Tell a better story || Sarah Bessey

Sometimes, I’m just so tired of All the Reacting. Every one is always reacting to every one else’s work, and right now, I want to create. I want to create my own work, not react to or critique someone else’s work. I want to build something beautiful and true, I want to call things that are not, as they should be.

I’m over reacting or evangelistic debate commenting or weighing in or unfruitful arguing. I can’t lose sleep when someone is wrong or mean on the Internet. I’ve fallen quiet, even withdrawn a bit lately, because I can’t absorb it all without withering.

I would rather create than react.

So I’m not interested in being sweet and inoffensive, I’m not interested in playing church or sorority girls with anyone. I’m not interested in confusing conformity with unity.

And I’m also not interested in being the Go-To Feminist or Post-Evangelical or Mama-Bear for every weird and terrible response and open-letter (actually, I’m just over open-letters, period). I’m not called to hold every person who’s wrong on the Internet to accountability. That’s not me. I’m thankful for those who do this important work – I read them, and I learn. But I cherish my status as an outsider to the mainstream striving arenas and debates.

I need to tell a better story, a beautiful story, an unconditional love-filled truthful story.  I’m not a preacher or a teacher, and I’m realising that I am not a good “react-er” either – wait a tick, is that even a word? I don’t think it is, unless the word “nuclear” is in front of it, which may be apropos for the tone of some rhetoric.  Reacting sucks the life out of me.

Instead of big arguments and point-by-point apologetics, instead of reacting to slights, imagined or legitimate, political or religious or relational, I long to get on with my Father’s business, to live into freedom in my real walking-around life, and I pray there’s an invitation in there somewhere. 

I left behind that old gate-keeper pontificating performance-hamster-wheel of religion a long time ago. Despite invitations, I’m not going back to the The Table to keep fighting for legitimacy or permission. Let them fight. I’ve got a life to live and a song to sing.

I long to offer real gritty grace that enters into the mess and complexity while valuing people and choosing tough love – not fake grace that masquerades as apologism or silence. I long to worship. I long to live prophetically, somehow, into a reality of Jubilee and Kingdom Come – and I have babies to raise, and a husband to love, a house to keep, bills to pay.

So I’d rather write a better and real story than a point-by-point defense, and I long to really see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I want to live out an embodiment of the Love I’ve experienced and know. I can’t live – let alone write – a better story if I’m being swept up in a million comments and expectations and Twitter mock-fests and Facebook debates and frustrations and whirlwinds of offense.

I can’t create, if I’m constantly busy reacting.  Some of my best work – on-screen and off – comes when I’m listening more than I’m talking, when I’m creating instead of reacting, when I’m choosing to offer grace instead of epic sarcasm, when I swallow a few words, walk away, and come back again, later, to try all over again to make a little space for God, here in the light of day, outside where I belong.


This post is an edited version of an old post. I’ve forgotten how to write again so needed this reminder.


In which I embody a story
In which the light is breaking through
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  • Sarah Caldwell

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder Sarah. I just wrote a post about taking a moment to breathe, spend some time in the quiet and just create on my blog this very morning. Your words are helping me do just that, friend. Bless You.

  • kelley nikondeha

    I couldn’t agree more. I want to create, not react. And I yearn for prophetic imagining and living… filled with pathos, energy and action. But not reaction.

  • Debra Westbrook

    This is so incredible. Thank you. You have read my heart completely. Thank you so much. I loved reading this and sharing it with many of my friends. Here’s the deal. I am a mom, a grand mom, a minister, a wife of 38 years and feeling very young and alive. Lately I have been reading many blogs by all of you 30-somethings as the Lord is leading me that way. ( I am a mother of 2 30-somethings.) In reading what you young women are writing, it is literally blasting me open with hope and expectation. Why? Because I forego at times hanging out with those my age and hang out with your age because of what is inside of you. So many glorious things. Thanks again for touching hearts of all ages from your blog. It inspires me to shift and write more as my life, even over 50, is in another glorious transition. Love what you write. Bless bless bless you.

  • Sharon O

    AWESOME. just write and do what God calls you to do and don’t worry about anything else.
    Remember Jesus never worried about who he offended, he spoke truth, and let it sit.
    If someone didn’t like it, well it became their issue not his.

  • You bless me. 🙂

  • Oh, A-freakin’-men. Thank you.

  • Ironically enough, I had very similar thoughts just this morning. I don’t pay too much attention to goings on of “mainstream christianity” (as i like to call it) I am interested in learning about all of these things {like the smokin’ hot wives debate} But really all of that is distracting. I feel like I can’t put on love if I am wrapped up in debates… does that make sense? (I don’t even usually engage in the debate itself, I just internalize it all. Its crazy!)

  • Jerusalem Greer

    Sing, sing, sing your song sister!

  • beautiful and well said. Thank you!

  • Yes. Exactly what I needed to hear, on a day that I needed to hear it most.

  • Love, love, love this! Great reminder. Go Sarah!! Reactions are often what drives too much hurt in our everyday lives. We get tired of fighting for everything and in turn react badly.

    Sing. Write. Imagine. Live. Love.

  • Oh AMEN! I almost ditched the whole online thing not too long ago. All I could see was people attacking each other, thank you for restoring my hope in it all. Love this space.

  • Lacey

    This is why I love you and your writing. You are a prophetic voice, painting this beautiful, beautiful picture of Kingdom living. And I’m inspired to do the same.

  • This post.

  • yep!

  • SortaCrunchy

    I loved this then and I love this now.

    “But I cherish my status as an outsider to the mainstream striving arenas and debates.” That really resonated with me. I’ve never put words to it that way, but gosh, yes. I like being an outsider, slinking around on the outskirts. It’s nice out here. You can sit around and blow fluff off of dandelions and pick the bugs of your skirt for days and no one notices or cares. If I think of something Really Big to say, I’ll say it. But mostly I just wanna in the grass and chit chat.

  • ahhh, deep happy breath. So thankful for this post, this mindset. I’ve been feeling this too….just tired of engaging (actually just watching from the sides) all the bickering, etc. And it drains me too. I’ve got to learn to side swipe it and save my precious energy to create something worthwhile….I’ve got battles at home & other spots, why am I letting myself hurt & absorb the pain & the fear of other’s battles? who knows? All I know is Miss Bessey reads my damn journals.

  • Write it, girl! Your thought-filled response sure beats the over-reacting that’s coming to mark so much that passes for ‘writing.’ Let’s just be who HE’s created us to be … and do it well.

  • sethhaines


    I reserve that for writing I really really like.

    Thanks for this.

  • JennaDeWitt

    “performance-hamster-wheel of religion” – YES. I love that you used the “hamster wheel” because I totally just wrote a similar version of this phrase in an article for my mag yesterday and worried that people wouldn’t get it. 🙂 Totally off-topic for the point of this post, but just wanted to say thanks for unintentionally confirming my metaphor. haha

  • This. Yes!

  • Great post. I love it. I really am too much of a reactor (and some it is nuclear in my case). I see so much of what I create is a reaction, even if it doesn’t appear to be. And I feel the weight of the social media universe so much. I have amazing friends through social media, but I also feel overwhelmed and unable to keep up with it all, and an unerring sense of competitiveness when it comes to friends who are writers.

    I honestly wish I could just let go and write, and create great writing and a meaningful life, without worrying about others, and not in response to others. Often I spend so much time reacting I can lose track of what I truly desire, and this is never healthy.

    We were made for community, to give and to take from. But especially as an introvert, there is a time for sacred space on our own, or only with those closest to us – husbands, wives, children, close friends – and all of us need this sacred space, this time alone, to allow creativity to burst forth within us. Thanks for calling this out of me again.

  • Emily B

    Thank you. I’ve been praying over this the last few days, and I think the Spirit has spoken to me through this. 🙂

  • julieg

    Sarah, this has been on my heart as well lately…we are creating a stressed-out society when what we need is acceptance and grace

  • I am weary, and I have had trouble writing lately, too. I just so needing your words this night, providing clarity to my mixed-up heart. God is speaking to me. Thank you.

  • Miles O’Neal


  • muddyoh .

    Your blog was recommended in a post at, and your stuff looks great, so I’m following!

  • This was great! I too avoid the drama of reacting around me. It is completely draining. I hope your post is able to help others step back too!

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  • Yeah, i was outraged by an open letter I read last month, and had so many and strong emotional reactions, but I thought it was a waste of my time and life to be critiquing other people’s ideas and relationship with Scripture, Christ or others. Much better to hear what Christ is saying to me, or to try to overhear what he might be saying about the issues of my life and world, and record that. There is far more peace and joy in doing that.

    I’ve just stumbled upon listening and then writing in the last few weeks when i’ve been too busy to “just write” without trying to hear what Christ might be saying about the subject; ah, it’s a light and easy way of writing.

  • I love this. And love you. Sing, my sister, sing.

  • Diana Trautwein

    Oh, yes. Please. Me, too. Thank you. Sigh.

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  • these words came to me at just the right time. Let that be a sign that your creating instead of reacting is a good thing.

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  • *sigh*

    [Recent FB status] “Unity, not uniformity: I don’t want you to believe everything I believe. I don’t want you to think as I think. In harmony, we all sing different notes. We do not sing in unison. And when the song we sing is in the key of Love, we can live with each other in peace.”

    … which also may be why my blog has never had any way of leaving comments. If you don’t like the word-pictures I paint, then go to someone else’s gallery. If you do, then copy, steal, reflect, and share them with your friends. As Christian writers, we were created in God’s image to create … to partner in a sacred creative process. And a few, like you, dear Sarah, have been anointed to create and speak with God’s heart … and voice.

    I wait, but with the anticipatory patience of an antsy child.

  • I’ve grown quiet these last few months, partly because I’m creating with paint and other mediums and just loving so much, but partly for reasons you reference here. Thanks for challenging me, as well as encouraging.

  • I’m glad I’m not the only person who forgets how to write.

  • Love, love, love this. Ah, I wish I didn’t get this, but I do. Sharing this. My weary heart and noise-filled brain needed this. …{sigh}…

  • Lucie

    This sure resonated with me…I have a draft blog post in progress about how sometimes I get tired of the big, loud voices on the Internet and how my little blog is so quiet in comparison…and how maybe it’s supposed to be, because sometimes people will need that quiet voice, and others like it. I guess I’m telling myself that it’s okay to have a quiet little blog. Sarah, would you be willing to allow me to quote a few small excerpts from this post, with credit to you (including a link to your website)? I’m not even sure when I’ll run that post, but I will let you know if it does.

  • Cara

    Thank you for these words. This is something that I love about your writing: you stay above the fray.
    It’s easy sometimes, to think that weighing in on a certain debate will generate more interest, which will in turn mean that we are doing something more measurable, but I don’t think that is true. I think that, as with your recent post at SheLoves about staying in one place, often, in writing and in life, that is what we are called to do. Writing about what we know and what God is doing in our own little hearts and corners. This is enough.
    You are someone that I feel is a friend, though we haven’t met in person, and friends don’t shout at each other, they relate.
    Thank you for that.

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