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The Last Words of Rachel Held Evans

Jeff, what was that like for you, taking this on?

JEFF CHU The decision to say yes to Dan and the kids was not difficult. Actually following through and finishing the book was really difficult. But this is the thing about friendship — I don’t think that friendship is always just easy. Sometimes friendship is going to ask us to make sacrifices and take hard roads and do things that aren’t necessarily delightful or fun, because that’s what our friends need.

For Rachel, what would it mean to strive for wholehearted faith, in this moment?

EVANS If you want to see somebody who’s wholehearted, it was Rachel. Part of wholeheartedness is that ability to be vulnerable. She was able to approach her doubts and the things that used to be considered scary or bad in her faith tradition and say, actually, it’s a strength to be able to acknowledge these.

There’s a line when she says, “Christianity is the story I will wrestle with forever.” Tell me about that.

CHU Rachel often would say, “On the days when I believe …” That’s a line that shows up over and over in her talks and in her writing, and I think it was a candid acknowledgment of the reality of faith for so many of us. Christianity is, let’s be honest, a super weird story. And it’s also an invitation to ask big questions. How do you not ask big questions about the suffering in this world? And how do you not ask big questions about this super weird story? One of the gifts that Rachel gave me, and I think one that she left for the world, was her gentle encouragement to keep wrestling, to keep asking questions, to keep seeking because all of this is complicated. But ultimately, I think she believes the love that was underneath all of it was worth chasing.

There’s a theme in the book of how interconnected we all are, even beyond time. What does it mean to carry on the life and love of someone after they have died?

EVANS I used to think that “til death do us part” meant that everything ended when one person died. And what I’m learning is that there are some things that exist until both people are in the grave. Sounds super morbid and depressing, I’m sure. But there are some things that currently are still painful, but I hope in the future I can look back on with a smile, like all the shared jokes that only two of us knew, and now just one of us does. The life that we imagined together, and now I’m the only one that can imagine it, as we did.

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