The self-help book Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis is taking the Christian world by storm — mainly because a lot of Christians don’t think it’s a Christian book.
In fact, in a guest post for The Gospel Coalition, singer Alisa Childers explains why she finds the book downright dangerous:
It’s no shocker that Hollis connects deeply with her audience. Having survived a difficult childhood and the suicide of her brother when she was in her early teens, the advice she offers hasn’t come cheap or easy.
There was that time her boyfriend continually treated her poorly. After dumping her and smashing her heart into pieces, he called to see how she was doing. When she calmly said, “Hey, I am done with this. I am done with you. Don’t ever call me again,” and shut off her phone, I was sending high-fives and a hearty, “You go, girl!” Sadly, Hollis doesn’t attribute this wisdom to knowing who she is in Christ. She credits self-love.
Make no mistake, sisters. This book is all about you. Just in chapter one, Hollis writes:
“You are meant to be the hero of your own story.”
“You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.”
“You should be the very first of your priorities.”
Girl, Wash Your Face is littered with references to self-love and self-care. In fact, the theme is so pervasive that it shapes how Hollis responds to everything — from hardship to trauma to parenting to working out.
Honestly, now, what more would you expect from a self-help book?
I really don’t understand what these Christians have against self-love. I doubt Hollis is saying you should love yourself more than God, but loving yourself is important. Having confidence is important. Why are love of God and love of self considered mutually exclusive?
Your happiness, your success, your everything — it’s all up to you, ladies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s good news. Jesus offers us true joy and peace, but only after we realize that we’re not the center of our own lives and that we’re no longer in charge…
But the bare minimum for “happiness” is up to you. Jesus isn’t writing you paychecks so you can afford food, rent, and health insurance, and those three basic staples are a big part of anyone’s happiness baseline. In that sense, you are in charge.
Hollis spills quite a bit of ink trying to convince you that no matter what your big dream is, you should never let it go. Don’t take “no” for an answer, she insists. But instinctively, we all know this doesn’t work. This is confirmed each time we cringe at the tone-deaf American Idol contestant screeching his way through the audition, only to be told he has a different calling.
We all know he should give up on his dream. We all know it’s not realistic.
I’ll agree with Childers here that not every dream is worth pursuing, but I think the average person pursues a dream that is within the bounds of gifts and talents they already have. In any case, that’s one isolated scenario that probably doesn’t apply to most people. Generally speaking, I see nothing wrong with Hollis’ advice to keep on persisting in pursuit of your goals.
What is Rachel Hollis’s dream? I felt actual sadness when I read it:
I’m a big fan of displaying visuals inside my closet door to remind me every single day of what my aim is. Currently taped to my door: the cover of Forbes featuring self-made female CEOs, a vacation house in Hawaii… and a picture of Beyoncé, obvi.
Jesus never called us to chase after power, money, and fame; he calls us to follow him. “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39).
Okay, but are those Hollis’ only dreams? My guess is, probably not. I haven’t read the book, but I reserved a copy at my library because it seemed like it was written from one small business owner to another. If that’s her target audience — or at least a big portion of it — then there’s nothing wrong with having closet visuals to give you something to aim for.
Next on Childers’ list of complaints is Hollis’ spiritual views:
Just because you believe it doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone… Faith is one of the most abused instances of this. We decide that our religion is right; therefore, every other religion must be wrong.
Logically, this sentiment can’t be true — because all religions contradict each other at some point. And Christianity, by nature, is exclusive. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).
Religious pluralism is a dogmatic religious belief — and it contradicts Christianity.
Childers is right in principle. But interpreting that statement as if Hollis is saying Christianity is false is unfair to her. That line could apply to anyone with any belief system, and it’s accurate.
Reading Girl, Wash Your Face exhausted me. It’s all about what I can be doing better and what I’m not doing well enough. How to be better at work, parenting, and writing. How to be less bad at cardio, sex, and, you know, changing the world.
But grasping the good news of who I am in Christ — and nothing else — is what brings true rest.
If Christianity is the Absolute Truth, then one popular book won’t put a dent in it. For someone who places all her trust in this Truth, Childers seems absolutely terrified that reading Hollis’ book is going to threaten it somehow. It’s to the point where exposing herself to a different worldview is too much work.
Now that’s sad.