By Elizabeth Prata
“Feelings are a bunch of monkeys. Our feelings are not bulletins from the Holy of Holies.”
And just like that, Rachel Jankovic’s new book “You Who?: Why You Matter & How To Deal With It” is off and running. Oh and by the way, she first mentions sin on page TWO. Take that, every other feelings-laden, soft-sell, ‘messy lives’ snowflake books.
Because, Rachel’s new book isn’t for the easily melted. Then again, it is. It’s for every woman who claims Christ. It’s a straight shot across the bow to all the carefully contrived me-oriented schemas, constructs, and operating theories women in Christendom have been presented with, (I’m talking to you, Lifeway & Ladies Ministry) and a good deal more. But I get ahead of myself.
Here is the official blurb of this upcoming book*, slated for publication on January 15. Canon Press is the publisher and you can also buy from Amazon.
If “Who am I?” is the question you’re asking, Rachel Jankovic doesn’t want you to “find yourself” or “follow your heart.”
Those lies are nothing to the confidence, freedom, and clarity of course that come with knowing what is actually essential about you. And the answer to that question is at once less and more than what you are hoping for.
Christians love the idea that self-expression is the essence of a beautiful person, but that’s a lie, too. With trademark humor and no nonsense practicality, Rachel Jankovic explains the fake story of the Self, starting with the inventions of a supremely ugly man named Sartre (rhymes with “blart”). And we–men and women, young and old–have bought his lie of the Best Self, with terrible results.
Thankfully, that’s not the end of our story, You Who: Why You Matter and How to Deal with It takes the identity question into the nitty gritty details of everyday life. Here’s the first clue: Stop looking inside, and start planting flags of everyday faithfulness. In Christianity, the self is always a tool and never a destination.
When do we start being us? The existentialist will say we become who we are when we start knitting together our actions that create the story of our identity. Our identity is all about ‘our story.’ The Christian woman should say, as Jankovic explains, that “our valuations are built in a completely different foundation. Who you believe does the creating makes all the difference. Which creator do we honor?”
In asking the question ‘Who am I?’ we are really asking the question ‘Who is my God?’ Knowing, understanding, and living the answer to that question correctly gives the Christian woman relief and joy. Jankovic expertly outlines how to achieve that relief, and it’s not in what we do, but knowing who we are.
Rachel’s contention is that we have no practical idea of what makes us who we are, because we have absorbed too much of the world and its philosophies. As we grow up we adopt titles of identities that have either been thrust on us or that we take on ourselves. “Carefree grrrrl”, or “The Fashionista” or “The Nerd” might satisfy for the moment, but they are a lie. Why? Because they are only temporary. We outgrow the youthful grrrl and become a mom, or an employee, or a boss. But God never changes. When we find our identity in Him, we rest satisfied because we know and are known, unchangeable, no matter the temporary worldly title our family or the world might put on us.
Rachel punctures every misnomer, every misapplication, every fad (like the Christian fad telling us women “You’re a princess”) attempting to be the terminus identity. Defining ourselves by man-made categories simply gets between us and Christ.
Here is an example of her explosive language drilling down to the main point of our Christian identity as women:
Jesus Christ did not come into the world and die so that you might live. That is only the partial truth, the truth that skips all the action. Jesus Christ came to this earth, struggled, suffered, and died so that you might die.
I have to say, as a matter of personal preference and bias, I don’t enjoy podcasts, from men or women. I don’t enjoy interviews and very few Q&A’s. I’m not a fan of banter, filler, giggling, or circuitous points. I participated in Rachel’s DVD seminars, which is comprised of hours of her talking and us listening/watching via a flat screen. The Valley Girl accent that so many millennials have these days, the rabbit trail points, and verbal tics are very distracting. Like?…like?…like… you know what I mean, like?
I am of the opinion that if one wants to have a speaking career, one should speak clearly and concisely. This skill is directly taught to pastors in Homiletics classes. But it seems that anyone with an internet connection who decides to launch a podcast (as Rachel has) or embarks on a speaking career does so without a minimum benchmark most people learn in high school speech classes. There IS such a thing as adhering to a minimum standard of craftsmanship. I’ll expand on this point in another blog essay but for now let me admit that when I was handed Rachel’s book, though obviously highly intelligent, based on her speaking persona I wasn’t expecting much.
I’m thrilled to say that not only were my expectations on her writing craftsmanship exceeded, but I’m actually blown away by the book’s brilliance.
I appreciated Rachel’s continual turning to Jesus as the answer. She urges total submission and makes a clear point about just what that answer is (and it’s more than being a “Princess”). There is not a hint of eisegesis, narcissism, or me-centered, self-esteem, pop psychology so often present in the glut of books flooding the Christian publishing market today.
Sin was stated as sin, not ‘brokenness’ or ‘messiness’ or ‘mistakes’. Rachel never whitewashes who we are as sinners but continually points to Christ. She offers practical, optimistic responses that slay the philosophies we have been pummeled with in the Christian publishing industry for the last 20-odd years. Rachel is skilled at mounting up responses and excuses to women use to rebut her points but then blowing them all away like the milkweed they are. When the title says ‘how to deal with it’, it means it.
Rachel spends a good deal of the book focusing on giving God glory. What glory is and how to express it. And that expression is never more glorious and God-honoring than when we obey. We are never more our true selves than when we obey God’s word.
Rachel shows restraint in using personal anecdotes and momisms. As any good preacher knows, illustrations are a double edged sword. Once you start making an illustration on which to revolve your sermon, you’ve lost any demographic that doesn’t identify with it. Rachel uses few, but they are sprinkled in to the chapters at just the right moments.
Now, don’t run away when I say this, but Rachel begins with an examination of various philosophies, such as nihilism, cognitive psychology, and in a lengthy treatment, existentialism. I’ve always had a hard time wrapping my mind around these philosophies, but Rachel does a brilliant job of making a practical analysis of how they compare to Christianity, specifically, Christian identity. Yet for all its weighty themes, it is a highly readable book. I read it in just a few days.
“You Who? Why You Matter & How To Deal With It” is an important addition to the Christian woman’s bookshelf, and one I believe is a “must read.”
*Oganizers of the Jankovic DVD seminars were offered a pre-publication advanced reader copy of this book, with a request if so accepting, to also write a review of the book. No expectation was given as to the type of review nor its content. This review was completed without influence of any kind.