By Anna Lynne Frazier
Rachel Hollis is an impressive person. She overcame a dysfunctional family, her brother’s suicide, an eating disorder. She started a high-end event planning business in L.A. with only a high school education, then another business, Chic Media, that has grown to be a multi-million dollar company. She’s given birth to three boys, was a foster parent for a while, and eventually adopted a little girl. She’s quick to share about her fantastic marriage and great sex life. She boxes, runs marathons, lost a lot of weight and has since kept it off.
Rachel drinks half her body weight in ounces of water every day and kicked her addiction to Diet Coke. She gets eight hours of sleep a night, wakes up at 5am, meditates, eats a healthy breakfast, and journals her goals and the things she’s thankful for… all before the kids get up. She has published five books and is a New York Times Bestselling author, she travels all over the country for speaking engagements and book promotions. She organizes a massive conference called Rise, and she has millions of followers on social media…
That’s a lot. I’m worn out just writing about it.
But that’s the gist of most of Rachel Hollis’s work: helping women see that they too can achieve all their dreams. Page one of Girl, Wash Your Face says it loud and clear. “You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.”
Rachel Hollis frames her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, around a series of lies that women believe about themselves. Then she urges them to reject those lies so that they can take control of their lives and become who they were meant to be. I think this message resonates with so many because she puts words to the deep down feeling of not being enough that so many people spend their lives trying to cope with.
Rachel Hollis names the pressure to be perfect, the comparison-driven social standard, the negativity pouring in from the media, the cripplingly destructive self-talk, all the things that fuel the not enough—that sense of falling short of the expectations we’re under every day. Then, she contradicts the negativity: You are enough, she says, the only problem is your belief that you’re not. And she holds up her own successes in life as proof.
The struggle is real
I resonate with this struggle. I work hard and have high standards for myself. People know me as smart and well-spoken and confident… but inside I have a hard time seeing myself that way. Sometimes, I feel paralyzed by insecurity and I wonder who people are talking about when they say such things. I rarely feel like I’m disciplined enough or put together enough or accomplished enough or just enough in general to deserve those adjectives.
I look at myself and I’m highly aware of what’s not there, the not enough. Part of me leaps at the exhortation in Rachel Hollis’s book to reject this not enough as a lie. I want to believe that I am enough, enough to achieve every single thing I want in life. But that’s also the problem with Rachel Hollis’s message. Between the validation and encouragement that “you can do it!”, her writing reveals a pretty flawed picture of who God is, of how we relate to him, and of why he made us.
What about God?
When we take on this belief that Rachel Hollis offers up, building our lives around the conviction that we are enough, that we are fully in control of our own lives and responsible for making ourselves happy, then there’s no room for the God of the Bible in our lives too. We don’t need him. We are each our own lord and savior. Just as Adam and Eve doubted God’s plans for them and took matters into their own hands to “be like God,” we rely on ourselves to know better than God does.
And frankly, this way of thinking is attractive. It doesn’t require surrender or vulnerability or admitting that you aren’t actually capable of earning your way anywhere. Unfortunately however, the darker side of believing you are enough is that any failure, any time you fall short, any place in your life where you’re not happy is on you too. You are enough, so what’s your excuse? Why are you not there yet? Girl, wash your face, stop apologizing, and become who you’re meant to be!
The reality of not enough
Rachel Hollis is all about encouraging her audience to reject the lie of not enough… But in the Bible we see that the not enough is actually not a lie at all. It’s true. You’re not enough. You aren’t capable of seizing control of your life and forcing it to be whatever will make you happy.
But rather than being a cause of shame and condemnation, this reality of not enough points to what you are actually made for: an eternal and perfect relationship with your Heavenly Father. You weren’t made to be alone, to bear full responsibility for your life and your joy. God wants to be there with you. He wants to fill the hole of not enough with himself. And he wants it so badly that he not only covers your lack and imperfection, he also takes on your sinful effort to be enough apart from him. This is the gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ.
The promise of rest
Rachel Hollis’s extensive list of accomplishments, her evidence that if you work hard enough you can achieve everything you want in life, her to-do list of all that she has in front of her, more goals to pursue… it’s exhausting. It’s a life of constant toil and it never ends, there’s always something you haven’t done yet.
Jesus, on the other hand, says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Two thousand years ago Jesus offered his followers the same thing that he offers us today: permission to acknowledge the not enough. And freedom from the pressure to work your way into “who you were meant to be.”
What we are really made for
The reality is, God made us creatures in his image. And he has given us responsibility to steward the resources he gave us. God invites us into his work to redeem the world. And he gives us the days in our lives to spread his Kingdom on earth. This means that we do have control and agency over our lives that we shouldn’t squander. In her books (both Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing), Rachel Hollis offers practical advice on how to set and accomplish goals and overcome the excuses that often lead to passivity and inaction. These can be valuable tools. But we cannot rely on these tools in order to become “who we are meant to be.”
Instead, Jesus invites us to follow in his footsteps down the path he has already completed. On the way, God gives us a life to steward well, for his glory, according to his Word. And as we do, as we believe—in words and action—that his is the better way, we will become who we are truly meant to be: “not enough“ people, made enough by Jesus, living forever with our more than enough God.