One year ago, I chose Fearless as my One Word for the upcoming year.

My year to say yes to all that He asks of me. To love fearlessly. To lavish grace without expectation. To speak the truth even if my voice shakes. To step out of the boat, in the middle of the storm, onto rough waters, and know that I will stand, eyes fixed on the author and perfect of my faith. To mother these beautiful tinies out of my best hopes instead of my worst fears. To confront evil, to speak out for my sisters that are silenced, to work and rabble-rouse, to piss a few people off and sing freedom to the rest, to give from everything that I have. This is my year for walls-crumbling-down, for wholehearted living, for art and yes and mess and doing it scared. If we’re all crowded on the wall, waiting for something to change, I’ll be the first one to jump, you can watch me go.



If I could have foreseen just how completely, utterly, and entirely God was planning on calling my bluff on that one, I might have picked another word. (Something like “Rich” or “Famous” perhaps….)

As the year unfolded, I began to realise that my little nudge to choose Fearless was more of a gigantic shove off a cliff by the Holy Spirit, a sort of dinner bell clanging “COME AND GET IT!” for almost every fear and insecurity I’ve petted, hidden, and indulged in my life.

Most of my fears are rooted in my insecurities. Some of them were silly and inconsequential, hardly worth noting. Others were rooted in my theology and identity, holding me back.

Even though I cannot run, even if chased, I decided to actually run a 5K for Mercy Ministries of Canada.  And I did it. (I promptly barfed and collapsed afterwards, as if it were a marathon, but whatever. I did it.

I signed with a literary agent.

I learned that sometimes the most fearless thing we can do is keep showing up in our own lives.

I decided that, even if the world doesn’t need another book, I need to write one. And I decided to do it anyway.

I did my first video blog to introduce my book Jesus Feminist to you. For many of you, it was the first time you had ever heard my voice. It took me 38 takes to come across as “breezy” and I don’t like my voice very much, but I did it.

I’m slowly learning not to care what others think about me – and so I danced in the grocery store.

I wrote a book proposal and survived my fair share of rejections, a few very pointed ones!

I signed a two-book deal with a Simon & Schuster’s Howard Books.

I wrote a book.

I had a personal encounter with third world poverty (which intimidated me terribly) when I decided to go to Haiti with Help One Now.

I left my little family for the first time – once to go away for a weekend with friends, and then for a week to Haiti.

I took the risks of community and trusting again, in my writing community (here’s where I was the first one to jump!) and in my “real” walking-around life right here, particularly with intentional church.

I got a new tattoo

I decided to be fearless about aging.

I learned it’s a radical act to stay right where you are sometimes.

I closed down and rebranded under my very own name, coming out of the avatar world.

I decided to stop making excuses for not engaging personally with poverty relief and orphan care. And together we raised the money to build a school in Haiti.

I tried not to let fear (of the unknown or “worst scenario”) govern the decisions we make about raising our tinies.

I wrote prophetically a couple of times. (for example)

I came a bit too close to God in Haiti

I confronted one of my greatest insecurities: speaking in public/on video about things I really, really care about.

I figured out that I can’t create if I’m always worried about what the critics will say about me and my theology.

I tried to write about divisive topics boldly with strong language and love. (For example)

I finally shared the slobbering video we shot in Haiti about the school.

I did a live-stream broadcast online with Help One Now.

I accepted my first two yes-for-real speaking engagements …. (more on those later, promise).

I even curated a little Fearless board on Pinterest to keep me encouraged.

And there were a thousand daily and a few sacred private moments of choosing fearlessness.


I used to think that conquering my Fears will be a lot more sexy than it really is.

I thought I would be rewarded for my efforts by a good experience.I thought that if I said yes to writing a book, that the words will flow easily. I thought that if I got up my courage to try intentional community again, that I would be met with kindred spirits and casseroles and a welcoming committee.  I thought that if I said yes to Haiti, that I would not be as wrecked and hurting and powerless, as I feel right now. I thought that if I say yes to speaking on camera or on a stage for a good reason, that I would not lose my crap and cry the entire way through.

But it doesn’t always work that way.

Sometimes the first step is just as awful as you imagined.

But you do it anyway.

And you keep doing it, over and over, until the root of that fear is dug out of the rocky hard soil, and you are free of it at last, and I believe God is making something beautiful out of it all.

I don’t think I’m fearless now. Not by a long shot. I am braver. I am practicing fearlessness, over and over, with the hope it takes deep hold in my life. I want to carry this word with me, for the rest of my life, every day. This has profoundly changed me.

Perfect love casts out fear.

There is no fear in love.


(I’ll have my One Word for 2013 post up soon. You can participate in the #OneWord365 community here.)


In which I wrap up 2012 with my favourite posts
In which I choose my word for 2013 - LIGHT
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  • Be not afraid, indeed.

  • Jennifer Dukes Lee

    I love your voice, Sarah. When I read what you write, it makes me feel braver, and I am so NOT a fearless person. I’m a shaking-in-my-boots girl. Thanks for being you. I’m so glad God made you.

    • You and me, both, Jennifer! I’m the same way but we’re learning together.

  • Love this recap! It has been quite a year. You’ve also got me half-convinced I should pray for one word for 2013. Only half-convinced, though, because – wow – who knows what might happen. 🙂

    • If it doesn’t scare you at least a little bit, it’s probably not the right word, in my opinion. 😉

  • Anonymous

    Looking forward to a whole book of You!!

  • I am just a few steps behind you and that was so so very encouraging to read! Your recap brought that lump in my throat that I get when the Spirit of God is speaking something to my heart. I am inspired by your fearless feats! Just beautiful…..

  • Aimee

    Amazing and so beautiful- you are such an example! Thank you for being fearless and sharing it with us!!!

  • So beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your fearless journey.

  • pastordt

    Oh, amen, kiddo. You still barf when it’s over, no matter how many times you face into that fear, that one that kicks you in the gut. Brava for stepping of so many huge cliffs in 2012. Maybe you can take a break from cliff-jumping in 2013? (Not likely, but one can always hope, right?? RIGHT??)

    • That’s what my dad said! I nearly picked “Sabbath” or “Rest” for this year because that was just plain what I wanted. haha

  • The Internet is a better place because you are in it, Sarah Bessey. Grateful to know you.

  • oh yes … to live life from a place of love and confidence instead of fear and ‘what ifs’ …

    • I am still learning what int he world that means in real life, Linda! Whew. I can only imagine.

  • Sarah, you absolutely are fearless simply because you fight your fears and do it anyway. That’s what fearless means to me. It’s been an absolute privilege to walk alongside you this past year and see you stepping out in faith and freedom. You, my friend, are a gift. xo

  • I love this! I love your choice and I love your take on it. So inspiring.

  • Emily Wierenga

    wow girl, what a year it’s been for you! i too am learning what it means to step out in love, not fear. i love you girl, and am so proud of you. especially for dancing in the grocery store 🙂 that’s awesome! (ps. i wrote about anxiety/worry/fear tonight too. seems a common theme.)

  • lovely, really lovely Sarah! I have to quote that verse constantly, “perfect love casts out fear,” as I see something on tv or read in media. When the fear rises, which inevitably leads to anxiety & worry I hear Jesus echo inside, “Is that my love or fear, because my love is not fear based.” Did you know we didn’t decide to name Caprice until the day she was born? Her name means ‘whimsical, playful,’ while her middle name Aria means ‘lioness’ in Hebrew. My pregnancy with her was surrounded by fear and as if the Lion of Judah roared (I like to think prophetically), “this child will be fearless (I shudder a bit).”

    God is on the move and it’s exciting! I read your journey, your story of God fearlessly leading you and it encourages me. These are dark times for me in postpartum, but I need stories like yours, stories like Caprice’s to remember perfect love casts it all out! Thank you!

    • That is a good word, Kamille. Love it. These are hard days – especially those early ones with number three. That kicked my butt for a good while. I think I just stripped down tot he basics for that first year and spent a lot of time praying while wiping bums and serving lunch. Tiring, I know. Praying for joy in the midst, sweet friend.

  • Carolyn Phillips

    Wow, this is good to read – a real encouragement to us all to keep pushing forward with out words. Thanks.You have done some amazing things.

  • Donna

    What a wonderful year! This is my favorite recap of a One Word. You were fearless! Can’t wait to see what God has in store for you for next year.

  • “I thought I would be rewarded with a good experience”
    – yes, I have been there, felt that, wanted my refund from God. I am slightly in awe of all that you have done this year, and the fearless edge in your writing as well, that flows and bubbles effortlessly, seemingly unfettered by the clunkiness and hesitations that I struggle with. It is a beauteous thing, your writing.

    And it has been a privilege and joy to share your some of your journey through your writing this year. It’s such a gift! Thank you.

    • Yeah, now that I look back on it, I no longer wonder why I felt worn out at hte end of the year. it was tiring! Glad to have the year behind me, even with all of that fast-paced growth, and ready to move forward. Hopefully with a bit more “rest” in there, too. Glad to do life with you, Tanya. xo

  • I have a word for 2013 but I haven’t been brave enough to write about it yet. I have a whole year, right?

  • hopejem

    Oh Sarah, I love that you called out what was already in you. You are a prophet my dear one. Keep calling it out, stepping into it and bringing us, your sisters (and brothers), along for the journey.
    Thank you.

    • Thanks, Jem – I’m not fearless yet but I’m learning…slowly. 😉

      • hopejem

        The fact that you have “less fear” than you did before tells me you are more fearless than you even know. 😉

  • Sarah, Thank you for making my 2012 a better year, you’re a blessing and a gift when I’m counting.

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  • Zoey

    Just found your blog from Rachel Held Evan’s site…. Love it and your voice. Thank you for sharing.

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  • I am grateful that your voice entered my life in 2012 and I am looking forward to your book! Way to go, Sarah. Thank you for your fearlessness in sharing yourself even when it must be crazy brutally hard sometimes. May this New Year be even better than the last!

    • Thanks, Anna – amen! I pray the same for you and yours.

  • Kirsty

    I think the first fearless thing you did was to pick (or accept, depending on how you came upon it) the word ‘fearless’. Not an easy thing to choose to do – nor is sharing some of those fears with blog readers.

    • Seriously! I think I was more fool-hardy than brave with that choice but hey, I’ll take it! 😉

  • Gosh! Do you know something? You totally rock my world in so many ways! 2012 is the year I found Sarah Bessey AND fell in love with her writings and consequently fell more and more in love with writing myself. Fearless has been something I’ve started to learn this year and I didn’t even know it until now. I want to be fearless for ever and a day because fearlessness brings such a lot of freedom and love and hope, and I know that to be true. So here goes for another year…I’m going to try and be fearless I’m going to try to dare to live.

    • You bless me, Grace Elizabeth! What kindness – thank you!

  • Well you certainly did rock fearless this past year. Thanks for sharing here – your walk with Jesus inspires.

  • Sarah, thank you for inspiring me and wrecking me. If there was a word which defined my 2012, it was courage. In 2012 I’ve been challenged and compelled to step out in courage, whether it was facing the worst of myself or grudgingly having to accept the truth of the best of myself. You continue to be an inspiration on this journey, and I now find myself adopting ‘professional’ as my word for 2013, as God calls me onward to be professional in my apporach to life, to writing – and no longer to be an amateur. Your words always call out a greater standard in my own writing, and challenge me to be fearless. You display such courage and honesty in your writing, maybe even more than you know. Thank you for willing to be fearless.

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  • This has got to be one of the most inspiring One Word posts I have read!!!! Thanks so much for posting this and sharing the power of a word! Wow! Can’t wait to see what your word for 2013 is!

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