I recently finished reading the book, Girl, Wash Your Face, a New York Times bestseller written by Rachel Hollis. At first glance, this book offers some creative, engaging stories that are told in compelling and colorful ways. These stories are coupled with application points to combat struggles that women face.
Rachel is a brilliant writer. She is extremely relatable, appealing to our inner desire for control and happiness. Her message is loud and pervasive. . . you come first. The book is a self-help, motivational pep-talk, sectioned into chapters that address various lies women believe, the struggles of abusive relationships, weight problems and personal financial success.
Rachel’s heart might be in the right place. I don’t know. I know that she wants to see women successful. And she clearly wants to be successful. But her methods and purposes are disturbingly unbiblical.
Here is where Rachel gets it wrong.
She strategically uses scripture, peppering it throughout her book to make specific points, often misinterpreting or misapplying the original meaning and intent of the author in the text.
She is a self-proclaimed Christian, but is quick to admit that she believes there are multiple ways to God, many ways to have true and real faith. She writes . . .
“. . . just because you believe it doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone . . . Faith is one of the most abused instances of this. We decide that our religion is right; therefore, every other religion must be wrong.”
Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father apart from me.” You can’t honestly follow Jesus and yet deny or disagree with His clear teaching. This religious pluralism is sure to make her appealing in a post-modernistic culture that so highly values universal relativistic truth. Maybe that’s what she wants. She runs and directs an online community with over a million following and her fame continues to rise.
This book heavily promotes self-love and self-care as the means to a successful life. She heralds the idea that we have ultimate control over our happiness, accomplishments and well-being. Her advice is to pick yourself up by your bootstraps, get some therapy, drink some alcohol (or don’t), take a relaxing vacation, lose some weight or train for a race. Basically, she advocates for anything but a surrender to Jesus, anything that would involve faithful dependence.
This is wrong on so many levels.
How does she define and describe success? In her own words and according to her own goals, she envisions herself on the cover of a Forbes magazine, traveling to her Hawaiian beach house and finally getting to purchase a Louie Vuitton handbag. Don’t get me wrong, these are nice blessings, but they are never meant to be our highest aim, greatest pleasure or ultimate dream.
Jesus never asks us to pursue power, money and fame, nor are they promised. In fact, those who follow in the way of the cross, the way of Jesus, are warned that there will be days of trouble and tribulation.
Paul and Peter wrote countless letters of encouragement to churches that were struggling, depending on God to meet basic needs. And they were joyful, they were content in horrendous situations because of their faithfulness to the Lord. They weren’t pursuing wealth or notoriety, but opportunities to serve others and the Lord. There mission was the advancement of the Gospel message, at all costs. They were pouring out and emptying themselves and God was meeting them in the mess, He was sustaining them and giving them a lasting peace that would fulfill their deepest longings and desires.
They learned that in dying to self, they would find their greatest joy. They knew that Christ-love was far better than self-love. In fact, the greatest self-care happens with a daily surrender. I know it’s counterintuitive, but it’s what works.
A daily trust in His faithfulness and a willingness to give yourself away, not seeking to attain bigger and better, not in making a promise to yourself, but trusting in the promises of God.
And this best life is possible and attainable across all ages, among all people, at all times and in all places. You don’t have to be a privileged, white girl, living in the great country of America, to receive lasting joy and peace. It’s not dependent upon your circumstances or situations, because it comes apart from our doing. It comes from God.
Most importantly, it is a hopeless and disappointing cause to trust our tainted, sinful hearts with the ability to make the necessary changes for a successful life.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?”
Our hearts are desperately sick. But there is hope! And it’s not found in our bootstraps being pulled north or having enough gritty resolve to run 26.2 miles. It’s not dependent on our work ethic or pant size. That’s exhausting. We were made for a deeper rest that surpasses all the striving.
Girl, read your Bible.
You can eat all the kale, buy all the things, lift all the weights, take all the trips, trash all that doesn’t spark joy, wash your face and hustle like mad, but if you don’t rest your soul in Jesus, you’ll never find peace and purpose.
Our best life is possible with surrender and obedience to Jesus. It’s the churchy answer and I won’t apologize because it’s the right answer and the only answer. It’s not shiny and it may not sell books, but it will change lives.
Here is the deal, we desperately need Him to cleanse us, to make us right with God and give us a new heart. We need His eyes to see, our senses to be quickened to the truth and our minds renewed by His Word. We need to experience the pleasures of a lasting and effective dependence on Him, through all circumstances.
We need to get ourselves out of the way. We are the problem, not the answer.
And for the record, when we place our faith in Jesus, our face is clean already. We get His righteousness because of his sacrifice. And we walk in abundance when we live in holiness and obedience. That’s what we are called to. We get to act in unbroken dependence.
I promise you this, He is faithful. He will meet you in your broken places, He will break the oppressive chains of sin. He promises a life of success, not in self-reliance, but in daily surrender, trusting in the hopeful expectation of eternity and the His ability to do hard things through us. His grace is sufficient and ready to make all things new.
Lord, wash my heart. Make it clean. Change my selfish ways and renew a right spirit within me. I pray my one aim in life will be to hear these precious words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”