It has long been my observation that there are two kinds of books being marketed to Christians. There are some whose foundational message is what you need to do and others whose foundational message is what Christ has already done. The first make a model out of the author, the second make a model out of Jesus. The first place the burden for change on personal power while the second place the burden for change on Christ’s power. It is clear that Girl, Wash Your Face falls squarely in the first category.
My assistant put me up to this. She does a first pass on most of the emails I receive and recently called to say, “There’s a book out there called Girl, Wash Your Face, and you’re getting multiple emails about it every day. You need to review it.” I looked it up on Amazon and noticed it has accumulated nearly 6,000 reviews averaging 5 stars. That is no small feat for a book authored by a professed Christian (Rachel Hollis), published by a Christian company (Thomas Nelson), and widely read and distributed in Christian circles. So I ordered a copy and gave it a read. I’ve chosen to focus this brief review not on the many details of the book, but on its big point and central message.
Many Lies, One Truth
Rachel Hollis is the founder of a tremendously popular and successful lifestyle blog targeted at women. Though she has written a few novels and cookbooks along the way, Girl, Wash Your Faceis her first non-fiction work. The conversational, friend-to-friend tone that marks her blog is apparent from the opening pages, and she wastes no time telling what it is all about: “This book is about a bunch of hurtful lies and one important truth.” That sounds positive since it’s clear that as human beings we are prone to believe lies about ourselves, about others, and even about God.
So what is the one important truth at the core of Hollis’s work? “You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” This will resonate with many people. We are moral beings who bear the responsibility of making decisions about who we will be and what we will do with our lives. We all feel the desire to become better people. Yet whether we, as Christians, can fully agree with Hollis depends on how she answers a number of questions: What is happiness? What is involved in achieving happiness? What can guide us into happiness? What power is available to those who want it? And what hope is there for those who have tried and failed to gain it?
So what does it mean to be happy?
Happy people—the ones who are enjoying their lives 90 percent of the time—do exist. You’ve seen them. In fact, you’re reading a book written by one right now.
Ultimately, I think that’s what people are commenting on in my photos. They’re saying, ‘Your life looks so perfect,’ but what I think they mean is, ‘Your life seems happy. You look content. You’re always optimistic and grateful. You’re always laughing.’ …
When you’re engaged and involved and choosing to enjoy your own life, it doesn’t matter where you are, or frankly, what negative things get hurled at you. You’ll still find happiness because it’s not about where you are but who you are.