Rachel Held Evans.
A few years ago, I read A Year of Biblical Womanhood. It was funny. It was ironic. It helped me to see my Bible in a whole new way. It impacted me in profound and interesting ways.
What made an even greater impact, however, was Rachel herself. We had similar approaches to life, we both love the heck out of Jesus, but have our concerns about some of the ways some people interpret or misinterpret the Bible and we both have ended up crying hysterically on the kitchen floor. Multiple times.
She’s one of the first people to give me permission to be a Christian feminist, and to rail against the church, while at the same time, follow the Bible even more closely.
I’m sure, that had Mrs Evans even known who I am, we would have become fast friends.
More than her influence on me, she grandly affected the world at large. She threw people into a tailspin, those especially who didn’t like someone to stand up for womanhood, or to contradict their Biblical world view. She was egalitarian, meaning women and men are equal, and if you know anything about many Evangelical Christians, this point of view isn’t eagerly being accepted. After all, Paul clearly states in the New Testament that women should be quiet in church, and Timothy tells women to submit to their husbands and cover their heads. Rachel was one of the first people who helped me put words to my amorphous thoughts of contradicting the literal interpretation of these concepts.
At only 37, Rachel Held Evans was mom to a 3 and almost one year old. I am devastated thinking about how these sweet babes are no longer going to be able to learn about their mom from her own mouth. One small light is that since she left so many written words behind, they will be able to read her own thoughts and philosophies from her own hand. I can’t imagine my kiddlets losing me and not being able to influence their lives any longer.
When I first read one of Mrs Evans’s books, I was deep in the throes of early childhood parenting, which as anyone will tell you, is achingly exhausting, both mentally and physically. I said to myself then that I wanted to be like RHE when I grew up; I wanted to write books that would change people. I wanted to influence the world with my words. I couldn’t do it then, but now that my youngest is three, I’m working toward that goal. I put it off to parent, while she did her writing first, and then became a parent.
Her death made me realize how very short our lives here on Earth are. She thought she had plenty of time to raise her babies, just as I thought I would have plenty of time to write. What happened to her, a severe previously unknown reaction to antibiotics which resulted in her death, could just as easily happen to any one of us. She made the most of the time she had and used it to hugely influence the world with her beautiful heart.
I’m thankful for RHE, and hope I will be able to, in my small sphere, continue her work.