Sunday, October 13, 2013

permission to not have answers {page five}

i realized something today. i realized that i've been talking so much about all the permission i have found in telling my story :: but i haven't really told you any of my story. which is actually relatively funny, seeing as how i've become more and more free with sharing my story with the world in recent months.

there's a certain level of fear that comes with telling my story. it takes bravery to stand up and stammer out, i grew up Christian because i was supposed to, not because i chose Jesus above everything else. it takes a strange amount of courage to admit that from a very early age, i was that person, the one that gripped people by the throat and dragged them to the feet of Jesus whether they wanted to be there or not.

i made sure they knew they were sinners. i made sure they knew they were going to hell. that is, unless they became Christians.

i remember the girl in the department store, the one that i cornered at the age of five and asked, if you died tonight, do you know where you'd go? and then came the words that scarred the little missionary in me for a very long time :: uh, yeah, why are you asking crazy questions? 

that was my persecution, i was sure. and so i soldiered on, relentless in my pursuit to change the world for Jesus. i was on fire. or rather, i thought i was on fire. but i had no idea what i was doing. i had no idea what i believed. well, i believed what everyone else around me believed. i knew what i was supposed to think, and that was what i thought.

it wasn't until i was seventeen and i experienced the quietest moment of my life that things started to change. and it wasn't until even later still that i received permission from myself and from the One who sees me to question everything. i never would have dared to even think the things that now are the mantra of my entire existence.

{via pinterest}
not too long ago, a precious soul-sister sent me beautiful words, etched in paint and ink, that i have held close from the moment my eyes first beheld them :: He is not threatened by your questions. i grew up in a place where my questions meant my faith wasn't sure, and that wasn't okay. i was just supposed to trust, to lean, to go with what i knew, and knowing equaled faith.

there wasn't any mystery. there wasn't any wrestling. there weren't any questions.

except i had a lot of questions that didn't have answers. i didn't understand why those around me shouldered these heavy chains and walked with their heads down, murmuring about joy in their souls but with such strange oppression on their faces. this is what God says, they chanted, this is what we must do. but they wouldn't touch the broken ones that lined the road. and they looked me in the eye and held out their hands to me, Christian me, church me. the one that fit.

and then i had to wonder, what if they knew my story? would they hold out their hands then? because i know what i was, before this strange thrashing freedom came, and i would have crossed to the other side of the road. 

and it was then that He made Himself known to me, this strange Voice that loomed out the darkness.

:: dearest daughter, I have known you long. 

and this Voice, this Lion...He didn't seem threatened by my not-knowing. in fact, it seemed to fit. because He wasn't safe, which felt so foreign. He was supposed to be safe, to be full of facts and thick black lines, and there weren't supposed to be any questions.

but i had so. many. questions.

{via pinterest}
and i found myself standing on the edge of the sea, feeling the spray from the waves soaking every inch of me, through to the skin. and He murmured, deep into my soul, oh dearheart, I know there is a sea of questions. but I AM the great bridge-builder. and I can wait for you forever. 

i've never felt so fragile, as though a wind might knock me over. but then, i've never felt so free, as though i'm riding on the back of the warmest, wildest One i've ever known. i still have so many questions. but answers are slipping in, finding their places, one little scrap of wood at a time. and slowly, a bridge is forming.

i am fragile. the wood is strong.
and i can feel the flames building inside me again.

{this was written as part of a synchroblog to celebrate the release of Addie Zierman’s book When We Were On Fire. i'm honoured to stand beside her and a thousand others as we speak our stories, share our pieces. won't you join us?}


  1. This is so beautiful, Rachel. You grow up thinking everything is black and white and questions are bad. And then you find yourself feeling lost when you can't fake it and push the questions away any longer. It was such a freeing moment for me when I realized faith does not mean the absence of doubt. Thanks for sharing!

  2. "i never would have dared to even think the things that now are the mantra of my entire existence."

    Yes! I know, right? It's honestly kind of scary for me still, to go against the grain that has so often been marketed as God's Will, because it is all the Right and Wrong I've ever known. It takes a lot of courage to make your own way anyhow and trust your own understanding of God. Thank you for being one of the brave ones!

  3. Rachel you're such a beautiful writer. Praying you'll continue to wrestle with those questions, continue to thrash. There's beauty there, friend. <3

  4. Beautiful. Love this: "i am fragile. the wood is strong. and i can feel the flames building inside me again." Thanks so much for linking up.

  5. When I saw that you participated in Addie’s synchroblog I thought I should invite you to participate in a monthly synchroblog that I am a part of.

    It’s made up of a home-grown group of bloggers who like to write on topics of post-modern faith & life. This group is open to anyone who is interested in participating. We value respectful conversation and dialogue while honoring our differences. We share links & try to learn from each other.

    Some of the people that originally participated in the synchroblog no longer blog and I am trying to reach out to people like you who are currently passionate about blogging in order to keep our monthly synchroblog relevant and vital.

    If you are interested in joining us you can join the facebook group and receive monthly invitations to the synchroblog. Here is that link:

    And you can find our website (which you can subscribe to if you want to receive an email when we post the monthly theme announcement/invitation) here:

    (You can see all of the themes that we have covered in the past on our website in order to get an idea of what we do)


I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon