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Rachel Hollis took the world by storm with her first book and is gearing up to do it a second time with “Girl, Stop Apologizing.” But the question is this: should Bible-following women really be buying into her empowering, motivating, “shame free” message? Is Rachel Hollis’ message truly Christian? Let’s hold it up to Scripture and see what all the buzz is about.
Rachel Hollis has done it again. First she encouraged women to wash their face and now she wants them to stop apologizing.
In her first book, the message was one of self love and self care. Her newest book? A motivational self-help book full of advice like believe in yourself, stop apologizing (inspired by the song lyric “Sorry, not sorry”), pursue your big goals, and live to be blissfully at peace with yourself. The tone of her message is empowering, motivating, encouraging, and downright charismatic.
But is it Biblical?
Why A Biblical Review Of Girl, Stop Apologizing Is Necessary
Why did I take the time to read a book cover to cover only to pick it apart? Because I love you, dear one.
Because you are worth the truth of God. Because I don’t want to see you blindly following this teaching that sounds so appealing, but that leads only to death. (Proverbs 14:12).
Because the truth needs to be shared – not “your” truth or “her” truth…the Truth. And that comes only from the Word of God. So you’re going to see a lot of Scriptures quoted here.
Common Misconception 1: It’s A Self-Help Book, So It’s Okay
The idea that this book shouldn’t be examined in light of Scripture because it’s not a Christian book, but a self-help book is (in my opinion) a misguided one.
Everything we feed into our minds should honor God. At the very least, it shouldn’t outright defy Him. Romans 12:1-2 challenges you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. What you read matters.
Common Misconception 2: It’s Not A Christian Book
Released as part of a Christian imprint of a major publishing house, Girl, Wash Your Face was (and is) indeed being marketed as a Christian book as well as self-help book. It’s follow up, Girl, Stop Apologizing, is published as part of their Leadership division but Hollis is still largely seen as a Christian author because of her social media comments about her faith and her previous connection to Thomas Nelson Publishers.
That means that Christian women are being led astray. That is not okay.
At least not to me. And that’s why I wrote this. To answer your questions and address things with God’s Word as the lead. Without further ado, my Christian review of “Girl, Stop Apologizing” with the Word.
What Hollis Gets Right (Mostly)
Rachel Hollis says some good things, no doubt. That’s the challenge: sorting out the dangerous almost-truths or mostly-truths from the not-even-close-to-Biblical statements that sound appealing and motivating and empowering.
Fight Lies With Truth
This is an age old strategy used by Jesus Himself when satan tempted Him. Obviously I can’t argue with Rachel’s statement that you combat lies with truth:
You see, any time we feel lacking, the only way to successfully fight back against that lie is with a truth that makes it irrelevant. (Hollis, Excuse 4)
In no way would I begin to argue with this. In fact, having a healthy, Biblically based self image is essential and the only way to do that is though accepting that what God says about you is true.
But Hollis doesn’t support this Biblically, nor does she stop here. It’s where she goes forward with it that is so dangerous…keep reading and you’ll see. This will be addressed more in the review of her ‘Behaviors To Adopt’ section.
Recognizing That Your Past Isn’t Your Present
Again, so true.
But I do know that if your past is still affecting your life today in a negative way, holding on to it is not helping you. (Hollis, Excuse 4)
However, she doesn’t talk about how Jesus is the only One who can help those broken places inside of you (Psalm 147:3) and redeems the years stolen by the locusts (Joel 2:25).
It’s a true statement, but again it needs to be founded on the Word.
Exceptional Requires Intentionality
In her chapter on Excuse 5, Hollis states they want an exceptional marriage and “exceptional requires intentionality.”
There is no doubt this is true. Intentionally focusing on something is the only way to make it beyond wonderful. But let God be the driver here, not yourself. Your own efforts can’t do it all the time.
If your marriage isn’t submitted to God, it won’t survive. If you aren’t committed even when life is hard and things are rough, relationships unravel. Only God can equip you with the grace for those seasons. If you want a healthy marriage, it needs to focus on Biblical principles.
What Hollis Gets Wrong: Her Anti-Excuse & The Word
Let’s look at the “truths” presented in this book and hold them up to The Truth (the Bible).
Lie: The World Needs Your More
Hollis says that if she could tell you anything, it would be that you were made for more. You were made to lead, to impact the world for good, to be more than you are right now…more.
And why is your more so important?
Because the world needs it. You have a difference to make. You have a life to live and something valuable to contribute.
Truth: The World Needs Jesus
Girlfriend, let me whisper some truth to you in a world that is shouting a very appealing lie. The world doesn’t need you; it needs Jesus.
But when you show up and live for Him and His glory (which is what you were created to do), amazing things happen. When you love God and love people (the first and second greatest commandments, per Jesus), that’s when the world is changed because God will use you (and every other person who is also loving Him and loving people) to shine His light brightly.
You’re meant to be a light like a city on a hill and shine brightly, but you’re not shining your talent, your skill, your gift. You are shining Jesus.
Lie: Follow Your Dream(s)
My dreams weren’t just a part of me; they were the core of who I was. They were a gift from God, and if my creator endowed me with something, how could it be wrong? (Hollis, Excuse 1)
Hollis extrapolates that when those desires felt wrong to her, she dug deep and came to the realization that it was only when she cared what others thought of those desires did guilt and shame appear.
Truth: Follow Jesus
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Okay, my dear, listen up. Follow your heart, do what feels right, trust your instincts…those are great sayings for non-Christian women. But you? You’re a woman of faith, a Christian, and that means you have the Bible to direct you.
And that Bible? It tells you to guard your heart above all else (Proverbs 4:23). It reminds you to hide your heart in Jesus, for He is the only way, truth, and life.
It also says (in two different verses, it’s so important my sister at arms):
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25
So why, for the love, would you trust your heart to lead you anywhere?
Why would you take the dreams that are inspired by a world that is primarily focused on things that will disappear in light of eternity and make them your compass? Why would you follow anything or anyone other than Jesus, who loves you so much He died for you?
Yes, there’s truth to the point that if you are reading Scripture, praying regularly, and abiding in Him then your desires will be birthed from that intimacy. But even then, hold them up to the Word.
I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
~Jeremiah 10:29, ESV
Also, God clearly tells you in the Word that your own way does not reside within yourself. So those deeply buried dreams, those “What If” queries, and those middle of the night thoughts? They aren’t your guiding light. Jesus alone is your light.
But they can be from Him, as fruit of your walk with Him. You’ll never know unless you study the Word, dear one. Dive deep. Follow the steps to making plans that will not fail (and I promise you, following your dreams isn’t one of them).
Give Him your dreams and follow Him. If they are from Him, He’ll guide you into flourishing as you fulfill them. And then it will be so amazing and fulfilling! But ask Him first. Trust Him to lead you, not your feelings.
That crafty devil in the garden was smart: he never argued with what God said, he merely planted doubts about exactly what God meant.
Lie: You Determine Your Achievements
You’ve got to be intentional, and you’ve got to decide right now that you can be whoever you want to be and achieve whatever you want to achieve. (Hollis, Excuse 2)
Hollis talks about how important it is to set goals and how humans feel amazing when they accomplish the things they set out to do.
Actually, this is pretty true. No argument there, not even one.
It’s just incomplete truth, which is at the heart of it all, a lie. You can’t cut out part of the truth and let it sit as a complete one; it changes the meaning. The heart of her message is that we need to become goal oriented people and make it happen.
Truth: God Establishes Your Path
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
What if our human desire to accomplish goals has also been captivated by sin’s curse? Because, girlfriend, it’s dangerous.
A woman who runs so hard after a goal, be it getting healthier or mastering the clutter in her home or starting a business, but does it to the detriment of her marriage and motherhood is an example of a good thing becoming an idol.
Goal setting needs to be approached with grace and truth, saturated in Jesus. Only God can establish your steps; He alone is sovereign and good.
Lie: It’s Not About Balance, But Being Centered
In addressing work/life balance, Hollis clearly admits that’s a myth. And it really is. As she says and so many others before her have also said, you can never perfectly balance every part of your life. Instead, it’s about making choices.
I think the goal is to be centered. Centered means that you feel grounded and at peace with yourself…If I prioritize myself and make sure I’m centered, then everything else run smoothly. (Hollis, Excuse 5)
But is being “centered” or “at peace with yourself” really where it’s supposed to be at?
Truth: Obeying God Doesn’t Always Feel Good
The Bible never says to be at peace you need to be grounded with yourself; it says true peace comes from God alone.
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
When your mind is focused on God, then you have true peace. You might even be in the middle of a storm, but peace is possible even in the stormy seasons. Why? Because your peace isn’t dependent on your situation or yourself; it’s reliant only on the unchanging God who is bigger than anything we can imagine.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Lie: Your Spouse’s Opinion Doesn’t Matter
Rachel posits that your dream is yours. And the opinions of those around you, even the man you’re married to, don’t matter.
Heck, it doesn’t matter what your family, your closest friends, or your spouse thinks about your dreams either. All that really matters is how badly you want those dreams and what you’re willing to do to make them happen. (Hollis, Excuse 9)
She’s saying that you can hustle if it’s your dream, and the heck with the opinions of others. After all, don’t let the naysayers hold you back.
Truth: The Two Become One
The Bible has something altogether different to say to this. Husbands and wives aren’t two separate beings in God’s eyes, living parallel lives. No, the two are now one (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:8).
and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Scripture even tells wives to submit to their husbands; this is impossible if they don’t care about their opinions.
Girlfriend, if you want a solid marriage or to breathe life back into a flailing one, you need to care about your husband’s opinion. Even if it means self sacrifice (if you need to refresh your marriage, you need to honor your husband!).
Outside of that, let’s look at another verse about relationships:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
That kind of says it all. It’s not about prioritizing yourself or your dreams at all; it’s about dying to self and loving others well.
Hollis’ List Of Behaviors & The Word
The second half of the book moves from your excuses to behaviors you need to adopt. Again, these look like awesome improvements and ways to make things happen. But they still need to be approached Biblically.
The first behavior Hollis suggests is to stop asking permission. She shares how she asked her husband’s permission for things because “I didn’t want my desires to inconvenience him in any way,” but then reveals she grew out of that and learned “grown-up women don’t ask permission.”
Rachel says that good things happen when you invest more thought into self-care than you do thinking about who your self-care may inconvenience; in fact, you’ve served others and now you need to help them serve you and your goals.
All her other behaviors follow a similar pattern with similar advice. And it’s great advice for a woman focused on fulfilling an earth-bound dream and a life of hustle and fame.
—–> But dear one, you were meant for far more than this shadow earth that will one day pass away. And your treasure? Lay up one that will last in heaven, not be consumed in the fire.
Hustle, dream, soar…but remember that it’s all secondary to loving Jesus and loving people. Keep those things where they belong in your life, dear one.
Biblical Response To The Behaviors Suggested In “Girl, Stop Apologizing”
Go ahead and shine, my friend. Shine brightly – reflecting Jesus. But don’t ever lose sight of the things that matter most. Let’s see how God’s Word responds to these ideas.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Really, what else is there to say?
“Believe In Your Dang Self!” (and why you shouldn’t)
In this Christian review of Girl, Wash Your Face, it was said that Rachel’s compelling message of self-empowerment is an artfully twisted mix of truth and Gospel distortion. The same is consistent of her newest book, as well. Christian sister, beware what you feed your mind.
Rachel Hollis concludes:
I’ve devoted two books to the idea that you are in control of your life and capable of anything you set your heart and mind to…you better believe your life is worth fighting for…It’s time to show the world what happens when a woman challenges herself for greatness…It’s time to become who you were made to be.
But here’s what you really need to know:
God is so devoted to you. He is in control of everything and yet He gave His own Son to die for you.
Your loving Father offers you a renewed mind and bids you come and die. The offer of salvation is one that offers you a cross, not a crown while you are on this earth, and an invitation to serve others (sometimes thanklessly).
Your promises are for peace in the storm, healing when you’re broken, grace and mercy for each day; nothing so simple and temporal as world renown or wild success. Yes, the world needs you…it needs you to share Jesus with them, love them beyond all reason even when they hurt you, and live your life with reckless abandon for God.
It’s time to show the world what a woman sold out for the Gospel can do and be who you were made to be.
Books To Read Instead Of “Girl, Stop Apologizing”
One reader commented and asked for suggestions on what some good books to read would be. And that was a great question.
It sure sent me diving into the my Kindle and perusing my bookshelves to see what was comparable and yet Biblically sound that I could recommend. And here’s what I realized: if you’re looking to feel empowered and strong and justified in chasing your own dreams…well, there isn’t a Biblically sound alternative.
BUT if you are looking for books to encourage you in chasing your God-given identity and living up to who He made you to be, there are some great choices.