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Thrashing About with God: Finding Faith on the Other Side of Everything

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  37 reviews
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 li ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by David C Cook
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3.97  · 
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 ·  214 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Paula Vince
Dec 05, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2013
I should start by saying that I am probably not the target audience for Thrashing About With God. Mandy Steward makes a point of saying that she knows she is not finished with this journey of grace, and I completely understand that. I hope I am never done learning about the mysteries of God either. But the sense I got from the book is that she is not settled with herself, that she still feels defensive about parts of her story like taking a break from church and not reading the Bible. This is un ...more
Janette Fuller
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
Are you tired of pretending?

Are you tired of spitting out right answers for others when your own well has gone dry.

Are you tired of thinking the dreams you long to step into aren't holy enough to warrant action?

Are you tired of religiously giving and sacrificing and having nothing left to feed yourself?

Mandy Steward is a pastor's wife, mother of four young children and a talented artist. This is the story of her search for spiritual fulfillment and peace.

Ms. Steward struggles with the expectatio
Leigh Kramer
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
So much of my ARC of Mandy Steward's Thrashing About With God resonated. Steward gives us a book that allows inside her process of faith, complete with questions, doubt, wrestling, and glimmers of hope. I appreciated her honesty and vulnerability and was honestly amazed a Christian publisher dared to go there. There's no tied up neat conclusions, no black and white theology. Just Steward's openness to where she's at, her willingness to step away from church for a time, and the very real ways God ...more
Lindsay Smith
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Vulnerable, funny and profound. I found so much of myself in her words, as I think many evangelicals will. What I loved about this book, though, was the grace woven throughout. It's not a church-bashing memoir- it's full of hope and God and, yes, even church (and community) done right. The author wasn't ashamed to say she didn't have all the answers, wrestling right up until the end, and I loved the transparency about that.
Jenny Wells
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
A gift to read. Honest. Tender. A book about a woman in process who knows it, stays open, and thrashes through being her authentic self with God, four children, her husband's church vocation, and in the depth of friendship. It only took me so long to read because I moved while reading and was able to get through about a chapter every other night or so. Great way to end my days. Thanks, Mandy.
Elora Ramirez
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
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 Steward to have spilled her words. I loved this book—can't wait to get my own paper copy when it comes out.
Rhiannon Grant
A deeply personal book about struggling with faith and the church. Steward keeps the focus firmly on her own experiences and her own religion (evangelical Protestant Christianity), which both enables a rawness and honesty and leaves the work of relating it to other lives to the reader, avoiding preaching or over-generalisation. Most of this will not come as a surprise to Quakers (many of whom have been through their own messy patches in order to arrive at Quakerism), but it can be reassuring to ...more
Linda Koski
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm grateful to Mandy & David Cook Publisher for embracing this message and sharing it in print. So much indoctrination, heaps of twisted perceptions of what walking Christianity should look like, make a conversation/boo about a 'messy' life wrestling with God, a potentially controversial one. Thank you for simply being real, straight forward and including us in the reality that we are enough, and we need others to love us as we slowly love ourselves. As is.
Abigail Smith
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has been so great for my soul, accepting and healing the trauma from all the SHOULDS placed on you in the Christian faith. Truly life changing. I have never underlined or highlighted so much content!
Suzi Baum

Growing up in a home guided by the tenets of organized religion can shrink your worldview. Some might argue that it expands your view in just the right directions,but, in my experience, my ‘thrashing’ was not invited to the conversation. My obedience was. Mandy Steward has set out for us a wild map, drawn with thick paint and finger thin lines, tied up with her own brand of magic that draws the reader in to her world, married to a pastor, mother of four and allows us to follow her journey toward
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book came into my hands not because I'm a Christian (I've never been particularly involved with religion) but because I fell in love with Mandy's philosophies and writings on art and the mysteries, from reading her blog. There is something about self-acceptance, about messiness and madness and magic, and about individuality and sovereignty, that it seems like Mandy gets in a deep and true way, and is able to articulate well. For these reasons, I am drawn to her writing, and I picked up this ...more
Tanya Marlow
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This has been on my ‘to read’ list for ages, since practically every writer-friend I know has recommended it. Much like me, Mandy Steward was the Christian good girl, and then she grew up and married a minister, (which, as everyone knows, makes you a Super-Good-Christian). But burnout, doubt, and a faith crisis combined to throw her into a whirlpool of unknown, and this book is her thrashing her way through these questions, and finding a place of peace and resolution.

From this general descripti
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: advanced-reads
** This book is an advanced read.***

I got this book from the author through a goodreads contest. I had hoped that I would the book as it seemed to have a different focus re: the Christian spiritual life than what was in the contest lists in general.

I liked Mandy's writing as it was raw, honest "this is where I am at with God and it is messy" food for thought. Mandy tells us that she is a mother of 4, wife of a church staffer and she has periods where she doesn't really like going to church, do
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary book. I found no answers, which is what I usually look for in books on God. Instead, I found someone who had virtually all the same questions as I have had about years of Christian experience that somehow did not result in the 'abundant life'.

For example:
Why, when I do everything that spiritual authorities tell me to do, am I so empty?
Why can't I ever seem to find God the way others do?
Can I hear from God besides through reading the Bible?
Is it possible to trust the 'still, small
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've been reading Mandy's blog for 3.5 years and read through her dark 'messy' days. When I first began the book I told her that her book was what I'd hoped Blue Like Jazz to be. I wanted to highlight and underline all sorts of beautiful words and phrases---she was right on.

There were definitely times that I did not identify with her. At a young age I felt alienated by church/church people/church setting and have long since made my peace with it and God. There were so many times I wanted to tel
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
I first bought this book back in the summer of 2015, when I was first deconverting from Catholicism. I had a lot of questions and this book was recommended to me, by whom I can't remember anymore. 

I decided to give this book a reread because I'm currently in the middle of moving and therefore also going through my bookshelves.  I remember when I first read the book I was disappointed that it wasn't more helpful.  Reading the book now was an interesting experience. 

Steward has a vivid writing sty
Aug 10, 2016 rated it liked it
This wasn't bad by any means, but after awhile I just got tired of it. I got tired of it seeming like her main problem with Christianity was that it didn't mesh with her artistry. Unless I was just missing something. I did read it before bed at night and was sometimes tired.

I would have thought it would be more interesting for her to delve into why she seemed to be having a faith crisis. Instead it seemed like a lot of her talking about not knowing what she really believed, or if she believed s
A.E.M. A.E.M.
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I discovered this jewel by accident, yet precisely when I needed it the most. What I love about this book is that it is honest, yet kind, about Christianity. By opening up about her own thought processes, feelings, and experiences; she allows others with the same or similar struggles to have a cup of tea or coffee with somebody who has been there. For those who may not yet have struggled with such depth with their faith, it offers an insight. Her process doesn't belittle those who cling to the r ...more
Lauren Alexander
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
“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, making Him into a tame little puny judge with graying hair who raps his wooden mallet and squeaks out, "You're forever guilty.”

I found Thrashing About with God a wonderful look at the struggles we find in life and our faith. Steward is honest about the trials she has found with the church, other believers and the incredibly difficult life of being a pastor’
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A breath of fresh air!

At times I'm disappointed in memoir-type books, but not this time. This is so much more than a recounting of an individual life experience. It is a recounting of raw emotion, authentic thrashing about in the messiness of life, an honesty that I found so refreshing. I saw fearful bravery in this author, and felt such a connection with my own thrashing about in Christian circles. Some might be downright scandalized by her glorious rebellion, but I dare you to read the book an
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The book is about a woman struggling to find her unique relationship with the Divine. There are a lot of Christian overtones, but no attempt at conversion. I think this would work for many different faiths, and certainly jived really well with my own New Age Rebel version of Christianity. I could really relate to what Mandy was going through even though my own journey was a different creature. If you're interested in faith without answers, then I can completely recommend Thrashing about with God ...more
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I really liked this book. It is obvious that Mandy is dealing with a lot stuff from the church and it IS so hard to separate Jesus from his followers when they can be so darn adamant.

There were parts I completely understood and identified with and parts that had me disagreeing out loud. Overall, I think it is a great book to read for anyone who struggles with the church, if for nothing else to help you see where your buttons may be.
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I appreciated the raw honesty and courage to ask questions that often feel off-limits. However, I am uncomfortable with the route the author took to find her faith again - stopping reading her Bible, reading the mystics. Sometimes I wondered if she was more interested in finding herself than finding God. It reads much like you opened someone's journal and started reading.

Ultimately, she asks brave questions, without offering answers.
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I am a polytheistic pagan witch.
That being said I LOVED this book. It was such a gift and written so raw and beautiful. Mandy is a beautiful soul for sharing this gift. I so suggest it for anyone who feels like they don't know who they are, or want to find a way to survive the mess and dark. It was beautiful
Toni Guyton
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I loved how raw her emotions about God and Christianity were. I loved how fresh her perspective was, she is a breath of fresh air. But I felt she rambled on just a bit too much, made the same points over and over again, and frankly, I was expecting more for the ending. I think she could have done more. I overall enjoyed the book, just had higher expectations.
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have felt misunderstood for most of my life, but reading Mandy's words made me feel less alone. She was willing to be vulnerable and ask the tough questions and get messy...and that is how I tend to live, but I always felt crazy for living that way. This book was placed in my life for a reason, and I am very grateful!
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book felt more a journal of intimate thought and experiences. I really enjoyed Mandy's openness and authenticity, and vulnerability as she recounts her struggles. I imagine this is what a kindred spirit would get if grabbing a coffee with her, connecting old soul to old soul.
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
There are some real pearls in the book. But overall it reads like someone's rambling journal when they're trying to figure out something and come to terms with it. There's way too much repetition.

Again, some real pearls, though.
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*Artist. Art student. Art teacher. Art curator. Staying curious. Enjoying myself.
“I do believe Jesus died so we could feel freed up to go after life to the full, so we would feel equpped to take risks and not beat ourselves up when we fail. He didn't die to make our lives look perfect. He died so we could stop feeling as if our lives have to be perfect for them to mean something.” 5 likes
“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, making Him into a tame little puny judge with graying hair who raps his wooden mallet and squeaks out, "You're forever guilty.” 4 likes
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