As a youth pastor, I'm privileged to walk with teens as they transition from high school into college. Typically, teens leave high school with huge dreams and aspirations, feeling as though they can conquer the world. All too often, four years later, many of those same teens – now young adults – leave college feeling confused and hopeless, unsure if their four years in college has prepared for them for real life. In many instances, these young adults leave college without a job, or at least without the job they envisioned for themselves upon graduation. That reality further crushes them, leaving them frustrated – with their parents, our country, themselves, and even God.
It's into this situation that author Paul Angone speaks in his book, All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job. To be clear, Paul's book is far more memoir than self-help. Yet, in sharing his own story of chasing his dreams after graduating from college, he's written a book that other young adults will surely relate to and find themselves in. For example, I've lost track of how many times I've heard young adults echo a statement Paul makes early on, as he describes his own sense of purposelessness after college, saying, “I've become quite good at pinpointing what I don't want. But what I do want – now that's another question.”
In addition to being extremely relatable, one of the things I appreciate about All Groan Up is that it's pages are filled with healthy doses of grace. At one point, Paul admits discovering “God isn't a magic fairy.” He goes on to say, “I wanted [God] to heal me while I beat myself up; he wanted me to stop beating myself up so I could heal.” For young adults often paralyzed by fear, feeling guilty over the ways they've let themselves and others down, Paul's words will come as a healing ointment to their soul.
Not surprisingly, I also appreciated Paul's take on faith, which beautifully blends grace and works. According to him, “My faith was sitting still, waiting for God to get me through... What a bass-ackward definition of faith I had. I prayed and prayed for God to open doors for me; But I didn't even have the courage to walk close enough to see a door, let alone try the doorknob. In my head, faith was theoretically sound but practically non-existent.” He goes onto say, “Faith starts with that first step. When the fear in the back of my throat says, 'I'm screwed', faith lets me say, 'Shut up' and just keep walking.” Such reminders will give those still searching for their purpose (and a job!) a renewed sense of hope.
To be sure, All Groan Up is a book beautifully suited for young adults – especially those who've just graduated from college only to return home as they wait and search for what's next. To such people, Paul's words will provide both hope and a kick in the pants. Because of that, this book is one I'll be passing along to many of the young adults in my life.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of All Groan Up from Zondervan in exchange for a fair and honest review.