Get out

sad tho

Have you ever cried to try and get out of something? The tears may have been real, but they also may have been amped up for dramatic effect, all in the hopes that someone will want so badly to stop your tears that they’ll do what you want?

I tried that once. To get out of a ticket.

And so did the presenter at a workshop I attended recently. The presenter shared that when she was in college, she tried to persuade a police officer not to give her a ticket by crying. In college, she had gone out with a bunch of guy friends – her preferred crew since they came with less drama than girls. I get that. And she and her group of friends engaged in a game that involved spraying a fire extinguisher at unsuspecting folks. A hilarious and terrible game to play. Eventually, they were stopped by the law. And this presenter turned on the tears to get out of trouble. Every single guy she was with got ticketed. But she did not. Her tears had persuaded the officer.

Since she had begun her anecdote by asking the room if any of us had ever tried to persuade anyone by crying, the memory of the time I tried to cry my way out of a situation with police came flooding back to me. In a moment during a break, I approached the presenter to tell her how differently our stories had ended.

Mad Season

In the spring of 2003, my bestie and I took a short weekend road trip to New Orleans to see  Matchbox 20 concert. We headed down I-20 out of East Texas, but before we could cross over the state line, I was pulled over for speeding. I freaked out immediately. I had never gotten a ticket before, hadn’t even had my car for a year, and was a poor college student trying to figure out how i would ever be able to afford a speeding ticket, especially since i had barely enough money to take this trip with my bestie.

I told the officer I’d never been pulled over before, even as I handed over my license. By the time he asked me to get out of the car and stand by the trunk, I was ugly snot crying. I barely noticed through my tear-blurred vision that he approached my bestie’s side of the car and talked to her briefly before returning my license to me, handing me my ticket, and sending me on my way.

But y’all. This is not the extent of the differences between the presenter’s “tears of persuasion” story and my own. My bestie told me years later that when the officer approached her window, he asked her if she was there against her will.

When I shared this with the presenter, her jaw dropped. She was – appropriately – shocked.

And of course you will have guessed by this point that both my bestie and the presenter are white women.

legacy

Near the end of the last act of “Hamilton,” our hero pauses just before he’s shot dead by Aaron Burr. This long pause gives Hamilton time to muse on his legacy – what the word means, what his will be – and to say goodbye to his wife and hello to his mother and son.

Legacy, says Hamilton, is planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.

I could not help but think of these words upon learning that Rachel Held Evans passed away this morning.

I first became aware of Evans’ work years ago, when I began reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I met this book during a time in my young adulthood when I was beginning to unpack some of the theological teachings I was spoon-fed in college. I was questioning the legitimacy of the idea that women are *supposed* to be stay-at-home moms. I was questioning the validity of the idea that all women in the church are subordinate and/or complimentary to all men in the church. I was questioning the accuracy of prevailing biblical interpretation that condemned homosexual people either to celibacy or damnation (neither of these options being valid enough for full acceptance into the body of Christ).

And I did not know then if it was possible to hold beliefs that felt true in my heart and still be a part of a church or a Christian at all.

Rachel Held Evans’ thorough, insightful, transparent work taught me that theological indoctrination does not supercede the truth of God’s word or outweigh God’s ability to speak truth to my heart.

When I ran errands around town today with my younger son, I thought repeatedly that Evans will never do this with her own kids, who are still practically babies.

And yet.

Look what she’s left them: not only her love, plenty of pictures (I’m sure) that will immortalize memories they themselves are too young to hold onto. But she’s also left them this wonderful body of work that chronicles the working out of her salvation, in spirit and in truth.

I have such a deep thankfulness that Evans shared her words with the world. But my words are few and tears are many at this moment. I don’t know if there’s anyone else I’ve never met whose had such an impact on who I am.

I’m so grateful she’s left this legacy to her babies and to us all. A legacy of faith and truth and a spirit of boldness.

Amen.