I’m sitting here this morning drinking my coffee. Billie Eilish is playing on Spotify and the dogs are getting settled in for their first morning nap.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Rachel Held Evans. She was a writer and speaker in the Christian community and she recently passed away at 37 years old. I really was only vaguely familiar with her writings…honestly, I was just familiar enough with her to decide I didn’t really care to hear much of what she had to say. Depending on which direction you lean, she could be quite controversial. She was very outspoken in the areas of racism and feminism, as well as a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community.
And I had no doubt that she and I would not see eye to eye on anything. Ever.
I decided though to start reading one of Rachel’s book this week called Searching for Sunday. I bought it a while back around the time that I first left my church, but for whatever reason, I never did read it. Actually, I’d completely forgotten I had it until I went online to buy it and realized I already owned it.
What’s funny is that this morning, upon scrolling Facebook, it showed me a status that I’d posted five years ago today. It went like this:
You can call me conservative, close-minded, or backwards. You can call me intolerant, lame, or stupid. Call me whatever you want…it makes no difference. The only thing that matters is that HE calls me daughter, and really He’s the only One I’m living to please.
Boy. I knew then what I believed and why I believed it and I didn’t have a whole lot of space in my brain for anything else. (insert strong fist pound on table here)
Five years later, I’d like to think that I’ve changed and grown. I know in some ways, I have. I’d also like to think that I’m still so sure of myself, but the reality is that I’m not.
Honestly, my first reaction sometimes is still to bristle at things that go against those beliefs I’ve always held dear. That thing in me that wants to stand up and fight for what’s right is most certainly still there. I still have very little tolerance for the misuse of God’s word and for allowing “feelings” to trump what I know to be truth. But over time, I’ve also come to realize that sometimes there can be a bit of a gray area where truth is concerned because it’s very easy to confuse God’s truth with my own.
As I’ve been reading Rachel’s book, I’m realizing that she and I weren’t so different in our thought processes. It made me a little sad that I hadn’t picked her book up sooner. But then, maybe if I’d read it sooner, before I’d started my own “search for Sunday,” then I likely wouldn’t have heard what she had to say. Timing is everything I guess. And while I don’t necessarily I agree with her in every aspect, I have seen a new perspective…a kinder one. Toward others and towards myself.
I’ve been in a processing mode for the last few years. Going back and forth between a soft and a hard heart, between anger and sadness, between listening and being closed off. Trying to be more loving, more welcoming, more willing to hear, but not knowing exactly how to go about that without what I felt was a betrayal to myself and what I knew to be right and true. Blanket accusations made me angry, but then I’ve realized that I’ve gotten pretty cynical with my own accusatory glares.
So here I’ve landed. Wrestling somewhere between trying to stay the course while also getting over myself. It’s been a good and awful trip getting here. And I know there’s more road to be traveled.
On a side note, we left our church again. I mean, I guess you could call it that. I don’t know that I was ever completely convinced we were supposed to go back when we did. We went there because it seemed like the natural place to go because it’s the place we left to begin with, but deep down it just didn’t feel like home anymore. We aren’t really going anywhere right now, although we do watch different churches online here and there, but none I’d call home.
Right now church for me looks like conversations with a dear friend waiting in the carpool line or at the coffee shop. Or Thursday night Bible study with some of the sweetest souls I’ve ever known. Or laughing with my out-of-town sister-friend at the salon while she gets her hair done during a quick visit home. Or poking through my little garden in the backyard in wonder at the beginnings of things growing in the sun. God’s in all those places.
And right now, I’m trying to put aside all my own notions and just listen to Him. And be more honest with myself. And make some space for different perspectives.
And so my own search for Sunday continues…
How about you? Are you feeling out of place or a little off center? Are there things you’re seeing differently or completely new right now?
Also, if you have a moment, say a prayer for Rachel’s family. Her death was sudden and she leaves behind a husband and two children and many others who loved her dearly.