Monday, June 1, 2015

On Friendship [And a Giveaway of 50 Shades of They]

*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

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? 

35 comments:

  1. What an interesting read and exercise! I want to give it a go!

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  2. I try to look for friends who are selfless, and dedicated to being 'in the moment.' I have an app on my phone that tells me how many times I check it a day, and I realized that on days when I went out with my "friends," I was checking it 180+ times, versus my normal 70+. They were never in the moment -- always on their phones, checking Facebook or Tinder -- and I realized it just really added stress and discontentment.

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  3. I'm so intrigued by this book! I've had friends come and go, too, and at the end of every friendship I'm left confused, angry, and second-guessing myself. Why am I so terrible that they couldn't stand me? Am I at fault or are they? What happened to our relationship? I have two best friends and they've been by my side for +7 years- I am so grateful for them. My favorite trait is their forgiveness. I know I screw up as a friend and they are both so patient and kind- their loyalty to our friendship is amazing.

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  4. This sounds like a very interesting read! I too tend to need some watering and tending to when it comes to handling relationships with different people. I think sometimes relationships just need to be built on the fact that we're all different, and that's okay!

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  5. I think my favorite trait I see in my dearest friends is their selflessness -- they are constantly seeking my best and making sure my needs are met. I couldn't be more thankful.

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  6. Looks like a great read. I like they way you intend to use it to challenge yourself. The best trait I have found in friends is genuine support and understanding. It's rare, but when found it is wonderful to experience. I would love to check out this book!

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  7. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvJune 1, 2015 at 11:03 AM

    Sounds like an interesting read. I prefer to have a few close friends rather than a wide net of girls that I can call up on a whim. Sometimes I get sad when I don't have a large community of people, especially as I enter this new stage of motherhood. But the friends I have are true friends, through and through. My favorite trait of our relationship is the fact that we allow each other to change and grow, yet our loyalty to each other stays the same.

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  8. It's like you climbed inside my head or something. I often lament this same lack of "forever friends" in my own life. I, too, have seasonal friends who come and go for certain times or particular needs in my life. I don't have a regular group of girls that I hang out with and I'm not in touch with a single friend from high school or college. I am often so confused about why I can't seem to maintain relationships with girls and I always end up blaming myself. Thanks so much for sharing -- I'm adding that book to my list today!

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  9. Melissa McMurchyJune 1, 2015 at 1:06 PM

    I love a friend who are grounded. Growing up I was the wild child and was the one that was always loud and outgoing and finding friends that were opposite of me worked well for me. I still love my wild crazy friends but looking for someone who is opposite to me really seems to ground me as well as them!!

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  10. Humble Hardy HappeningsJune 1, 2015 at 3:34 PM

    Oh, I would love to read this book! You're the second person that's recommended it. And I also have a lack of girl friends because I am comfortable with just a few close friends and really don't branch out too much. But I think my favorite trait in a friend is being real & genuine.

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  11. I value loyalty with a friend. Well, that and a sense of humor. Also, I think it's also true that friendships don't always survive really GOOD times, either. I've lost friends when I got engaged, married, when Clara came along... I think it's hard for some people to go through transitions of any kind with their friends. I would love to see this book!

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  12. Always speaking to my heart - and you know how I have been struggling with friends lately.. Thank you friend, can't wait to read this x

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  13. My favorite trait in a friend is someone who can be genuinely happy with my when something great happens for me instead of being jealous. I tend to fail in this category as a friend, but, hey... it's hard to find in a person!

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  14. This book sounds so interesting! And girrrrl, I totally relate to not having super long-term girlfriends. I haven't had a legit "best friend" since the sixth grade, and that feels … abnormal? I mean, *Everyone has a best friend!* My favorite trait in a friend is someone who has a good sense of humor, who can laugh easily and a lot. I love to laugh!

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  15. The best trait in a friend is understanding. Im a busy mom and work 2 jobs. I have a couple of friends that understand that even though we cant talk everyday or see each other, Im still here for them.

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  16. The read is very fascinating because it's all kinds of challenging and convicting to your thought process about friendships (and even just relationships in general)! :)

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  17. YES to being in the moment. I gave up my phone in the evenings for Lent and it really blew my mind to see how much time I waste each day being connected to my darn phone! I have since started using it again in the evenings, but not NEARLY as much as I was doing.

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  18. Girl I have felt the EXACT same way. Like it's a problem with me, not just a happening of life or a divergence in our stories. I guess, what's been so helpful to me through this book, was realizing that I don't have to be all things to all people, but that I'm allowed to feel like someone's friendship doesn't necessarily work for me.

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  19. AMEN to understanding! I have a really close friend with two boys and she always says she feels so bad when we go out to dinner and the boys are wild, but I adore them and their big personalities... It's so important to realize part of cherishing your friend is cherishing her people!

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  20. YES. Abnormal and, honestly, lonely. Not in a I can't go on way, but just in a way that I don't have that relationships, don't understand that kind of lifelong thing, and that's hard to know I'm missing out. :)


    And YES, YES to a sense of humor. Always someone who can laugh. :)

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  21. It was really interesting and fascinating to think about the different people we're friends with and the different way they need to be loved on. It also made me so much more aware of the way I receive relationship from other people.

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  22. Oh yes. Being pruned and grown through the sweet selflessness of our friends is SO fruitful and humbling.

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  23. Support and understanding IS so rare, but is such a beautiful and growing experience when it's available to us... I've found that my two dearest friends understand that I'm a work in progress just as they are which brings our relationship to such a beautiful place. :)

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  24. ABSOLUTELY. I mean, AB-SO-LUTELY. I become easily overwhelmed when I feel like I have too many friends. Almost like I can't balance and dedicate myself to each of them in the way I want to which makes me sort of frantic in all the ways.

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  25. Oh the point about GOOD changes being hard on friendships is SO important. I think that can be the hardest of times for friendships to transition and move on. I lost one of my most cherished friends when I started getting serious with Jason. It was so hard on me, so hard. But now I realize that it just wasn't going to work out regardless of the man I was dating.

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  26. Girl, I treasure you. So so much treasure.

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  27. Maybe these forever friends are just a legend... Like something we all pretend to know about but, really, none of us have truly, really experienced?? (Or maybe my sample size isn't large enough to know?)

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  28. YESSSS. This is completely the way that Jason and I are -one wild hair and one constantly cool-headed. It's the best combination ever! (But I might be biased.)

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  29. Yes. Where there's no such thing as too much time apart and too many miles to distance you!

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  30. Girl, yes. I realize that I can really struggle with friends who are doing really awesome things when I'm not. Or who are achieving goals that I have too, but I'm not there yet... I've also realized I can either treasure their time and know mine will come later or I can be jealous and ruin it for both of us. The first always sounds better.

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  31. I'm so glad that you've heard of it before! I was so thrilled when I was approached about reading it because I seem to have fallen into one of those slumps where I'm sad I don't have more people around to be my people... When, really, I should tend to the awesome relationships I already have!

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  32. Loves to you x

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  33. Yessssss. I find it especially hard when my friends are achieving things that I want to in the future... Why ruin it, though?! Darn our human-ness and jealously.

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  34. Sarah [life of love]June 4, 2015 at 4:07 PM

    This is gonna sound weird, but one of my favorite qualities that a friend has to have? The willingness to hug. Those are the BEST.

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  35. Melissa McMurchyJune 5, 2015 at 9:12 AM

    YES!! Matt and I are complete opposites as well and I love it!

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