Faith,  Love

Eshet Chayil: Carry On, Warrior!

I wrote about Rachel Held Evans on my old blog several times. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again was my favorite book of 2018. It’s also the only book that’s ever prompted me to follow through on the urge to flip back to the first page and start reading again, immediately. Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church was a favorite from 2017. She was one of my favorite people on planet earth, and she died yesterday….at 37, leaving two babies, a husband, and a community of admirers behind. Many of whom had their lives changed because of her writing, her kindness, and her grace.

Rachel Held Evans was honest in a way that I’d never experienced in evangelicalism until I read her work. She was forthright with her doubts, her faith struggles, and honest about the days she just didn’t believe. She wrestled with God and she was real about it. She embraced with love and kindness. She was a prophet.

“Eshet chayil!” a spontaneous Hebrew blessing–kinda like “You go, girl!” became associated with RHE after she wrote this piece.

Friends cheer one another on with the blessing, celebrating everything from promotions, to pregnancies, to acts of mercy and justice, and honoring everything from battles with cancer, to brave acts of vulnerability, to difficult choices, with a hearty “eshet chayil!”—woman of valor.

I’ve struggled with so much of my faith and my religion over the years. Even though I’ve been studying the Bible soooo hard for over a year now, those struggles haven’t stopped. If anything, they’ve amped up. They’re at the center of every day in a way they weren’t before.

But that’s what RHE taught me. There are so many blessings in the struggle, and none of us is alone in it. I’ve withdrawn this past year, in part, to study. To get my mind around the Bible and my beliefs. At times, I’ve not known how to be myself in this process. In praying for her through her illness, and in mourning her passing, I’m feeling more like myself…somehow. RHE reminded me, constantly, that it’s ok. God loves us, always. God would love me with pink hair, tattoos, and an abundant love for the power of the word, “FUCK!,” just like he loves me with my gray showing, puttering around the house, sitting in silence.

Rachel Held Evans, I love you forever. Carry on, warrior.

Professional reader, professor, and blogger at and


  • Bookfool, aka Nancy

    I just read the tribute to her in Shelf Awareness and your blogpost and here I am, stupidly crying again. I’ve only read the one book, Searching for Sunday (thanks to your recommendation, of course) but it meant that much to me. Our paths were so similar, coming from an evangelical background. I’ve left the church but haven’t moved on to the returning part, although son and future DIL are encouraging me to go to . . . you’ve got it . . . the Episcopal Church. Inspired is sitting beside me and I’m toying with reading it. Too soon? I can’t decide.

    • Andi

      Ahh, I hadn’t seen the one in Shelf Awareness. Sarah Bessey and Jeff Chu did a beautiful post about what she was “for” in the Washington Post when so many who did not agree with her theology want to highlight what she was against. It was a great piece and absolutely made me cry. It’s never too soon to read Inspired. Or listen if you can! It’s just an amazing book.

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