I am struggling to find the appropriate words I feel at the passing of Rachel Held Evans. She passed unexpectedly due to medical issues on Saturday, May 4th. I have felt big feelings. Tears have been shed. I have found myself asking “Why?” Now, before my super conservative friends attack me, I didn’t agree with everything she said and wrote. My heart aches for her husband and two small children, ages 1 and 3. My heart aches for her family, friends and her readers. My heart aches for those who could read her blog and books and shouted “Me too!”
Why you may ask? Why would her passing affect me at the level it has? Well, I’ll tell you. She understood. She understood what it was to question everything you believe. She understood what it meant to truly struggle with the conservative faith you grew up with. She understood what it meant to look at everything you’ve been taught and question the “Why” behind it all. She made it ok to ask questions. She made it ok to not to be ok with everything you’ve been taught. I felt like I had an ally when I read her stuff. “Searching for Sunday” and “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” let me know that I wasn’t alone in what I think and feel.
Y’all, it has been a season of stupid hard. It has been a season of questioning everyone and everything. It has been a season where I am certain of almost nothing. I know and still believe the basic tenants of my faith, but have questioned just about everything else. It was good and a relief to see I’m not alone in questioning all that I’ve been taught. I’ve had and still have friends who have walked a seasoning of questioning. There are things Rachel has posted over the years that have made me scream ” Yes” and “Amen.” When I read her blog and books I didn’t feel any guilt for questioning. She made it feel completely normal.
By society’s standards, I am very much a conservative. By Rachel’s standard’s I am completely normal and human. Again, while I may not agree with everything she wrote and said, she was a fighter for the underdog. She fought for social justice and those who were under-served or ignored. I don’t feel like a second class citizen simply because I am female. I don’t feel like I have to take a step back because I am female. I have a voice and I am worth voicing my opinions even though I am a woman. I am not stupid for asking questions. I am stronger because I will acknowledge I have those questions.
It sucks she is gone. A strong voice has been silenced. An incredible activist is gone. An ally is gone. She was one of a kind. I honestly don’t understand how she is gone. It’s weird to feel this way about the death of someone I have never heard or met in person. I’m grateful to have her books and her Facebook page to go back and read. I can only hope, we as women, continue to love and support each other. I hope we can look at each other and let each other know it’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to struggle with our faith. It’s ok to look at another women and support each other through the stupid hard times. It’s ok to not land in the same place as those who taught us as children.
The loss of Rachel Held Evans was big. No, we don’t feel it in the same way her husband, children, family and close friends feel it, but we still feel it. I still don’t understand all the whys as to to why I feel the way I do, but I don’t apologize for feeling what I do. I hope in this time we can stick together as women and friends and allow for the big feelings, along with allowing the questions to come. Ask the questions. Say what you think. Say what you are feeling. You are not alone in any of it. We all hit times of questioning everything. As long as you don’t leave the basic tenants of you believe and the main things are still the main things, it’s going to be ok. Let the tears fall. Ask the stupid, hard questions. Grieve the loss of Rachel. The Lord will understand. He will bring us to the place we need to be. He will see us through. The Lord will eventually give us the answers to the questions we desperately need to ask.