As promised, here’s the first installment of the Honest Book Review. (Be sure to read on to the end of the post to find out how you can win a free copy of the book!!–2 winners will be chosen on Tuesday, August 2nd)

This month’s book is Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey.

First, I want to give a little introduction about how I came across this gem of an author. I stumbled upon a link to one of her beautifully written blog posts about what she termed her “spiritual awakening” on the site of another author that I follow. As I read, I realized that I’d heard her name before from the mouths of some of my favorites: Jen Hatmaker, Emily P. Freeman, Shauna Niequist.

So I bought her book.

And she had me from the dedication to her children. It simply reads: “Because someday, my darlings, you may feel a bit out of sorts too (we all do sometimes): It’s okay. Don’t be afraid…

And I thought, I think I’m going to relate to this lady! Because never did I feel more “out of sorts” than when we came back from India, the place we had fully intended to spend the rest of our lives as missionaries, feeling defeated, dejected, and generally like failures as human beings and followers of Jesus. People had invested in us, through prayers and finances, for over three years, and naturally they had questions when we returned. Not having any good (or short) answers, or answers that I felt were good enough, caused me to start moving away from the church. Insulating myself from questions that were just too difficult to answer during that season of my life.

I felt like there wasn’t room for my story, the story I had lived for the past three years with all of it’s ugly, warty questions, and the hurts I was still working through about the goodness of God when things around me didn’t seem good at all. Whether that was true–that there wasn’t room for me and my story–or all in my head, I believed it just the same. So it became true to me. And I found myself moving away from church, even as my husband was actively working as a missionary to the college campuses in Iowa. Thus began a few more years of wilderness wandering for me; sorting fact from fiction, things I perceived from things that were reality, truth about the character of God from the lies that had been whispered to me in my darkest moments.

I love to read the stories of other people’s wanderings through the wilderness, not because I think anyone can tell you how to struggle and work through your questions, we each have our own journey to walk, but because it creates a sense of solidarity. Common ground. The feeling that someone understands and, in understanding, won’t judge you while you stumble around grasping for an anchor of truth. That’s why I love this book. Sarah Bessey is that companion–a fellow wilderness wanderer who provides hope that there’s light at the end of the path and that Jesus is the absolute best travel companion on that road.

Because like she said in the dedication to her children, it can be a scary place–the intersection of belief and present circumstances, when the pain of our current reality seems at odds with what we believe. It’s that point when desperation and hard things make it impossible to bite back the wonderings, questions, and doubts any longer, and it all comes bubbling over, like a pot left on the burner too long, leaving you to wonder if your entire relationship with God will completely shatter into a million pieces because you spoke all the things out loud. But Out of Sorts reminds us that Jesus is not fragile, nor do we have to fear that our relationship with him will shatter like a thin sheet of glass because we sincerely question.

Some of the conclusions that the author reached on her journey are not the same as mine. But I love that she wrestles openly and honestly on the page with some tough subjects, always leaving room for each of us to ask our own questions, and reach our own conclusions with Jesus as our guide.

So if you find yourself in a season of wilderness wandering, or have at some point in the past, this book is a wonderful companion. It’s a gentle encouragement and a hopeful beacon that shines a light on the often dark path of questions and doubts. So venture on dear wanderer, fearlessly casting aside how you might look, what people might think, or even preconceived ideas of what you might find along the way because Jesus will be there to help you sort it all out.

 

Click to buy Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith on Amazon. (this is an affiliate link, which means that when you buy the book via this link Amazon pays me a small commission at no extra cost to you)

**You can enter to win 1 of 2 free copies of the book by subscribing to my blog (if you’re already a subscriber–don’t worry!–you’re already entered) by clicking on the button at the bottom of the blog that says “Sign Me Up!” or by clicking here 🙂 The contest runs until midnight on August 2nd, 2016 and is open to people over 18 in the continental US.