Out of Sorts
Author: Sarah Bessey
In Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey…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.
Sometimes when I read a book I feel simultaneously enamored and frustrated. I read the words on the page and have this immense feeling of relief—someone finally said what I had been thinking. They have put words to things and ideas that were rolling around in my head. And then also that sting of frustration because they said it. They said the words that I wanted to say and now I won’t.
Maturity brings a deeper ability to rest in that tension. Maybe. I do know that now I can add my own voice to the ones who have gone before me.
Sarah Bessey’s Out of Sorts was that experience for me. It was a book I needed three years ago when I was entering the dark night of faith. And on the other side she shines a light and brings clarity to things for which I couldn’t quiet find the words. Sarah Bessey writes about wrestling with her faith, her journey through it and the conclusions she reached on the other side. She paints a picture of a faith that is melded together from all these different pieces. She reminded me that God is not boxable; she taught me that I am not boxable either. She describes herself as an “Anglican-influenced charismatic, postevangelical with a strong pull towards Anabaptist theology” (151). She taught me that I don’t have to conform to one thing. If religion is about movement towards God, I get to keep the practices that empower that movement. I can set that ones that don’t encourage that movement aside.
There were definitely places she challenged me. These were areas where I had chosen comfort over continuing to wrestle with the questions. And there are places where I’m scared to wrestle because I’m afraid of the outcome.
Some Favorite Quotes
“The asking isn’t wrong. The wondering isn’t wrong. The doubt isn’t wrong. It’s humbling to admit you don’t know; it takes guts to ask and wrestle. The childlike quality isn’t unthinking acquiescence: it’s curiosity.”
“Sometimes I think community is just a churchy word for the old-fashioned goodness of being a friend.”
“Real life is the undignified life, and it is the classroom for holiness. If you can’t find God while you’re changing diapers or serving food or hanging out with your friends, you won’t find God at the worship service or the spiritual retreat or the regimented daily quiet time or the mission field.”
“…sovereignty is the promise that all will be healed in the end. Sovereignty means that all will be held. That God is at work to bring redemption and reconciliation, that somehow at the end of all things, that we don’t escape from the goodness that pursues us, the life we are promised, the love that redeems.”
“Small acts of faith and justice are still acts of faith and justice.”
Have you read it? What did you think?