Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476717586
Publisher: Howard Books
Publication date: 11/03/2015
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 102,898
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.37(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Sarah Bessey is the author of Jesus Feminist, Out of Sorts, and Rumors of the Real. She is a sought-after speaker, an award-winning blogger, and a passionate advocate for global women’s issues. Sarah serves on the board of Help One Now and Heartline. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, Brian, and their four tinies. You can find her online at SarahBessey.com.

Read an Excerpt

Out of Sorts

1

Out of Sorts

A BEGINNING


Once upon a time, you had it all beautifully sorted out.

Then you didn’t.

* * *

Out of Sorts: a state of being in one’s heart or mind or body. Often used to describe one’s sense of self at a time when you feel like everything you once knew for sure has to be figured out all over again.

Nothing feels quite right. Nothing is quite where it belongs anymore. Everything moved . . . or maybe you moved. Either way, you feel disoriented.

Then: “How’s your walk with God these days, sister?”

“Oh, glory to glory, brother! I’m blessed and highly favored!”

Now: “How’s your walk with God these days, sister?”

“Oh, it’s . . . I’m . . . a bit . . . out of sorts.”

At sixes and sevens. Bewildered. Baffled. Caught between what-was and what-will-be. Walking away from something, perhaps, but not quite sure where you’re even headed.

* * *

This book isn’t an argument to make or a point to take. It isn’t a single story with a plot and a climax and a denouement, and it doesn’t have a simple three-step program to follow with nicely spaced headers.

I don’t think this book will be turned into a calendar for the gift shop.

It’s about loss and how we cope with change. It’s about Jesus and why I love Him and follow Him. It’s about church and church people and why both make me crazy but why I can’t seem to quit either. It’s about embracing a faith, which evolves, and the stuff I used to think about God but I don’t think anymore, and it’s about the new things I think and believe that turned out to be old. It’s about the evolution of a soul and the ways I’ve failed; it’s about letting go of the fear and walking out into the unknown.

It’s about the beautiful things we might reclaim and the stuff we may decide to kick to the curb. It’s a book about making peace with unanswered questions and being content to live into the answers as they come. It’s about being comfortable with where we land for now, while holding our hands open for where the Spirit leads us next. It’s about not apologizing for our transformation and change in response to the unchanging Christ.

Really, it’s a book about not being afraid. This book is my way of leaving the light on for the ones who are wandering.

* * *

I’ve heard that most of our theology is formed by autobiography. This is true in my case and maybe it’s true for you too.

I think that is why I love reading or hearing other people’s stories of faith—the conversion, the wrestling, the falling away, the calling, the triumphs, the tenderness, the questions, the why behind all of it. I feel like I’ll know Jesus better if I hear about how you love Him or how you find Him or how you experience the divine in your life. Emily Dickinson wrote,

Tell all the truth, but tell it slant—

. . .

The truth must dazzle gradually,

or every man be blind.1

Come at it sideways, let me hear the truth, but let the truth find me too. We’re all still being slowly dazzled.

* * *

I am still wrestling with some aspects of my Mother Church. Perhaps you are too. Resting in the in-betweens is okay for now. You may find, like me, that you are reclaiming more and more, fighting your way through the weeds of over-realization or extreme cases or weirdness or wounding, to find the seed of the real that is still there. After the fury, after the rebellion, after the wrestling, after the weighing and the sifting and the casting off and putting on, after the contemplation and the wilderness—after the sorting—comes the end of the striving and then comes rest.

Søren Kierkegaard said, “It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.”2

Perhaps we are never really free from the ones who came before us; we simply make our peace with the ways they haunt us still.

* * *

A while ago, a new friend, Nadia, drove me to the airport in Denver after a conference. We spoke of the power of resurrection in our lives, how the very things that used to hurt us were instruments of our healing. We talked about all the ways that our lives had been changed, how our eyes had been opened, how our worlds had been made new because of this man from Nazareth.

“Look at us!” I was laughing through my tears. “What in the world? It’s like we’ve been born again, all over again!”

That’s when Nadia told me that it was a real thing. She called it the “second naiveté.” And she said, “That’s us. We’re naive all over again. By choice.”

Nadia was referencing the work of French philosopher Paul Ricoeur. Ricoeur thought we began our lives in the first naiveté: basically, we take everything we are taught at face value. Some of us never move out of this stage in our spiritual formation and growth. We simply stay faithful to what we were taught at the beginning. But most of us, at some point, will encounter the second stage, which he called “critical distance.” This is the time in our formation when we begin to . . . well, doubt. We begin to question. We hold our faith up to the light and see only the holes and inconsistencies.

In a modern world, few of us can escape a logical look at our faith without some serious intellectual dishonesty. A lot of what our ancient-future religion teaches doesn’t hold up to modern logic. Many of us simply stay in this rational stage, and sadly, when we become rational, some magic and beauty is lost to us.

Yet he writes, “Beyond the desert of criticism, we wish to be called again.”3 I remember crying out to God once while in the midst of what I called my wilderness, what Ricoeur calls the critical distance, because I was longing to “go back.” It was somehow easier when life and faith and God were an exercise in rule making and literalism, in black-and-white cause and effect. I found it was not enough to live without the magic and the beauty, without the wonder. I couldn’t return to my first naiveté and I missed the simplicity of it. I wanted to be called again, to hear the voice of God again, perhaps never more wildly than when it felt like the God I once knew was disappearing like steam on a mirror.

But those who continue to press forward can find what Ricoeur called a second naiveté. I didn’t know it, but I was pressing through my wilderness to deliverance, toward that place on the other side of rationality, when we reengage with our faith with new eyes. We take responsibility for what we believe and do. We understand our texts or ideas or practices differently, yes, but also with a sweetness because we are there by choice. As Richard Rohr writes, “the same passion which leads us away from God can also lead us back to God and to our true selves.”4

In my own journey, I witness this trajectory: the first naiveté of my faith, then the bitter struggle and relief in the critical distance, and now, a second, sweet naiveté.

The second naiveté is life after the death of what was once so alive, after the sorting through what remains, after the rummage sale perhaps. We have an inheritance that we have carefully curated.

No wonder Nadia and I were crying in the car. We had sorted through our faith. We were still tossing what needed to be thrown out and reclaiming what needed to be treasured. We had found beauty and pain were threaded together. We were choosing this life, this Jesus, over and over again.

* * *

I’ve come to believe that there is always a bit of grief to the sorting out of a life, to making sense of the stories and the moments and intersections, in our ability to move forward with integrity. We figure out what we need to keep, what we need to throw away, and what we need to repurpose. Sometimes what looks like junk becomes precious because of the memories it holds. Other times, the memories are painful, and so we hold them to remind ourselves: never again. But as we make small piles of treasures and trash, we are sorting through a life and through our grief, making the way clear to move forward. This happens when someone we love dies, you know. We remember the person’s life and we sort through our grief, our memories, our experiences, so we can find a way to move forward.

For instance, I clearly remember sitting in my maternal granny’s hospital room while she was dying. I was curled up in one of those plastic-covered hospital chairs in the corner, five months pregnant with my eldest daughter. We granddaughters took turns in that room, ostensibly there to offer our mothers a respite. In reality, while the respite was offered, they never took us up on it: they never left her side.

One afternoon, I sat in that chair with a Styrofoam cup of tepid Red Rose tea in my hand. Red Rose is the tea of hospitals, funerals, and church basements. My mother sat on one side of her mother’s bed; her older sister sat on the other. They never moved as the last hours stretched out. They simply sat in her presence, holding her hands while she slept within the morphine, ticking the clock toward death. I watched them minister to her and to each other in silence. They would catch eyes sometimes, and I knew an entire conversation was happening between them across that bed. The sisters were waiting, but they were waiting in peace.

Later that day, my granny’s husband of ten years, her late-in-life love, crawled into her bed with her. Owen curled around her while she slept away from us, and he held her close till nearly her last breath.

She died, and we all felt the peace of it.

After she died, her children gathered in her apartment. Owen gave them the gift of space to sort things out and to remember. My granny didn’t have much worldly treasure: she lived on an old-age pension in a tiny apartment in Edmonton. Humble or not, that final sort-through after death is a place of reckoning and it’s an altar.

They stayed up through the night, reconnecting with their mother by telling the stories of her things, choosing items for themselves and assigning gifts to the grandchildren. My mother came home with a box of Granny’s things, but she couldn’t bring herself to really sort through it for quite a while. The grief was still too new. That box sat in the basement. When she was ready to sort through, it was there waiting. In the meantime, she began to learn how to live without her mother.

A year after the funeral, we met up at my auntie’s house for Easter weekend. We looked at old pictures. We told the stories to each other so we would remember; we each had such different experiences of her, we needed to share our narratives to gather the full complexity of her life. We even talked about her things and what we had done with them, how they traveled with us through our lives and where they lived in our homes.

Later that night, when everyone else had gone home, I tucked my then six-month-old daughter into her fold-and-go bassinet in the guest room. I stayed up too late, sitting on the couch beside my mother and her sister with a recently discovered box of old letters, receipts, and scraps of photos. They went through them, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes angry or sad. They passed the bits of paper and photographs to me: Hold this one, they said. And this one. Remember this? Oh, let me tell you about this one! It was their instinct to fill in the blanks for me, to help me see the truth of their mother, to love her better because of how they had loved her.

I didn’t say much that night; sometimes our most holy calling is to listen, to bear witness. I held the scraps and the stories of what remained from the sort, my legacy.

* * *

But we weren’t given the gift of sorting when my dad’s mother passed away.

My grandma Nellie wasn’t a typical grandmotherly type: she was tall and strong, hardworking and opinionated, ferocious and kind. She felt things deeply, yet she experienced grief and devastating loss with the prairie stoicism of the time. She loved hockey and gardening and western novels; she’d rather be outdoors than in any lovely room. We wrote letters throughout my life; I have them all saved in a shoebox still. It’s probably silly to dare imagine that I understood her at all, but I tried. And she loved me well. When I was young, I worshipped her. Even later when the spell broke, I always felt at home in her stern love.

One day, when I was about seven years old, I was riding with Nellie and my grandpa Ken in his old red-and-white Chevy truck on our way to our shared family cottage. We were out of range of the radio, and the windows were rolled down because it was a stifling day. Even the wind was hot in my hair. I was feeling sleepy, content as only a secure child can feel. I leaned my head against her warm arm, so my ear was pressed right against her bare skin, and she was humming wordless melodies. The reverberations in her skin wound down into my own body. I remember wishing I could stay there, in that spare truck cab, smelling of my grandpa’s cigarettes and her perfume and my suntan lotion, forever. This is also how we absorb our legacies, slowly over time, through presence and osmosis.

* * *

My father is estranged from one of his brothers, and despite his efforts at reconciliation, the great sorrow remains part of our story. Even when their mother was dying, they were unreconciled. My father remains deeply grieved at their broken relationship, but he respects it. At some point, we all have to let people live their lives, even if that means they want to live them far away from us. And it was quite clear that my uncle, believing in the truth of his reasons, had no wish to live his life in any sort of contact or familial friendship with any of us.

History repeats itself. This broken bond of brothers happened, yes, but I could argue that it was always going to happen, that it was our legacy. My father’s own uncles—Nellie’s brothers—lived and died in decades of silence. They grew old on the same family farm and willfully became enemies, then remained strangers in their pride. They died unreconciled. So when estrangement reemerged in my father’s generation, we all knew that—barring a miracle—there would be no happy ending. There would be no forgiveness. Once the grudge begins, it never ends. Maybe we’re all just corkscrewing around the same stories over the years.

Things like this are bearable in a regular day-to-day life, but they become unbearable when shadows fall. So even though the family was splintered, it was mostly okay, bearable, for all of us as we got on with our separate lives, right up until Nellie began to die in good earnest.

* * *

I still firmly believe Nellie died because she simply made up her mind to do so. She was ready for death, and so death came at her bidding. Her end-of-life care instructions were clear, without sentimentality. If it was time to die, then for mercy’s sake, let’s get on with it.

Nellie grew up on the prairies of Canada. Life wasn’t easy, but she belonged there. Not all women do, we knew that well, but she did—she was a survivor. She was born in the Roaring Twenties but her story was not a scene out of The Great Gatsby. There in the land of the living skies, the Twenties roared with work. Tiny farmhouse, a father who battled with alcoholism, Canadian winters—so much labor required to simply survive. Her family made their own bread, churned their own butter, milked the cows, raised a vegetable garden, and “did down” the vegetables and fruits (which is what we call canning and preserving), so they’d have food when the winter came. She attended a one-room schoolhouse until grade eight and then had to take correspondence courses for grades nine and ten. She loved to learn and longed to be a teacher but it was not to be. She told me once that she cried every night for weeks over the death of that dream.

Nellie wasn’t beautiful for any era: her bones were too sharp, her height too commanding, her face too long, her straightforward gaze too intimidating. But she was self-possessed, taking the loneliness of her landscape into her heart, content to stand. They said she rode horses like a man. She would put on her slacks and race with the boys, defying everyone just to feel the wind on her face.

When she moved to the city with her new husband after the war, she missed the farm. If she had been a boy, she might never have left her homestead. But instead, she found herself married to a local boy whose greatest charm was a gift for gab. She raised their three boys and buried a stillborn daughter, making a home in the postwar bungalows of Regina and faithfully working the complaints desk at Simpson Sears department store.

But her longing for freedom was always there: when you grow up under the stars of the prairie and the wild winds, it’s hard to submit to the city, I imagine.

When I was a kid, my uncles and my father used to tell stories about her that made me howl with laughter. When she wanted a cellar under the house, and her husband, Ken, kept putting it off, she grabbed a shovel and simply dug it out herself. When neighborhood toughs picked on her kids, they found themselves on the receiving end of her sharp tongue and never dared again. When a big dog chased her boys and terrorized the neighborhood, she grabbed up a two-by-four and chased that dog right back up the street to his yard. By the time she was finished with the dog and its owner, both were on their best behavior. Nellie’s entire parenting philosophy can be summed up in one sentence: “No child is going to be the boss of me.”

To me, Nellie embodied the prairie we loved. At times, hard and indomitable, but at others, caressing, beautiful, and tender. I worshipped her when I was a child, yes, but I grew to love her all the more for her complexities, her vastness, her sweeping presence, her edges. She was never simple or trite; I am unable to sum her up by the usual grandmotherly platitudes.

When she died, some little-girl part of me couldn’t believe it. How could such a strong woman, so resolutely alive, be dead?

* * *

She died. And the family did not gather for the sort. We didn’t get to go to her house and tell stories about our favorite photos or treasures, swapping memories to help us say good-bye. We simply waited in a hotel room while my uncle took care of all the details. Our grief had no release of storytelling and memory keeping. No books and costume jewelry and dusty boxes of black-and-white photos to mull over. We needed to laugh so we could welcome the tears. We needed to sort through her life, together, and we needed to take care of the details together. Instead, we went to the funeral home for her wake on the night before her burial. We stood in the heavy room, drinking Red Rose tea, awkward and silent strangers to one another. How do you hug someone, offer comfort to someone who won’t speak to you?

I had asked my dad to request a box since we weren’t going to her house to sort her things out together. After the funeral, my uncle presented me with a cardboard box from her house containing a few scrapbooks of her newspaper clippings, a couple of letters I had written to her, random knickknacks. It was a casual smattering, but it was beautiful to me. At least it was something.

I do have a few of Nellie’s things, and I’m forever thankful for those treasures. In the years before her death, every time I visited—which wasn’t often, since I lived far away—she would fill my suitcase with her chipped teacups and saucers, dusty cardboard hardback westerns by Zane Grey, a few pieces of costume jewelry, and other tchotchkes. In my dining room cabinet, I have her decorative plate imprinted with gold-leafed wheat stalks and the prayer “Give us this day our daily bread”; it used to sit in her dining room cabinet. I have her tiny orange ceramic cat, tail curled around its slender body. It used to sit on her kitchen windowsill, presiding over the grandkids washing dishes.

Later, I heard that my estranged uncle held an estate sale to dispose of her things. I didn’t go to the sale because I wasn’t invited or informed until it was over. Whatever she had given me before her death was all I had now.

Every once in a while, nearly ten years later, I remember something of hers and I wonder what happened to it. What happened to the mirror that hung in the entryway? What happened to the midcentury bread box? The candy dishes that sat on the coffee table? The little ceramic animals hiding among the leaves in her African violets from the front room? Where are her things?

It’s hard to move forward when you feel like you never properly said good-bye or resolved your memories. Someone else bought most of her things, and whatever was left went to the Salvation Army to sit on metal shelves under fluorescent lights, examined by the uninterested. I wonder now if the experience of sitting together, telling the stories as we sorted through her home, if that would have healed us? If we needed to learn to love each other better by all loving the same old woman?

* * *

We sort on the threshold of change; it’s how we gather the courage to eventually walk through the door and out into the new day’s light. Of course there is grief in this process, whether it’s from the death of a loved one or the death of an old way of life. Of course there is.

Whether it’s in our relationship with God or with our own families, at some point we find that it is time to sort. It’s time to figure out what we need to keep, what we need to toss, and what we need to reclaim. And we need to tell our stories in order to move forward.

Every ending is also a new beginning.

* * *

Every five hundred years or so, the Church has a big rummage sale. Phyllis Tickle is the theologian who introduced me to the idea of the holy rummage sale. She credits it to an Anglican bishop named Mark Dyer, who once quipped that “about every five hundred years the Church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale.”

Tickle is of the opinion that the Church is on the edge of a great shift: she calls it the Great Emergence. She writes “about every five hundred years the empowered structures of institutionalized Christianity, whatever they may be at that time, become an intolerable carapace that must be shattered in order that renewal and new growth may occur.”5

First there was the establishment of the Church. Then in the sixth century, we experienced the fall of the Roman Empire, or the dawn of the Dark Ages in Christianity (it can be said that this was the bright season of other religions, such as Islam, which enjoyed great growth in theology, science, literature, and art during our Dark Ages). Then roughly five hundred years later, we experienced the Great Schism, when the ancient Church split into the East and West. After another five hundred years, we experienced the Great Reformation. Now we are creeping resolutely toward another “great” disruption. It’s simply part of our life cycle as Christians. The old remains in some form or another, but the new expression will launch the Church into a new world. Tickle explains that every time the incrustations of an overly established Christianity have been broken open, the faith has spread—and been spread—dramatically into new geographic and demographic areas, thereby increasing exponentially the range and depth of Christianity’s reach as a result of its time of unease and distress. Thus, for example, the birth of Protestantism not only established a new, powerful way of being Christian, but it also forced Roman Catholicism to change its own structures and praxis. As a result of both those developments, Christianity was spread over far more of the earth’s territories than it ever had been in the past.

So right now, we are all cleaning out our homes. We are in a time, much like the Great Schism and the Great Reformation, of sorting through our religion as a universal Church. It’s a fascinating study to look at how we’ve landed here: technology, philosophy, science, medicine, art, sexuality, politics, ethics, faith, media, development, globalization. The Church is being reinvented in response. We are dying, perhaps, but even death is part of our story: it comes right before resurrection.

It’s already happening globally—on the margins and among the disenfranchised, in the outsiders and the grass roots. I’m sure the great bastions of power and leadership within the Church are feeling the strain of the shift.

* * *

This got me to thinking: If the Church is in the midst of a rummage sale, aren’t we all in the midst of a rummage sale?

With all the hand-wringing about the state of the influence and power of the Church in society, I wonder if we’ve forgotten that the Church isn’t simply an institution. It’s us. We’re it. We are all standing in our own homes, looking at all the boxes and the junk and the treasures of our inheritance, and we are thinking to ourselves, “God, what a mess. Someday I really need to do something about all this.”

* * *

We sort through our mess on the threshold of change, don’t we? When we are moving. When there has been a death. When someone leaves. When we need the space. When we are changing in some way. Even if we’re glad to be getting rid of things, there is still an emotional attachment to our stuff that plays out as we figure out what needs to stay and what needs to go.

After their parents died, my own parents decided to get their house in order. Rather than leaving us with a houseful of receipts and boxes of unidentified people in photos and scraps of bank statements to follow like a trail of breadcrumbs, they embarked on a several-year project of cleaning, purging, and organizing their home and their finances, even their decisions about death. They did not want to saddle my sister and me with the decisions about their end-of-life care or unorganized finances or junk accumulated over a lifetime. As an act of love, they wanted even their death to be as easy on us as possible.

* * *

I think about Nellie’s things now and again. The grief of being denied the opportunity to go through her earthly treasures with the eye of love and the tenderness of memory still stings. In fact, I hate it. I hate that strangers picked through her things, I hate the thought of her special, scrimped-for knickknacks marked with price tags, I hate that the little things she loved have disappeared. Mostly, I hate that the estrangement continues in silence.

* * *

At the threshold of any change, we are confronted with fear. This is a pretty natural response to the birth of new life. In childbirth, Dr. William Sears calls it the “fear-tension-pain cycle.”6 When a woman is in labor and first feeling pain, she often becomes afraid and then she naturally holds back or tenses up, but that response only causes more pain, and so she experiences even more fear, which leads to more pain and so on. It’s a terrible cycle that can impede or slow down birth. To interrupt the cycle, midwives and doctors recommend that women surrender to what is happening in their bodies. Counter to our intuition, the solution is to lean into the pain.

As I write this, my fourth little baby is sleeping in her crib, only three months old. Well, actually she is my eighth baby. I’ve lost four babies before birth. So this isn’t exactly dry philosophy to me: I understand new birth and creation as more than a metaphor. As I have given birth to my babies, I learned the truth of Dr. Sears’s words for myself: the fear made the pain worse. It was only by releasing the tension, by embracing my fear and my pain, that I was able to lean into the work of my body and be delivered.

I have had to lean into the pain and grief of my faith as well. Often, when we are on the threshold of new life or new birth, there is first the labor and the work. We become afraid of the pain we feel, and so we tense up and hold back—but that only increases the pain. These days, it’s the fear of “what if?” and of loss that rises up in me. Whether it is the pain of community or of how we understand the Church or of how we have lost Jesus or of what we think about hell or signs and wonders or suffering, the fear to engage with our evolution only worsens the pain. As for a caterpillar in the cocoon, it becomes more painful to stay within our tight home than to simply break free and unfold our new wings. We fight the very thing that is meant to free us. It is only by releasing ourselves, giving ourselves fully over to the pain, and riding its cleansing wave that we find new life.

* * *

So this is a book about how feeling out of sorts leads us to sorting it out. About our personal rummage sales, how we engage with our first naiveté about so many areas of spirituality, and how we find the critical distance and the doubts. And then, how we experience a second birth. I’m under no illusions that I’m finished—and I don’t imagine you’re finished either. I tend to think that we are never fully done with these stages. Someday we’ll look back on these opinions or landing points and know that this was simply an embarking point of another kind. But this is the process; this is how it begins. As we walk through this sort together, I’ll also tell you about my own rummage sale, the grief that came with the sorting, and the healing that was ushered in. What I had to weigh and discard and evaluate will be different than what you will have in your own house: we all have our own legacies and baggage, family heirlooms and hoarders. One thing this book is not about is convincing you to end up in the exact same place or opinions as me. How could that even happen, when we start from different places? As Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 (NLT), “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Yes, we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds, transformed in response to the weight and shaping of Christ in us.

There are many of us out here sorting, I think. This might be a small candle, but I’ll set mine on the lamp stand and you can set yours there too—and maybe our glow will light the path for others.

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Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Amaack More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book. But there was something off-putting about the way that Bessey approached certain things within her book. I appreciated that she took the time to remind her reader that the wilderness is not a place of shame, but something that is a legitimate thing that all believers go through. But some of the ways in which she approached her time in the wilderness and some of her conclusions just rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps that is because they were are so other from what I believe theologically. *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.*
andsarahash More than 1 year ago
"If you have needed to walk away, I know you're grieving. Let yourself grieve. When something ends, it's worthwhile to notice its passing, to sit in the space and look at the pieces before you head out." Growing up, I was a church person. Blessed with that title before birth as the firstborn of two Jesus-loving church people, I spent my childhood years learning about the God of the Christian Bible, and my teenage years learning to defend him. I went to the fellowships, outreach events, lock-ins, and Bible studies for almost twenty years and I was immersed and committed and everything a church person should be. "Once upon a time, you had it all beautifully sorted out. Then you didn't." At some point, being a church person was no longer enough. My tradition didn't allow enough room for all the people, and in response I stepped away. I have spent the last few years wandering in the wilderness: asking, wrestling, seeking: never staying in one place too long. It is long and hard and weary, and I'm not sure who I will be when I make it to the other side. Sarah's book is an oasis in my wilderness. A quick hug and a "yeah, me too" before I continue on my seemingly endless journey. A reminder that I am okay and I don't have to be afraid; I'm just a little out of sorts.
Theophilusfamily More than 1 year ago
When we find ourselves out of sorts, it's time to sort it out. I feel extra appreciation for authors who use words well, who seem to weigh them and taste them and then arrange them with care. Sarah Bessey is one of those authors. Whatever aspect of life she's talking about, she reveals its hidden glory, she shows us where God has touched it. The first chapters hooked me right in, because she dives into the metaphor of "sorting things out." We feel compelled to sort material possessions when a major change happens. We sort when somebody dies. We sort when we have to move. We sort when we want to pass along one of our treasures to somebody else. Sarah feels that it is much the same with faith. Sometimes a piece of our faith seems to die, and we're left sifting through the memories. Sometimes we have to move on, and we feel suddenly rootless. And all the time, we want to pass on the good of our faith, but the graces may be buried in the negatives. This book was born from Sarah's sorting, and as she "unpacks the boxes," you may see things that you recognize right there in her hands. As is must be with any storyteller, she speaks from her heart but the words echo in yours. Sarah tells us that she has always felt an ease in her communion with the Spirit. It didn't keep her from struggles, or fears, or terrible loss. But through it all, she has been known, and she knows it. This comes out in her writing. The Jesus that she is madly in love with is a living Jesus, a God-Incarnate whom she meets in the Gospel accounts and on the street and around her kitchen table. He's the One Eugene Peterson described, who could "say the big nouns: joy, glory, peace; and live the best verbs: love, forgive, save." And because of him, Sarah will not walk away from the people that he calls his body. She will not forget that he called us into a kingdom: a way of being fully human; of spending our moments well; of being present with people the in presence of Christ; a way of working towards what is good, especially when it's hard. If you read Out Of Sorts, you will come away with something valuable. I came away with an expanded vision of what Sarah calls "Eternal Living." When a Christian says "eternal life," the world hears "that disembodied forever existence that you think you're getting- if you're not on God's sin list." That cannot be what Jesus was referring to when he said that we had his life in us. When Sarah hears those words, she hears something more like "Eternal Living"- doing life as if God was right there in it, as if it were all caught up in Christ- finding its grounding and glory in him. Treat yourself to this book. It's positive without being fake. It's serious without being despairing. It's full of truth without arrogance. It sounds kinda like a conversation between her, and you, and Jesus. I thank Howard Books for providing me with this review copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had the good fortune to read an advance copy of this wonderful book after being a huge Jesus Feminist fan. Sarah Bessey's latest did not disappoint. If you're on any kind of a spiritual journey, this is the book to read, not because it has all the answers, but because it celebrates the questions and the journey. Bessey uses her gift for beautiful language and her tender heart to explore the importance and significance of questioning your faith's long-held beliefs. Through her exploration of Scripture and an openness about her own spiritual journey and doubts, Bessey assures the reader that nobody has all the answers and that questions and doubt can be a big part of spiritual growth. This book is part memoir, part confession, and all encouragement. Bessey's love for her readers and excitement about being a Jesus follower drip from every page. I can't wait to reread this book!
VicG More than 1 year ago
Sarah Bessey in her new book, “Out Of Sorts”published by Howard Books gives us Making Peace with an Evolving Faith. From the back cover: From the popular blogger and provocative author of Jesus Feminist comes a riveting new study of Christianity that helps you wrestle with—and sort out—your faith. In Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey—award-winning blogger and author of Jesus Feminist, which was hailed as “lucid, compelling, and beautifully written” (Frank Viola, author of God’s Favorite Place on Earth)—helps us grapple with core Christian issues using a mixture of beautiful storytelling and biblical teaching, a style well described as “narrative theology.” As she candidly shares her wrestlings with core issues—such as who Jesus is, what place the Church has in our lives, how to disagree yet remain within a community, and how to love the Bible for what it is rather than what we want it to be—she teaches us how to walk courageously through our own tough questions. In the process of gently helping us sort things out, Bessey teaches us how to be as comfortable with uncertainty as we are with solid answers. And as we learn to hold questions in one hand and answers in the other, we discover new depths of faith that will remain secure even through the storms of life. Ms. Bessey’s definition of Out Of Sorts is: “a state of being in one’s heart or mind or body. Often used to describe one’s sense of self at a time when you feel like everything you once knew for sure has to be figured out all over again.” Another way to describe that is a wilderness experience. It is at this time that we need to sort through our belief system, figure out what is still worth keeping, and learn to let go of the things that are no longer helpful, things that are useless, and things that may even be harmful. Ms. Bessey is sharing from her life experiences and she is looking at eleven belief systems and if they are the same today as when she started her Christian walk. We are not ponds where our water stands still. Quite the contrary we are compared to a river where the water is constantly moving. This is fascinating reading and the key is the subtitle of the book: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a heartfelt, gracious book reminding us that our faith changes, and it is okay to lean into the change instead of being afraid. For anyone who has come from a church background, this book encourages us to keep wrestling with our faith and to embrace Jesus above all else. Sarah Bessey shares parts of her sorting in her beautifully lilting writing that invites us to do the messy work of sorting through our questions and pain, too, while knowing that we are so loved and never alone.
NeedsMoreBookshelves8236 More than 1 year ago
Before the armchair theologians come out of the woodwork to scream HERESY! and the too cool critics find a way to pick this apart (because this will happen--it always does in this anonymous internet universe), let me be one of the first to say: BRAVA, Sarah, on a deeply moving, meticulously thought out sacrificial offering of self. This is the kind of book that isn't just a book--it's an invitation to listen to someone else's life story. And when we listen to other people's stories--well, isn't that what makes life worth living? Connecting, learning, absorbing. There will be others who read the book and think it's okay--well-written and thought-provoking at times, but not life changing. For those of us who have walked this (nearly) exact road, we thank you. Thanks for saying it out loud. Thanks for forcing this conversation to the forefront of modern Western Christendom. Thanks for recognizing the sacred in your every day. For me, reading this book was an exercise in shaking my head up and down "Yes, yes, yes!" over and over and over again. This is about comfort and community--Sarah Bessey is my people, and this book was so thorough, so intentional, so beautiful. I received this book from NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For far too long Christians have paraded around pretending (miserably) that we have it all figured out. Out of Sorts is a beautiful example of intentionally dropping the mask. It is full of personal stories that so many times made me go “me too!” and heart-felt ideas that left me contemplating for days. I once heard a reviewer say that she would read Sarah Bessey’s grocery list and I fully agree. Sarah’s writing has a poetic tone that astounds me, heart that resonates with me, and an ever so slight edge of humour that is beyond delightful. Out of Sorts is the best of Sarah Bessey so far and it is a gift to every spiritual traveller.
GWallace More than 1 year ago
This is a book about sorting through all of our experiences and beliefs about Church. It is not the kind of book you read in one sitting - it is something to read slowly and chew on; an encouragement to lean in to our discomfort, negative experiences in church communities, conflicting thoughts and feelings about our own faith journeys. Sarah reminds us that faith is "messy" and that God doesn't fit into a box. She encourages us to embrace our faith in Jesus even when we feel "outs of sorts" or even at odds with Christianity. This book is especially helpful for anyone who has ever doubted their faith or walked away from the church, but it is also for those who have remained, because the road she outlines is one all believers will walk at one time or another in their lives.
ChristinaKrost5 More than 1 year ago
There are two types of people: those who like yard sales and those who don't. I put myself in the latter category. I tend to sort through and discard my junk all year long instead of waiting to purge all at once. It's too overwhelming for me to let it pile up. And with rare exception, I'm not all that interested in pawing through and/or purchasing someone else's junk. When I met my husband I was a practicing Catholic taking a break from church during college. He was a Methodist who figured he would eventually find his way back to church once he settled down. We had a lot of stuff between us when we married and had to sort through it all, mostly things from our childhoods like old sports trophies and porcelain clown collections. Some things I discarded with glee, others were harder to part with. As we began to sort through our things, we had to sort through some deeply held beliefs, too. Where would we attend church? What makes us us? What belief systems do we keep and which do we discard? Is there anything we need to add to our pile? Out of Sorts was written for those of us looking for answers to yard sale-like questions: what stays and what goes? What should I take with me on my journey to knowing Jesus? Some of our beliefs will need to be discarded as we go, and they will be hard to part with. We may feel like we're losing part of our identity with their subtraction. Other times we'll light a bonfire and watch those beliefs burn in joy and relief. And we'll likely collect some new ideas as we sort through it all. It is said that the church goes through a kind of holy rummage sale every 500 years. It's part of our life cycle of death and resurrection; the death of some old ideas makes room for new life and new energy. We're on the cusp of a Great Emergence, an idea brought about by the late Phyllis Tickle. This shift will likely set us off in new paths and directions as pilgrims in search of answers, just like our Christian brothers and sisters of the past. You are not alone in your wandering. Bessey covers a range of topics in Out of Sorts including grief and loss, family and parenting, the Bible, community and friendship, justice, and calling. It is directed at those who have always gone to church and those that are sorting out their feelings about church. This book has something for everyone. So set out, pilgrim, on a great spiritual rummage sale. Discard what needs discarding, set aside some things to ponder later, and gather near to you that which sets you free. If you have been holding onto church hurts or are seeking answers to questions and need to give yourself permission to ask them, please pick up a copy of Out of Sorts.
SarahGK More than 1 year ago
Sarah Bessey’s newest book, Out of Sorts, releases on November 3rd. If you at all believe or have believed in God, the only thing I can say is: run and get this book. The beauty of it is it might not be the right time for you to read it, not right now. You might be very comfortable in your theology and you might be really confident in what you believe right now. To quote Bessey, “If our theology doesn’t shift and change during our lifetime, I have to wonder if we’re paying attention.” Throughout Out of Sorts Bessey brings you through her story of sorting through her theology, while also placing those philosophies in the context of the larger Theology of Christianity. Her concept of Jesus is very accessible too, meaning I believe even people with limited belief in Jesus will be able to understand her perspective and frustrations and love for Him. She states it very simply in her chapter on finding Jesus after losing Him through organized church -- “If I believed Jesus was who He said He was, then He was worth following.” Throughout the book she focuses on community (she is very active in community efforts) but her theology very simply comes down to Jesus. She is for Jesus for all and most of her community speak in the book is about helping teach people that this is true. That there’s no entry requirement for belief in Christ and there’s no litmus test for receiving service and love from Him or from any faith community. “I go small, I choose reality, I choose the daily mess of an actual place and actual people over abstracts.” We can do acts of God in the kitchen or in the playroom, our community doesn’t have be dressed in Sunday best. But I think one of the most powerful concepts Bessey writes about is “God is here in the wandering.” God is in the “wilderness” of uncertainty, in the doubts, in the questions. So often in various faith communities we hear that doubt is wrong. We hear grand stories of people so sure of their faith that they were able to do this great thing or withstand this horrible thing. So often there are people hearing those stories and feeling like they come up short. That their faith isn’t that strong, isn’t strong enough. That they doubt God or Jesus or whoever will come to strengthen them to that degree. Bessey turns those feelings of inadequacy on its head and forces you to face this very real truth -- that God can take it. That God IS in the wandering. If you read nothing else from Bessey read this and feel its truth: “Lean into your questions and your doubts until you find that God is out here in the wilderness too.” She gives us all permission to doubt, to question, and she gives us a framework that worked for her. She walked away from the church and gives us permission to do the same. “Maybe this is your time to let go and walk away.” That is powerful. And it is necessary. In a world that is turning away from organized religion, I think we all need more Sarah Besseys. I think we all need more permission in our own theologies to question, to doubt, to turn away from institution and towards Jesus instead (or whatever your equivalent may be). Her openness flows from this book. As I said before, even if you don’t think you “need” this book now, buy it anyway. There will come a time when you are sitting along in the dark (hopefully metaphorically) and are just waiting for permission to go through the door into your own wilderness. Out of Sorts will give you that permission. And from there? It’s you and God.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I served on the launch team for Sarah's book and as such was able to read a copy of the book before it was released today. When I first began the book, I was in love with Sarah's lyrical writing. She writes like a poet and reading her book (and all her blog posts) is like reading a song from her heart. However, as I read, I actually had a hard time moving forward in the book and got stuck in Chapter 5, because I couldn't fully relate to the message. I've been in church since I was a child and have been sorting out my beliefs for the past five years, so I felt like this was a book that I could have used five years ago, but now it just felt like "been there, done that". I voiced my concerns to our group and it was suggested that perhaps I try to not read myself into the story and instead to read it as if this was happening to a friend. I decided to stop reading and then pick it up again later. When I did, the words just jumped off the page at me and I actually wound up pre-ordering an additional copy for the pastor at my church. This book is a light in the darkness of the teaching that says if you question your faith then you don't actually have faith. It's a wake up call for people who are just going along with the status quo because that's all they've ever known. It is freedom who feel like they are being used in their calling. Sarah offers healing and hope and peace. And if you read it for anything, read it for the benediction at the end.
JenniferJohnsonCamp More than 1 year ago
Sarah Bessey's Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith, is a book that surprised me and challenged me. It has given me a fresh perspective on the church’s role in my story, a role I had taken for granted. Sarah’s vulnerable wrestling here with her feelings about faith and what influenced its evolution spurred me to consider what factors have influenced my own faith. Sarah Bessey’s book, Out of Sorts, can usher in deeper healing for the person who is struggling in his/her faith. This book is an important one. (~ Jennifer J. Camp)
SubtlySagacious More than 1 year ago
Sarah Bessey writes this book out of a place of being, well, out of sorts. If you have ever struggled with feeling this way in life, especially with your faith and things not seeming as they should be, this is a great read. She's funny, honest, and deep in a way that keeps your interest, but sometimes makes you want to mull over a chapter for a little while. Definitely recommend :)
ChristyKrummRichard More than 1 year ago
I cannot recommend this book enough! Out of Sorts meets readers at their most crucial point where their doubts, fears, uncertainties, and discomfort with their faith is growing difficult to bear. Rather than denying their fears, Bessey asks readers to dive straight in, admit every single feeling and frustration you’ve ever had, and trust the Holy Spirit might lead them on a journey -- maybe not towards every answer, but at least towards Him. And in the end, He may just be enough. As a fellow wanderer, Sarah leads the way by telling her story first. She speaks openly about being a pastor’s wife who refused to go to church for many years. Who felt disillusioned and duped by the hypocrisy she’d experienced in certain religious gatherings, and who ultimately came to a place where she was aching “to be called again, to hear the voice of God again” because “the God [she] once knew was disappearing like steam on a mirror.” Instead of being cast into the fiery pits of hell, as some of us might fear, and instead of walking farther away from the Christian church, her earnest seeking actually leads her back to it. Not only that, it leads her to know and recognize Jesus in a deeper and truer way. With every chapter she extends an invitation for readers to join her in the wandering. Between the lines, she calls out, See, if I can do it then so can you! You have permission. Permission to trust your instincts if some dogmatic use of scripture feels a bit off. Permission to ask questions and redefine the concept of having “faith like a child” because the real “childlike quality” we are to embody “isn’t unthinking acquiescence: it’s curiosity.” Bessey continues, “the true wonder of childlike faith [is that children] truly want to know. They’re not asking to be cool or to push back on the establishment or to prove anyone wrong or to grind an ax or make a point without making a change.” Much of the book is structured on the idea that our first task is to do a little spring cleaning. She invites readers to sort through their religious “basements” filled with experiences and beliefs and decide which ones to keep, and which to let go of. Indeed, a lot of her advice is about letting go. Letting go of our need for control, for answers, for black and white theology, and for needing to understanding and explain everything. Bessey writes, “I had to learn that taking the Bible seriously doesn’t mean taking everything literally. I had to learn to read the whole Bible through the lens of Jesus, and I had to learn to stop making it something it wasn’t -- a glorified answer book or rule book or magic spell. I had to stop trying to reduce the Bible to something I could tame or wield as a tool.” When I read her words, the Spirit inside of me smiles in agreement and feels challenged, empowered and free. Maybe that’s what this book is really about: the permission to be free. God gives us that permission any time we want, but sometimes we just need someone like Sarah Bessey to point it out and to guide us to a place where we can both edwell in and live out of that freedom each and every day. Many thanks to Howard Books for the review copy!!
creativesoul00 More than 1 year ago
This book is a breath of fresh air for those of us who feel like we don't fit into the church anymore. Sarah writes with beauty and grace about faith--why it is important and why we are important. She doesn't minimize those who question and who struggle, instead saying that we are a strength. These words are a haven to anyone who has ever felt displaced when their faith has shifted. Sarah is genuine in telling her own story, exploring faith and encouraging the journey of others--it feels like a good conversation over tea. If you've felt lost in your faith or love someone who has, this book is for you.
mandajoyful More than 1 year ago
Read this book if you are wrestling with the gap between what you’ve been told and what you’ve found to be true. Read this book if you need a gentle guide and permission to doubt and wade in the trenches. Read this book if you’ve been coming to understand your own story within God’s grand Story and you seek some affirmation from a fellow wanderer. Out of Sorts hit all the right notes for me. In one measure, Sarah affirms and solidifies conclusions God has been leading me to as of late. In another, she challenges me to look at where I’ve boxed God in, which leads me to believe it will be an excellent jumping off point for the next leg of the journey. Still in another measure, Sarah’s words healed wounds I hadn’t realized were still open. Sarah is warm, funny, not afraid to say the hard truths (or maybe she’s afraid to say them but she’s brave enough to not let that stop her), poignant and companionable. Never in her words does it sound like she feels she’s arrived. Out of Sorts is a book written by a wanderer for wanderers. Go grab your copy! It’s well worth your time and money!
Rachel-Vasquez More than 1 year ago
Hi. My name is Rachel, and I'm a highlighter-a-holic. I have over 150 highlights marked in my e-reader for this book, which means it DEEPLY resonated with me. More than just resonate, it stirred up a holy fire in my bones to continue in my journey of authentically experiencing and growing in my faith. I just want to curl up time and time again with this book, these thoughts and reflections, and a warm cuppa tea! I want to continue to lean into the tension of the now and the not yet, of the glimpses of God's kingdom here on earth and the kingdom yet to come. Particularly at this time in my life, in the throes of early childrearing, living abroad and with many a question and many a dream about what our family's future may hold, I take the themes in this book so dearly to heart: the story God is writing in my life, the way it keeps "corkscrewing" back around through the years, the ways ancient and contemporary faith traditions can both reach the depths of my soul, making the ordinary of every day holy, the pilgrimage I feel I am on both physically and metaphorically, etc. To sum up my thoughts with one of my favorite book quotes: "I'm a mess and I'm beloved, both together, and this is not the end". Hallelujah, what a hope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sarah Bessey is one of my favorite writers, mainly because her genuine love for Jesus oozes out of every line. She’s not afraid to challenge the status quo, but there is not an ounce of bitterness, cynicism, or arrogance in the way she writes. She is simply following Jesus. And hasn’t following the King of Kings always been subversive, both to the ways of the world and to the religion-obsessed? In Out of Sorts, Bessey eloquently describes her evolving faith, and how God led her on a journey of trading in assumptions and easy answers for a living, thriving, intimacy with God. It’s a journey of both grief and freedom. She describes her widely varied church experiences with such tenderness and accuracy that all of us can relate to it somehow. I found myself laughing, tearing up, and reading my own story in the pages of hers. Out of Sorts is warm cup of tea and an arm around the shoulder to those of us who feel, or who have ever felt “out of sorts.” It’s a place to know we are not alone. It’s a place to give voice to the grief we experience in life in a way that doesn’t diminish the pain, but welcomes God’s genuine comfort. It’s permission to admit that we have questions, and a comforting reassurance that God is plenty big enough for all of them. It’s a safe place to open our hearts and take an honest look at what we see, even if it’s not all shiny and perfect. It’s a story of hurt, yes, but of healing and redemption and beauty from brokenness. Out of Sorts is a scary but wonderful invitation. It’s an invitation to face the questions, to look them square in the eye and begin sorting through them. It’s an invitation to “set out” and search for God, and to not be afraid of where that might take us. It’s an invitation to be liberated from beliefs, practices, or traditions that have shackled us to unhealthy views of God. It’s an invitation to those of us who’ve been hurt by our faith family to begin the process of healing. It’s an invitation to widen our view of God and begin to see him for how truly wild, gorgeous, and big he is. Reading this book has helped me to dust off the cobwebs of boxes of beliefs I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s been such a tremendous help in sorting through what is really of God and what is actually manmade. In the end, those manmade things will blow over like a house of cards. I want a faith that is not shaky and won’t crumble at the slightest questioning, and I want the freedom to get to know God for who he truly is. And it’s to that that Sarah Bessey calls us all in this wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Out of Sorts is a beautiful, kind book. Sarah Bessey shares stories of her experiences sorting through her faith as if she were an older sister or mentor letting you know that it's OK for you to sort your faith, too. If you've ever felt spiritually out of sorts or felt spiritual growing pains (or know someone who has or who might someday), this book is for you. Bessey writes about her questions of grief and lament, the church as a whole, the mystic parts of Christianity, the Bible, and the trappings particular to her own traditions of charismatic and evangelical Christianity. How lovely and affirming to see so many of my own questions posed, but without the cynicism and bitterness that often tinge my sorting because I haven't often had the sort of kind permission and encouragement to sort that Bessey offers in the book. As Bessey sums it up, "It's a book about making peace with unanswered questions and being content to live into the answers as they come. It's about being comfortable with where we land for now, while holding our hands open for where the Spirit leads us next. It's about not apologizing for our transformation and change in response to the unchanging Christ. Really, it's a book about not being afraid. This book is my way of leaving the light on for the ones who are wandering."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone not knowing where they are in their faith, or who has ever wandered or questioned or doubted, this book is reassurance that those things are okay. Reading Out of Sorts is like having coffee with Sarah Bessey and having her tell you, "I've been there too." Her writing is inviting and comforting. My favorite part is the Benediction at the end--that chapter alone is well worth the price of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“Once upon a time, you had it all beautifully sorted out. Then you didn’t.” So begins this newest work from Sarah Bessey. With great anticipation, I dove into Out of Sorts and was thoroughly captured by Bessey’s unique wit and style and the substance behind her words. Rarely does a book come along where you simultaneously feel like you’re peeking into the author’s journal while at the same time reading your own. Bessey opens up about her personal challenges with a shifting and evolving faith. She shows us how we too can bring our questions and doubts to the table and sit there for a while, feeling the tension and leaning into it, learning to be comfortable with the uncertainties that are inevitable as long as we are mortal. This is not a book filled with theological answers to our questions. This is a book that cuts to the heart of our faith and with gentle, almost poetical words, points us back to Jesus. For all who have been disillusioned with the church, Bessey brings new life to the concept of church as a community, where we are free to come and love and be loved and known. “There’s room for all of us. There’s room for all of me.” Whether you have felt “out of sorts” as you struggled to reconcile the Sunday school answers with the complexities of life, whether you have been burnt out by striving to live a textbook Christian life or whether you simply need a reminder that Jesus saves and redeems our everyday, right now lives, read and be refreshed. And whether you love the church or hope to one day love the church again, this book is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've soaked up Sarah's beautiful words through her blog for quite a while now and was eager to read her newest book, Out of Sorts. I had no idea what a gift this book would be. Through honest depiction of her journey through life and faith, on the turns and returns she has taken thus far, Sarah gives a voice to the struggles and doubts many Christians face as they attempt to live out their faith in an imperfect world. The most moving passages are Sarah's prayers for and with her readers. I've read a lot of books in which the author attempts to tell me what to do, but until now, I'd never encountered an author who prayed for me. Somehow Sarah manages to do it without an ounce of cheesiness. I am grateful for this book, and I am confident that anyone who picks it up will be moved and uplifted. *Received a digital ARC of the book to provide an honest review.
LizzieG88 More than 1 year ago
The book starts with the analogy of a rummage sale — of laying out everything we’ve believed and inherited and carried with us, and deciding what should stay and what should go. So is what needs to happen when we reach that “out of sorts” place. And it doesn’t just happen once. Through her writing, Sarah has been a constant companion of mine for more than two years. I’ve fallen in love with what she writes and how she writes it. And most importantly, I trust her. Whether it’s a book or a service or a meme, it doesn’t take much for something Christian to put me on my guard. I am overly critical and overly sensitive and overly scarred, so it’s no surprise that I fold my arms across my chest more often than not, the words catching on something or bouncing off or just scratching the surface. Not so with Sarah’s words. Out of Sorts is, in part, her own story. It’s a tale of “happy-clappy churches” and “getting religion,” of unanswered questions and ill-fitting places, of Jesus and burnout and sorrow and hope. But woven into and over and around it are deep, thought-provoking explorations of the issues themselves that most often unravel us: the Bible, the Church, signs and wonders, and suffering, to name a few. Sarah’s book isn’t the first I’ve read to honestly (and excellently) explore the hard questions. Some spiritual memoirs throb with the very real pain of loneliness, lies, and wounds from those who meant well … and those who didn’t. Others dig deep into my skin, putting a finger on the very nerve of my own spiritual angst. Out of Sorts does both of these things, while also — one might say first and foremost — being a book of relentless hope. And then there’s the beauty. The gift of Sarah’s writing — in Out of Sorts as well as elsewhere — isn’t just in what she writes, but also in how she writes it. It is pictures and poetry and music wrapped up in prose. It is grace and peace. It is an invitation, and not just to those on the margins who are questioning everything. This book is for all who hunger and thirst, whether they be on the outside looking in, or the inside looking out, or somewhere in between.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In her usual gentle style, Sarah Bessey guides us through her own process of getting her faith back to sorts. She talks about unexpected ways she was led back to her faith, even to her childhood denomination. And, when I say "gentle," I don't mean in a weak sort of way. I mean gentle in the way someone offers their hand because they are on firmer ground. Bessey has gone through this process of doubt and discontent and she is offering her hand from the other side of that process. Bessey combines theology, storytelling, and open-ended questions to weave her own journey. And, while this book is her journey, the truths she tells are universal. She takes it beyond a simple faith memoir and into the realm of a guide for other wanderers. While I found this book profound in the place I'm at now, I could see it being especially helpful to someone who is just coming out of their own out of sorts journey and needs the reminder that everything is ok. **As part of the Out of Sorts launch team, I received an early copy of the book for review.**