On needing some time…(or, Oh evangelicalism, why can’t I quit you?!)

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

So your response to Tuesday’s post was so kind and encouraging. Thank you. It really means the world to know I’m not alone, that many of us are wandering this religious wilderness together, taking it one step at a time.

That said, this has been a painful few weeks, and I think I’ve felt some (self-inflicted) pressure to speak from that pain rather than listen to it. 

So I find myself second-guessing the “leaving evangelicalism” language, not because it’s an inaccurate representation of what I’m experiencing, but because I don’t want anyone to think for a moment that this means walking away from the many, many people who identify as evangelical whom I love and respect very much. I have no interest in breaking fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, be they Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite progressive or evangelical. After all, we share the most important “label”— the one God gave us—as beloved children of God. (I’m beginning to think any other label might do more harm than good.)

I guess I just convinced myself that if I let go of the investment I have in the evangelical community, this alienation wouldn’t hurt as much. All the flippant “farewells” and hate mail and parody accounts and challenges to my faith wouldn't sting as much if they were coming from the “outside” rather than the “inside." 

Well you know what?

It still hurts. Nothing’s changed.  And the punch in the gut from last week’s World Vision situation (in which 10,000 children lost their sponsorship as a result of an evangelical protests) continues to leave me, and many others, feeling breathless. 

As much as I wish I didn’t care, I still dream of an evangelicalism where both my friend Jen Hatmaker (who wrote this) and my friend Ben Moberg (who wrote this) are welcome at the same table. One baptism. One communion.  One faith.  One family.

Maybe it’s not worth handing that dream over to the loudest, most divisive voices. Maybe it’s worth fighting for.

...Or maybe it's not. 

Maybe it's time to let go and move on and focus exclusively on being the Kingdom among the culture war's many refugees. 

I don’t know. I really don’t.

So I’m thinking that instead of speaking from this place of pain and confusion, I just need to listen for a while. I plan to take some time off blogging, with the exception of a few announcements and guest posts here and there, so I can pray and yell and listen and reflect and maybe reconsider that cereal blog. (I’m kidding…mostly. I got retweeted by Captain Crunch last week, which kinda rekindled the dream.) 

I think a lot of us are working through some feelings of grief as we find ourselves struggling, perhaps for the first time, with our religious identity. May we learn to sit in this grief with open hearts and minds. May God be close the brokenhearted.

Love to you all,


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