Wrecked, by Jeff Goins: Review

This book really took me by surprise.

I don’t always post book reviews. I’ll make remarks on Goodreads occasionally, but rarely has a book moved me so much that it deserves a major spotlight.

We’ve believed a lie. We’ve been told life is about us. That if we work hard enough, save enough money, and buy enough stuff, we will eventually be happy. Many of us have done just that, and we are anything but happy. Now, like my friend Jimmy, we are left wondering what to believe. We know something is missing; we just don’t know what it is.

This is a book about honesty. This is a book about the simple fact that true satisfaction doesn’t come from hedonism, from the simple pursuit of happiness. This is a book about accepting a terrible, wonderful truth: the purpose of my life is not about me.

We want our lives to mean something. We want to be able to make our parents and children proud. […] Maybe accomplishing this is messier than we thought. Maybe something can only be born when something else dies. Maybe our “coming alive” feels like being dragged through the dirt. […] Maybe we’re supposed to pay good deeds forward. Maybe we’re supposed to think what’s in it for me? far less than we do. Maybe we need to sacrifice more. Maybe it won’t feel like a sacrifice at all, but more like the sensation of becoming unnumbed.

This book can get uncomfortable. It asks hard questions, reveals shockingly bare moments in people’s lives, and challenges us to analyze our choices and the reasons behind them. Jeff doesn’t protect himself in this process. His own growth and struggles are part of the journey of this book, and at least for me, they were a huge relief.

Read: I’m not the only person who struggles with these issues.

Let it go, the voice said. […] As I was standing at Michelle’s door, listening to her landlord tell me this friend of mine had taken off very close to the same time I heard those words in my mind, I started to wonder. Maybe this wasn’t just a random thought that popped into my head. Maybe God was proving what I had always told Michelle—that He was her provider, not me. And maybe He was still providing for her right now. Maybe God didn’t need me. […] I don’t know what happened to Michelle. I never got to run into her at the grocery store to see her smiling face. I never got to see the story resolved. It will always be a painful memory. But in that pain, I’m learning to trust. Maybe these scars serve as reminders to me to be more intentional, to have more faith, and to learn that I’m not ultimately in control. I can only hope.

It’s a good hope. A good journey – and an all-important lesson:

To live life fully, we must be vulnerable enough to feel the pain that comes with knowing we can never fix everything, and yet at the same time, stand strong in the knowledge that we’re not responsible for fixing everything.

It’s a hell of a balance to maintain, but an important one. Want to avoid the dullness that comes from an unfulfilled life, or the sharp, bloody cuts of a life lived only to please ourselves? Wrecked can help you do that, using real people and powerful questions to help you figure out what path you’re supposed to walk.

Our life is not supposed to be about what we think will make for an interesting story. It’s about pouring out the gifts we’ve been given for the benefit of others. This may mean living in a leper colony in India or raising five kids in Oklahoma. It may mean relocating to the inner city and starting a homeless outreach center or taking dinner to your neighbor. The important part is to embrace the call, whatever it is, and not merely resign to it. The latter will create resentment and lead to midlife crises, while the former will set you free.

Excellent book, Jeff. Thanks for sharing this with the world.

Note: all quotations are taken from the preview copy of Wrecked, which I received for free from the author, and the emphasis is mine.

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