I hadn't gone to church in awhile, much less read my Bible. I was done with gatekeepers decreeing who was in and who was out. But last year, with John Piper's proclamation bidding "Farewell" to Rob Bell, I jumped back into the fray. Perhaps it was Bell's courage to question the evangelical establishment, or his critics' shrill response, but I no longer wanted to give up on my faith. I found an amazing online community of Christian bloggers, who shared my struggle with the contemporary North American evangelical church. I even found a local church and joined the community there.
One of the most grace-filled, honest, and articulate bloggers I found during this time was...you! You're deftly able to communicate what many of us spiritual refugees and internally displaced persons feel. You've amassed a much-deserved readership because your writing resonates so well with a lot of people's experiences. I often find myself remarking, "Me too!" in response to your posts.
Growing up as a young woman in the Southern Baptist church, I too experienced the Bible being used as a weapon against me and my calling. I too have been accused of being a “bitter, angry woman” intent on destroying the Church with my “radical feminist agenda.” And I know I'm not alone. That's why your writing has been such a valuable ministry to women like me (and men, too) who have been wounded by the church and whose questions have been shot down with appeals to concepts such as "inerrancy" and "complementarianism." I'm sure I'm not the only wanderer who's been encouraged to return, and who joins the chorus of "Me too!"
Like so many evangelical women, I've faced hurtful accusations when I push back against the status quo. Sometimes I don't have the words or the grace-under-pressure to articulate what I believe. And many other people in the church who are not white straight men fight a similar battle. Thankfully, you do have the ability to speak so clearly when others are still tending to their wounds and can only offer a quiet "Me too."
What a great example you've served to those of us who get frustrated, and who often fight the urge to respond with biting sarcasm. You've lived out how a gentle answer turns away wrath, avoiding harsh words that stir up anger.
At one time or another, I've faced criticism too. Mine is nowhere near as public, but it stings nonetheless. And I've faced the assumption that we women don't know what we're talking about. That's why I want to offer encouragement, and who better to borrow from than St. Paul?
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
Fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
Fight the good fight; finish the race; keep the faith.
Read more from people sharing how Rachel has influenced their thinking or writing, or link up your own post at love is what you do.