I listened to a sermon recently entitled, Taming the Wayward Tongue. At first, I thought it was going to be about gossip, slander, and potty mouth stuff, but much to my surprise, it was more about “The Influencer.” You know, the people that have a platform, especially on social media – with people watching and hanging on their every word or post? This sermon was talking about the ease in which we can obtain information and turn around and spout it out, just as quickly as we picked it up and sound like an authority or wise counselor who discovered the information by our own experiences or study. He warned against the dangers of having such loose lips, as we will be held accountable for every word that we speak (Matt 12:36) It’s one of the main reasons I don’t come to this space as much anymore, as I am reminded of the verse in James (3:13), “who is wise and understanding among you? By his conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” Anyone and everyone can be a “teacher” in whatever “school” they want these days. Wanna know how to do your make-up? I’ll tell ya! Fancy diet and exercise tips (guilty party writing)? Hear me out… Traveling? I have what you want and need! Double tap! Decorating your home? Look at mine first. Do it like me, or don’t. Whatevs. Are you a mess? I am too!! I’m all messy! See?? Are you in a rut, complacent, discontent in your subpar, plain life? Girl, Wash Your Face, and then follow me!
I read the ever-growing-in-popularity book, “Girl, Wash Your Face,” by the infectious, talented, witty, I-admire-her-spunk, Rachel Hollis. After hearing glowing reviews and claims of changed lives, I decided to give it a read. As with any book, written by any person, I try to heed the advice of Pastor Alistair Begg: ‘Keep one foot in the world and one foot firmly planted in the Bible.’
After I read this book, I came away with heavy feelings. Feelings that I’ve been wrestling with for weeks. I’ve seen so many friends and women eat this book right up and LOVE it. I took the book with a grain of salt, but many have claimed to be truly enlightened by it. So it is with GREAT trepidation that I write ANYTHING to the contrary of the message of this book. It’s hard to pick apart something when people have claimed that the Lord has used it in their lives. I told my husband that I felt a burden to share my thoughts, but that I was scared to death to say anything, because, while my sphere of “influence” is small (and the word “small” or “influence” might even be giving me too much credit), I don’t want to hurt feelings at best, or at worst be stoned in the streets! So with that honest glimpse into my heart, here I go…
First, I’d like to say that there is a lot that I enjoyed about the book. There is a lot that I agree with! She says early in the book that, “you must choose to be happy, grateful, and fulfilled.” I tell my kids this all the time: You can choose to be happy, or you can choose to be sad, but it’s much more fun to be happy! She also says that, “life isn’t meant to be merely survived—it’s meant to be lived.” Agreed. As someone who sucks the marrow out of every inch of this life here on earth that I possibly can, I agree! And she also says that, “you become who you surround yourself with. You become what you consume.” Well that’s just Biblical! (1 Cor. 15:33 & Matthew 6:22-23). There were several other zingers that she threw out and I chewed up, but unfortunately there was more that I had to spit back out.
I know that it’s not a devotional book. I know that she didn’t intend for it to be put into a Christian Box. In fact, she wants it accessible to every woman, all over the world and for her message to be heard. Many who loved the book would say that it’s not for everyone and have told me so. I think Rachel knows it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea either! But I came away with strong feelings about the book, because Rachel identifies with Christ (had it not, I would not be writing) in the book and because she does, it has entered the church circles and has become one of the number 1 books in the Christian/Spirituality section in many places and Christians are eating up her every word and telling their friends to do the same. So, here I am. Debbie Downer – a new name for me. One that I don’t care for too much, but I feel a conviction and I cannot let the fear of man keep me from sharing. My Father-in-law is probably beaming right now as he is always reminding me of that ugly fear of mine.
There are 20 Chapters in Girl, Wash Your Face, so while there is a lot I could say, I have no intention of picking it apart here. It wouldn’t be fruitful or beneficial to do so. The best thing that came from me reading this book was that it caused me to measure her words against our Creator’s Words, which I got to do – a lot. And QUICKLY! On page 5 she says, “this is your Life. You are meant to be the hero of your own story.” As a Christian (which is where I am coming from), this is absolutely NOT the case. It’s actually the opposite. I have had dear, sweet, well-meaning friends tell me that isn’t really what she meant. And maybe she didn’t, but my fear is for the person who doesn’t know Christ or doesn’t “know what she meant.” I can only go by what got through her editing process, onto paper and into the hands of millions of desperate women everywhere. Sure, it may not seem that serious, and you might be thinking, “Ashley/Debbie, it’s not that big of a deal! It has helped me, and others, and so it’s all good!” But the message of discovering real joy and worth and fulfillment IS for everyone! And if you are going to identify with Christ, He says there is only one way to find this joy and fulfillment and being a hero of our own story isn’t it. Maybe I’m being hypervigilant and extra critical, or maybe, just maybe, we all need to be a little more discerning.
Here’s the deal. There seems to be a rise in people that are hurting. People are lonely. People are bored. They are discontent. They are sick. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Women especially, head to their social media and see meticulously curated lives of other women all over. I see it every day. They compare and when they don’t stack up, they react. They react by falling into a deeper hole of self-loathing, discontentment and often, depression. Or they react by trying to be like the person they are following/admiring/liking. They may react by hitting their pantry and eating, they react by sulking or complaining, they unfollow, block or say ugly things to make themselves feel better and a million other ways! They see people with more than what they have or what they perceive as more, and they think they are less than. They think they are not good enough. Enter Rachel and a host of other ‘Influencers” out there who are here to tell you that you ARE. You are good enough. You deserve more. Do not believe the lies! ROAR! But the thing is, the gospel tells you the exact opposite. WE aren’t good enough (Rom 3:10), you cannot do it alone (Rom 5:8), and I’ll let you look up what the Bible says we deserve (Rom 6:23), and it ain’t a pat on the back. I know these Influencer’s may not intentionally mean to, but they are ROBBING the real Hero of your story. The real Hero says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30). It is all about believing this message and resting in its sufficiency (2 Tim 3:16)! It’s realizing you can’t, realizing you need Grace, realizing He is there! You cannot do it alone and no “influencer” can do it for you – or for themselves! The self-talk, clever one-liners and inspirational jargon will only provide temporary relief before their witty affect wears off and you’re right back where you started. Why? Because its foundation was you and you – and we all – are weak and need a Savior (Matt 7:24-27).
But what about MY needs? What about MY Desires? Towards the end of the book, she wants you to write your dreams down. She wants you to speak them into life and ultimately go and achieve them! She wants you to close your eyes and bring that dream to life. I thought of a dream of mine that I’ve thought of often, a dream that if I wanted to, I COULD make it happen (Side note: we both agree that if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way and if not, you’ll find an excuse). But with one foot firmly planted in Biblical Truth, I know that me going after that “dream” would mean that other people in my life would have to sacrifice in order for ME to do what I want to do. This is a concept that Rachel doesn’t speak about at all. If she mentioned once, she mentioned 750,000 times how successful she is, how powerful she is, what it takes to get there, and you can have it too! But with all due respect, she is about my age, and we have yet to see the final product of her life. Sure, by the world’s standards, she has it all! The house, the cars, the vacations, the cute kids, supportive husband, and an uber successful company to run! And she may be able to juggle it all, but wisdom would tell us that there is always, always, always a cost. You cannot do ‘everything’ AND do it all well. If you could, then we would need no heroes and we would need no grace! Something will be sacrificed!
Here’s my fear, friends: I fear that some woman in somewhere is going to pick up her book. She will be sitting in a pile of laundry that has been collecting over the course of 2 weeks because she has been nursing a baby every couple of hours. She’s had a whiney, perpetually snotty toddler, biting at her ankles while she’s shackled to the homeschool table with her 8-year-old, until it’s time to prep for dinner, cook that dinner that people will complain about and then clean up from that dinner to do it all again tomorrow. She gave up HER life and HER dreams for HER family and as she thumbs through this book, she’s starting to wonder why?? How did she get here? There must be more. She sees her friends on Instagram with their pretty living room, decorated for Fall already, while she still has some Christmas ornaments shoved under the couch from LAST Christmas. Then she clicks over to Facebook to see another friend who just shared the album from her beautiful vacation and wonders if she’ll ever get to go to Target alone again, let alone a trip somewhere lovely. And the seeds of discontent take root and begin to grow. This life is not good enough. She needs more, she wants more, and she deserves MORE. And if she doesn’t have her foot firmly planted in Truth, she might run towards Rachel’s repackaged and repurposed Health and Wealth Gospel. It’s essentially the Law of Attraction (what you put out, you'll get back) and like Pastor John MacArthur has said of others who share the same message “There is just enough Jesus to appease critics and to deceive followers” And If I’m not careful, this picture could be me!!!!!
The picture I painted above is likely a familiar one if you’re reading this. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for goals. I am all for making changes and I’m all for getting up, washing your face and taking care of yourself! Those are good things! I’m all for taking care of the one body we’ve been given by eating well and exercising. But the question is WHY? The Influencer and this World would say “FOR YOU!” but the Bible would say something different.
Dear, sweet, friend. In the words of Lucy Ricardo (from I Love Lucy), “Are you tired, run down, listless? Do you poop out at parties? Are you unpopular? All of the answers are in this little….Bible!!” (2 Tim 3:16 again) The bible has all the answers! You do not need a kitschy self-help book, I promise. Anxious? Philippians 4:6-7 and 1 Peter 5:7 can be salve for your soul. Weary? Cast your cares on Him and HE will sustain you (Psalm 55:22). Discontent with such a boring, monotonous, unfulfilling life? Seek FIRST his kingdom (Matt 6:33), He will supply your every NEED (Phil 4:19). You see, while Rachel’s book tells you that you have it in you to be everything you want and deserve it to be, so that you can live your best life the way you want it and how you want it and NOW! it’s no wonder the book is flying off the shelf!
On the other hand, the Book I am suggesting tells us to DIE to self (Eph. 4:22), it says that we must decrease, so that the Hero can increase (John3:30). It tells us that whatever circumstance we are in, we should be content (Phil 4:11). It tells us to DENY ourselves, that we are not our own, we were bought with a price (1 Cor 6:20). We are not to serve ourselves, but to serve others (Gal 5:13) AND to do it all without complaining and arguing (Phil 2:14), but with a joyful heart! It tells us to be hard workers (Col 3:23), not lazy and gluttonous (Prov. 10:4), and that we are to use our time wisely (Prov. 21), as we will give an account. It tells us that we were created to worship and either we will worship the Creator or we will worship our own desires (Matt 6:24). PHEW! No wonder Rach’s message seems a little more…fun. But you know what? The funny thing is, we think we need some clever word and the bible actually tells us that there will be a time when people will not want what the Bible has to offer and they will find what sounds good to them (2 Tim 4:3) but, heed the warnings in Colossians 2:8, “see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy…according to the tradition of men, and not according to Christ!” Not that I don’t think that there is a place for a good, convicting book, because I DO!!! As long as that book points to Christ, and the OG Self Help book, we’re good!
And with all that, I’ll leave you. If the Lord used Rachel’s words to open your eyes to things, good! I pray it pointed you to Him and not what you have in you, as the Bible warns about the deceptiveness of our very own hearts (Jer. 17:9)! If you’re thinking of reading it, keep one foot in and one foot in your Bible. If what I have said is utterly confusing, message me! If you couldn’t disagree more with me, EEK! I’m sorry!! I write this from what I pray is a humble place in my heart. I do not have all the answers, all I have is Christ and His word. Thank you for taking the time to read what is probably a very contrary opinion in the world. A position that makes me squirm a little.