Someone told me that I’m disgustingly prideful. They talked and wrote about my hubris, my vanity, my self-importance and self-promotion.

Someone else told me that my hallmark is my humility and self-deprecation.

Someone called me an uppity woman, like it was the 19th century all over again.

Other people tell me I’m too nice, that I avoid conflict, that I should get better at arguing and confronting, taking a stand.

Someone thinks I’m a terrible feminist because I don’t tick the proper boxes in their political opinion notebook. I’m just palatable to the pablum-craving masses, that’s all.

And someone else thinks I’m a terrible follower of Jesus. Oh, yes, don’t forget the heresy: I’m an apostate. I clearly don’t place any value on Scripture. I’m weak and easily deceived with a disdain for the Word. In fact, I’m ruining everything apparently, to blame for almost all ills.

Someone else thinks I’m doing just fine on both the following Jesus point and the feminist thing.

My identity can’t be found in the accusations or the accolades.

I can’t listen to the ones who think I’m evil – or the ones who think I’m wonderful. Both of them are right – and wrong. I can’t find my identity or my voice or my worth in the words and opinions of others. I mean, I’m open to criticism from the ones who’ve earned a right to speak into my life, absolutely. And trust me: they hold my feet to the fire sometimes. (But there’s a difference between someone who speaks from an earned place of love and trust into your life, and the drive-by critics with an ax to grind against you and no investment in the outcome.)

It’s a good thing I have such a gift for selective hearing. (See, Mum? I know it was hard on you when I was growing up, but now it’s quite useful!)

Here is the thing about standing up: some people would rather if you sat back down. 

People prefer status quo. Boat-rockers make us nervous. Just like people in the wilderness wearing camel hair coats and eating locusts with a side of honey disrupt us, people who think Jesus actually meant all that stuff he said don’t fit in anywhere.

But I won’t sit down. I won’t back down. I won’t be silenced simply because I’m not perfect. My only prayer now is that my weakness shows the strength of Christ and his Kingdom.

I will call attention to my feet of clay and my own contradictions over and over again because no one is more aware than me that I only carry a priceless treasure – the life of Christ – in this (quite) cracked pot of earth. The treasure and the validity of the message can’t be dependent on my ability to please everyone all the time. My failings are real – and number far more than the ones above.

I believe in being a feminist the way that Jesus would be a feminist, absolutely. I believe that our HOW matters as much as our WHAT and our WHY. And I want my ways to reflect the man from Nazareth, I want to walk in his footsteps faithfully.

And right from creation, we’ve been called to be an ezer kenegdo, a warrior. We’ve not been called to the people-pleasing life, to the approval seeking life, to the bow-down-and-give-up life. We’ve been called to the peace-making life, the truth-telling life, the he-who-the-Son-sets-free-is-free-indeed life.

We’ve been called to the spirit-filled and God-breathed life, living out the ways of the Kingdom and the life in Christ to every corner of our humanity.

We’ve been called to the life of the beloved. We’ve been called to the life of the disciple. And sometimes that means people love what we do, sometimes it means they hate what we do. (In my case, they’re probably both right because I’m a mess and I make mistakes. I have, and I will, disappoint.)

But we can’t engage in our lives from a place of worthiness without having a core belief about that worthiness: We are loved. We are free. We are redeemed. We are whole in Christ. Your true identity is Beloved. Start there.And then we can live out our lives and our callings from a deep well of love and freedom and wholeness – because we are.

Even – maybe especially – our imperfect, contradictory lives are singing a beautiful prophetic song of invitation: come outside, come outside, it’s beautiful out here, breathe free, you are so loved.

 

 

 

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  • “We’ve been called to the life of the beloved. We’ve been called to the life of the disciple.” Love this so much. Always back to the center, hearts on pilgrimage towards and with and in Christ. Thanks for this, Sarah.

  • tell it, sarah! <3

  • Jemelene

    “We are loved. We are free. We are redeemed. We are whole in Christ.”
    Oh my yes!

  • Amanda O’Brien McKelvie

    Lovely post. The fact that we are loved by God is where we need to start. I’m learning that more and more – just reading Crazy Love this week and it was a great reminder. Thank you for the reminder as well!

  • Mia

    Wow. Wow wow wow! I needed to hear this so much today. Thank you for your honesty and transparent writing. Love it.

  • Helen Burns

    Yes!!!!

  • Anne Vyn

    Sarah, thank you for directing the compass of our souls toward Christ, not toward people’s praises or approval. We can only serve ONE Master.

    I love how Eric Metaxas affirms these traits in Bonhoeffer:

    By the end of his life, Bonhoeffer “had theologically redefined the Christian life as something active, not reactive. It had nothing to do with avoiding sin or with merely talking or teaching or believing theological notions or principles or rules. It had everything to do with living one’s whole life in obedience to God’s call through action.”

  • Indeed. Thank you Sarah.

  • Spot on Sarah, great post. Couldn’t agree with you more. Thanks for being you – would’t want it any other way. You’re a true inspiration to me and so many of us.

  • Oh! Oh! Oh! This is so great. I just found your blog through a retweet. I am excited about your book and the movement that is sure to follow. I live in Chile. I’ll be in the States next month for a book tour. Anyways, I love what you had to say in this post, and I’m thrilled with this book. I’ll buy it soon. Sixteen years of ministry, three years on the mission field, and many long conversations with pastors, elders, and professors begging them to rethink this and step it up. And many long hours for many many years in the prayer closet asking God to raise up women who will stand and speak and be the change, and for God to heal hearts … so many hearts around the world. So thankful for you, and I will pray for you as you face adversity and opposition, but ultimately as you expect and see change, and prepare the way for our daughters and their daughters. Bless you. May you find favor wherever you set your feet.

  • Rebekah Gilbert

    “I won’t back down.” I’ve recently had to say those very words. Hard to do when it costs something.

  • “Here is the thing about standing up: some people would rather if you sat back down.

    People prefer status quo. Boat-rockers make us nervous. Just like people in the wilderness wearing camel hair coats and eating locusts with a side of honey disrupt us, people who think Jesus actually meant all that stuff he said don’t fit in anywhere.”

    Thank you so much for writing this, Sarah. I’m exactly in this place and I needed it today.

  • pastordt

    Yes, ma’am. Beautifully done. And hoorah for selective hearing.

  • Oh my. Feeling this with you this week. THIS week. We give God all the glory for the good don’t we? Then we wear our mistakes like heavy cloaks that glue our feet to the floor. Shake it all off…our identity cannot exist in anything as corruptible as the mind of another. Love you friend…thankful for your ministry in my life…the way you always point me to the kingdom. AND THANK YOU for the lovely note…You are welcome in these parts any old time!

  • Truth telling in the way of Jesus. Thanks for this!

  • Oh Sarah. This post… Is amazing. It was exactly what I needed to hear today.
    Thank you for another beautiful post 🙂

  • I know that you aren’t looking for accolades. And I know the “atta-girls” can’t really define us, even if we wanted them to. But I’ll say it anyway: I like you, Sarah Bessey.

  • lynda

    I Love what you say! No phony baloney. . .You Are Real. . .ThankYou for that!

  • Ruth

    Remember hearing ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything’? I think your critics could do with remembering this. We can comment on beliefs, attitudes and theology, and NOT attack the either the person or their indinvidual mind- set. I happen to be whole heartedly in agreement with you and your amazing take on life, but, even if I was not, it is NOT my Christian right to besmirch your character, or call you to task for being different to me! Keep on being you and sharing….lots of us need and enjoy your sharing heartfelt journey in life. I am scornfully called ‘fundamentalist’ because I choose to believe in the way I was brought up….even enjoy the King James bible and my NIV study bible, and creation as told does not leave me with questions. So what really, in the end, we, men and women, need to stand tall and support each other in our growth and sharing of Jesus. Mary Magdalen is my favourite Bible woman – the first and only person to see Him after He arose! Great stuff; could there be a greater privilege other than being Mary, his mother? Thus ended the lesson….laughing at my long-winded post! 🙂

  • Susan Stewart

    Funny how God inexplicably gets us to just where we need to be – somewhere we can hear his voice alone through the madding crowd. I hear your voice, Sarah Bessey, but I hear His too – loud and clear. Thank you, I SO needed this today.

  • jodylouise

    thanks for this. i’m stirring up my first controversy ever on my own blog and needed these words. they give me courage.

  • Yes, yes yes. Thank you Sarah. These are needed words. I love this line: “Just like people in the wilderness wearing camel hair coats and eating locusts with a side of honey disrupt us, people who think Jesus actually meant all that stuff he said don’t fit in anywhere.”

    xoxo.

  • Susan May

    Thanks for this. Wonderfully stated. Glad you are not sitting down.

  • “I’m open to criticism from the ones who’ve earned a right to speak into my life,” — The Holy Spirit has that right. Those who believe they have earned the right to speak in Her stead are, IMHO, the prideful, arrogant ones. And as they feast on the forbidden fruit, their accusations and judgment, separating what they deem good from what they deem evil, will not take on new life, but will expire and turn to dust. Add my echo to Cara and the others. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you Sarah. These are needed words. Your words breathe new life into to all of us who are willing to listen.

  • Lizzie Goldsmith

    LOVE this, Sarah!

  • I am in awe. Of your writing yes, but more importantly, in awe of our God who spoke to you on one side of the world and told you what to write, so that I could be encouraged on the other side of the world at exactly the right time. And it’s not the first time He’s done this, through you and other Christian writers. He’s got His hand so intricately involved in our lives and it is encouraging and comforting. Thank you Sarah Bessey for listening to His still small voice, for obeying it and for writing.

  • Jessica Stock

    yes and amen!

  • Natalie Simmons

    For some you rock the boat, for others of us you help us to feel that we also have a place and aren’t as crazy as we feel within our own circles…

  • stephanie10

    Your post reminds me of the lyrics to an Amy Grant song.. “There’s so much good in the worst of us/ So much bad in the best of us/ It never makes sense for any of us/ to criticize the rest of us/ We’ll just find what we’re looking for/ We’ll find what we’re looking for”

  • I hear a benediction. Or should I say: a call to dinner.

    So grateful to sit at the table with you, friend. Let’s warm ourselves by the fire and sing.

  • “But there’s a difference between someone who speaks from an earned
    place of love and trust into your life, and the drive-by critics with an
    ax to grind against you and no investment in the outcome.”

    This, this, and more this. How often have I let myself be silenced by a nobody? Or even by a somebody, when that person was just having a bad day?

    Enough with that.This is so much fantastical greatness.

  • “I can’t listen to the ones who think I’m evil – or the ones who think I’m wonderful. Both of them are right – and wrong.” Yes. Thanks for this. Needed it this week.

  • Alicia

    “I will call attention to my feet of clay and my own contradictions over and over again because no one is more aware than me that I only carry a priceless treasure – the life of Christ – in this (quite) cracked pot of earth.” This is exactly right. If only we could keep this perspective. I get so frustrated with my own contradictions. I just need to remember that I’m human…HUMAN…and the treasure is not me, but CHRIST in me! You’ve put words to my thoughts…how do you do that? 🙂

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  • Thank you Sarah.

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