eshetchayil

To the young women reading “Jesus Feminist“:

I see you, little sister. I see you tagging #JesusFeminist on Instagram with that little yellow book wide open beside your coffee cup. I see your blog posts and your Facebook updates, I see you typing favourite quotes from the book on top of the beautiful photos you take on holidays, I see you in my mentions on Twitter, I see your names in my email inbox with your precious stories shared, I see you in the crowd when I preach.

I see you and I love you.

There are so many different people and age groups who read that book but I hear from you all most: the late-teens and twenty-something women, the ones in high school, university or college, sometimes you’re newly married, rarely do you have children yet. You write to me and ask me questions often or introduce yourselves or share your thoughts. I never do that with authors. I wonder if that is a generational thing? I read a book and that is the end of it. But for you, it is just the beginning of the conversation, just the start of a relationship, and I love that. What an unforeseen gift! I love that you hunt up my website and send me emails, friend me on Facebook, that you share your thoughts with your world through social media, you become part of my life somehow from all around the world. You see the book the way that I dreamed it: a gathering.

It makes my heart glad to think of someone starting their life with the message of freedom in their minds, hearts, and spirits already. You’re ahead of so many because you’re embarking on life as free. It gives me hope to think of the generation rising up in the wake of my generation because I am still rising, too, in the wake of the generation of women who came before me and so it goes. We are all running behind the ones who came before us and it’s my privilege to cut through the resistance for you just a little bit.

I want you to go further than we have gone, to be bolder than we have been, to be braver, to preach the Gospel of freedom and goodness and welcome to every corner of your influence. You will go where I cannot go and praise God for that.

You often ask me for advice – on relationships, on future plans, on how to talk to people who believe differently than you, on church, on calling, on leadership. I try to respond well to each of you. Being in this season of my life, I don’t always have the time to talk one-on-one as I’d like. But this weekend, I have been carrying you in my heart and so here is what I would say to you, my girls.

Remember the truth of who you are. You are loved and you are worthy. You are valuable. Not because of what you do or what you say or what you accomplish but simply because you were made in the image of God and you are here. You will have times in your life when you feel very effective and important. Then you will have times when you feel small and forgotten and inconsequential. How you feel does not change the truth of this: you are loved, loved, loved. You are free: “So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.” Paul said it this way: “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Romans 8:39)

Remember the truth of who God is. Almost all of our theology and so, therefore, the way we live our lives tracks back to what we believe about the nature and character of God. So settle in your bones this truth: Jesus is the exact representation of God. He came to reveal the Father to us, to show us all the ways that we have misrepresented and misunderstood God. And what did we learn from our Jesus? We are loved and we are redeemed. Study Jesus, yes, but open up to the way he is still alive, moving, speaking, and redeeming in the world.

Draw near to God, sisters. Draw near to God and watch God draw near to you. I have clung to John 15 in my lifetime, may it become a ballast for you, too: “when you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant….make yourselves at home in my love…I’ve named you friends…love one another.” You see?

Jesus is your Teacher and your Shepherd, don’t out-source the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. If you are thirsty, praise God – it means you will be satisfied. “Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me,” said our Jesus. The Spirit is real, let her infuse your waking up and walking around life.

There isn’t a false line between God-work and secular-work. Everything you do is spirit-filled if you intend it to be. There isn’t a hero in the kingdom, we are all beginners. Remember the ones who lead you are also on the ground, not on a pedestal. We will fail you in some way. I wish that weren’t true but it is: give us grace, please.

It is just as holy to serve God quietly in obscurity as it is to be on a stage. God may call you to a bit of both – a bit of big sexy attention-getting work and quiet thankless character-building life-transforming work. I’ll let you in on a secret: don’t try to live your life on the mountaintop all the time. It’s exhausting and narrow. There’s a lot of life to be found in the wilderness and in the valleys, in the kitchens and backroads, God speaks to us in those places and it will be the birthplace of intimacy with the Spirit and with yourself.

Love your Bibles. I know it’s hard sometimes – hard to understand, perhaps, or maybe it’s because your Bibles have been used against you. I get it. But when the time is right, remember that your soul can be aflame with the Spirit and your body can be furious for justice but your mind needs the words and teachings and richness of Scripture to be shaped. Start with the Gospels, perhaps, get to know our Jesus. I pray your mouth is filled with the promises of God, with the teachings of Jesus, and then your life will simply be an overflow of the Story – it will haunt you forever. Scripture will change your life, change your tongue, change your mind, and so it will change the world. Be ready to be wrong about a few things first.

The world will try to name you all sorts of things because you’re a woman. They’ll try to tell you that because you’re a woman that you’re insecure or jealous, that you’re emotional and illogical and a gossip, that you’re too fat or too quiet or too loud or too skinny or dangerous and untrustworthy. Don’t believe it. Don’t take the lies in. Remember that you were created right from the beginning to be a warrior – that’s the whole ezer kenegdo thing right there, remember that part of the book? – you were created to be a warrior and you are beloved. That is your identity. Don’t be afraid.

Find your people. This is so vital, so important – you need a home team. Be loyal. Show up. Love and support other women well. Learn how to champion and celebrate each other. Put others first. This is not time for pettiness and who-is-in-and-who-is-out. We’re all in. Make time for fun and for joy, be silly and go on adventures.

Go ahead and get angry at injustice; I think your calling is often hiding somewhere in your anger. Pay attention to what makes you angry. And then follow that anger all the way down to good hard and holy work. As our brother Paul wrote, “throw off the sin that so easily entangles you. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. (Hebrews 12:1) Challenge who you think you are. Listen well to the marginalized and oppressed, theirs is the Kingdom of God, align yourself there.

Travel – I never did that as a young woman and I wish now that I had done so. It seems to me that travel, seeing the world and learning different cultures, brings a richness and perspective to your life that you have to read a lot of books to replace. If you can do it, please try.

Seek and create beauty – that is Kingdom work, too. Speak life. Take risks and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

Fall in love with someone who will make you better at being yourself. Slow dance with that someone on the side of the road at night and kiss until you’re dizzy, it will do you good. Love someone well and yes, it will take equal parts grit and romance to make a lifelong love.

Whatever you do, bring your whole self to us. Read good books, books that challenge you. Sow your life into a place and into a people, remain there and watch how it slowly turns into the greatest harvest you could never have imagined. Don’t seek fame, seek to be faithful.

Patience and faith belong together. Remember that you have so much to learn and treat the people in your life as your teachers. Everything you do in your life can be a testimony to the goodness and freedom and openness of our God.

And here is my final piece of advice: stop waiting for permission. There are a lot of us out here waiting for you. We need you. We need your gifts and your words, we need your passion and your insight, your skill and your brain, your perspective and your history. It all matters, nothing in your life will be wasted in the economy of God. So get on with it. Don’t be held back. You’re free already, remember? Be brave. There is real evil in this world, you are a prophetic outpost for the Kingdom of God. Live into the abundance of God in your life and watch the resistance come but stand. Hold fast.

Jesus said it best, my little sisters: “You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?… Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine. Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16 MSG)

Thank you. Thank you for reading “Jesus Feminist” and getting it. Thank you for allowing the fire of the Spirit within you to be stirred.

If I could leave you with one final passage of Scripture, my little sisters, here is it: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out….Love from the centre of who you are: don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” (Romans 12:1-2, 9-10)

If I could, I’d stand in front of you and place my hands on your hair and pray The Commissioning from the last chapter of the book over each and every single one of you. I would.

Dear girls, I love you. I do. You are so precious to me. I am eager to be lead by you, I am cheering you on, I have so much to learn. I pray for you and over you often.

Love always,

S.

image created by Taylor Rauschkolb, available here

Waking Up Together
A Voice for the Voiceless
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  • ” Jesus is the exact representation of God. He came to reveal the Father to us, to show us all the ways that we have misrepresented and misunderstood God.”

    Oh, Sarah, that gave me chills. I so rarely think about it this way, how wonderful is a God who came to us as a man who said to love one another above all things.

    (I’m not the target audience for this post. I loved it anyway. ;))

  • Stephanie

    I’ve been so tired the last few weeks, I needed this. Thank you!

  • Thank you SO much for this. Just yesterday, I was thinking about how I need to sit down with John 15 again. How I need to let my heart be examined, to get some of the misconceptions taken out of it and the harshness washed off. I so needed this. I *am* the target audience and I know I appear in your Twitter mentions at least once a week 😉 Thank you for letting the young women here know we are seen and loved and prayed over.

  • Dr. Clark Roush

    WOW! No wonder you are one of my spiritual heroes!! I’ve shared this with the significant females in my life. Thanks for your bold and prophetic voice, Sarah!

    • Thanks for this, Clark! And thanks for being the kind of guy who empowers women in his life!

  • Karen

    So good! Love from one of your little sisses

  • Nisha Varghese

    “And here is my final piece of advice: stop waiting for permission. There are a lot of us out here waiting for you. We need you. We need your gifts and your words, we need your passion and your insight, your skill and your brain, your perspective and your history. It all matters, nothing in your life will be wasted in the economy of God. So get on with it. Don’t be held back. You’re free already, remember? Be brave. There is real evil in this world, you are a prophetic outpost for the Kingdom of God. Live into the abundance of God in your life and watch the resistance come but stand. Hold fast.” Wow Sarah sometimes you leave me speechless!

  • I’m 35 with two kids, but I never had a big sister so I’m grabbing this big sisterly advice with two hands (my right hand writing half of this as quotes in my journal and my left hand Praising God for you) and saying Thank You. I’ve been in the wilderness for quite some time and the reassurance that God is here with me is just what I need.

  • *cue the ugly sobbing* Thank you, Sarah. This little sister of yours needed that letter. I needed to be reminded to stop asking for permission, to stop waiting until I’m what–wise enough? Impressive enough? Old enough? Because when does that ever work? Your loving heart and words have impacted me since I first opened that little yellow book. I don’t think we–the late teens and 20-somethings–are drawn to you because we think of you as someone who will never fail us. We are drawn to you and your writing because we realize we’ve found someone who sees us for who we truly are–the warriors, the leaders, the thinkers–and who is still brave enough to tell us.

    • Bless you, sister. You’re ready for your life right now, I think. xoxo

  • Jory Micah

    This is so beautiful Sarah! I love the part about our callings being found in what angers us. I may have to quote you on this sometime!!! 🙂

  • Thank you so much for writing this for me today 😉 Thank you especially for me encouraging me to pick up my Bible. I don’t want to. Haven’t wanted to for a long time. I don’t like what I see in it. I can’t make sense of it. Can’t reconcile some of it with who I want to believe God/Jesus is. So I don’t. But you’re right. I can’t keep hiding from the Truth. So thank you.

    • I get it, Kaity. I know that I’ve shifted on *how* I read my Bible but that has helped me to love it again. I pray the same for you.

      • Christin

        Sarah, I would love to hear more about your shifting the *how* you read your Bible.

  • Ariel Katherine

    I’m so very thankful to live in a generation where big sisters in faith are readily accessible and making way for the rest of us. You frequently speak the things stirring in my heart. Thank you for being you 🙂

  • Randi Bergsma

    Thank you!!! This spoke directly to me and gave me so much encouragement. Perfect timing- thank you Sarah!

  • Kelly Frazee

    Sarah,
    Thank you for reminding us that we’re important. That we’re warriors. It always feels like we’ve made so much progress and while we have, working with the next generation of our girls has just shown me that they face the same discrimination and stereotypes that we as women have faced and continue to deal with as well. Little by little I think we’re chipping away but it’s so important to remember that we all have an important role to play. Especially when it all just starts to becoming discouraging and heartbreaking. Thank you for always encouraging us. Thank you always setting such a strong, authentic example for us to follow as we come into our own and do the good hard and holy work of influencing the ones that come after us to live as beloved, free, warrior women. Most of all, thank you for reminding us that we do not have to wait for permission to share our voices and stories. <3

  • Beccy Cree

    Thank you Sarah. I am 20 and lost, caught between what I have always been told and what I have newly discovered. Recovering from heart break. But your words always point me to Jesus, and remind me that the rest doesn’t matter.

    • Oh, Beccy, it does matter, don’t ever think I think that your story and what you’re dealing with doesn’t matter. I think Jesus cares deeply, too. I’m so sorry for your heartbreak and I know you’re in a hard time. My prayers are with you. xo

      • Beccy Cree

        Thank you – trying to find a way to own my story, even the hard parts, is a constant battle. But your words and prayers are so so appreciated xo

  • Missy

    From one who is ahead of you Sarah, once again you nailed it. PREACH IT.
    Younger sisters: LISTEN. these thoughts are so right on. CLING to Jesus.
    Even in the hard times when you doubt, when you question what HE is doing, read your BIBLES. IT always SPEAKS TRUTH.
    Oh Sarah, I am so grateful to how God has used you.
    Now start packing and move into your own HOME!!!

  • Sarah, I don’t mean to usurp the comments section with my sad news, but I just want to share with you a hint of my story, as I feel DIRECTLY written to. I’m 25. My husband died very suddenly and unexpectedly from cancer three weeks ago. As I embrace my new life, newly single, sad, yet astonishingly full of God’s grace, I am grateful to be poured into by women like you. It is no exaggeration to say your writing here, and Jesus Feminist, forever altered my life. I was born into that traditional women-are-helpers-and-cannot-be-pastors-etc, and your writing helped break me free from that flawed view. Now in the wake of a terrifying brand new life, I can see God working through it all. I can see how he can use me. Widowed me. Newly unmarried me. Single me. Broken me. It’s because of you and Rachel Held Evans that I even HEARD the word “egalitarian,” I even LEARNED that there are women who ARE pastors. (It’s crazy how little I knew and how much I know now.) God opened my eyes, he showed me his love of women, how he wants to use women, even us young women, to change this world. I am able to embrace my sad story more fully because I have been taught and shepherded by women like you who keep crying out WOMEN ARE WARRIORS WHO WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.

    Now I’m thinking a rambling blog post comment isn’t the appropriate place for talks like these, but death and grief just make you care zero cares about what people think about you.

    Thank you Sarah. I hope to stop waiting for permission. To take your words to heart. To live the faithful, fiery life I was born to live.

    • Dearest Andrea, I want to reach right through the screen and hug you so tight. I am so sorry for your terrible loss and I am so honoured to receive your words here. Love and light to you, sister. I am praying for you and with you and over you. This is absolutely the right place if its where you want to show up – you show up wherever you want! Lvoe love love for you.

    • Laura Knobel

      You are a warrior, Andrea. You are leading those of us in this comment thread simply by sharing your story. I will be praying for you from afar and look forward to seeing you follow this new path and do amazing things.

  • Wonderful! This was shared by a friend of mine from church – she is unmarried and in her mid-20s. I am the mom of 6 and in my mid 40s…well…late 40s hahahaha. We are all learning from one another, thank you for your voice.

  • Eliza

    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. On a night where the feelings of ‘not enough’ and ‘failure’ and ‘alone’ are rearing their ugly heads, I needed this. Thank you.

  • HBurns

    Absolutely perfect Sarah…. so rich with passion and wisdom. I amen every word and feel like I am one of those who are also there waiting for these amazing young ones to come alongside. Thank you for helping make a way for them. I love you xo

  • Tiffany Bluhm

    Every young Jesus girl needs to read this. So much of these encouragements I caught from others and it changed my life. It’s beautiful and inspiring at any age. Whether you are a young gun out to spray down hell with a water gun or a stay at home mom who globetrotted to share the gospel in her younger years.

  • Jeannine

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. Your voice and words have been such a welcomed deep breath for me. I am in the “in between” place in a lot of areas in my life and through your example and many others, I am now clearly seeing how the “in between” is just as good as any place to do Kingdom work. I don’t have to place my value in my future husband and plan my life around the title of Wife. I can stand with movers and shakers right now and do my work with excellence right now. I don’t have to water down my gifts, talents, and beliefs in some attempt to be a more “Biblical woman.” Thank YOU for being a voice that frees so many.

  • EthanRogati

    I am a daddy to a little 5 year old on the Autism Spectrum. I don’t know what she’ll be able to grasp in her life (if I have anything to do with it, as much as she can), but I have a request; when she’s at the stage in life described in this post, please still be doing what you’re doing.

    Thanks,
    Ethan

  • There is so much here Sarah. So much. Thank you for speaking and being the gift that you are. I am one of those 20 somethings, married for awhile now, but no children yet and this spoke to me exactly where I am at. You are one of those authors who continually pull me back into my faith every time I think,”this is it” or “I can’t hold on to it anymore.” You give me hope and remind me that my faith can survive and still be more than the hurt, legalism, hypocrisy, rejection, and failure that I have experienced within the church. I am really looking forward to your upcoming book! Jesus Feminist is on my shelf of favorites, and there is another space waiting on it for Out of Sorts. 🙂 <3

  • Joel Granger

    Sarah, We would love to see your great articles on
    http://www.CollectiveFaith.com. Please join and
    share with our Christian Social Network.

  • Hollie Miller

    I loved this article! Empowering and inspiring to the fullest. I have to admit I have not read the book yet but plan to as soon as I can get my hands on it! I do want to clarify and please trust me when I say I mean absolutely no disrespect here, but in this paragraph: ” Jesus is your Teacher and your Shepherd, don’t out-source the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. If you are thirsty, praise God – it means you will be satisfied. “Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me,” said our Jesus. The Spirit is real, let her infuse your waking up and walking around life.” ……
    Did you mean to refer to the Spirit as a “her” or is that a typo? I was honestly nervous to ask that because I don’t want it to come across as negative but I figured if there was a typo, you might want to know. If it’s not…..would you mind explaining why you did use that term? Thank you! I’ve got nothing but love and respect and huge appreciation for the way your words bless, encourage, promote, provoke, lead and love these women!

  • Olivia Butz

    Amen and amen. Thanks for your virtual commissioning of us, all the same! 🙂

  • Lynn Richards

    Thank goodness I have found this blog and post. Next comes the book to read. I’m 53, but I look at our teenagers and 20 something women and fall in love and get energized. What passion they have! What boldness! I want to be in their midst to remind them that they are not alone and to be reminded that we are better and stronger together. TOGETHER. Thanks so much, Sarah, for fueling the passion of wanting to gather these amazing people together and work alongside them. xo

  • Laura Knobel

    THANK YOU for this. All of this. I was just lamenting to my husband that I feel like no one is writing to us, marketing to us…the 20-something, married women with no kids. You either have to be a teenager or a mom to feel like someone is speaking to you about something meaningful. You captured my feelings so well here, and I’m sure the same feelings are shared by so many others. Feeling important one day, insignificant the next. Wanting to express and protest, but feeling silenced or like your voice isn’t an important part of the conversation. Thank you for noticing us and speaking to us so earnestly and honestly.

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  • Kelsey Chalko

    Wow thank you dearly! I am sharing this with every one of my fellow young Jesus femenists. Thank you for being a source of inspiration and aspiration to us. “Stop waiting for permission…. You’re free already, remember” especially spoke to me tonight. You truly are an anointed and prophetic teacher and bearer of our Lord’s sweet truth. Thank you for blessing me and my generation!

  • Laura

    Sarah, thanks so much for writing this letter of encouragement. It contains the exact reminders and truth I needed to read today.

  • R W

    I’m so late to this party- but this is me. 17 and going-to-be senior and full of questions and fire and the zealousness that only accompanies naiveté. Jesus Feminist, though…that book speaks to me every time I read it, and I am so. thankful for you. Jesus is more and more alive to me, but the church? I love her, but I hate her fakeness. It’s a struggle, and I thank you. Not giving up 🙂

  • Naomi Washatka

    Thanks for sending this in your newsletter. I’m tearing up on this end of the screen and just saved it to my favorites under “when you need encouraged.”

    Peace of the Lord be always with you.

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