The Spiritual Practice of Reading Sarah Bessey {a book review & giveaway}

faith isn't certaintyI read the last half of Sarah Bessey’s newest book, Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith, while lounging in my messy bed in my messy room. It seemed fitting.

You see, she starts her book 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.

If you are like me, though, you may sometimes wonder how anyone can really love Jesus. You may look into the eyes of the flesh-and-blood people standing before you, the ones who have your heart, and find that the invisible Divine is so hard to know and understand, let alone love. But if there’s one person I believe loves Jesus as much as she says she does, it’s Sarah Bessey. Her words give me hope that maybe, someday, I will too.

*****

Out of Sorts makes its way into the world on November 3 — that’s tomorrow! You can order it on Amazon here, or wherever you buy books. I received an advance copy of this book in order to review it, and I would like to give away that copy to one of you! To be entered in the giveaway, simply post a comment below (making sure to include your email address so I can contact you), and I will randomly choose one winner on Friday, November 6, to receive this book. U.S. and Canadian addresses only.

Sarah Bessey writes from Abbotsford, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and four tinies. Her first book, Jesus Feminist, is also excellent. You can find out more about Sarah Bessey on her website.

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10 thoughts on “The Spiritual Practice of Reading Sarah Bessey {a book review & giveaway}”

  • 1
    bethagrace on November 2, 2015 Reply

    I very much want to read this book. But also, I think your writing could make any book sound beautiful. 🙂 My email is bgrace88 @ gmail [dot] com. But if I win, you should just send me a message on FB.

    -Fire Hazard Bethany

  • 2
    bethagrace on November 2, 2015 Reply

    Wrote a comment. Included a compliment about your beautiful writing. Just message me on FB if I win it.

    Love you,
    Bethany (of the Fire Hazardous Variety)

    • 3
      Lizzie on November 4, 2015 Reply

      Thanks, Bethany! I’m sure I’ll be able to track you down if you win. And don’t think that two comments = two entries! 😉

  • 4
    Nathan Sturgis on November 3, 2015 Reply

    This sounds like an awesome book. I’ve been dealing with some hard questions too and would be interested in seeing her take. Email is natisturgis@gmail.com, though, like Bethany Facebook messenger would be a better way to reach me.

    And I really enjoy reading your writing, Liz. 🙂

    — Bernard Walton.

    • 5
      Lizzie on November 4, 2015 Reply

      Thanks, Nathan! Will do! And I do think you’d like the book. 🙂

  • 6
    Nora on November 3, 2015 Reply

    Your review certainly piqued my interest in Sarah Bessey’s book; I’m looking forward to reading it someday soon! My email is paperbirchgrove AT gmail DOT com. Thanks for the entry.

    • 7
      Lizzie on November 4, 2015 Reply

      Glad to hear that, Norah! Always love the opportunity to introduce Sarah Bessey and other wonderful writers to others. Blessings to you.

  • 8
    Kelsey on November 4, 2015 Reply

    I keep coming across Sarah online, and I appreciate your thoughtful review, Lizzie. I keep coming back to the part where you talk about trusting her. Would love to read the book–thanks for the recommendation and the giveaway. 🙂

    • 9
      Lizzie on November 4, 2015 Reply

      Thanks, Kelsey! Sarah was one of those bloggers I trusted early on in our “relationship,” but that trust has only deepened the more time I’ve spent with her. Definitely worth spending some time with, however one comes across her writing. 🙂

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