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Thrashing About with God: Finding Faith on the Other Side of Everything (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Mandy Steward

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

What if Jesus didn’t die so our lives could look perfect? What if He died so we could stop feeling like our lives have to be perfect to mean something? What if we simply live out our own story, even if it doesn’t look as others say it should? Mandy Steward set out in pursuit of these what-ifs. She didn’t find answers so much as she discovered a messy grace that knows no limits and a God that was and is willing to thrash about with her no matter her questions or struggles or doubts. What she found was abundant life, but it didn’t look like she thought it was going to. It was far different, and much deeper. This is a book without “easy” answers that lets those struggling with faith and searching for more know they are not alone.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1677 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 274 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0781408253
  • Editeur : David C. Cook (1 octobre 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5  42 commentaires
37 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Raw, breathtaking, brave. This book is wild poetry. 23 septembre 2013
Par hillary rain - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I read this book in one sitting. A brief dozing off between 3 AM and 7 AM? I don't think that counts. When I closed the cover following the final page I let out a gusty exhale. I hadn't known I was holding my breath.

I am one who finds herself skittish, to put it mildly, in the world of faith and traditional Christianity. My fundamentalist roots and the consequent good-Christian-girl experiences (read: exhaustive, shame-based, fear-based, marked with an infinite array of "shoulds" and exclusions of practically everyone else in the world) of my twenties worked themselves into my skin and bones and leave me twitching on occasion when I am exposed to anything remotely "Christianese." However, my heart is very tender towards God and my spirituality. I am fiercely protective of my spiritual path. What I call the working out of my own salvation may not look like other versions but it is precious to me and I get to guard it with my whole being.

Because of this, I wasn't sure what to expect upon reading Thrashing About With God. Mandy is a dear friend of mine. She asked me, after I texted her to say I finished reading it, "Any triggering spots for you?" And I am surprised that I can honestly say, "No."

While she talks candidly and respectfully about her observations and experiences within and around the evangelical church world (including a former pastor of hers by the name of Rick Warren; you may have heard of him?) and uses words and phrases familiar to this culture, they are offered with such grace and freedom that it's like breathing fresh air into a dingy, stale room. There is no hidden motive, no conversion sales pitch, no "should-ing." Simply an invitation into the mystery and the life that is our own unique journey with God. On page 145, she says, "As God said in The Shack, "I will travel any road to find you." And He will, and He did, and He does. And it is He who then woos us onto unique, personal narrow roads that few have traveled."

Now I'm working through the book a second time and am struck by the way author Mandy Steward invites a deep breath, a relief, and a rest within the weary world of evangelical Christianity. She offers her own questions and discoveries, anger and hope for us to witness and perhaps see some of ourselves reflected there. I certainly do. On page 99 she writes, "It's scary to see how much I relied on the voices of others to direct my paths. And now I see the dark silhouettes of the owners of some of those voices, and I realize they weren't for me at all. Quite the opposite, they were sent to destroy me. I see a huge monster, and his name is Religion, and I am finally brave enough to be angry with him, because he has stolen God away from me ..." And on page 148-149, "We are all of us desperate, at some time or another, to institutionalize God, build structures, construct ideologies, and devise formulas that will make Him certain and secure, attainable and controllable. We are seeking certain paths for our own comfort. But the Divine will not be chained down. And this is the haunted beauty of it all. That He is always revealing Himself in present terms, always in the now. God is not limited to who He was and God is not limited to who He will be. God is "I AM. " God is relevant now in ways that can meet our hearts' needs ... if we could but see our longing and our hurting and our haunting and our inadequacies as invitations to His beauty and power and love." These words meet me right here. Like the probing touch of a gentle physician they fall right onto a tender place in my heart, bringing freedom and peace and permission to work through my own salvation with a God who is willing to go through the mess and the dark and the ungraceful thrashing with me.

On page 212-213 Steward writes, "... my knees would be wobbly and my palms sweaty. I would feel as if I was there on God's behalf, His acting attorney, and if I couldn't plainly represent His case and win the jury over, another soul would be lost for eternity. ... I would soothe my wounded pride from the "unwon battles" by telling myself, "You did the best you could. It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict the heart, not ours." But part of me always felt sick. Sick because I knew my friendship with that person could never really be the same again, and sick because I wasn't sure who I was trying to convince more - the jury or myself. But lately ... lately the conversations have been different. They've been different because I'm not having conversations to win anyone over. I'm having conversations because I'm the one asking questions. I can't tell you how freeing this is. For once I don't have to march "onward Christian soldier" as if I'm off to war. I can march as a spiritual seeker who wants to have an authentic conversation about how we as humans interact with a Higher Being. Or, actually, I don't have to do much marching at all."

I think that those within mainstream or fundamentalist Christianity might be frustrated by lack of emphasis on evangelism, consider the focus on grace to be out of balance with "law", equate the suggestion that it's possible to find God outside of the Bible (and actually hear from God outside of the institutionalized church or an appointed leader) with dangerous ground. However, those willing to embrace an honest anger that stirs passion just might be surprised at how hopeful this conversation can be. Honest thrashing, like Jacob's own dark night of the soul, presses one right up close to the Mystery itself which will not be contained but will allow itself to touch you, transform you. And however reads our story, our own wrestling with the Divine, it has the power to shape us, to scar us, to heal. We do not walk away the same.

This book is raw, breathtaking, brave. Mandy Steward brings a desperately-needed conversation to the table and in a refreshing twist, doesn't offer pat answers or tiresome platitudes or even the deprecation that western evangelicalism seems to adore. She writes with deep respect, wonder and reverence. I feel like I, with all my bumps and questions and bruises and, at times, ungraceful "thrashing" would not only be welcome at the table with her and God, but actually *wanted* there, with no underlying agenda ready to spring upon me once I let down my guard. Her words are wild poetry. She is a passionate artist offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into one woman's spiritual life. It feels almost too intimate, like we are peeking into private journals scrawled out in the dark while a thunderstorm rages outside. I suspect this is more true than not.
23 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Thought provoking 5 décembre 2013
Par Paula Vince - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Giving a book a ranking at all is something I'm loath to do in most cases but especially in this one, as it has a lot to do with what Mandy Steward addresses, including how she's decided to tackle her reactions to the opinions and labels of others. Given the subject matter, I'd hate to come across as a prime example of the type of person she's talking about within the pages. However, part of the process of writing a book includes inviting feedback from members of the public, so now I'll attempt to explain the great good I got from reading this on the one hand, and the niggling misgivings I had on the other, pulling me in different directions and resulting in a 3 star ranking; a tied vote, so to speak.

First, I've got to applaud her for being brave and honest enough to take a stand, and fight for her right to take time out from her normal life to reflect. A pastor's wife deciding not to attend church until she's worked through the issues in her mind and spirit is surely not a common occurrence. Mandy decided to break from her established pattern of seeking answers from older, wiser, (usually male) figures outside of herself to delve within.

Here are some of the issues she addresses. Jesus has promised us 'life to the full', but what do we really make of this? We keep searching, although we're not sure what it will look like when or if it comes. It's easy to get into a pattern of striving, assuming God must be holding back because we're falling short in some way. Taking time to reflect showed her how often she'd been stuffing genuine feelings of inadequacy deep beneath the web of performance she was trying to weave to make up for it. It took stepping back to help show her how she'd exhausted herself, chasing approval from others through performing and achieving. She has an eloquent way of writing which convinced me that this could be my story too. I'd be willing to guess that almost every reader of this book will come away recognising the benefits they could get from a similar performance detox.

However, as I was reading, I couldn't help wondering if her depression, many times, was tied up to a self-focused digging around where she didn't really need to go. Sometimes it seemed as she had a permanent "How am I feeling today?" thermometer attached to her. We all know that someone who continually takes their own temperature may most likely end up feeling unwell. It would be a shame not to live our lives because we're too busy examining them. I read this memoir on my kindle, but I'd be willing to guess it'd be a pretty thick hard copy book. That's a lot of soul searching.

Her stance to take a fast from Bible reading, as if it's all tied in with people pleasing, seemed a bit shortsighted. She gave the impression that she's fed up with it because she knows it all so well, but she doesn't seem to take into account how multi-layered it is, or to open herself to the possibility of being surprised by a fresh insight.

I think it's the sort of book to delve into one chapter or so at a time, when we're in the mood to feel challenged and have a good discussion. Reading it straight through from start to finish may bog us down a bit. Being inside my own head, grappling with a train of thought, gets tedious over the long term, and so it is with someone else's.

Although it's classified as a memoir, this felt a lot like reading someone's personal journal; a prolific artist/writer's free flowing thoughts. As I said, I felt awkward about reviewing it for this reason, as I wouldn't like somebody to rate mine. Mandy Steward has made herself vulnerable, so in the end, I respect and admire her for that. At one stage she said she came to the point of saying, "So what?" to people's value judgments, accepting that we all have our mixtures lightness and darkness that make us unique. Maybe that's one of the best things to take away from this.

I received a copy from Net Galley and David C Cook in return for an honest review.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Chaotic Beauty 23 septembre 2013
Par Elora Ramirez - Publié sur
::received a free ARC for an honest review::

An incredible memoir. Mandy Steward takes the chaos and messiness of "thrashing" and weaves it perfectly with the coming into one's own. It's not sequential or even necessarily organized, but really there's no other way for her to have spilled her words. Full of a poetry of hope and longing and wonder, the reader is left with a longing to abandon normalcy and spend some time in the wilderness. I loved this book--can't wait to get my own paper copy when it comes out.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Loved it 10 octobre 2013
Par L. Sledge - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This is one of those books that I happened to come across at the perfect time in my life. I too have been struggling with my Christian faith for some time but have been too fearful to really explore the reasons why. It really did my soul good to read that someone else struggles with church sometimes and with how to bridge the gap between being an artist and a Christian. Overall, I think it will be one of those books that I go back to for the rest of my life.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Value of a Memoir in Real Time 16 janvier 2014
Par ryan glass - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
There are different types of memoirs, and I must admit- I love them all.

Some look far back into the past, telling sentimental tales of a former self, in a "let me tell you how I got here" type of way. These are much more common, I think, and like I said, I love them.

This book is much different- a piece written largely about experiences and feelings in the moment. There is some "back story", but the focus is on the author's attempt to honestly assess a life experiment and its affects on her self.

She opens with the literal description of her own unease in looking at her naked self in the mirror, and the work follows that image as she opens her spirituality and examines it as honestly as possible. Mrs. Steward is an experienced blogger and this feels, at times, like a collection of blogs, or a peek inside her diary.

First off, as a fellow creator, I give her great applause for inviting us all into her thoughts. The courage it takes to face oneself can't be underestimated, much less to invite others into the process.

Mrs. Steward chooses to question her faith. Raised as a Christian, and as a self-described "pleaser" married to a pastor, she attempts to remove herself from the persona she had previously created as a "good Christian daughter/mother/wife". Removing herself from the Bible and the church, she finds that she still has a strong relationship to God- through her own art and the rest of the world around her. Therefore, she doesn't question the existence of God, she questions the importance of Christianity in her relationship to God.

Along this path, she crosses lots of natural obstacles in the acceptance of dogma. Does she owe it to others (her husband/family/church) to pretend? I don't think so, but I know lots and lots of people who do. I also know lots of people stuck in the place she describes at the beginning of the work. As a documenting voyager into this territory, I believe she can offer courage and perspective to others who need to walk this path.

If you're thinking of taking this journey, and you're looking for a short-cut to save you the trouble, this won't be for you. Mrs. Steward doesn't arrive at "the answer", and by the end of the work, she has perhaps more questions than she started with. This might trouble some who are hoping for answers, but for me it would have destroyed the validity of the exercise to pretend that the journey was over.

What I loved most was the character in her voice and the honesty with which she reported her findings/confusions. I fell in love with her humanity and vulnerability- two things I believe are lacking in most works taking on spirituality. This felt like the first installment in an adventure series, and I hope to get an update someday. I felt like she was just scratching the surface of her soul, and I look forward to finding out how deep she can go.

Thank you, Mrs. Steward, for sharing this exercise with us all. Good luck in your never-ending journey.
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