out of sorts (and a giveaway!)

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I often feel like I popped out of the womb a Christian.

It was a given: my mother was baptized while I wriggled inside her belly, and my father was the son of a Baptist minister and one sassy, piano-playing Church Lady. Growing up, we said our prayers over the dinner table and at bedtime. We went to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, not merely because it was what we thought we should do, but because it was simply What We Did.

And we did church. Never staking claim to any one denomination, we instead attended a variety of different churches: Presbyterian, Nazarene, American Baptist.

We made the Church People our people. We ate with them and we mourned with them. We laughed with them and fought with them and invited them into our home so that we could be their people, too.

Through my formative years, I never questioned why we did what we did, or even why we did what we did, because it was simply was who we were. Some people did little league, and some people did swim team. Some people did Girl Scouts and some people did family and some people did music. And we too did all of those things to an extent, for a time. But as for my family, we did church.

This was the narrative that shaped me and formed me, a liberal Baptist theology my faith’s foundation. So we sang the hymns and we got dunked in the baptismal font. We cheered on both men and women in the pulpit and in all forms of leadership. We went on mission trips and we invited our friends to youth group. We shaped our lives around the church’s schedule.

Until we didn’t.

Until I didn’t.

I’ve always been a bit of a rabble-rouser, in an I-took-the-biggest-piece-of-bread-from-the-communion-bowl-and-dipped-TWICE sort of way. So it always came as a shake to my foundation when my questions arose and circumstances changed.

Like when I started going to the most popular church in town, on my own as a sixteen-year-old, and didn’t see women in up-front roles.

Or when someone spray painted “God Hates Fags” on the side of the English department building in college, and I couldn’t reconcile a loving and a hating God inhabiting the same body.

Or when I read Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies for the first time, and began to see a different sort of Jesus, a new people of God.

Or when I taught at a Christian school, and dozens of teachers were handed notices of leave because, “It was for the betterment of our lambs.” Or when I worked for a conservative outreach ministry, and questioned a one-sided, “non-negotiable” statement of sin. Or when I went to seminary and discovered liberation theology, among other things. Or when my best friend came out of the closet, and I couldn’t sense of how the two fit together, because he loved Jesus better than anyone I knew. Or when I left full-time ministry and began to discover different voices of faith, different perspectives of the same God. Or when I, or when I, or when I…

The list goes on.

For our theology – or how we see God – is a morphing, shifting, changing entity. And this shapeshifting faith can make us feel rather out of sorts sometimes.

But that’s normal.

And it’s good.

And, dare I say, it’s necessary if we are to grow as persons of faith.

That’s why I’m delighted to tell you about blogger, author and speaker Sarah Bessey’s new book, Out of SortsBecause her story of a morphing, shifting, changing faith gives us permission to look into our own narratives and tell our stories of pain and of joy, of questions and of change. It’s different from her first memoir, Jesus Feminist, as it’s centered around the art of storytelling, and, given the subject matter, it’s that much more personal.

Really, her words make you feel like you’re sitting down over a cup of tea with a dear friend. And sometimes that’s the best and most comforting book you can read, especially when your faith feels out of sorts and upside-down and all over the place.

So, fellow pilgrim, friend and sojourner, might your exploration continue. And if you’re in this place in which it seems and feels like there are more questions than answers, know that you are not alone.

But you are seen and you are loved.

xo, c.

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So, have you ever felt out of sorts, whether in your faith or in life in general? Share a story with us! And, as promised, leave a comment below to win a copy of Sarah’s new book. Contest ends Friday, November 6th. 

28 thoughts on “out of sorts (and a giveaway!)

  1. Has my faith ever NOT felt out of sorts??

    Love you, friend. These words are so timely as I feel like I am just entering into yet another shape shifting phase and never quite know what to do with myself when I’m here. I feel like I am actually rediscovering some long forgotten elements of my faith, but at the same time realizing that they don’t feel the same as they used to which is another level of disorienting.

    1. Oh friend: I get it, I get it, I get it. And you saw it, a lot. I’m realizing I never even wrote about that Out of Sorts feeling come baby, upon leaving ministry, which were potentially the biggest of them all. In this with you (and I hope you win). 🙂

  2. Love this. I just told someone I need a good book focused on Jesus to dig into – my brain had been so fuzzy with teaching and pregnancy and newborn. But I’m ready to read good words when im up late with baby c.

    1. Oh friend, you’d love this book. But I also give you permission to Netflix it up during those middle of the night feeds! (My faves from last year: Gilmore Girls, Madmen, United States of Tara & PARENTHOOD!!!!)

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

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    1. Well, thank you for the encouragement. I hope and trust you are at a Cloud Nine spot this week, for you are loved and your voice is necessary and needed in the world today (and you did it – you released another book, even with pregnancy and four littles in tow!) So, here’s to feeling out of sorts together. xo.

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

  3. a bit out of sorts in all areas right now, especially in this new season in a new city and a new job, every thing in my life looks different and I know the same jesus is in there somewhere but I can’t quite see him right now.

  4. Oh, I can so relate to this. Feeling topsy-turvy, out of sorts, and confused. Deep within, I feel that in the end all will be well, but for the time I’m in a muddle. Looking forward to reading Sarah Bessey’s book someday soon.

  5. I love this! Sometimes I wonder that we are surprised when our theology shifts and changes, and yet we are, and it is good to know that we all have those ‘out of sorts’ times in our lives.

  6. Just came across this post going back through my e-mail. I’m listening to Out of Sorts on audible during my commute. This year the internet has tossed, shaken, and stirred in me new areas of theology and Jesus and faith I never even dreamed about, I’m so glad, but so disoriented, and it’s like no one around me IRL even “gets it.” At least what the internet exposes me to also gives me a community for. Love your voice in it!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Jennifer. Finding different voices of faith here on the internet was a big turning point for me as well. It made me realize that there’s no singular perspective of God!

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

    1. Yeah, it’s interesting: I don’t think my parents necessarily knew or care where they were landing, per say, but they felt like they were supposed to be there (or it had the best kids’ program, or choir, or, or….) It is interesting to see how all those different faith backgrounds have influenced me along the way. Thanks for visiting!

  7. Pick me, pick me! I love Sarah Bessey and can’t wait to read this one.

    My Out of Sorts season took me out of ministry and eventually led me back. It’s a story best told over coffee on a walk to the lake 😉

    1. Yes, yes, yes. While you didn’t win, I still really, really like you! How’s that for an affirmation? xo.

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

  8. Wow, I am so thankful to have found this blog. You’re a gifted writer. I’ve only recently begun to find a voice with which to express the disillusionment I’ve been dealing with in the face of evangelicalism. Slowly but surely, I’m allowing myself to live with a shifting, open faith that exists among mystery and ambiguity. Posts like this help a lot. I look forward to following your thoughts as I work mine out on the blogosphere as well.

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