to do. There were many sleepless nights where my thoughts tangled inside me, worrying, fearing, fretting. But eventually I said what I felt needed to be said. Everything I feared would happen, happened. All hell did break loose.

And yet, I stood. I lived.

It was part of God’s process of maturing me. Giving me my voice back.

My story has often been this: I was a victim of sexual abuse. And yet, I’m realizing what a disservice this is to myself to stay in that story. To deny that would be strange–it did happen. But to give it the kind of power that mandates both the beginning and the end makes me succumb to its inevitability. The “the end” is not written on your story. And your role of victim is no longer the role you need to succeed in life to find joy and freedom.

We have to give God space to re-write our stories. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, after all. Yes, I may have been a victim. I may have obeyed as the good little girl. I may have been stolen from. All true. But today, I no longer have to play the role of victim. With God’s resurrection strength, I can play the role of protector, truth-teller, healing-agent. What Satan meant for utter destruction, God can mean for redemption, not only of me, but for those He encircles me with.

That good little girl needs to grow up into a God-fearing, well-loved woman–one who pushes back injustice, stands up for herself, and gives herself permission to have opinions, a voice, a will.

Perhaps my tears as I recounted my tree limb story were more than sadness. Perhaps they were grief. Perhaps God was saying, “It’s time to say goodbye to that little girl, Mary. It’s time to grow up, let her go, and continue to sing loudly for your freedom.”

Maybe that’s what you need to do, too. To give up the submissive compliance. To give up the status of victim. To give up being the one taken advantage of. To let go of the belief that you deserve abuse and nothing more. To stop letting people be their worst, and instead set boundaries so they have the opportunity to grow, to be loving, to be their best.

This is your new story. Your new path. Your new mindset. You are made in the image of God, and anyone made in His image deserves kindness, compassion and dignity. Perhaps you have allowed others to treat you poorly because you are accustomed to treating yourself that way. You scream your unworth inside, so it’s only a matter of time before you open the doors for others to do the same.

No longer, friend. No longer. You don’t have to be that good little girl (or boy) any longer. It’s okay to stand up for yourself, to love yourself enough to set boundaries.

But be forewarned. It won’t feel natural or fun or emancipating when you begin the process of finding your voice. And many times, you will be like the Israelites, who, after a mighty deliverance by God through the Red Sea, looked back with longing on their slavery nation. Slavery has been your fall back, your comfortable place, the way you feel safe. To step beyond it is frightening, unsettling. I’ve run back to Egypt a few times myself.

But the shackles feel worse. And the longing for genuine personal freedom grows stronger like a heart-pounding anthem.

All that to say, let God deliver you from whatever abuse and slavery you’re experiencing. Let Him. He loves to do it. He loves to slurp up the seas, providing impossible pathways.

You are the protagonist in your story. You have permission to live your life beautifully, freely, hope-filled. Find your voice. Sing your freedom. Trust your Deliverer. Step into the water.

What about you? Do you relate to this post? Why? What have you learned along that way that’s helped you say no to abusive folks?


  1. Angela

    Thank you for this post! For much of my life, I was that “good little girl” – desperate for approval and acceptance of others even if it meant being abused in the process.

    • Mary DeMuth

      And now you’re wiser and stronger!

  2. Marcia Zacharias

    Yeah, this feels like breathing ie., I resonate with everyone else’s comments below (and in fact I drew a boundary with a guy who was “flirting” but yesterday he stepped up to the plate of being a better man) and i agree with Rebekah as well – I love that you found hope in the tree limbs Mary as well.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Thanks, good words Marcia. I’m grateful this post resonated.

  3. Rebekah Hope

    This. Yes. I’ve spent the last 6 months at Swiss L’Abri working hard to face my story and use my voice. I’ve fought against the lies that no one will love me if they know my story. I’ve proven to myself that isn’t true, and I’ve used my voice to do it. I’m learning to stand against injustice and abuse when I see it. I recently had a difficult conversation confronting someone in that area. It didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I walked away heartbroken and having flashbacks. But I had friends rally around me, grounding me and fighting for me.

    I have been a victim. I hate that is a part of my reality. But I will be defined by strength. Not by my wounds.

    Thank you for writing this, Mary. I love that you found hope in the tree limbs.

    • Mary DeMuth

      That you had friends rally around you is REALLY awesome. It means you’ve chosen good people who love you for you really are. Defined by strength, not by your wounds–love that.

  4. DragonLady

    Oh, how I needed this today. It took me so long to finally start setting and enforcing boundaries, and it feels so foreign to stand behind the line(s) I draw over what I will and will not allow. The struggle is real. I keep having to remind myself that the pain of changing isn’t as great as the pain of the status quo. Thank you Mary!

    • Mary DeMuth

      And it means you’re no longer enabling others to have bad behavior. That’s actually a LOVING act, even when it doesn’t feel that way.

  5. Amy Ivey

    I needed this today. In many different small ways I am trying to speak the truth and have boundaries in my life. And you are right, it feels terribly wrong at times and it often not received well. But in the end, I experience a sense of freedom. I don’t want to let go of that little girl who was abused/neglected her whole childhood. I can’t. If I do that I will never completely know who I am-my story. For years I denied her existence, her panic and pain. I can’t just tell her it’s over and move onto to something new. Instead I want (although I struggle to do so) to speak the truth of the past. I want to celebrate her- that she survived-that she was brave. And I want to allow myself the joy and freedom of experiencing something new. Fully “seeing” her truth while allowing her (me) to expetience new truths is where it gets hard. Thanks Mary.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Amy, wow. Beautiful comment and so truth-filled. Thank you. This should become a blog post, truly. To dignify that brave little girl! YES.

      • Amy Ivey

        Yes, a blog post would be good! The wheels in my head are turning. Your post today intersected with much God has been working thru inside me. It seems His moving is never a “one stop” experience but a multi-layered process. It really is true that- We have been healed- We are being healed- and We will be healed. Thanks again for sharing how God is moving in you.

        • Mary DeMuth

          I’m grateful because this post, though vague, is highly personal. I’m thankful it resonates with others. We share so much in common!