After 35 years as a devout, self-proclaimed Jesus freak—spending summers on mission trips, leading Bible studies, and joining the church leadership team—Sarah Henn Hayward has stopped believing in a Higher Being altogether.
She found herself grieving the loss of her core identity and struggling to see a way forward without God at the helm. While she remained grateful for her former faith and the many ways it shaped her, she needed a new lens through which to process good and evil, purpose and meaning.
In Giving Up God, Sarah wrestles for a new identity as she resurrects herself from her former beliefs, exploring new vistas in physics, philosophy, and alternative theologies and drawing inspiration from the natural world.
Since it increases the publishing cost quite a bit to include color and photography, I am uploading photos to go along with the stories I tell in the book here instead!
"The experience reinforced an internal belief that was developing in me: being a good person, praying, and asking God for what you want worked!”
I could write a whole book of stories from those five months I spent in Australia.
In junior high school I happened to pick A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle off the school bookshelf. To say that moment changed my life forever would not be an exaggeration."
My heart pounded as I allowed myself to admit that I no longer believed that homosexuality as an orientation or homosexual behavior itself were sinful.
As soon as I started paying attention to politics, I was drawn to the liberal side of things.
Nature has always held a special allure for me.
We became the Fijian version of the Swamp Thing while connecting with our inner 3-year-old selves!
A whole new world opened up to me. I felt like an intruder on another planet or in a magical new dimension. Off in the distance, past the huge coral formations, the ocean floor stretched out, dark and beckoning."
Wisps of cloud played in front of the sun, causing the surface of the water to morph and change colors like a giant prism.
A whirlwind of activity and adventure brought me to my new home. Just like life, rivers rush ahead without a pause. They may speed up, slow down, and even change course, but they constantly push forward.
I experienced something strange myself while hiking in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix, Arizona, where I spent two months in the spring of 2010.
The summer of 2009 lives in my mind as an unforgettable adventure of the most epic proportions.
A view of the sailboat-filled bay. Fog obscured the further edges of the inlet and streamed through the branches of a nearby rose bush. Making myself comfortable in the Adirondack, I relaxed into this snug scene, and my mind was drawn to the fog.
I looked to the wisdom of the established Ponderosa Pines and the fleeting beauty of the spring balsamroot flowers for life lessons.
The reverberation of everyone's voice making the same sound filled the nave with a steady hum that made all the molecules in the air and in my body vibrate at one frequency. The sense of connection overwhelmed me.
One of the worst parts of losing my faith has been the struggle to stay optimistic. It’s harder to believe that everything will work out in the end when I no longer imagine God crashing through and destroying evil at some point in the future.
I learned what I am capable of, what storms I can weather, what challenges I can overcome. Nature inspires the courage I need to overcome new obstacles and persist through difficulty.