During my early thirties, my formerly well-ordered life fell apart; it was a hard time but the aftermath brought me to a deeper faith than ever before. For the first time, I began really listening to God and doing my best to follow Jesus instead of calling all the shots in life.
For the next decade or so, I grew in my faith. I dug into the Bible. I made changes in my thinking and my lifestyle and I did hard things because I was compelled by the Spirit in my life. Life wasn’t easy but it was good because I felt God with me.
But for the past couple of years, I’ve been in the proverbial wilderness. Life began to unravel me, for lack of a better way to describe it. Only just now do I feel able to share any of this, because I finally feel close to finding a path out of it.
I’ve wrestled hard with big questions, trying to figure out exactly what I believe and why, and just as importantly, how to live it all out authentically. It’s been an isolating time because I haven’t felt as though I can have these conversations with anyone. These are things I need to sort through on my own; it’s the only way my faith can be truly mine.
Recently, I’ve found a kindred spirit in Sarah Bessey. We have a lot in common and I’d love to sit down with her and talk it all out, but reading her newest book is a close second. Her words have started cracking through the layers I’ve built up.
“I made secrets out of my questions and doubts and sadness and grief because I didn’t know how to simply sit with them. Even now, I fight against the urge to explain or pretend or ignore away the darkness.” -from Out of Sorts
Sarah compares her faith journey to a rummage sale, sorting through which of her beliefs and traditions needed to be kept, and what needed to be gotten rid of. She went back to the beginning and decided to get to know Jesus for who he is, rather than who she wanted him to be or who she’d been told he is. Once she’d spent some time sorting though it all and wandering her own wilderness, her faith emerged fresh and new with deeper roots than ever before.
I’m not there yet, but her words have given me permission to lean into my own questions and struggles without fear of unraveling entirely, or of chasing God away.
“Faith isn’t certainty, I know that by now. If I were certain, I wouldn’t need faith.
Faith is both a gift and a choice, sometimes at the same time… Faith is a risk, and it’s gorgeous to leap out into the free fall.”
As of writing of this post, I’ve not yet finished the book (three chapters to go!) but it has vastly encouraged me. It’s a slow read because there’s so much to digest. Some of my thoughts have made their way into my morning pages and I know I’ll be coming back around to read it again. Unless, of course, Sarah wants to come all the way down here from Canada to share a “cuppa” tea and a very long chat.