Jill McCormick, a.k.a “The Try-Hard Girl”, has learned that grace is available to everyone—including the exhausted mother. Jill is a mom, speaker and writer. She encourages women who have struggled for so long to do “all the things” to give themselves grace as God freely gives.
Are You a “Try-Hard Girl”?
“A try-hard girl is someone that feels that grace is to be earned and so she has to do a lot to earn the grace when really we know from the Bible, from God’s own mouth, that grace is a gift. It’s free, it’s undeserved, it is unmerited and it’s there for the taking. Grace is hard for the try-hard girl.”
Intellectually we know that grace is there, but our hearts have to accept it. It is easier for us to extend grace to others instead of ourselves. Many women struggle with perfectionism; they have set the bar so high and it is hard to maintain that high, stressful level all the time. They are always striving.
How Can a Try-Hard Girl Relax?
Jill describes three areas that she has struggled in:
2.) Doing “all the things”.
3.) High expectations.
The try-hard girl often compares her body, home, children’s behavior, her career, and the vitality of her marriage to others. In order for the try-hard girl to overcome comparison, she has to recognize that God ordains her gifts, personality, temperament, health and finances.
God gives us all of those. Believing Psalm 23:1 is important. The Lord is our shepherd. God is not “holding out on us.”
Our kids, our jobs, and our marriages are all things He has gifted us with. Yet these are the things we focus negative energy on through comparison.
Jill believes that we are “a whole bunch of modern Esthers”—women who have been gifted for such a time as this. These gifts have purpose. We have to remember God is in charge.
The things you see that others have may be things you actually are not ready for. “We have to trust that God knows what He is doing in this moment with me and my people.”
We must have some God-talk. Our default-mode is comparison, and it has to be “taken to the feet of Christ.” God loves us enough to not give us these things that we wish we had—these things that we see others have. He has reason behind it.
The try-hard girl has an “over-developed sense of responsibility. Whatever the problem is, it is our fault.”
Comparison is this fleshly default mode. “I take it upon myself that ‘if I was a better mother, then I would (fill in the blank).” We tell ourselves lies.
Part of overcoming the try-hard girl mentality is to uncover the lies we have told ourselves and believe to be true. Many times they are very subtle. Ask yourself “what lie am I believing?” and give yourself the grace to sometimes not notice it when you are believing a lie.
Oftentimes you need some distance from the moment to be able to reflect on what just happened. Jill uses the example of misbehaving children in the grocery store as an example. You may not be able to recognize how you have compared your parenting to someone else’s while at the store with your misbehaving kids, but the drive home may give you the space to think it through. God can use this time to fill in the truth.
Doing “All the Things”:
“We want to do EVERYTHING well.” We try to do all of our roles very well, be it wife, mother, leading, etc. Jill compares the try-hard girl to a juggler who has so many balls in the air and wonders how she can maintain this.
The try-hard girl is tired. Jill finds that it has been helpful for her to ask “why am I doing all of these things? Why do I feel so busy?” She feels that women use busyness to avoid having to think or feel hard things. Busyness could be “numbing out” the voice of God.
Ironically, we justify busyness as something we are doing for God. Some struggle with feeling that God’s love is conditional and that our busyness earns His love.
“We don’t have to work so hard! There’s nothing we can do for Him to love us more or love us less.” We are called to do good works, but when we serve out of guilt we are acting out of a lie.
“Change is hard work and may mean difficult conversations.” Try-hard girls depend on safety and security and the concept of letting go or changing is overwhelming.
We need to give ourselves permission to see that we have been operating under false belief systems and give ourselves time to grieve it. See that these systems or lies were unhealthy.
Oftentimes we don’t put things at the feet of Jesus because we think we “have all the answers” and should know how to handle everything. Try-hard girls don’t like to receive help, they like to be the ones giving help. It’s hard to give it to Jesus. Try-hard girls have to allow others to minister to them.
In attempts at being the “dependable one” the try-hard girl actually hurts her relationships because she does not allow others to help. Allowing others to help actually “cements” relationships together.
Try-hard girls often choose friends who are “safe”. These are people who do not force them to examine the difficult parts of our lives and struggles.
Try-hard girls set high expectations for themselves, but not necessarily for others. Jill’s personal examples are “I should always fit into the same size jeans I have worn for the last ten years, I want my house to always be clean, I want a vibrant marriage, I want a career that is moving onward and upward and I just expect everything to go smoothly—how I want it to go…and well-behaved kids!”
These are not bad things, but when we try to meet these self-imposed expectations to receive love, acceptance or recognition and our worth is based on them, we have a problem.
Jill emphasizes the importance of recognizing this self-worth issue and taking it to Christ. She asks Him “is this expectation from me or is it Your expectation for me. If it’s not Your expectation, will You show me what Your expectation is for me today?”
Jill mentions that we’ve heard the message that we are precious yet we so often struggle with believing it. Ask God to help you understand why that is and to be filled with truth. She also advocates for Christian therapy when you are struggling with self-worth.
The try-hard girl believes that if she has enough willpower and logistics management that she can make everything work. This is what she calls “operating under the gospel of willpower instead of operating under the gospel of grace.” What is your operating system?
Are you carrying the weight of how things turn out or is Someone else? The gospel of grace says that God is the one in whom, by whom, through whom and for whom all things hold together.
God has got this. He’s in charge of outcomes. We’re to love others and he’s in charge of the rest. We have to surrender and allow Him to carry the weight.
He freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, and He does not want us to be enslaved by self-imposed expectations. He wants us free of those things so we can live fully in His presence.
What are you most excited about today?
Jill loves to speak God’s truth to women and is currently preparing her speaking engagement calendar. She feels the enemy tries to make us believe that doing more is what gives us worth; that we are not allowed to fail and she wants to encourage women through her presentations.
She wants this generation of Esthers to feel motivated to use their God-given gifts. She wants them to see what they can do in their community and their world through His power.
What has been your biggest stumbling block in your relationship with God?
She admits that she has not always been open and honest with Him. She would check acts of spiritual discipline off the list without asking for His help in her struggles. She calls this “having my game face on.” It means that she is still trying to rely on her own power without taking it to Him.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
From her dad: “The answer is always ‘no’ unless you ask.” Opportunities will not arise unless you ask.
From her mother: “Leave the place better than you found it.” She believes it is important to leave the physical space and people around you better than you found it.
Who do you admire the most, other than a biblical figure, and why?
Her favorite author is Emily P. Freeman. She has written three books and has a podcast, “The Next Right Thing.” She is “all about finding space for your soul to breathe.” This is great for Jill, or the woman who likes to be busy, because Emily P. Freeman allows margin in your life. Her book “Grace for the Good Girl,” inspired Jill to step away from the try-hard life.
What is your favorite book and why?
“Grace for the Good Girl” mentioned above but also Mark Buchanan’s book “The Rest of God” which is about the Sabbath.
Check out Jill’s resources for our listeners! Her favorite books and podcasts that have helped her move away from the try-hard life can be found by texting “commonsense” (no space between the two words) to 444999. Jill will email you this list of helpful resources to get you on track from stepping away from the try-hard life.
What is your most effective relationship habit?
At the end of every month she writes a note to her daughters. She identifies the different habits and qualities that she has observed that are positive. This could include how they helped someone else or the way they put others ahead of themselves, how they have showed love.
The results of these letters are two-fold; it helps her daughters, but it also “changes the filter” through which Jill sees her daughters. She is more likely to focus on the good things that they do. She hopes to make a scrapbook of the notes to give to them when they are adults. It’s a collection of situations over the years that tells them who they are.
Jill wants you to know that God is crazy about you! He is so happy He made you. You’re a really good mom and be kind to yourself!
Jill’s blog: www.jillemccormick.com