I just finished reading Rachel Held Evans’ thought-provoking, challenging, but ultimately fulfilling book, Evolving In Monkey Town last night. Though I’m a fellow believer, I don’t think I’d come to some of the same conclusions–regarding life and faith–she came to. Then again, I’m about a generation older than she, with a very different backstory.
In a sense, my faith journey was the antithesis of hers: I wasn’t raised to believe in (even myself), or defend, anything. Where growing up, she may have blindly accepted the faith of her parents, I blindly accepted the lack thereof. In fact, probably because I had friends who claimed some kind of faith, when asked my mother told me that we were “Protestant.” If by that she meant we that we protested by never darkening the doors of a church, then it was an accurate statement. If she meant her work ethic, well, she had that in spades. Other than these, I can honestly say that I literally had no (other than, as a toddler, a brief stint in a Montessori school run by nuns) no religious instruction as a child. Church was a place where grandmas (like my mom’s mom) went. It was completely foreign, and thus irrelevant, to me. I didn’t think about God because, insofar as I knew, there was no God to think about.
God, of course, fond of surprises as He is, had other plans.
I came finally to Jesus at nearly age 19 not because I was looking for Him, but because He pursued me. I suppose many folks planted seeds (looking back with hindsight they’re easier to see), but the wonderful woman who has been my wife for over 20 years now displayed His love convincingly, unconditionally, to me. And that made all the difference. The things I needed most–love and acceptance–won me over. And that, I suppose, is where Mrs. Held Evans and most strongly agree: to be a convincing witness, we must lives of demonstrable love for our fellow humans. Though cliché, it’s nonetheless true: people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.
Though we may quibble over the “fundamentals,” I believe Rachel and I would, on this, agree: grace is caught, not taught. Thank-you for your powerful book, ma’am. 😉
(By the way, Mrs. Held Evans, I know from from reading your blog that you were teased about being an “incomplete sentence” while growing up, and from reading your book that your middle name is “Grace.” And I’m sure you’ve thought of, or been told, this: God doesn’t make incomplete sentences; in other words, Rachel, grace held).