My Response to Rachel Held Evans’ Scary Airplane Story

Hi Rachel!

First of all, let me say how much I love you. I am a faithful follower of your blog and I have read and loved both of your books. Your voice in the blogosphere has helped me to find and embrace my own. I consider you a kindred spirit.

I was almost afraid to read your Scary Airplane Story.  Like you and Anne Lamott, I am terrified to fly.  I am ashamed to be terrified to fly because I am a faithful lover of Jesus and we are not supposed to be afraid of anything…….Yet, like you mentioned in your blog post about the Scary Airplane, I too am afraid of many things- my beloved husband dying before I do, the possibility that I may someday need to change my mother’s diapers, the fact that my student loans for seminary will be due in two years, cancer, that I will never find a church where I fit in, that I will be old and alone with nobody to take care of me- you get the idea.

So I was afraid that The Scary Airplane Story would frighten me too much. I have had two very scary airplane stories of my own. The first one happened on a Spring Break trip to St. Martin at a time in my life when I was not a practicing Christian. The fact that I was traveling on Spring Break with a group of crazy college students should have been scary enough. What was really scary was the thunder, lightning and shaking of the plane- very similar to what you described in your own story. The plane had to be re-routed to Bermuda. We could not get off the plane in Bermuda, but had to sit on the runway until we could take off again and try to get to St. Martin.  I survived that trip, though the crazy stuff that we did when I got down there should have killed me anyway…..

The second scary time for me on a plane was when I was coming home on a flight from San Juan.  About two minutes after take-off, the captain came on the speaker in that scary “way too calm to really be calm” voice to tell us that the hydrolic  system was broken and we needed to turn around immediately and head back to San Juan.  I asked my husband what the hydrolics do on a plane and he calmly answered “pretty much everything”.

So Rachel, I totally understand where you are coming from and completely relate.  The part of your story that scared me the most, however, was not the part about the plane.  It was the part where you said that you still were not sure if God had the whole afterlife thing figured out yet.

Rachel, I am sorry that you are afraid and unsure of that.  While I am all for people being honest about their doubts- I just don’t want you to have that one. I am OK with you doubting who is “saved” and who isn’t- I have that one too.  When I read in your book about Zarmina, and how you couldn’t believe in a God who would let her go to hell- I was right there with you.

For some reason though, you doubting about the afterlife is freakin’ me out.  I guess I have to say that while I am confident that I cannot explain what will happen to everyone after they die, I am equally confident that God does have it figured out- even if my finite, pea brained little mind can’t.  I know that the God of my understanding is Good.  I trust that He is loving and merciful and desires the best for all of His children (and by children I mean ALL whom He has created- not some misguided notion of the elect)………

Please do not read this as my being all Dana Carvey “Church Lady” on you….I do not mean it that way at all.  I only want to encourage you to trust that God is Good and that He does have this afterlife thing worked out. Even if we don’t.

Thanks for all that you do and please keep the wonderful conversation on faith going.

Your friend,


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