I Used To

“It’s about the beautiful things we might reclaim and the stuff we may decide to kick to the curb. It’s a book about making peace with unanswered questions and being content to live into the answers as they come. It’s about being comfortable with where we land for now, while holding our hands open for where the Spirit leads us next. It’s about not apologizing for our transformation and change in response to the unchanging Christ.”
Sarah Bessey, chapter one, Out of Sorts

I used to think I had to have all the answers but now I think God is found in the “I don’t know.”

And as I learn to embrace the “I don’t know” in my faith, I’m learning to embrace it in my everyday life. I’m learning that God is found in the search rather than the answers. And that search can’t happen until we hit that vulnerable place of saying aloud, I don’t know. On the days I don’t know if I’m the best wife, the best mother, the best Christian, when I stop and recognize I don’t know, I’m suddenly freed from these self-imposed labels and am able to live in the balance of the unknown.

GODisHEREPrint-SarahBesseyI used to think God lived in church buildings but now I think God lives in hikes and coffee shops and long dinners and playdates and church buildings, too.

I still find hope and love and community in my church building. And I’m unable to give it up. Yet… On those Sunday mornings when we’re off and we just need to make scones and go for a hike, we do. And we find God and reconnect and are refreshed in this nature that is given to us. I’m learning that now is not the time to find all the big conversations in the right places – at seminaries and with theologians. For me, right now, I have those big conversations at playgrounds, where thoughts are constantly interrupted and I’m left wanting more. But, if I don’t start them (and stop them and start them again, all within twenty minutes) I’ll never have these discussions to begin with. I’m learning to take what I can get at this phase, and am learning that it is just as good as those devoted days of college discussions.

I used to think quiet time meant following a devotional and reading my Bible but now I think quiet time includes poetry and theology(lite) books and the Jesus Storybook Bible and actually taking quiet naps.

I’m finding that God can meet me as I read a Psalm aloud to a fussy baby. That I learn about the Bible from books snatched during quiet moments. That my one year Bible reading plan will most likely take two years because we just aren’t on a schedule, no matter how hard I try. I’m learning that self-care is just as spiritual as book knowledge and that God is bigger than a formula.

I used to think doubt was a phase to overcome but now I think doubt is a journey without scary finality but with beautiful questions that lead to more questions.

I’m learning to love the tension of doubt and belief and am finding that one without the other isn’t as sweet. I’m learning that doubt isn’t the opposite of the belief, but is part of it – like marriage. It’s a compliment and a push to go further, to be better, to learn more. Without doubt, I wonder if we could even have belief?

I used to think there were just a handful of ways to do Christianity but now I think Christianity is a tapestry with more threads than I can see.

This one still makes me uncomfortable but the boxes and definitions make me even more uneasy. So, I’m wondering what Christianity looks like without labels. Without denominations or even without one single path. I’m wondering about this mountain we’re all climbing and all the ways to get to the top. I’m imagining an amazing story, woven together, that needs plots and pivots and discord and mixed metaphors to reach that perfect denouement.

I used to think being out of sorts was a problem to be solved but now I think being out of sorts is the path that leads to redemption.

And I’m coming to terms with this idea that being out of sorts is how I best experience God’s love and mercy.

How have you changed and grown? What’s something big that has shifted?

Linked with Sarah Bessey’s blog celebrating the release of her newest book, Out of Sorts.

FB-Banner-600x222Out of Sorts just released this week and explores the idea that our faith is a dynamic, changing, living thing. That, as we grow and mature, our faith should as well. Sarah challenges us to examine our beliefs and continue to embrace the questions.

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27 thoughts on “I Used To

  1. Beautiful post, Annie. I could relate so strongly to it and found myself saying an inward yes to so much that you’ve expressed. These words in particular spoke to me: “I used to think there were just a handful of ways to do Christianity but now I think Christianity is a tapestry with more threads than I can see.” Amen! And those tangled threads just add richness, depth and colour to the rest, don’t they? Thank you for sharing your insights. Blessed to be your neighbour in the synchroblog link up! 🙂

  2. Annie, Your post offered a lot of grace. For those who find themselves in a season where they need a Sunday off from time to time. Where professional study doesn’t have priority. Where we learn from others living lives much like ours. This line really resonated with me: I used to think God lived in church buildings but now I think God lives in hikes and coffee shops and long dinners and playdates and church buildings, too. YES! And church buildings too…. still.

    1. Thank you so much, Traci. Grace is something I’m striving to keep as my center… Finding more and more that, while we need our community in the church building, God refreshes my soul so often outside its walls. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. “I used to think there were just a handful of ways to do Christianity but now I think Christianity is a tapestry with more threads than I can see.” – I am right there with you and I agree with Traci in everything she said above. God is in our everyday and in our meeting places… but we often forget he is in the everyday. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I will just join all the others who have commented on the line “I used to think there were just a handful of ways to do Christianity…” I love that, and yet like you I also am sometimes a little bit uncomfortable with it. I love the idea of it being a mountain with different ways of reaching the top. I think this will probably always be one of those things that I’ll have to be ok with not really understanding.

    1. I know, the first time I heard the “one mountain many paths” reference, I felt it was too universal. But… It’s starting to make more and more sense. And living with the tension of not understanding it all, well – I think that’s going to be a lifetime lesson for me. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Great post! I especially loved the line: “And I’m coming to terms with this idea that being out of sorts is how I best experience God’s love and mercy.” This has been so true for me. Beautiful!

  6. “I used to think God lived in church buildings but now I think God lives in hikes and coffee shops and long dinners and playdates and church buildings, too.” Oh yes! I still struggle with the whole skipping church on Sunday thing sometimes, but some weeks, it’s our only “family time.” And it’s better for my soul than attending a church service. Thanks for sharing your words!

    1. Yes, especially during busy times our family time is how we best worship and love God. I still feel guilty but really, it’s so important. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Thanks for your post – it spoke to me, especially finding God in the “I don’t know.” Having all the answers can make us feel safe and in control, but letting go of that is freeing.

  8. Wonderful post as usual. Those Sunday hiking trips sound really fun. We take advantage of our Saturdays since Sunday is a “work day” for my husband. I’m learning the same things, that big conversations about God isn’t just at seminary but on the playground as well.

    1. Thanks! I think learning to talk with interruptions is still the thing about motherhood I struggle with most. But, so many amazing conversations have happened in the midst of playground chaos!

  9. “On the days I don’t know if I’m the best wife, the best mother, the best Christian, when I stop and recognize I don’t know, I’m suddenly freed from these self-imposed labels and am able to live in the balance of the unknown.” That stopped me in my tracks. I love how you kept mention that I don’t know is okay. It so hard me because all I taught is there only black and white faith.

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