|*I received 50 Shades of They from The Fedd Agency in exchange for a review. All opinions and views are expressly my own.|
I am not an exceptionally great friend. I mean, I'm good at being a friend to a few people, but I'm not fantastic at having lots of friends. I never have been. It's always brought me frustration because every other girl has their girls. And I don't. That’s not the only way I struggle, in fact, my friendships often are more seasonal than durable. They’re like flowers planted for the sunny months only to be replaced the following year after they're burned by frost and dead. It's hardened me a bit, these seasons and passing trends.
Losing friends in the scope of my dad's illness has taught me relationships don't always endure the bleakest times in our lives. And I often wonder: could I endure alongside you? The lack of decade-old friends in my life often leaves me with no answer. I guess I might leave when the going is tough or the roads move apart or people change.
A friend of mine talks often of the hard things her friends are enduring -miscarriages, illness, marital struggles. She requests prayer and advice. I am fascinated by her because her loyalty is so rare. I don't know how I'd manage hard things in my friends' lives. I wonder what it’s like to have a die-hard commitment to someone going through really hard things.
"Because commitment -real commitment- is a rare commodity. We would reather find a way out than a way through. And commitment is exactly what we need from those who are in our lives."
-Ed Young, 50 Shades of They
-Ed Young, 50 Shades of They
The value of endurance from our relationships is underplayed and, maybe, taken for granted. One dear friend who's managed to walk through dementia alongside me while birthing two beautiful boys of her own taught me the way women can be relationship. She showed me that love happens in bleak places, nothing helps like a girl's night out, and vanilla vodka goes best with Coke Zero.
I've often thought about her and wondered how she's oozes friendship. I watch her and make note of how she makes my heart smile. I often thank God for her. The thing about my friend: she makes me want to be better relationally.
Enter 50 Shades of They by Ed Young.
The book is divided, literally, into 50 different conversations and quips on relationship. Young pushes you to evaluate all your relationships -familial, friend, marital, professional- through the filter of a faith in Him. The book is an easy read -I was done with it within a week- with its large font, short chapters and relatable presentations of tales of relationship. Young pulls relationships from the bible and speaks relativity into them, making the ages-old stories into practical gems in our relationships for today.
While you could easily devour the book in a single sitting, I found myself thinking often how I could read a single chapter (or shade) in the book per week and use it as a central focus for my relational intentions. Using it as a quasi-devotional might sink those lessons and traits in further allowing for greater transformation than reading as I always do. Yes, this would take me almost a year, but sometimes adventures such as making friends are far richer over the long-term.
Though I didn't agree with all of his points, I did find the way Young critiqued the Church's approach to relationship both fascinating and important. I came to realize some of the traits I most disdain in Church are, in fact, large parts of my own struggle with relationship. I found myself to be encouraged and convicted, cheered on and challenged further. In closing the back cover, I wanted a greater community in my life, a network of relationships that I could enrich and nurture instead of hold seasonally.
After finishing the book and before writing this review I decided to check out the 50 Shades of They website. I was pleasantly surprised by the content provided there. I ended up watching most of the videos in his 50 Shades sermon series and found Young engaging, interesting, and even charming. His passion for the community, for intentional relationships, is palpable and inspiring.
Want a chance to win yourself a copy of 50 Shades of They?
Simply comment below sharing your favorite trait in a friend. Extra entry in giveaway for sharing about the giveaway in a tweet or Instagram photo (remember to tag me: @mrthomasandme).
(Giveaway will remain open until 9:00am on Thursday, June 4th at which point a single, random winner will be chosen and contacted via email.)
What's your favorite trait in a friend?