Even though my life is so blessed, and God has been so gracious to me, I am still such a loser sometimes.
Tonight I sat on my couch scrolling through my phone on a Saturday night, ignoring my family. A temporary ease to the dull ache inside of me.
I try to keep it pure and look up only Christian content, but you know how things can spiral.
Christian celebrity Instagram accounts, and then onto the people they have tagged, and people those people have tagged... A lame, lame waste of time, I know. And tonight I somehow eventually wound up on a famous Christian authors’ daughter’s account. Nice.
In my heart, I know a lot of what I’m seeing is an act.
I know how people advertise and social climb; color coordinate their pages and post pictures from photo-shoots done months in advance as if it were today. It feels like a twisted game, but sometime I can’t stop looking and can’t help the feelings that rise up inside of me.
This young woman, in perfectly stunning poses, talks about how her husband flew with her out to CO several times in the proceeding year so she could “take time to heal.” I picture them sitting on the balcony of some isolated mountain-top resort in bathrobes with cups of coffee talking through all of the hurts she has been through. Sounds nice. Then maybe they would have an extended spa-day and go to see some renowned Christian-therapist and talk about some lifestyle changes and a healing regiment. Go for long walks with no make-up and the perfect-top knot in high- waisted leggings (really, Audry? Because you’re 36 with 4 kids…) And I will still be here, with my mommy-pooch that would certainly not look good in high-waisted leggings, trying to afford a beach weekend, three hours away with my family. Trying to shake the feelings that I am missing out on being noticed, appreciated or having my own time in the Rocky Mountains to “heal”.
And I will try not to go upstairs and compare my own husband who is upset with me because I’ve been flaking out on my phone for the past hour, to this husband who took his wife to CO three times last year to help her “heal”. And these are the kinds of things that we can so often feel as mothers and wives and Christian women trying to make our way in this culture.
And then Rachel Hollis comes along.
And she tells us that we have to stop waiting for other people to notice or take care of us, and we need to start pushing forward, making ourselves a priority and going after our dreams and taking care of ourselves. She hands us an ice-cold glass of water in a dessert, packaged adorably, for the parched soul who has not been drinking the living water that her father has been offering her this whole time. The woman who has been neglecting the pursuit of finding her truest happiness in Christ alone. The woman like me. We who have fallen limp in the hard days of motherhood. And her message feels like a saving grace. And we see it everywhere, in Target and on our friend’s social media page, and in our heart of hearts we know that it’s deception.
I watched the first three minutes of Rachel Hollis’ documentary on Prime and I thought about it for days until I could come back and watch the whole thing, alone. And I listened to her book on 1.5 speed on Blinkist (an app that gives the main points). I have read what other women have had to say, and so by-and-large I have thoroughly absorbed her core message. I’ve even laughed at some of her YouTube video tutorials.
Some of her advice is just shallow and immature, but when we are floundering our way through our own lives, who are we to judge? At least her stuff feels real, colorful, nicely made and relatable. And that is what keeps us coming back.
But some women do more than just come back.
Some eat this advice ravenously because Rachel is offering the message that we have been dying to hear. She has created a bridge for us Christian woman to essentially do the same things we have (half critically, half jealously), watched other women do for years, but have ourselves refrained from. She offers the voice and the permission to go after our dreams, live lavishly, pursue what we want, and maybe even sprinkle a little Jesus on top.
“Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong, it is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” –Charles Spurgeon
These are the three areas I feel Rachel’s advice is most detrimental to women, and I’d also like to offer a godly alternative.
1. Drive forward- go after what you want.
This is a tricky, partial-truth, and one that we really need God’s word to slice through and divide joint and marrow, thoughts and attitudes of the heart. The way I see it is that this advice could be used for those times when we are delaying obedience to God or being downright disobedient to something God has made clear to us. Maybe we should be taking better care of our bodies. There is no time like the present, and no amount of complaining that will get the same results as action. There is a time to act, to move, to push through things that are hard, that we know we ought to be doing.
But on a grander scale, Hollis talks about going after your dreams that you have for your life, making the time and pushing forward. But here is what I see: We don’t always know exactly what we want, or what it looks like to get it. Pushing forward in our own limited strength, with our own skewed sense of direction leaves us vulnerable to our own missteps, and often very quickly exasperated.
I am part of a large women’s writing guild, and I see this all the time: women who have a vision, or a general sense of where they want to get to, but get tangled up in other people’s advice on how to get there. We can wind up following formulas rather than the one true God. Very few women know exactly what they want and how to go about getting it- and the ones who feel they do, are often very much mistaken about what this all will get them. A ticket to happiness this is not.
We need God to guide our steps and keep our priorities in line, period. Nothing else will “work”. Even if it looks like it’s working on Instagram.
2. Being pushy and pushing the important people away.
Pushing for your own way might get people to do what you want, but most will not like you.
In a day when people are screaming and shouting for their voices to be heard, climbing on each other’s backs for position- real affections are growing thin. Demanding your rights, speaking harshly, and being in-your-face, might make people cower down, but it will not fan the flame of affection or respect- especially with your spouse.
You might get everything that you think you want, but in the process, loose the affection and respect of those who are most important to you. Being brash does not get us all that we think it does. It leaves us hollow. There are priorities God calls us to as women, and if you need to brush up on these, read Titus 2. We should not push these people aside. Which leads me to #3…
3. The REAL, BEST things come from God.
Surrendering to Him and following His will was the biggest turning point in my life.
It flooded me with healing, peace and joy beyond what I knew possible. And can I share a secret? Now that I am older, have more possessions, a nicer house and stable income, I am no happier than I was when my soul was flourishing in Christ during harsh circumstances.
God is an equal opportunity employer when it comes to happiness. We hear it all the time and yet our soul still struggles to believe that we wouldn’t be happier if we had these earthly things that our (deceptive) hearts want more than anything.
“I may, I suppose, regard myself, or pass for being, as a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets–that’s fame. I can fairly easily earn enough to qualify for admission to the higher slopes of the Internal Revenue–that’s success. Furnished with money and a little fame even the elderly, if they care to, may partake of trendy diversions– that’s pleasure. It might happen once in a while that something I said or wrote was sufficiently heeded for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact on our time–that’s fulfillment. Yet I say to you — and I beg you to believe me–multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing–less than nothing, a positive impediment–measured against one draught of that living water Christ offers to the spiritually thirsty, irrespective of who or what they are.”
– Malcolm Muggeridge
Seek God first, sweet friend. He offers you everything you need.
I am there with you getting caught up at times wanting to be the woman in high-waisted jeans with the perfect top-knot, with a crap-load of adoring followers.
But deep down I know it is better to be the truly surrendered woman with the warm smile. The present woman who is available to talk with and pray with the people in my life around me. The real woman who can relate with feeling put-under by a constant parade of perfection on Instagram. Let’s not be the women burning ourselves out on the treadmill of our own self-made plans for perfection. Making an idol of all the wrong things.
I’m going to keep striving after Jesus, even if that means I grow impatient because this article might take me three days to write and publish because I will go upstairs to my husband who I know doesn’t sleep well without me beside him. I will choose to believe God’s priority for me as a wife over a writer. Because I’ve seen His goodness in the land of the living, and the beauty in the sacrificial, the little, the small, the humble.
The spark that comes into our eyes when we do the things that are hard and take work, not to be noticed, but rather because it is what God tells us- and we are putting our stock in eternity with Him. Not here, for ourselves.
When we are so tempted to put ourselves first, get swayed by celebrity Instagrams, or are dying to follow Rachel Hollis’ advice, it should be a sobering reminder that we are in desperate need of the love of our savior.
We need time with him. We need to be on our face praying and resting in his promise.
He has the way to happiness. The way to exalt the humble and humble those who exalt themselves.
Let’s not be the women weighed down by your own sin and thus swayed by all kinds of evil desires. If you are not joyful and content in Jesus, go to Him daily, beg, ask Him, and study His word. There is nothing new that is better than the simplicity of the gospel, and nothing better for you as a woman than adhering to God’s priorities.
Cling to Him, dear one. It is so much better than the deception flashing in front of your eyes.
“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”- Galatians 6:8
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