By Rachel Held Evans, modern day theologian and writer
It will bother you off and on, like a rock in your shoe,
Or it will startle you, like the first crash of thunder in a summer storm,
Or it will lodge itself beneath your skin like a splinter,
Or it will show up again—the uninvited guest whose heavy footsteps you’d recognize anywhere, appearing at your front door with a suitcase in hand at the worst. possible. time.
Or it will pull you farther out to sea like rip tide,
Or hold your head under as you drown—
Triggered by an image, a question, something the pastor said, something that doesn’t add up, the unlikelihood of it all, the too-good-to-be-trueness of it, the way the lady in the thick perfume behind you sings “Up from the grave he arose!” with more confidence in the single line of a song than you’ve managed to muster in the past two years.
And you’ll be sitting there in the dress you pulled out from the back of your closet, swallowing down the bread and wine, not believing a word of it.
Not. A. Word.
So you’ll fumble through those back pocket prayers—“help me in my unbelief!”—while everyone around you moves on to verse two, verse three, verse four without you.
You will feel their eyes on you, and you will recognize the concern behind their cheery greetings: “We haven’t seen you here in a while! So good to have you back.”
And you will know they are thinking exactly what you used to think about Easter Sunday Christians:
But you won’t know how to explain that there is nothing nominal or lukewarm or indifferent about standing in this hurricane of questions every day and staring each one down until you’ve mustered all the bravery and fortitude and trust it takes to whisper just one of them out loud on the car ride home:
“What if we made this up because we’re afraid of death?”
And you won’t know how to explain why, in that moment when the whisper rose out of your mouth like Jesus from the grave, you felt more alive and awake and resurrected than you have in ages because at least it was out, at least it was said, at least it wasn’t buried in your chest anymore, clawing for freedom.
And, if you’re lucky, someone in the car will recognize the bravery of the act. If you’re lucky, there will be a moment of holy silence before someone wonders out loud if such a question might put a damper on Easter brunch.
But if you’re not—if the question gets answered too quickly or if the silence goes on too long—please know you are not alone.
There are other people signing words to hymns they’re not sure they believe today, other people digging out dresses from the backs of their closets today, other people ruining Easter brunch today, other people just showing up today.
And sometimes, just showing up – burial spices in hand – is all it takes to witness a miracle.