Girl, Please Stop Telling me What to Do
Why I won’t be reading “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis
I won’t be reading Rachel Hollis’ latest sure-to-be chart topper “Girl, Stop Apologizing.”
I read “Girl, Wash Your Face” along with the rest of America.
And I found it interesting, at best. Encouraging at parts. But deeply misguided in terms of offering any true hope for my heart.
To be sure, there are nuggets of truth and wisdom strewn throughout that book, as I’m sure there will be in “Girl, Stop Apologizing.”
Nuggets — not treasure troves. Not gold mines. Just nuggets.
And honestly, I have no interest in a book filled with calls to no-nonsense living via a gospel of half-truths. Because, if we learned nothing from the garden of Eden, we at least learned that a half-truth is more dangerous than a whole lie.
What do I mean by half-truth?
Consider what is offered up by mainstream and even many Christian influencers at the buffet of “HOPE” for women today:
You are enough.
You are worthy.
You are loved.
Hollis is not the only influencer peddling a gospel of YOU-centric platitudes. And while these do sound beautiful and make a perfectly shareable instagram post, they are half-truths.
Because they leave out the most essential element that makes any of them true. They leave out, in essence, the BEST PART.
You are enough NOW that Christ has died for you and made you right before God, if you believe in Him. (“…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews [10:10])
You are worthy BECAUSE as a believer saved by faith, Christ’s record has been applied to yours, making you justified (just as if you never sinned.) (“Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” Hebrews [10:17])
You are loved because you are made in His image and He IS love. (“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John [4:19])
There is no shortage of half-truths available from the world. For it’s the only kind they have to give. These half-truths are dangerous because they are harder to discern as a lie. You see, something cannot be just “close” to the truth. It either IS the truth or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, it’s dangerous and should be avoided by believers.
Furthermore, scripture actually says we should “test” it, and see whether it is from God.
1 JOHN 4:9 — “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” It should be identified and called what it is.
1 CORINTHIANS 14:29: — “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.”
COLOSSIANS 2:8 — See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ.
Satan offered up the first one to Eve in the garden, “Eat this fruit, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The offer was an offer of knowledge. Of being LIKE God. And what made it so compelling was that he wasn’t entirely wrong. It was half the truth. In so being, it was a WHOLE lie. They WOULD have an increase in knowledge, but what the serpent didn’t tell them was their decision to disobey God would result in separation from their maker. It would send them into hiding and into shame.
Half truths can never offer the wholeness we run to them to find.
In a world where I really AM desperate for daily help and hope for my weary soul, the last thing I need is an admonishment to “stop apologizing.”
That simply isn’t my problem and it isn’t the solution to what ails me. And I submit that it isn’t yours either.
We are empty because we have chosen to feast on crumbs instead of taking a seat at the table.
We are hungry because we have sought to be filled by the morsels of half-truths taking up residence in our favorite author’s or influencers’ feeds instead of by the bread of life.
We’re lonely because we’ve sought camaraderie and solidarity with the world by watching self-oriented and self-promoting insta-stories instead of seeking unity with the Spirit.
We feel broken because we have pursued wholeness apart from God.
We feel lost because we have looked for a map in the mud.
We feel confused about who we are because we’ve asked the work of our hands to offer us identity.
We’ve sought purpose and meaning and clarity in what we can do, make, create and be.
We’ve avoided eye contact with our very maker who wrote Himself into our DNA so we’d know whose we were.
We’ve looked for love in expectations we’ve put on our husbands, children, parents, siblings, in-laws and friends.
I don’t deny that we as women (and men) need truth. We need hope.
But I do reject the tantalizingly simple and easy-to-swallow notion that my biggest problem is apologizing for who I am, and that my biggest solution is being unapologetic.
My biggest problem is that I tend to turn towards anything and anywhere for a drink but the One fountain of living water. My biggest problem is that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life leaves me empty and searching. Asking me to wash my face, or pick myself up by my bootsraps, or hitting me with “DON’T QUIT” “STOP APOLOGIZING” “BE YOURSELF” “BE PROUD OF YOU” “OWN YOUR PAST” (just a few of the current messages lining her feed) seem fine, and might even be fine, IF they’re shared in the context of where TRUE HOPE is found. And IF they are not proffered up as ULTIMATE HOPE and healing for a wounded heart or lost soul.
Because friends, a me-centered gospel is no gospel at all. It’s just pointing me back to where my problems began: myself.
The barrage of “Girl, [insert command]” books has only just begun.
There will be another and another and another. There will be promises of new ideas and tools and resources that offer a better way, a fuller life.
After a while, you will start to wonder, “Gee, just HOW many things must I stop or start doing to be free of these chains? To break out of this prison?”
There is but one call you should heed, sister. There is but one beckoning request you should give ear to.
It’s not sexy and it isn’t flying off shelves at 30% off. It doesn’t require a fire hydrant full of motivational tools to change your life. In fact, it’s quite simple.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John [10:10]
So girl, if you do stop apologizing, may it be because you have already asked forgiveness from the God who loves you and received His all-sufficient love. May it be because you have already repented and turned from a gospel of self-reliance into the loving arms of a Father who already paid for all of your failures on the cross. Who knew everything you’d ever do, and still, died that you might live.
Hear hope in that.
Hear love in that.
Hear an offer beyond comparison with anything this world can create.
And girl, let HIM wash you. Let HIM love you. Be perfected in His love. And let HIS grace fill your soul with its enoughness. Let Him assure you, you’ve no more need to hide in shame or cower in fear. Because HIS perfect love casts out all fear.
1 JOHN 4:18 — There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Haley Williams is a podcast host, sometimes writer and all-the-time mom of two girls. She loves speaking and writing about the truth of the gospel and sharing true hope with women.
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