“Is it a sin to doubt?” one of my teenagers asked me. In that moment, I realized our church has not always communicated or modeled that it is a safe place to doubt or ask questions. “We long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable,” writes Rachel Held Evans in Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church.
This book was life for me. As a memoir of sorts, the book is structured around seven sacraments: baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and marriage. She explains:
“It seemed fitting to arrange the book around the sacraments because it was the sacraments that drew me back to church after I’d given up on it. [The sacraments] reminded me that, try as I may, I can’t be a Christian on my own. I need a community. I need the church.”
Her book is honest and hopeful; it was a refreshing and encouraging read. There have been several reviews already written about this book, and this review is only adding to the already-present chorus of praise. There is much I can learn from her words and her experiences. While I wish her book focused more on the sacraments (as she has recently written about “Going Episcopal” on her blog), I do appreciate that she organized her stories around the sacraments.
I remember on the first day of my Christian Beliefs class in college, my professor sat on the desk in the front of the classroom. He was frank and honest. As tears started to form in his eyes, he apologized for the ways the church has not been what it is supposed to be. He apologized on behalf of the Church for the ways those within the Church have burned you. He did not have to say those things, yet he recognized there were many people who are carrying “church baggage.” Similarly, Rachel Held Evans validates your experiences by openly sharing about her own. She comes alongside to say, “You are not alone.”
This book also broke my heart, because I have heard stories of brokenness. I have heard stories where the Church has hurt more than helped. So I deeply appreciate this book, and I deeply appreciate her outlook on life and Church. She writes:
“But there is a difference between curing and healing, and I believe the church is called to the slow and difficult work of healing. We are called to enter into one another’s pain, anoint it as holy, and stick around no matter the outcome.”
I believe this book was even more significant for me as I was reading it during the Easter season. The Easter season calls us to live as resurrection people. While acknowledging the shift in church attendance, she writes:
“Death is something empires worry about, not something gardeners worry about. It’s certainly not something resurrection people worry about.”
If you have wondered if there is a place for you to voice your doubts, this book is for you. If you are willing to wrestle with doubt and questions, this book is for you. If you have been burned or hurt by the Church, this book is you for. If you have ever been a part of a church only to be let down or disappointed, this book is for you. If you are hungry for community, peace, or belief, this book is for you. If you love the Church, this book is for you.
Buy it on Amazon here.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.