How I Learned I Couldn't Be a Christian by Myself

I read Sara Miles’ beautiful book, “Take This Bread,” and she wrote: “You don’t get to be a Christian by yourself.” Me? I tried. I really tried to be a Christian by myself. And, in my deepest hurts from the Body of Christ, it helped to cocoon away in the in-between-space. It helped to step away from the institutions of Church for a while, from the programs, from the self-perpetuating machine, from the politics, the religion, the expectations, the behavior modification focused easy spirituality. I packed up all of my baggage in steamer trunks and headed out. I had my doubts, I had my hurts, I had my questions, I had my battle scars, and they mattered then, they matter still.

I shed a lot of the performance anxiety in those years. I reconciled what I believed and why. I embraced the glorious kaleidoscope of experience. I loosened my grip on my opinions. I entered recovery for being a Know It All. I stopped caring what people thought. I stopped expecting everyone to experience God or church or life like I thought it should be done. I stopped using the word “should” about God or church. I sought God and he was faithful to answer me. I look at those years now, those years far from church membership, from steady weekly attendance, far from performance-driven faith, far from an Official Church, and I know that God was there in the wandering. God set me free from crippling approval addiction, from my evangelical hero complex, from the fear of man, he bathed my feet, bound my wounds, gave rest to my soul.  I learned the difference between critical thinking and being just plain critical, and I found out that He is more than enough, always was more than enough, always would be more than enough.

Water in the desert came from cups fashioned by the hands of those that loved the Gospel. I found community. I found friends. I found family. I discovered that the hand of God was strong and firm, gentle and loving, in the hands, breath, and voices of the people of God. There are more of us that love God and love people, that leave the scent of grace wherever we walk, that forgive and serve without fanfare or book deals, that work for justice and mercy than I could have ever dreamed. They loved the unlovable, the marginalized, and the hopeless, because of their great love for God. They believed that Jesus actually meant all that stuff he spoke while here on earth. They were on mission, they were peacemakers, they were everything I wanted to be when I grew up, you gorgeous people of God.

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Sarah Bessey
Sarah Bessey is the author of the bestselling Jesus Feminist and an award-winning blogger and writer. Her new book Out of Sorts: Making Peace with Evolving Faith is coming out later this year. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their four tinies. You can find her on twitter @sarahbessey.