Reasons to love Rachel

I loved Rachel Jankovic from the first minute of the first article I ever read of hers. It sent me trawling the Internet to find more of her writing. I read all I could at Desiring God.

I ordered her book loving the little years: motherhood in the trenches and soaked it in. It was pithy, honest, wise and helpful. And most importantly for a mom of little ones, it was short. Loved it. Loved her.

I recently discovered that together with her wonderfully talented sisters and mother in law, she blogs at Femina. While reading back on past posts, I discovered something that made me love her even more.

In one post a few months back, she stuck her neck out and wrote a piece on farmers, food and our ethical responsibilities. I could see where she was coming from, but was hesitant to give it my usual hearty amen. She took a lashing in the comments section.

If it had been me, I would have cried hot, desperate tears over it all: tears of regret, sadness, humiliation and frustration. It is a terrifying thing to subject yourself to international online scrutiny. I hate to be called out on a thing, especially in front of others. If she is anything like me in this, it must have been a really tough couple of days.

But this is why I love Rachel Jankovic even more now: she wrote a piece which needed more thought and polish. She could have pulled it from the site, but she didn’t. Instead, she admitted to it needing more thought.

The site requires comments to be approved by a moderator before they are published. She could have refused to publish the harshest and angriest of her critics. She didn’t.

Her humility and courage in handling a situation that might certainly have caused this young blogger to cringe and quit writing were deeply encouraging to me. She could have stopped writing, but she didn’t.

I’m so glad she didn’t. I have learned so much from her great pieces (which 97k people loved, according to the sites stats!), but I also learned from the piece she perhaps wished she had written differently. I may not have learned something new about food, but I learned something about humility and grace in blogging.

Yet another reason to love Rachel.

P.s. Go back and click on that first link now. Go! Go! Go!

There’s nothing quite like inadequacy

Today I started teaching a new series of Bible studies on prayer. I should add that I didn’t choose this topic! For weeks I had been looking forward to today with excitement (to see the 70+ women in the group all again), and also trepidation. I feel horribly under-qualified to teach on prayer: it has always been something that I have struggled with, felt guilty about, wanted to do better in but not felt able to. In thinking about it, I realized I feared that I would get up to teach and be exposed as a great fraud: someone who should know how to pray, but really… struggled a great deal.

So I spent my weeks doing the preparation, and this morning got up to confess to a room full of women and made my “big disclaimer”… about how I struggled with faith, focus and fervency in prayer. How my mind wanders. How I wonder what difference it makes. And I shared too though that I’m realizing more and more that this comes as no surprise to God. The more I read on prayer, the more I realize that God anticipates our weakness, and helps us in it. Prayer is not for those who are spiritually ‘strong’ and have it all together… it is for those who are weak, and know we need help.

How liberating for me (I’m so grateful for this) to be able to confess my inadequacy to a crowd, and have woman after woman come up to me and say “I thought I was the only one!!” Because there I was… thinking that I was the only one.

Pride in sacrifice

There are many things I could have done differently. I could have lived elsewhere. I could have pursued a far more pretigious legal career. I could have taken the big-money job. I could have married the first person who asked. I could be far more well-groomed (and therefore ‘beautiful’ by glossy mag standards). I could have travelled more. Seen more. Done more.

But I didn’t. Many of these choices have been shaped by the fact that I am convinced that I am called to be in full-time Christian ministry – spending my life and gifts and time with others, reasoning from the Scriptures why a life following Jesus is the best choice. I have chosen this path, and when I sit and think about it – I am content that this is far better than the lower-glamour, less-travel, smaller-budget, less-sacrifice life.

But I am convicted that I also harbor some “pride” in that sacrifice, and this breeds discontentment. Can I really say that I am fully satisfied with the life I have chosen, if I socially ‘reserve the right’ to complain about it? Even if it’s in a joking “see what I’ve given up” kind of way? I don’t think I can: to sacrifice things for God and retain some pride in what I’ve given up, or reserve the right to complain or criticize, means that the sacrifice isn’t yet complete. I am still learning what it means to “consider everything loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Phil 3:8). He lost His life for me – really, how does my sacrifice even begin to compare? It couldn’t possibly.

So why am I writing this? Not so that people will congratulate me on the sacrifice, but to hold me accountable. Please don’t let me moan about “what could have been”. If I do that I’m still not “considering everything loss”. I’m learning to surrender the right to complain.