Lately I’ve been seeing some pretty in-your-face rebuttals against Rachel Hollis’ best selling book, Girl Wash Your Face.
I don’t know if it was the 1-2-3 punch of various posters I follow in Instagram that I just happened to see all in a row with very pointed anti-Hollis campaigns, or if it was something more, but it’s been eating at me all day so I sat down to wrestle with why I’m feeling so reactive against these bloggers.
Here’s one of the memes:
Here’s my problem with this. If the edits sound like a worship song (c’mon, you can hear the guitar strumming in the background), and you have to cross out all the author’s original quote to get there, then the author must be way off base.
Are you following?
I’m half tempted to take a Scripture out of context here, cross out half of it and replace it with a modern worship song just to make my point, but that feels irreverent, so we’ll leave well enough alone.
But it makes me a teensy bit itchy.
It’s on you, Jesus.
Let go. Give up. Surrender. Let Jesus. All good words. All true words. But I also know there’s a passivity in it that many of us mask as “gospel” that has me concerned.
Now, I get that we can swing to the other side of the pendulum where we’re doing all the hustling while God is just on the sidelines enjoying the show. That’s definitely not okay.
There’s a distinction between self-reliance (what these posters fear Rachel is talking about) and God-reliance and it’s an important one.
But may I suggest the main distinction is the motivation (love) and the fruit (spiritual), not necessarily the hustle? In fact, in many instances God-reliance may mean recognizing God has already supplied all our needs and “waiting on Him” when He’s already spoken is the same as disobedience.
I guess that’s where my back gets up.
God’s control vs. My responsibility
If you’ve read Rachel’s book, she’s painfully honest about some of the places she’s been in her life, often by her own doing, and how she dealt with those realities. It’s natural to feel stuck or broken or sorry for yourself, but she chooses to get up. She realizes she’s not helpless and looks to God to get her act together.
She’s quick to give God the glory, but she owns her mistakes and doesn’t give herself permission to wallow.
That’s pretty Biblical.
Can we be honest and say there’s a whole lot of us Christian women who could use that kind of kick in the pants?
Admittedly Hollis is no theologian and I’d be careful about building your theology on a self-help book; but I do think we’re often too quick to use the words “wait on God” to ignore our own responsibilities in life. I think we call passivity “surrender” and we feel helpless in places we’re stuck because we refuse to take responsibility for our lives.
That’s not what the Bible is talking about.
The Bible says self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Funny it doesn’t call it God-control. I’ve wondered at that.
Somehow, God wants us to take some responsibility. Some control, even.
Can you be self-controlled and surrendered?
I think so.
Can you be responsible for the life you’re living and still give God control?
I think so.
So in a day and age where so few of us are willing to call it like it is, I found Rachel’s book refreshing and encouraging, in all the right ways.
I’ve been reading John 5 over and over lately, and there’s this story where Jesus talks to this man who’s been sick for 38 years. He asks him if he wants to get well, and the man says essentially, “I can’t.” He’s got legitimate reasons. He’s got tough circumstances. He’s waiting in all the best ways he knows how, but he’s helpless.
Jesus’ response is “Get up. Take up your mat & walk.”
It sounds a lot like Rachel Hollis’ message, if you ask me. Get up. Take up what had you stuck and get on with your life. (Wash that face).
I get that we’re concerned about this me-first society. But in my experience, many women in Christian circles have a me-never mindset and it’s got them so far from God’s best for them that it’s not even funny. Maybe it’s okay to have some “own your life” messages – not to grasp it away from Christ, but to realize Christ in us gives us power, in every situation. We are not helpless. We are not victims. We are not stuck in unhealthy places, waiting for our Prince to come. He is here. He has come. He has given us victory. We are more than conquerers.
So that’s my issue with these campaigns. Truth is, I agree with both the author and the editor. I think it’s time we take responsibility for this one life we’ve got and live it to the fullest. I also think we do that best in surrender to Christ.