Wash Your Face… But Read Your Bible

Image: Sheologians.com

Sharing today an article from the Sheologians website that I found really interesting. No small number of women are flocking to this easy-breezy “you go gurl” theology. It’s like big gulp of Red Bull… props you up for a bit, but you inevitably come crashing down at some point because it’s not actually what you body needs. At the very least, this is a great reminder to think before you read.

“Not a few of you have asked us about Rachel Hollis’s book, “Girl, Wash Your Face”. Admittedly, I have never read a “self-development” book, but since this baby is a New York Times bestseller and Hollis is currently sitting in the number one spot in Amazon’s Women’s Christian Living, Self-Help, and Religion and Spirituality sections, I am going to oblige. Perhaps I will finally learn how to help myself religiously. Or something.

I will tell you from the outset that I am not naturally drawn to any of these topics unless they are written by someone with years in ministry and a tried-and-true track record. It’s not that I think that Hollis can’t have anything worthwhile to say. It’s just that I tend to be skeptical when someone with an Instagrammable lifestyle blog spends a lot of time trying to convince me that, no, really. Honestly. She is so messy. Like the messiest. But you all know how I feel about copious uses of the word “messy” so I digress.

What I’m Expecting

I have purchased the book, I have read reviews, endorsements, Hollis’s Twitter feed, and the book’s introduction. I am supremely confused. Jen Hatmaker and Jefferson Bethke want you to read this book. An atheist Amazon reviewer liked the book. Pastor’s wives are sharing it with their congregants. Target is displaying it on their end-caps, which are usually reserved for heavyweight sellers like Oprah and Nicholas Sparks. Given that Joel Osteen is also usually following us with his eyes when we meander past said end-caps, but Hollis doesn’t have the same book selling history he does, I am going to make a few predictions:

Hollis is probably hilarious. It takes skill to make a reader laugh. I am expecting she can do this well. I bet she’s relatable, witty, and easy to read. Since her Amazon bio page has the word “empower” or some form of it at least five times, I am going to guess she is very Katy Perry Roar-y and we are going to know it by at least chapter two. Maybe we will all make like Sarah Bessey in Jesus Feminist and go out in the forest and clang pots and pans because, you know, girl power. I am going to guess that in some ways, she’s going to have a hard line on exactly what my inner monologue can be when I’m at my messiest. After all, this book is about not “believing the lies about who you are” and as a sinner, I am guilty of needing to correct my thinking all the time.

The Introduction

On the second page of the Introduction we read:

“Have you ever believed that you aren’t good enough? That you’re not thin enough? That you’re unlovable? That you’re a bad mom? Have you ever believed that you deserve to be treated badly? That you’ll never amount to anything? All lies. All lies perpetuated by society, the media, our family of origin, or frankly—and this is my pentecostal showing—the Devil himself.”

We should really make some distinctions here that Hollis doesn’t make. For starters, some of these are always a lie and some of these might be a lie and one is for sure true on the only scale in the universe that matters.

In Romans 3:11-12 we read:

No one is righteous, no, not one;

no one understands;

no one seeks for God;

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.

So the absolute truth is that you are not good enough, none of us are good enough, and none of us shall ever be good enough. We are not good. We are fallen. We are sinners. We reject and despise God. If you’re spending your time wondering if you are good enough or pronouncing that you are good enough, you are believing a lie. Jesus did not come and die on the cross because you were good. He did so because you will never be good enough. “Good enough”, in the context of the Christian life, has no place.

God did pronounce in Genesis that His creation was “good”. And the Bible does give us a holistic way to view ourselves as being image-bearers of God that is positive. Our Creator made us in His image and gave us the task of taking dominion over His creation. But I don’t get the feeling this is quite what Hollis is talking about, given that her list here of other possible lies includes things that simply do not correlate or have any teleological bearing.

For example, she lists “not thin enough” as a possible lie. On the next page she explains that “taking the easy way out is how you end up on the sofa, fifty pounds overweight, while life passes you by.” Apparently, for Rachel, there is a “not thin enough”.

I do want to note that she is right that no human deserves poor treatment from other humans. You do not deserve to be treated badly. But what about the notion that you are not unlovable? How can that always be true? Have you ever lived with another human for more than a day? Has that not been enough to convince you that sometimes humans act in incredibly unlovable ways? And wouldn’t that negate the very nature of the love of Christ—the God-man who loved us while we still hated him? Shouldn’t we be willing to confront our brothers and sisters when they are behaving in extremely unlovable ways, and isn’t that the best kind of love of all? The unconditional kind that images Christ and His bride? (Yes. The answer is yes.) Most of us have experienced the love of at least one other person, but that is certainly not because none of us have never been unlovable. And thank God for that.

There is freedom in understanding that we aren’t here to be good enough or lovable enough to earn anyone’s favor. We are called to something better. We are called to love our spouses and our children when they aren’t being lovable. Our spouses are called to love us when we aren’t being lovable. And upon the basis of Christ’s love and grace towards us, we are called to imitate Him. You can stop spinning your wheels trying to convince yourself you are “good enough.” You can rest in knowing that Christ loves the unlovable, and as you image Him more and more, the less unlovable you will be. Christ didn’t love unlovable you and then leave you in that state. He has freed you from bondage towards the sin that produces some extremely unlovable behavior.

The following page offered a ray of hope:

It’s worth asking, right here, right up front, where faith plays a role in all of this. As a Christian I grew up learning that God was in control, that God has a plan for my life, and I believe in the marrow of my bones that this is true. I believe God loves each of us unconditionally, but I don’t think that means we get to squander the gifts and talents he’s given us simply because we’re good enough already.

Okay, well, great. I am not sure how this plays out in the rest of her theology, and I won’t touch on her so-far-lacking “good enough” paradigm again in this section.

A caterpillar is awesome, but if the caterpillar stopped there—if she just decided that good is good enough—we would all miss out on the beautiful creature she would become.

I seriously doubt that caterpillars have the wherewithal to make “decisions”, both in the sense that she is using and not in the sense that she is using, and I’m offended we couldn’t get to the end of the first section without a misplaced caterpillar metaphor that literally has nothing to do with how we should use the talents God has given us.

All of this to say, the end of the introduction promises to exposit each of the lies Hollis has believed that have held her back, hurt her, and caused her to hurt others. She is going to tell us how she has taken the “power” away from these lies. I’m looking forward to finding out where Christ’s victory over sin and death comes in to this, how a Christian woman should battle insecurity, and if she’s willing to give Christ the glory in her battle against lies. Call me a skeptic, but I am not feeling super hopeful.”

Summer White

5 thoughts on “Wash Your Face… But Read Your Bible

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