Tears of grief are running down my checks.
Tears of sadness and anger as well.
Disbelief. I feel disbelief and also like someone has knocked all of the wind out of me. Moments ago I read with incredible sadness that Rachel Held Evans has passed away.
She never met me, but I feel as though I knew this incredibly gifted lady personally. I had hoped to attend and meet her at a conference, in the somewhere distant future of tomorrow, but now that will never be.
Like so many others who have been touched by Rachel, I have spent the last several days praying for Rachel, waiting with anguish for the next health update, hoping the next one would bring good news of healing and mending. I have seen the outpouring of support for her, her family and her friends. I have contributed to the GoFund me page, which in itself is a testament to how many people Rachel reached with how quickly funds were raised.
We have lost a true believer, a fierce encourager, and a lovingly funny friend.
Because of Rachel, I found within myself that it was okay to question who I was and who God has made me to be. Through her writings, I found the courage to engage with religion and theology and to ask the questions about both as well as who God is and to ask the difficult questions to find out about what I believe.
Because of Rachel, I found a voice of my own and was able to preach to our congregation several times. Something that I never would have been able to do prior to this dear friend’s encouragement and understanding that I found in her writings.
Because of Rachel, I found the inspiration to strike out and write a blog of my own. Admittedly, this little blog is oftentimes neglected of late, but I still have hopes of being able to write more often. I always secretly wished in my heart of hearts that maybe one day Rachel would see one of my posts and hit the like button! And now more than ever, I want to bring the hope and love to others that I personally experienced with Rachel and her gifts with words and writing.
My heart is beyond broken for her husband and her two small, precious children who are now without the fierce love and protection of their mother. I can not even begin to imagine the pain and incredible strength and support it is going to take this dear little family to continue on without the earthly presence of their lioness mama there to encourage and care for them.
I am ANGRY. Creator God, why? Why could you not spare our dear sister Rachel to be here on this earth with us for more years? We can not comprehend God’s timing here.
I think of those who worked closely with her, Sarah Bessey and Nadia Bolz-Weber to name just two, and grieve for their aching loss as well. These women have also been an inspiration to me, but I don’t know that I would have ever found them if it hadn’t been for Rachel.
Rachel, eshet chayil! Thank you for helping me find within myself a woman of valor. Your example of strength and humor live on in your writings. Thank you for this precious gift. It is my hope that someday I can help carry on the work that you have begun here on earth. Writing, preaching and teaching to inspire other women to seek and live out who God is calling each of them to be.
You helped so many in your short time here. Fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. Seeking justice and reconciliation for all.
Rest easy, my sweet friend and beloved mentor! Your work here is done.
Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon Rachel. May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.