We did not know Rachel Held Evans well. We were friendly, but not friends. In fact, when Constantino boldly reached out to her over Twitter to ask if we could interview her for our book, she had never heard of us. (As small-time bloggers in the LGBTQ Christian space, she had no reason to.) Despite this, Rachel immediately agreed to participate in our book, with no knowledge of us and with little insight into our project on same-sex Christian marriage. She agreed to help us when other, lesser-known personalities in the progressive Christian space declined. That was who Rachel was.
Months later, the final deadline for our manuscript loomed and we had secured no one to write the foreword. Inquiries had been sent, and they had been declined or, in some circumstances, ignored entirely. Constantino again reached out to Rachel to see if she would perhaps write our foreword. David thought Constantino was crazy for asking. Rachel, who had given birth just one month prior and had her own projects to finish, readily agreed. She provided us with a beautiful, thoughtful introduction that is quite possibly the best part of the book. That was who Rachel was.
Just last month, when we met Rachel in person for the first time at the final Why Christian conference she organized with Nadia Bolz-Weber, it was because she had thought of us and generously invited us there to give us an opportunity to share our story. When we finally met her, she warmly hugged us and chatted with us throughout dinner as if we were longtime friends. How we wish we had had the opportunity to become that.
In a time when many of us feel compelled to fiercely hoard our time, our resources, and even our social capital, Rachel lived with an open hand. She gave freely, as if what she had to give was infinite. We will remember her for her daring generosity, and we will try our best to live in kind. We may not have known Rachel Held Evans well, but we loved her.
We turn our hearts to those closest to Rachel — her husband and children, her family and closest friends. While many of us grieve one of our generation’s greatest voices in Christian thought, they are grieving a wife, mother, daughter, friend. We cannot imagine their grief. Let us all take time to pray for them.
Rachel touched many lives, and the wise, bold, grace-filled words she has written throughout her career will continue to touch many others who have yet to discover her. The kindness, courage, and generosity she has sparked in so many cannot be extinguished. Her love is enduring in all who have been inspired by her. That is who Rachel is.