Out of Sorts, by Sarah Bessey

I recently read Out of Sorts, by Sarah Bessey, on the recommendation of a friend. She knows I’m in a challenging place in life and faith and she thought it would help me. Of course, she was right. Out of Sorts is about the process of sorting out your faith. Over time we accumulate things and sometimes need to sort out our beliefs.

Sarah Bessey begins by talking about the process of sorting through her grandmother’s belongings upon her passing. It was a healing process for her. But when her other grandmother passed away Bessey was denied the opportunity to take part in the sorting, and that seemed to deepen the sense of loss that she felt.

As I read the book I found that Sarah Bessey is no stranger to loss. She has had several miscarriages and has walked through sorrow with family and friends. She addresses suffering and pain in a chapter dedicated to the sacred practice of lamenting in a healthy, biblical way.

Part of Sarah Bessey’s history is her extended departure from the church. Out of Sorts is the story of her gradually finding her way back. As she describes the process of finding her way back she lights the way for the rest of us.

One thing I love about this book is the way that Bessey affirms all Christian faith traditions. So often different faith traditions like to criticize other faith traditions for what they seem to lack. And that’s not our place. We are called to love and call forth the best in one another. Sarah Bessey affirms that different aspects of Christian faith have helped and strengthened her — everything from the Word of Faith to the beauty and consistency of the liturgical traditions.

Another thing I love about this book is that she addresses things that Believers who may be struggling in their faith may find difficult. For example, Sarah Bessey directly takes on the topic of evil and suffering. She has given birth to stillborn children and lost friends and loved ones far too soon. She had to endure the pat answers and foolish attempts to explain away her suffering. In her book Sarah Bessey dismisses them all and offers her thoughts on evil and suffering without being dogmatic. After being exposed to so much dogma in the past and hearing so many pat answers to my own grief, I really appreciate her thoughts and her approach to sharing her thoughts.

Y’all… The chapter on vocation and calling absolutely rocked my world. I wasn’t expecting to find such a chapter in this book. Sarah Bessey writes about her life as a pastor’s wife and then her life once they had left full-time ministry. This chapter really spoke to me. I found this chapter so healing. So freeing. And I feel like it has caused me to question some of my anger. For that reason alone I may need to re-read it.

This book was a dense read at times. Sarah Bessey is a scholar and it shows. I have deep respect for conscientious scholarship and Sarah Bessey has done a phenomenal job in her study. And she brings it to this book in a way that is not overbearing. Life is messy. There are no black-and-white answers. Sarah Bessey says these things time and time again. But for her, everything comes down to the heart of Jesus. At this point, I’m not sure if I can say the same. After reading this book though, I have more things to consider as I work out what the heart of Jesus really is.

Let me end with a quote from Out of Sorts that I think sums up the book very nicely:

“I hope we all wrestle. I hope we look deep into our hearts and sift through our theology, our methodology, our praxis, all of it. I hope we get angry and say true things. I hope we push back against celebrity and consumerism; I hope we live into our birthright as a prophetic outpost for the Kingdom. I hope we get our toes stepped on and then forgive. I hope we become open-hearted and open-armed. I hope we are known as the ones who love.”





What is This About, Anyway?
Welcome to my new site, Reese’s Exegesis. It’s my home on the internet for all my latest writings and musings. And as much work as I know this will be, it feels good to be back to the internet and sharing my thoughts with all of you. I hope we enjoy getting to know each other.

So, What is This About?
Well, I’m not entirely sure. I’m starting this thing with a sense of adventure and I’m not sure exactly where it will lead. I’m hoping it leads to some great conversations, a new community of friends, and everybody getting to know Jesus a little better. A pretty good mission, wouldn’t you say?

What You Can Expect To Find Here
Here, you will find my musings. There will be some exegesis (of course) and some discussion. There will also be reviews of (mostly) Christian books. And there will be chitchat — lots of random chitchat.

Will There Be Controversy?
Most likely. When discussing the bible there are always differences of opinion and interpretation, and that is okay. It’s great. I’m not afraid of diversity of opinions. All I ask is that we respect each person’s right to see things differently. We can agreeably disagree.
In fact, I think we should disagree. I think we should discuss our differences. I always learn something new when I interact with someone who sees things differently than I do. As one of my wise professors said, “Everyone has some light.” And we can all stand to add to what we have.

Why This? Why Now?
These are big questions and the answers are long and complicated.

I am doing this for the love of writing. I always loved to write: Fiction, Nonfiction, online, in journals… it really doesn’t matter. I love to express myself in the written word.

I am doingthis becaise I love learning. Anyone who knows me can tell you how much I enjoy learning new things. I love reading, I love school, people that teach me things. I am always on the quest for knowledge. Committing to study here Will help to feed that desire to learn and to know more.

I am doing this to connect with God. Studying is one of the best ways for me to connect with God. I’m not sure if scholarship is a spiritual gift, But if it is, I certainly have it. I feel like God often meets me when I study. For that reason, I do this.

I am doing this for myself. Truth be told, I am really struggling in my faith. I have been for a long time. I’m not sure what the answer is. I read books and they help. I go to church and it helps. I think some Time concentrated study may also help me out of this. Who knows? I might help someone else in this process as well. So shall we study together?

My Promise To You
I love to listen to the advice of experienced writers as I walk my path as a writer. One piece of advice comes up over and over: be honest. It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or nonfiction. Honesty is an essential. It’s a non-negotiable. Because if the writing isn’t honest then it is pointless. It rings hollow. It doesn’t do anything for the reader.
There’s a famous quote:

Writing is easy; simply open a vein and bleed.

That is exactly what a writer must do: bleed onto the page. It must happen to write a successful novel. It must happen to write an effective book on business or fitness or gardening. And it absolutely must happen to write anything about Jesus. It’s a waste of everything if the writing isn’t honest. So what you will find here is honesty. I promise you that.
You won’t find platitudes or cute phrases here. I have no time for that. What you will find is careful study. You will find my true thoughts and experiences. And hopefully, we will all experience Jesus here.

I think the study will help me more than anything. But I think sharing will help too. I am a writer at heart and I think the writing and sharing and discussion might be the thing I need at this challenging point in my life.

So come on in and let’s get closer to God together.