Book Review: Finding God in the Ruins

I told you I took it everywhere.

Let me get this off my chest and out of the way: first of all, reviewing someone’s book is like them handing you their newborn for the weekend and being all “let me know what you think of their potential as a human and oh, please don’t break them while you’re at it, k?” Like, friend, you wrote a whole BOOK and so automatically I am like “5 stars! Way to adult the hell outta this sucker! You WROTE all this?” Once over that, you immediately selfie-and-post all OVER the place, cause that puppy says “Advanced Ready Copy” on it and you realize you’re a little bit of a big deal. Whatevs. K. Done.

Matt Bays’ book “Finding God in the Ruins” was an unexpected treasure. Several of my other writer friends had already extolled his wisdom, depth of soul and beautiful way of truthfully turning himself inside out in words. I was expecting to love the book, but I wasn’t expecting to be moved, lifted and opened up by the book.

I recently took time to flip back through the book and read (decode) my exclamations and scribble in the margins (which were plenty and filled with stars, arrows, “oh shits” and “what the actual…?” “me too!”).

First, let me say that this book, yes, has the big G in the title and yes is very much a book about faith and relationship with God. I am still walking my path on that journey and it’s not something I typically address too deeply, especially publicly, but whether you are a believer in the typical Judeo/Christian God, the gods of the universe, Mother Earth, or just the rise and swell of the oceans– there is something for you here. I found this book to be so raw and relatable; so truthy and so wise, you will learn, you will relate and you will hear it echo during your day, no matter your starting point.

Some quotes I’d like to point our attention to, mostly because I about stopped breathing upon reading them:

On Truth:

“But the truth is, after a while our untold stories begin telling our deepest secrets without our permission.”

On Telling Our Stories:

“But if you continue turning the pages and inviting others to read along, you will find the grace of God beautifully on display on your “storytold.”

On the Ruins:

“Sometimes it feels as if God has invited himself into my pain, when I had hoped to be invited into his healing.”


What kept resonating for me as I read about Matt’s struggle with faith and moving through his own “ruins” was that I was simultaneously reminded of Brene Brown’s “arena.” Matt and Brene came to the very same conclusions about people moving through pain as sort of this face-down moment, and then a choice; her through research, him through relationship with God; same ending. You sit in those ruins (face down in the arena) or you start to slowly get. back. up. And the getting back up is where they somewhat differ but really Brene’s rumble and Matt’s “storytold” are like long lost cousins and I wanted to reunite them. Research with thousands upon thousands of participants and deep relationship with God– including a break up with God– brought us to the same point of understanding. Let that sink in for a moment. I was floored.

While both authors “speak” (<–understatement, but there’s not a word grandiose enough to express how they crawl right into my chest and sit there while I work shit out) to me, Matt’s image of the “ruins” felt more authentic to my own experience of loss, and the great crap-storm of ‘15. The pieces were all still there around me, they had just fallen down and I needed to put them back together- absolutely in different form than before it all fell down, but like Matt, through truth, telling my story and relationship with God, I was able to move through (still am), that pain.

Matt’s story is one that needed telling. I am still sitting here flipping through my copy and the exclamations in the margin. If you are in the ruins or feeling yourself about to “rumble” get this book. It will speak to you like “a voice so small it could fit only within the most peculiar crack of [your] heart.”

Want more? Read a excerpt from Finding God in the Ruins on New York Times bestselling author Ann Voskamp’s website:

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my true thoughts about it. <3)

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Finding God in the Ruins

  1. Friggin tears. Sheesh. Kate. THANK YOU. I am honored my book has fallen into your hands. I can’t tell you. I have so much respect for people who are trying to tap into God and aren’t sure how that works. Know why? Because NEITHER DO I.

    Faith is about hope, not belief. A faith that is “certain” is (in my humble opinion) a certain sham. We have moments of certainty, absolutely, where we REALLY know something. And then the world throws us a curve ball that we’d be fools to swing at, and all that certainty evaporates in the blazing sun of our questions. What are we left with?

    Maybe we’re left with people like you…who ask us to THINK. Who point us to the good of life and ask us to try and figure out where so much good comes from.

    User of “the G word” or not, I have a deep respect for your journey. Thank you for taking serious the work of this man who DOES use “the G word”…and for esteeming it among your friends. Makes me feel so good.

    If God is real, THIS is what I believe he’d be focused on; us coming together, loving one another, listening to each other’s stories, and the praying for those who’ve had too many bad chapters.

    You’re a bright spot in this world. Thank you.


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