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Sunday, May 19, 2019

One Thing Survivors of Abuse Wish Everyone Knew

“Just a friendly reminder that abusers don’t abuse everyone they come in contact with, so placing doubt on victims based on your experience with that person is irresponsible and unkind. Thanks.” (credit, Give Her Wings)
How do you like that? Some people, perhaps many, might not get it. They may think this is witch-hunt language. But please remember though; this is not about the abuser.
It’s about the victim of abuse, who would prefer not to have any sort of spotlight on them at all—but finds they face daemonic dilemmas because of the evil that was cast against them. And even if it was about the abuser, please remember, those who profit through abuse have mastered a suite of skills in image management.
I have personally had friends (good friends) tell me that my abusers were fine people; or, that they’d changed. What I hear them saying is, my experience of the person or persons we both know is invalid. Without my experience of abuse I can agree; strip away the wickedness that was done and I’m with them. But I cannot undo what was done, as much as I would if I could. And, if ‘they’d changed’ how is that even remotely relevant to me unless the person who abused me sought me out to reconcile and restitute matters?
I’ve had many people come to see me in a professional capacity who have been gaslit and never knew about it until I showed them what it was. They knew they’d been harmed by others they knew who hadn’t even abused them, purely through their belief in what an abuser had told them, and convincingly so.
The common experience for the survivor of abuse is an almost unequivocal lack of support, or a total lack of support from those who really mattered.
But it’s not just what the bystander says. It’s what they don’t say that’s possibly the most damaging. If you’re a bystander, what you’re being told may seem fanciful and off-the-wall, but your trust of another person’s experience is foundational for their support, recovery and growth.
What God is asking of you is hold on in faith, believe the person in faith, add your hope to their despair, listen and do not judge; don’t vouch for the other person’s this-or-that. That’s not your role in this instant.
Your role is to sit with the person you know has an even mind and a fair heart overall. Your role is as a steward as you hold them and their experience. Your role—if you have the guts for it—is to still the moment, guard your speech, pique your ear, harden no part of your heart, and aim to be God in skin.
The person who has suffered abuse has either legal recourse or they don’t; either way, they just want support. If there’s no legal recourse, there’s no need to defend the abuser, because you can simply hold one person’s experience of this person as a truth without them being marred. You’re not marring them, are you? So don’t worry about it. Now, if there’s legal recourse, the person may still face (or has faced) the matters they’re accused of.
Do you see how defending someone who has allegedly abused the person in your presence is irrelevant at best and irresponsible and unkind at worst? Do you see that some of the people you know, who have never abused you, can possibly have abused others? It needs to be held as a possibility.
One thing I find is true is that the abused person sees something post-abuse that people, until they’re abused, don’t readily see. Abuse opens our eyes to evil in this world. We begin to believe its prevalence. Until we’ve suffered abuse, we don’t really know what people who have suffered abuse are contending with.
As someone who has experienced systems of abuse, I want those who abuse people to learn what it feels like to be abused.
This is not to say that I want people to suffer abuse, but what I do say is that we often cannot possess the empathy required until our own hearts have experienced the schism of abuse. Then, we’re all ears, all heart, and more even handed.

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Please respect my body, mind and soul

As I held my son’s body safe on a boat recently, God showed me something incredibly important. Those hands of mine, in that moment, had much power; power for safety to hold his body from falling into the water, and power to damage him, through inappropriate hand use and positioning.
To some of you, this will seem dangerously obvious; the image I set before you won’t be lost on you at all! But it’s not something as a father that I’d thought of much before. As I think back to my days as a father of my now-grown daughters, I don’t think it ever occurred to me, and yet the world’s focus wasn’t on sexual abuse at that time.
I have never abused anyone sexually, nor have I ever suffered sexual abuse, but somehow it’s always on my radar now; the use of my hands and my observations of others’ hands. I’m easily suspicious of people’s actions with their hands. I have learned something important about how subtle sexual abuse is—or at least how subtly it can start.
What God showed me in this vision was the heaviness in the nuances and subtleties of physical abuse that occurs sexually—those odious transgressions that can seem to sneak up on the victim as they realise just the depth of betrayal a person’s hands (or body) have delivered on them. It’s a mind that believes they’ll get away with it that does such a thing; or, a mind that doesn’t care. Either way, it’s evil.
Every vulnerable person’s prayer is that their body, mind and soul would be respected. And we’re all vulnerable to abuse. We may not know that we’re vulnerable until we’re in a situation where we’re taken advantage of.
Any of us at any time can find ourselves in a situation where we might be taken advantage of; where a perpetrator of abuse would take a power they ought not take and execute a control they ought not have.
Beyond the grooming which is deeply and darkly spiritual, sexual abuse is promulgated initially as a physical betrayal, but it grips us viscerally, takes command of our mind, and rips up our soul.
What everyone deserves—and I do use the word ‘deserve’ cautiously—is respect for their body, mind and soul. Everyone deserves the right of appropriate touch. Nobody should ever be touched or handled in a way that leaves them feeling crossed. Every single touch or contact with others ought to carry with it the kind of permission that leaves you in no doubt whatsoever that the other person feels absolutely respected. Most of the time there is no need to touch another person. So why do some people do it in situations where touch is marginal at best?
Perhaps the greatest blessing we can give people—anyone we interact with—is to ensure we respect their body, and in that we respect their mind and soul. Of course, we ought also to appreciate we’re all far deeper than merely our bodies. Our minds and our mortal soul needs respecting too.
As we respect each other’s bodies and entire beings, viewing each other as the creations of God that we are, we agree to live freely all the moments we’re given, and in this expanse of freedom, we have peace, hope and joy in loving one another.
So, our very first living duty is to respect the being of other people. And others’ first duty is to respect ours. This is first and foremost the respect of our body, our mind, our soul. To love one another is the respect of body, mind and soul.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Bond of a Toxic Bondage

It isn’t always easy to break a toxic relationship. The toxic binds are strong, which is no wonder why people cannot easily extract themselves. Understand this and you can support someone who’s a victim of domestic violence. But fail to understand this and we become complicit in victim blaming.
One or both parties may desire such a breakage not occur. It’s easy to see how a damaged party sees something in their partner that makes their hearts break for them, even if others close by are left scratching their heads.
And, of course, there are many perpetrators of violence who are otherwise charming and emotionally engaged at times, but who prove through their actions that they cannot sustain a way of living which is tenable for safe, reliable, trustworthy relationship.
For the perpetrator of violence—and let’s be clear, there is not just physical violence, but emotional, verbal, spiritual, financial etc—there is a clear need of supply in their relationship with the oppressed. They need the relationship to continue and sometimes will go to extraordinary measures to ensure it continues. Some perpetrators of violence will pretend it doesn’t bother them, but it always does. Their weaknesses they parade as strengths.
Toxic situations of relationship certainly can occur through both parties firing off each other, but there is always one who will take matters too far, and violence is the poignant example.
The bond of a toxic bondage is strong, like all matters accorded to a bond we liken to love. Such a bond is hard to break, no matter how obvious it seems it’s broken and damaging to the increase. Such a bond is strong because it’s habit-formed where two people are enjoined in their identity—this is all the more tragic, because the victim of violence must enter a complicated grief just to extract themselves, and that’s often just the start of the challenges that beset them.
There is a bond of a toxic bondage. The toxicity that emerges between two people, usually because one is abuser and the other is the victim—even if the abuser gaslights the victim by saying they themselves are the victim—is a bondage, which is not the same as a bond. The bondage is a toxic cycle. The bond could be good if it weren’t for the cycle of bondage.
For the victim there can be the appreciation that this is complicated and such complications mean ending a relationship they may not want to end is problematic. In some ways because they don’t want to end it. In some ways because the partner may not want to end it. In some ways because of the habits of identity they’ve nurtured in each other—that the pain of staying together, whilst painful, may seem less painful than separating.
But my experience is toxic situations just get worse, despite hopes partners may have that the situation would improve, and where there is abuse, the situation will not get better.
If you are subject to a pattern of violence in your relationship, your relationship is untenable. Be wise, bite the bullet, enter the grief, and hope is inevitable. But sustain the pattern by staying in it at your own peril. Get support. Get people behind you, and get out. But stay safe.
The only recourse the perpetrator of abuse has is the successful completion of a program of recovery (12 months to two years) where transformation has occurred to the end of sustained behaviour change.
It really doesn’t matter how great the good parts of a relationship are if abuse features in any of it.

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Christian leaders and spiritual abuse of power

I cannot withhold this, with which God’s Spirit speaks through me today, through yesterday’s experience, for present and future relevance, for the sake of eternal lives.
I see in my social media feed and in the real world too many instances of ‘well-meaning’ Christian leaders who use their power to spiritually abuse people; to usurp people of their own capacity and voice. Just because we are all media radio and television stations nowadays should alert us to the tremendous power we all wield.
Not every wielding is for God’s glory.
Not every wielding is of God’s will.
And not every wielding is of God’s truth and love.
Sometimes we wield our power in deference to God’s enemy, even as we lord it over the vulnerable.
It would be far better for a Christian leader to imagine that their wielding of power runs cross-grain against the purposes of the gospel.
It would be far better for a Christian leader to imagine that they themselves have direct capacity to spiritually abuse people. Then there would be the fear the Lord.
How is it that a Christian leader can parade their new converts before the world, as if, in a few short hours they have reckoned miraculous ministry in another person’s life. This work of God is reckoned in people over the weeks and months and years. Let’s not be fly-by-nighters. Let’s not post our videos and photos of the vulnerable on Facebook, as if, “Look at me, who, through my gifting and my love, this ‘poor’ person has been saved; aren’t they so blessed by me and what I’ve given them today!”
Or, how can it be that a Christian leader would so parade such an obvious paucity of morality? And, to bring others along in that sin! So many people are reluctant to call out what appears to them as personally abhorrent. It seems easier to go with the flow.
There is more narcissism in Christian leaders than the Holy Spirit when we wield our power for our glory and praise. We  ought to repent of such despicable acts.
If we wish to evangelise, and to pastorally care for others, to equip people for the spiritual life, we ought to do these things in private with the sincerest humility, counting it the highest honour to do those things; which, like everything thought, said and done, is in full view of heaven.
The less we speak of these things, the more glory we give to God, the less credit we take personally, the more we wish others to be increased and we ourselves to be decreased, the more riches we sow in heaven.
Any and every Christian leader
has either bordered on
or actually committed offences
of spiritual abuse.
This is why I’m so indebtedly thankful for the ministry of reconciliation. There are countless times when I have overstepped or understepped the mark; where I have missed the mark.
Only by God's good grace—where I have discerned it, for there are many times I haven’t—have I been able to repent and reconcile situations as best as I could.
As Christian leaders, we have far more potential
to damage people than we realise.
Indeed, we have far more capacity to damage people than we have to restore them, for we damage them from our lack of God, when we run rogue of God in our own strength, and we only restore them in the power of God, which we tap into far less than is desired.
We should grieve this state of affairs, not that we willingly bear what’s depressive so much as to willingly bear the weight and burden of our calling.
I don’t know how many times I’ve said to God, “Why did you call me? I don’t want this!” Anyone who thinks this calling is to a life of privilege and of constant victory and of any concept of ecstasy is not worthy of the calling in my view.
Sorry if this seems harsh. Doing God’s work is the hardest thing to do because of our humanity.
We can only do such a work with any notion of blessing when we do it in the full knowledge of our fallenness and our capacity to do things ‘for God’ out of selfish gain.
Do you see the paradox. Who would covet the role of God’s minister? Those who covet the role can be the most dangerous.
The reluctant minister, however, has had their character equipped for holy work, for they have put practices into place that mortify daily and by the moment their predilection to sin.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Two very different Mother’s Days

On the same day, in the same family, two very different experiences; one joyous without a care, the other full of turmoil and grief.
Not that all mothers who ‘should’ be joyous are, for some experiences of Mother’s Day are hellish even when we have every reason to be grateful.
We feel a very close bond with mothers and fathers who have lost children, or who haven’t yet had children, or have struggled or do struggle to fall pregnant. Mother’s Day can be agonising for them. There is an emotional emptiness borne within them that makes their heart’s sick, and there is nothing we can do to help other than to validate the lonely, grievous experience and to sit there with them if they would allow us.
Like all “Day’s”, there are those that hate them for what they themselves are reduced to, for the pain they bear, alone and unacknowledged, and for the hopes that once again lay dashed on the rocks of a hard life.
Then there are those who feel guilty for the joy they should feel, because there is some sense of confusion for what should be felt, but isn’t. That’s a whole other story that can, at times, feel grossly unfair—“I shouldn’t be feeling like this! I don’t understand!” This is all too normal!
Others are on top of the world; a Mother’s Day of the Ages. But soon the day slips into the oblivion of experience and there is even morning that, like birthdays, these halcyon experiences just don’t last.
And, there are so many families where the highs and lows of heaven and hell are experienced on the same day, even under the same roof! All this within the ambit of human experience.
Whatever we feel on Mother’s Day, and especially if your experience is lonely and unacknowledged, my prayer is you feel the love of the Lord of your creation.
He loves you with a love that transcends all human love and all human experience.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The essence of narcissism

I know, I know, it’s the most overused term these days: narcissism. But let’s consider the ancient Scriptures of Sirach 11:2…
It says, “Do not praise individuals for their good looks, or loathe anyone because of their appearance alone.”
There is an inherent folly in the trust of appearance, because appearances are deceptive. The essence of narcissism is appearance. And the narcissist knows that they can fool the world through the maintenance of appearance alone. What makes them sociopathic and even psychopathic is their givenness to these traits of deception.
They even deceive themselves.
That person who maintains trust through appearance, who manicures a beautifully presented reputation, who will do anything to maintain it, even to the extent of burning anyone who dares to question their validity, who puts tremendous stock in what people think of them, is a pattern narcissist.
Their image is everything. Even to the point that they have mastered such softness of heart at the surface that often has some of the most discerning counsellors fooled. They appear to have empathy. They have full command of their emotions, and regulate them according to the needs of the situation. They manipulate our heartstrings. It’s their job. It’s as if they were made for the maintenance of appearance. Little wonder, really, that they are grief-stricken at the merest accusation that they are anything but the paragon of Christian character. The more we read about such a person, the more we are given to doubting that there is any Christian character left in all of the copse of humanity.
We’re left with a problem. How on earth are we to tell between the narcissist who seems perfect, and the mature Christian who we might think would look perfect. This is where we’re easily duped.
The mature Christian doesn't look perfect at all.
Indeed, they glory in their pattern imperfectness, as they point to the One who is glorified in all perfection.
They who are mature have nothing left to prove and nothing left to gain. They are entirely comfortable being entirely vulnerable. They who add nothing to their salvation know above knowing the value in the fruit of repentance. Their engagement in repentance is the surest sign of their maturity.
But then we are left with the common problem: we are ever quickly deceived, and devastatingly so, in the entrapment we find ourselves bound to; in all manner the circumstances and varying situations we find ourselves, and especially within codependency.
The essence of narcissism is image projection
amid image fascination
amid image protection
amid image sanctification.
See what I mean? Everything is about image. And when everything is about image, nothing is about reality, and there is no integrity between the image and the fruit of one’s behaviour. It’s a complete mismatch.
Whenever we find ourselves in a relationship with someone who has a preoccupation with their image we will always be the loser, because they must serve the image, because it has become their idol. And idols always require sacrifices.
And if we don’t protect and nurture a positive image—no matter how false it is—we have limited value, no matter how much we’re told we are loved. Their image is more important than we are. And you will know how conditional their love is by how quickly you are thrown under a bus when you say or do anything that might impact on their image.
If you have found that your feedback or criticism of a certain someone has generated vindictiveness on their part, watch out, because if they are narcissistic, you are the one who will lose. They exist for themselves, and are never willingly beaten. They see ‘win/lose’ when we’re wondering what all the fighting’s about.
They have no insight, and
have no desire to grow in insight.
They exist that you might have insight of their brilliance, their specialness, their Jesus-likeness. But what unravels image from reality is reality itself. They aspire to something completely beyond them, because they never recognise that spiritual brilliance, specialness, and Jesus-likeness occurs through weakness and vulnerability. The narcissist has long rejected these qualities, but they know the value in weaponising the image that these qualities bear.
They know the power of charisma of projecting a persona of weakness and vulnerability so others may be won over.
As I said, appearances are deceptive. And the world is full of such trickery. If you want to know who the trustworthy are, observe it in them by their willingness to be seen as weak, as wrong, as learners, as growers, as listeners, and as friends.
Observe how many people trust them. Observe the longevity of their relationships. Observe what grounded, trustworthy others say about them who have known them for a long time.
Above all, view everyone through the lens of image. The person who puts their own image above the treatment of others is dangerous. And anyone who goes to war to protect a person’s image indicates how insidious the system of narcissism is.

Photo by David Taffet on Unsplash

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dwelling Safely in the Privacy of Suffering

I like to be honest. I see no sense in putting on a mask. There is no encouragement to the masses in conquest without pain. But this is something God gave me in the privacy of my own anguish recently. I thought it worthy of transparency and sharing.
There is an invective spiritual force that hates us, and the more we draw near to God, the more this force endears itself to our ruin. And if you read that to your distaste, maybe this article isn’t for you. But anyone given to spiritual attack—given occasionally to the censures of spiritual warfare—will agree; it comes in the matter of a soul suffering that punishes our cause of good but for a time.
This article is about staying safe when we’re under the spell of that kind of torment—the private suffering that many are given to, but that so many do not feel comfortable talking about, let alone expressing with candour.
There have been many times in my life when I felt overwhelmed spiritually, to the point of some temporary madness. Not that I was insane. Each time I’ve been very well aware in my own mind that I was still very sane, but that I had far less control over my visceral faculties than I wished to have. This is a scary place to be, even for a short time, because the thoughts we have can be abjectly dangerous, and those thoughts might be acted out.
What do we do when we’re beside ourselves in suffering; a malady not of our own prescription and always a condition that leaves us strewn from even our own understanding?
These are private sufferings we hardly share with anyone. There might be a marriage partner who may know, but so frequently in life many people who suffer in ways that feel shameful or especially weak (not saying it is) never feel they can confide about their anguish. This just gives the shame more power.
It is remarkably normal for any and all of us to suffer in ways that feel inherently shameful. We feel guilty for a whole range of reasons, few of which are genuinely logical.
This needs to be remembered. By far and away the most common thing I do in the counselling space is to reassure people they’re normal. I can tell you that I’ve  felt and done things when I’ve suffered that I’d hardly feel comfortable sharing publicly.
But the fact is these need to be shared openly
such that people could see that
we’re all normal until you get to know us!
Few people go through life without having experienced some kind of dark night of the soul, and those who do have probably been active in their denial.
If we’ve suffered to such a degree that our behaviour is a tightly kept secret, because of the shame it induces, we need to be reminded that this suffering is very common.
Suffering is a common feature of our humanity,
especially when we’re pushed beyond our limits.
What is most important and most transformational at one and the same time is something that should be remembered at the time when we most need it: to hear God say in our lament, “Go gently, sweet son/daughter, this too shall pass, and you will soon be resurrected from what overwhelms you, so hold fast to gentleness as you pass through the storm.”

Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Reconciling the Mixed Fortunes of Life

Rejoicing and mourning in any 24-hour period is within the remit of life.
A colleague of mine said recently, “Heaven is constantly weeping and rejoicing at the same time.” (Thanks, Steve Frost)
I once had a conversation with a parishioner who had one sibling announce she was pregnant moments before another sibling announced their partner had miscarried.
Or, the time it was confided to me (a long time ago) by a mother that they had one child marry, and another child announce they were being divorced the following weekend.
Life requires us to balance the juxtaposition of praise and despair, rejoicing and weeping, ecstasy and trauma, and anyone in a helping profession will find that reality visits their postcode regularly.
Life doesn’t seem fair, but as I told a family member recently, the wheels of justice turn slowly in life, but they do in fact turn. Justice does come to the one who is faithful and diligent amid paralysing despair and hopelessness.
The Bible tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)
It is my firm conviction that life mystifies us and the best we can do is accept that we cannot control the meld of bad that comes with the good. Sometimes we  can, however, be bewildered as to why good things happen to some people and bad things happen to others. Life doesn’t seem just. But it is eventually. It is ultimately.
When life is confounding in its harshness, we must remind ourselves that all things have their turn, and they do, when triumph looks our way.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Monday, May 6, 2019

You know they love you by how well they listen

Truly, somebody needs to hear you. You need to hear yourself. You both need that connection. And that need is of God, who seeks to liberate each and every one of us, and set us free—to become who the Lord of our creation set us up to be.
In the company of our own, those birds of a feather we fly with, those who we have joined, those who accepted us for who we are, who heard us and understood us, we do verily fly.
We all need to be heard to be loved. It’s not about ‘entitlement’; it’s a rule of life.
And what of those who loved us? They listened, and in being listened to, we learn, too, the gorgeous power of love in listening—I mean, listening with God’s interest and utterly no self-interest. In these terms alone, we employ the terms of love.
And as we learned this power, as an incarnational property of being alive in their midst, we agreed with God that that was our call to. We became listeners, and we became lovers, and we were never more blessed.
And as listeners, we become bolder and bolder in trusting those who proved their trustworthiness to us, and we gained yet two more skills. 
  1. We discerned how to trust.
  2. We grew adept at being trustworthy, as we sat with the trustworthy.
And it was beautiful. It is beautiful.
And all this started from agreeing to share our story, from agreeing to take that risk that we might be slapped down, again! Yet, to our sheer joyous surprise we weren’t slapped down, we were comforted and affirmed, and then we started to grow as God has eternally accorded us to grow.
So, in being listened to, in being loved, don’t hold your truth back—but find the trustworthy so you will be safe in your sharing and so you can experience the blessings every human being should.
Now, what is wise? There are times when we trust the wrong people, for sure. But no matter how much pain we endure in those moments of rejection and betrayal, it’s not the end of our hope, unless we’ll be resigned to that lamentable and dire reality. We don’t need to settle for that.
What’s wise is what we do as we continue to press forward, insisting that hope is the destination we’re certain to realise. Faith is the vehicle that gets us all the way to what we hope for, and yet hope sows its seed of courage into faith for the journey.
As we reach out in courage and test people with our story, we live the moment alive in the possibility of hope. We have the option of whether we’ll live our life alive. Not all of us do. And those of us who do don’t always do it. But this is the abundant life.
When I say ‘test people’ I do not mean take advantage of them; what we’re doing is putting ourselves in a position where people may take advantage of us. So, we’re testing a person’s faithfulness—will they prove trustworthy, and will we expose more of ourselves?
When we live in a place where we can speak our truth, and it’s accepted and valued and appreciated, living as being alive is the consequence.
We come to experience the life that we were destined to live. We don’t mind our relationship with our fear and anger and sadness when we can modulate them; when dark emotions begin to enhance our experience of life, and others’ experience of us, simply because we have righted the balance through being loved by being heard.
When we find our place to speak our truth, and we can trust the space, we feel safe even as we or they disagree. Indeed, true relationship finds its home in being able to respectfully disagree. Disagreement doesn’t need to dissolve into conflict that separates close friends.

Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Rest In Peace, Rachel Held Evans

“I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.” 
― Rachel Held Evans,
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving,
and Finding the Church
In such an eloquent little piece of writing, dwarfed by her gargantuan literary presence, Rachel Held Evans speaks for so many of us who pine for reformation in the church.
She stood as a paragon of the voice of the postmodern age. She indeed spoke for many. She’s lost now to us, but never forgotten, and truly immortalised in heaven and also in our psyches here on earth. Her contribution is a baton for us to take hold of, in charging down the runway of life as we boldly live this faith with passionate conviction.
Her legacy is significant. Let that sentence echo and reverberate. Her legacy needs to be significant, as we continue our way on the cusp of time, as we steward the church whilst we are alive. She ran her race so fine.
Rachel Held Evans’ voice stood for truth within complexity, for the expansion of spaces for mature discussion, and for answers that don’t simply sound good to one or the other, but that resonate within the commonality of humanity, even to the acceptance of the mysteries of God.
We live in a time where young people have a lot to say, a time when they are often lambasted for those things that impassion their hearts. Rachel Held Evans was a hero of such magnitude that her loss leaves a hole in the spiritual psyche of so many way-changers; and we desperately need more way-changers. These are people who have the courage of their convictions, and they are not afraid to stand for what they believe.
Rachel Held Evans was a champion for change, and if we learn anything about Jesus in the gospels, we learn that he too was a champion for change. We all need to be champions for change, and Rachel showed us how, and not least is the fact that she was a woman. Oh, this is still so hard to say! Oh, go on… it’s hard enough being a champion for change being a man. But men don’t need to deal with much of the sexist argy-bargy in that kind of space than women do. For that alone, Rachel Held Evans’ courage is synonymous for the exemplary. Sexism in the church ought to be synonymous with the Pharisaism Jesus rubbed up against.
Rachel Held Evans’ led by example and her legacy will linger long into the history to come.

Photo from Washington Post