Ah Sarah Bessey, how I have missed you! I use to read Sarah's blog religiously. I looked forward to new posts like I look forward to lunch dates and hangouts with my friends, because in a way, reading her blogs made me feel like I was doing just that...meeting up with a friend, someone who got me and who gave me that sense of "you too!? I thought I was the only one!" relief! Yet for one reason or another, or just cause that's what happens in life and friendship, I slowly stopped reading and we grew apart.
This past fall I heard inklings that she had put out a new book. I hadn't actually read the previous one, Jesus Feminist (although it is still comfortably stowed away in my kindle app for someday future reading), but I had faced some minor disappointments from other blogger-turned-author writers whom I had invested in over the years who now seem to be putting out works just to produce and please the machine, so I put this knowledge of Bessey's new book on the back burner of my brain and figured I'd wait for another day, another time, to check it out.
That time was now and it's seems that buying this book was one of those perfectly planned schemes of God and His timing. I went to the bookstore the other day with no intention what-so-ever of getting this book, in fact I had completely forgotten about it. Yet in scrolling the rows of endless titles, by-passing many and latching on much more to authors I had never heard of then ones I have, the one copy of Sarah's book in the whole store somehow grabbed my attention (Must be the yellow part of the cover....good job marketing people!).
Reading this book ended up being so refreshing....like a cup of cold water on a hot humid day.. I felt like I was re-kindling an old friendship and realized immediately we could pick back up right where we left off, even though we're both a little older, a little wiser, and a little more warn from the journey! In this book Sarah talks about everything from the Church, to theology, to prayer, to justice, to calling, to community, etc. All the things I love to talk about...or at least contemplate and wrestle with (although I am not sure I would categorize the wrestle side under love)... in one book.
In reading I was reminded that it's okay to wade in the waters deep. It's okay to have questions that don't have neat and tidy answers. It's okay to look at the same issue again and again and again, refining it and shaping it into something more real in all it's complexities. It's okay to have changing viewpoints and to grow in new understandings... in fact she says herself that, "anyone who gets to the end of their life with the same exact beliefs and opinions as they had at the beginning is doing it wrong"!
I have to admit too, that listening to her story weaved in and out of the pages... a story of growing up, walking away (in a sense) and returning to a more authentic faith, I was comforted. I think it's easy in the Church now a days to swing one of two ways....to pretend like we have it all together and never struggle with or question anything, or to know you don't and thus feel unworthy, constantly trying to "gain/win" our approval from God. In either context it can be hard to be open and vulnerable with what's really going on in us. And yet, it's only in being honest that true healing, true redemption, true salvation can happen. So it's okay to admit those questions and doubts and fears. It's okay to get off the wide road and go searching for the straight and narrow. It's okay to about-face and try and forge a new way if where your headed doesn't seem to fit just right. Because, just as Bessey says, "Blessed are the wonderers with the courage to live into the questions".
So would I recommend this book? Yes, obviously yes. But I don't just recommend it to those in the wilderness or feeling lost at sea, just trying to find someone whose been there and understands. I also recommend this book to those who think they have all the answers and everything figured out and who will put up a fight against some of the thoughts and ideas shared in this book. Sometimes we all need a little wrestling to help us grow! So take a chance and see it through... who knows, maybe it won't change anything, but on the other hand, what if it helped change everything?!