Rachel Held Evans Talks Women
Each week (or so…) I’ve been pooling the wisdom of many influential women on the subject of, well, themselves. Women. This week, we’re hearing from the beautiful Rachel Held Evans.
The first time I met Rachel, we ended up holed up in a hotel lobby, tucked into stiff flowery couches talking books and publishing and websites and balance.
Rachel was genuine and engaging in person, easily proving she is every bit as enthusiastic and warm as her online persona suggests. And she was just getting ready to write the book she’s working on now–A Year of Biblical Womanhood.
The pic below, I hope you’re guessing is a reference to that project (rather than her ancient sense of fashion).
Sarah: Your writing is really going places. Do you–in all your accomplishments–ever find jealousy or competitiveness sneaking in?
Rachel: All the time! And I get especially jealous when I sense that another woman is my “competition.” I’m not exactly sure how to explain this—perhaps it has something to do with our tendency to see those most similar to us as the biggest threat—but I pray consistently for this attitude to change in me. I’ve found that one way to keep in check is to intentionally befriend women whose religious backgrounds, careers, ethnicities, and ages are different from my own.
When I observe other women really thriving in their own way, using their own unique gifts and talents, I feel more empowered to do the same without comparing myself to others. It reminds me of what Judy Garland said: ““Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.”
Sarah: I love that last quote. So, along those lines, I’ve read that women entering a room sometimes scan the other females to see how they rank in appearance comparatively. What do you think is at the heart of this behavior?
Rachel: I think it’s the same thing that makes us gossip about one another: it’s all about insecurity. When I’m feeling down about myself, I look for someone about whom I can say, “Well at least I’m not …(obese, divorced, unpublished, drowning in diaper bags, etc.) This gives me a cheap high for about 30 seconds, after which I go right back to feeling bad about my own shortcomings and fears.
I’ve found that the best way to combat this sin is to identify it as such, to say to myself, “I’m doing that thing where I look for faults in someone else because I feel depressed about my own.” Then I say something nice about myself and something nice about the woman I just criticized. (Usually these conversations go on in my head. It’s rather loud in there!)
Sarah: Okay, let’s focus on the positive. Can you tell me about a time another woman reached out to you that helped you believe in the good potential of women-to-women friendships?
Rachel: My next book project deals with the whole debate over the role of women in the home, church, and society. Mary Kassian and I have very different views on this (she’s a complementarian and I’m an egalitarian), and yet she reached out to me when she heard I was working on the project and offered some of the best advice I’ve ever received regarding how to deal with public scrutiny when writing on a controversial subject.
We talked for two hours on the phone! We’ve also corresponded a bit by email…which reminds me that I owe her a response! I really appreciated her honesty and kindness and the readiness with which sought out those things we have in common. She’s a class act all the way.
[[Note from Sarah: If you enjoyed this interview, you might want to check out the others in this series. Check out this one with publishing guru Lindsey Nobles with leader and blogger Jenni Catron, this one with author Leeana Tankersley, this one with New York Times Best Selling Author Ann Voskamp, this one with non-profit leader Jena Nardella of Bloodwater Mission or this one with bloggerHeather Whittaker .]]