Fair warning, this article is going to ruffle a few feathers. #Sorrynotsorry needs to be said before you read any further.
Y’all, there are a LOT of Christian bloggers out there with their panties in a bunch over Rachel Hollis and her message. I had no idea the magnitude of the controversy until I read a facebook post about it two weeks ago. I want to take a couple minutes to unpack just why I absolutely LOVED this book and why some of the subjects being discussed on other blogs are, in my opinion, incorrect.
As a writer, I really appreciate this woman’s simplistic style, relatability, and her delivery. She’s such a gifted communicator and inspires and encourages others by being transparent and vulnerable about her own personal struggles in life.
She is self-disciplined in reaching her goals and I absolutely love that about her and the way she communicates this in almost everything she does. She stays in her lane and is freaking killing it because she doesn’t try to be anything other than herself, which is simply beautiful to me, as a writer and as a woman.
Here are some of the things I’ve heard Christian bloggers saying that I personally disagree with SO MUCH that it kind of fires me up. Like, if you were in front of me discussing this, I’d get all red in the face and start talking fast, because that’s what I do when I get passionate about something. I can’t help it, y’all.
First thing that got me all fired up: Self-help is Selfish.
Whaaaaaa? … Hold the phone, girl. When I read this on multiple blogger’s websites my jaw literally dropped to the floor.
Definition of self-help: “the action or process of bettering oneself or overcoming one’s problems without the aid of others” per Merriam-Webster herself.
RH writes about striving towards her goals by pushing herself harder, regardless of how difficult it may be. She’s encouraging others to do the same because she believes they have it within them to do. We ALL have it within us to help ourselves, especially when we’re walking out our faith with Jesus. She’s simply trying to convey the thought that we are all our own best advocates. Even if you have the most loving spouse, mom, friends, or dad, no one is going to want your dream more than you.
God plants the dream but if we aren’t willing to do the work we aren’t allowing Him to utilize us as His vessels. Her message is simply this: help yourself regardless of others opinions, fight to achieve the dream that’s been placed there on purpose.
“The bible says, let that which is in darkness be brought to light. When things are allowed to sit in the darkness, when we’re afraid to speak them aloud, we give them power. The darkness lets those fears fester and grow until they become stronger over time. If you never allow your fears out, then how in the world can you disseminate them?” Girl Wash Your Face, pg. 61.
One blogger wrote that RH was “loosely” referencing Ephesians 5:11-14. She was not. She is referencing multiple scriptures that all point to this subject of revealing the lies in our heads by exposing to the light of Jesus (by both prayer and communicating with friends). To name a few more scripture verses that align with this quote: Mark 4:22, Luke 8:17, 1 Cor. 4:5, and John 3:19-21.
We can get ourselves caught in a horrible trap when we start to condemn others for something they didn’t do. Rachel is taking the knowledge she has obtained from multiple scriptures and applying it in a very real and relatable way to women.
Fear is a pivotal tool the enemy uses to discourage and throw us off track from pursuing our calling, the God-given dreams planted in our hearts when we are aligned with Him. She unpacks the sufferings she has gone through and reveals how speaking out the lies that inhabited her mind, trapping her, was pivotal in eradicating them.
The bible is supposed to be used as a living, breathing word that speaks directly into our lives, not utilized as stories we can simply learn and take away from. She is simply utilizing the bible in this capacity, which some people have a hard time comprehending.
The blogger who accused RH of loosely referring to one piece of scripture alluded to Rachel equating her present-day struggles to that of Paul’s because he wrote this passage suffering from multiple beatings, being shipwrecked, and nearly dying. The errancy that sticks out to me the most is that God could’ve given Rachel this specific scripture during prayer to encourage and inspire her through her sufferings.
If we always weighed our current sufferings with biblical ones, my sufferings would always seem to come up short. I can relate to biblical figures and their suffering, even if I haven’t walked through the same sufferings as them.
The truth is, my current sufferings are just as important to Jesus as Paul’s were.
RH isn’t elevating comfort over obedience, which is what a slue of bloggers are alluding to, but the exact opposite. That would be accusing someone of idolatry, which is a sin, in and of itself. It’s the holy spirit’s job to convict, not ours. When people do it, it’s offensive and condemning and it’s exactly the kind of thing modern day Christians do to drive people away from the arms of Jesus instead of towards them.
Pursuing her career has caused RH pain and strife and God comforted her with His word to help keep her on track. He spoke truth where lies once lived. Evidence of this is her strength in being vulnerable. This is a sign of a life walking in alignment with Christ, when someone is bold and confident in their faith.
Second thing that got me fired up: She doesn’t devote enough attention to her spiritual development.
Let’s address this by breaking down a couple key components about her as a person and the book’s purpose. RH’s target audience is both non-believers and those who are starting out in their faith. The book’s purpose is to encourage, inspire, and challenge women to overcome common lies to become the best version of themselves they can be. She references Jesus, her faith, and Christianity in each chapter of the book.
If you look at the categories this book falls under, you’ll find the top 3 on amazon are: self-help, motherhood, and Christian living. For the love of simplicity, guys, the subtitle of this book is blaringly obvious about what the primary message is: “Stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be”. This sentence could not be clearer or more simplistic about its purpose. This is not a book dedicated to biblical teaching, like Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer. Its’ primary focus is self-help with a biblical context to a target audience that may not know Jesus at all. She isn’t trying to convey that she’s been completely dependent upon herself to achieve fulfillment and success. This is a horrible generality and accusatory.
Her faith isn’t the main topic of the book but that shouldn’t be cause for dismissal. It speaks to her target audience, uplifts and encourages them to be the best version of themselves and she happens to do so by mentioning how her faith had a pivotal role in her success and the overall calling placed on her life.
Third thing that fired me up: She didn’t quote scripture in her book.
I really appreciate when authors who are speaking to an audience of both non-believers and new believers don’t over saturate their storyline with biblical and theological truths. I look at it kind of like a maturation process- non-believers need to be bottle fed biblical truths before they begin to grow into the solid food of theological principles. Her book mentions her faith, which was powerful for people (especially in Hollywood) to hear. Her self-care approach softened that audience to hear the trail of biblical truths in her book, which seems to have been impactful to many.
Another book that comes to mind is Donald Miller’s, “Scary Close”. There’s minimal reference to biblical context but it is saturated with reference that is evident to the spiritual aspect of relationship.
I believe Christians have an obligation to speak to non-believers in a way that will draw them closer to Him, not scare them away. RH is feeding her audience the starter food for a relationship with Jesus, instead of trying to shove a steak and potato meal in their mouth. She’s gentle and caring and doesn’t over complicate the message.
This is what I know. No one is perfect. No one gets it all right. It’s difficult to put yourself out there and it’s even more difficult to have people pick apart your life’s work. I truly believe it takes a strong woman to build another woman up. It takes an even stronger woman to stand up for the ones being condemned. Let’s be those kinds of Godly women. The kind that support, encourage, inspire, and speak of others with love and gentleness.
We could all take a page from Rachel and start striving to better ourselves for both ourselves and others. When we begin to believe in ourselves it’s then we can begin to receive the love of Jesus. Cause here’s the thing, if we can’t love ourselves first, we can’t allow others to love us. And if we can’t allow others to love us, we most certainly can’t fathom the Creator of the Universe loving us.
Girl, Wash Your Face was written to inspire other women to love themselves and believe in their dreams. I will always celebrate other women being vulnerable and transparent so they can hopefully impact others for the better. Let’s all strive to do the same.
I believe one of the most powerful tools we posess lies in our own individual stories of triumph. This is a letter straight out of my journal from a little over four months ago. Looking back and remembering what I went through and how writing allowed me to process and overcome it wasn't just powerful then, it's also powerful now.
Writing was a tool for me to process and heal during my recovery but I didn't see how it would continue to impact me after. What I'm realizing, is on the days I struggle the most, I'm able to look back at what God already delivered me through and remember just how good He was. Those reminders help keep me from forgetting that I didn't get to where I am today on my own accord. They remind me of the miracles He did to get me here.
I felt God call me to share this exerpt from my journal with you. It's my hope that it will speak into your own hearts, as it continues to do to mine.
Journal entry: A Letter of Hope
"This past year has been a rediscovery of who I am. For years I masked who I was in fear of being rejected by others, but for the first time in a long time, I’m coming out of my shell. I often envision a butterfly emerging from a cocoon as a representation of how I feel. But if I’m being honest, the past year has looked a lot more like childbirth. There’s been contractions increasing in strength with less time between as they built in stamina. The pain experienced is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. This process has been chalked full of exhaustion, heartache, and moments of clawing for strength to push when I felt I had nothing left to give.
The reality is, healing has been tough work. It shook the foundations of my identity and left me in darker places than I’ve ever been. I’m finally turning the corner of a very difficult season, recognizing there has been purpose in my pain.
I’m unashamed of who I am, regardless of who likes it or not. The inner struggle has been replaced with an inner peace as I accept the calling placed on my heart. I’m more present and in love with my kids and my husband. The friendships that lasted through this last year have grown deeper and more precious than I ever thought possible. The new friendships that have sprouted from it are beautiful, because they see me, and they love me for who I am.
There’s nothing quite like going through one of the roughest storms of your life, experiencing fear and suffering like never before, and finally seeing end in sight. There’s a peace and relief lifting your eyes, seeing the clouds roll away, feeling the warmth of sunshine that you thought you’d never see again. I appreciate the tiny rays as they begin to emerge, piece by tiny piece, so much more than I did before.
I’m at the start of a new season, one that promises hope and joy no matter what life throws my way. I’m scarred and a little wobbly, but I’m not alone. The battle of my past has been won.
I’m no longer a victim, but a warrior. The wounds that bled crimson red and threatened to break me are now fine lines on my strong, beating heart. They don’t define me or shake me, just remind me of how capable I am.
There’s an inner beauty that’s beginning to shine through. Like others whose stories started out with pain and suffering, mine didn’t end there. I chose to take the time to heal, rediscover who I am, and birth a new life far more exciting than I ever thought possible.
If you’re in the middle of a storm, let my story be a glimmer of hope. Hold on to your anchor in Him, you will get through this. You are capable, you are not alone, and you are worth the journey. The wounds of your past don’t define you, no matter how big or small. They can heal and become beautiful scars permanently etched into your heart, serving as a reminder of what you’ve overcome; each one unique and telling of a powerful story, victorious and miraculous.
Are you struggling with something you’ve been avoiding, fearful of the pain it may cause? I want to challenge you to boldly face it, casting fear aside, and allow the wounds that are controlling you to become scars that no longer define you.
You can do this.
You are loved, valuable, capable, and worthy of freedom.
Sincerely, A glimmer of hope"
I had no idea this letter would continue to bring me strength, and possibly be a letter to breath strength in to others. It's my hope that if you're sitting reading this in a difficult season, it does just that- delivers a glimmer of hope. I challenge you to write your own prayers and difficulties down- so that one day, when you've overcome them, they will serve as a reminder of just how far you have come and how you got there.