A Book Review
Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog is because I believe so very deeply in the truth of the Bible and sharing it with other women. Not a current, trendy version of biblical truth that is culturally relevant and tickles the ear—the real truth.
The truth that says we will suffer (2 Peter 2). The truth that says there is real joy to be found in Jesus (Isaiah 35). The truth that we are beloved and wonderfully made (Genesis 1-2). The truth that we are fallen people, living in a fallen world (Genesis 3). The truth that sin destroys (Romans 1). The truth that we are loved, that Jesus died to reconcile us to God, and that following Him will require sacrifice, but will result in eternal life (John 3:16-17, Matthew 16:24-27). And so many other beautiful and deep, challenging truths.
That being said, sometimes we need to confront what isn't truth. And that can be hard. It can seem ungracious, can often be presented self-righteously, and is definitely counter-cultural. But we must, as the body of Christ, look to scripture as our gauge of truth, and encourage those around us to do the same.
With this in mind and because it has become very popular in female Christian circles (and because I love books), I wanted to share some brief thoughts about the book, Girl, Wash Your Face!, by Rachel Hollis, as kindly and graciously as possible, from the perspective of someone who read the book in its entirety, and share a review from another author I found very helpful.
The brief thoughts:
1. This book does not tout itself a deep theological read or bible study. This is important because, even though it is published by a Christian publisher and is listed as a religious book, it is not supposed to be deep theological exposition, and Mrs. Hollis doesn't claim it to be. She is mostly sharing her story and trying to be witty and relatable, sharing motivational sentiments along the way. I understand the frustration here though, and would agree that no matter how many biblical or spiritual references are made—whether one or 100—they should be vetted well. I would have to agree that I don't think this was the case. The mentions of God, church and the Bible were brief and general, but pointed more toward a self-help gospel than biblical truth. And self-focused half truths are not hopeful messages. They are not life-giving. If our lives and happiness are purely up to us, we will be worn out, anxious and depressed when things inevitably don't fulfill us.
2. I am 100% certain that Mrs. Hollis wanted her story to inspire. There is no doubt that Mrs. Hollis wanted to motivate her readers to try and achieve their goals. Working hard, choosing your priorities, and overcoming the lies you are believing that are keeping you from reaching your goals are the main themes in the book. She tells her story in an effort to share a motivational message that might resonate with and encourage the reader. However, once again, the messages are mainly self-focused and have no deep or lasting power to change someone's heart or circumstance entirely. There is nothing wrong with working hard or working toward a goal—I would argue it's a good discipline to practice—but it will not be the cure-all to your life's issues.
3. Feel free to read this book ... but be informed. I read this book from cover to cover. I was curious as to its message, and intrigued by the circles of women sharing it. But I would encourage you to read it with an informed eye. Read it knowing there are some missteps, and that it points to the reader as the ultimate changer of fates. This book might be a temporary motivation if you have a similar struggle, but ultimately it will not provide the life-change or success-over-struggles you're seeking because it puts those things as dependent on you. And the truth is, those things are solely dependent on God. He asks us to be vessels and calls us to good work, but for His glory and then our good, not just our own good.
The helpful review:
I saw this review on Facebook and found it resonated with me, and confronted what I felt were the main misses of Girl, Wash Your Face! It goes much more in depth to what I feel are important issues with this book. Girl, Wash Your Face? What Rachel Hollis Gets Right...and Wrong, written by Alisa Childers.
As a writer, I get it. I really do. I worked in news writing and publishing for several years. I'm an avid reader. I love to follow speakers and writers and listen to podcasts. I understand the desire and need to appeal to an audience. And you don't have to be a writer or like any of those things to see what emotionally charged rhetoric flies around social media every day. People are clamoring to have their stories heard and their point of view validated. And Mrs. Hollis has an audience. Girl, Wash Your Face! has motivational moments that appeal to that audience. This book is part of Mrs. Hollis' story, and we all have a story.
And yet ...
And yet we are called to be sober-minded. To seek out truth and use wisdom from scripture and our community to discern what is edifying and what is not. We should be just as, if not more, concerned with what we are putting into our minds as what we are putting into our bodies. I am not a perfect example of this, but I want to encourage myself and those around me to continue to seek out clarity and to use scripture as our main reference for discerning truth. It is the plumb line that everything else must measure up against.