Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eshet chayil, Rachel Held Evans!!!!

I was driving across the country with a friend, reading a book. She wasn't even necessarily interested in the book, but that didn't stop me from regularly stopping her in the middle of singing her favorite songs so that I could read sections aloud of this book that was changing my life. Reading this book was a spiritual experience. As I shouted and agreed wholeheartedly with this author I could actually feel the chains falling from around me. The book was called Evolving in Monkey Town and was written by an author I had just started following on FB, Rachel Held Evans. I can't even remember now who told me that I absolutely HAD to read this book, but they were right.

After reading Monkey Town, I started following Rachel's blog. She is funny and insightful. She had a deep love for the scriptures, but was willing to wrestle through the questions she had of them. She stood up for tough issues of injustice throughout the church and Christendom. She was a bit of a rebel to my evangelical mind :) Her posts caused me to think....deeply. Often times the truths she presented were ones that I had tossed around in my own mind and heart, but hadn't been able to fully articulate.

As you probably know, after life came crashing down in 2010, I was left with nothing more than my Lord. For months, He was my only companion and I didn't have a whole to do....so I read my Bible. Between Mid November and the end of the year, I had read through the Bible once. I read through it a second time before April of 2011 hit and through once more before the end of the year. This time spent reading the scriptures changed my view of God. I began to see the character of God more than individual stories that I needed to learn from. I saw Jesus as scandalous. I saw how He stood up for the oppressed and how He treated women with honor. I began to rethink some of the boxes I had put Jesus in....some of the chains that I had wrapped around my Savior. Rachel's posts helped me uncover the chains and bravely walk into freedom.

One of the things I appreciate most about Rachel Held Evans is her humility. When she introduces a concept, it is firstly because she has wrestled with it personally. She wrestles with it, researches it, studies profusely and then pours out her heart. She does this not with an assertion that she has, above everyone else, discovered the ONLY answer and the best way. Instead, she gently and carefully lays out her impeccable research and the conclusions she has drawn. She never asserts that people who don't agree with her are idiots, unbelievers or who hate God or women or anyone else. She understands the intricacies of Scripture and how difficult it is to unpack great spiritual truths amidst cultural considerations to find the heart of God. She understand that other brilliant minds, with the same research available to them might search out the scriptures and come to a different conclusion and she honors that - applauds it even! She understands that we are a Body...a family...and that each of us might learn from the other parts of this wide array that is the Christian family.

She does all of this with a deep love for God's word, His people and His spirit at work amongst each of us. And somehow....as she writes....I feel free to pursue my Jesus and His word more deeply. I feel unhindered by the many boxes of religion and find myself in the story of His grace. I find myself less afraid of the questions and the confusion that the Bible sometimes causes. Without the chains, I am able to interact with the Bible that is living and active. I dance with the living, breathing word of God. I wrestle with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Today, I join with others in celebrating Rachel and saying Eshet chayil! You are truly a Woman of valor!  Thank you for living so bravely so that so many of us may be free! 

Just so ya know....today Rachel's new book releases:  A Year of Biblical Womanhood and I will be buying it tomorrow :) In it, she wrestles with the concept of "Biblical Womanhood" that is thrown about like a role to be played, a job description to be either lived up to or to fail miserably at. Womanhood and especially Biblical womanhood are much more complicated than a simple set of rules.  Would you like to join me in reading this together?

PS: You should definitely start reading RHE's blog. My favorite series is her series on Mutuality. I literally read most of these pieces with tears running down my face as the chains fell from my heart.