Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

Book Review: “Love at Last Sight” by Kerry and Chris Shook

July 12th, 2011

“I think it’s wonderful–love at first sight,” Alice exclaims with youthful longing as Millie and Adam stand before the parson to be wed in the classic musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Adam and Millie had known each other for barely an afternoon.

Love at first sight is a thing of dreams, of romance novels and chick flicks.

Love at last sight is an art that requires hard work.

Or so Kerry and Chris Shook posit in their book Love at Last Sight.

I was initially drawn to this book when I read that it was not just about romantic relationships, but about all relationships. I’m somewhat of a lone ranger and I think relationship skills are one of my hugest weaknesses. So I was excited to have a chance to learn some valuable information about building lasting relationships.

What I didn’t bargain on was that the book would assume that you already have some pretty deep long-ish term relationships. In the opening chapter, the authors ask the reader to think of three “key” relationships:

“Now I’m not talking about business acquaintances, casual or distant friends, fourth or fifth cousins. We all have a lot of relationships in our lives–maybe too many–but quite frankly, not all are created equal.”

The problem is, I had a hard time coming up with three “key” relationships–which meant that I also had a hard time following the “30 challenge” aspect of the book.

Because this book is set up to be read in 30 days: 1 short chapter every day. At the end of each chapter, there are questions to journal about and challenges to take to help deepen your closest relationships.

I think this format is likely fantastic for people who can automatically think of at least one or two close relationships that they want to strengthen. The book is divided into four weeks, each with their own theme:

  • Week 1: The Art of Being All There
  • Week 2: The Art of Acting Intentionally
  • Week 3: The Art of Risking Awkwardness
  • Week 4: The Art of Letting Go

To be honest, the writing style in this book reminded me of the relevant-fluff preaching style of many of modern evangelical pastor–which I suppose isn’t really surprising since Kerry (and Chris?–I couldn’t tell if she calls herself a pastor too) is a modern evangelical pastor.

The information is good–and I found some of it quite useful on various occasions (even though I didn’t do the whole “program” as it was intended). For someone who can easily identify their own “key relationships”, I’m sure this book will be even more useful.

A few examples of the Shook’s writing style (and things that stuck out to me):

“The truth of the matter is that being all there is not very efficient….If you’re the type of person who tries to make every minute and second of your waking hours productive, then the relationship work of stopping, focusing on another person, and giving them your time and attention will feel uncomfortable and even wasteful. But if you long for a friendship or marriage where you can share rich memories, secret dreams, and bellyaching laughter, you need to know that this is what it takes. Being fully focused in your relationships isn’t efficient, but here’s the great news: it’s stunningly effective.”
~page 26

“The most important thing to remember in planning activities to implement your vision is that they must be steps into another person’s world. Many people want to be closer to someone in their life, but they’re not willing to move out of their own comfort zone and into the other person’s world to engage in something that person would enjoy.”
~page 86

“First, if you’re the one going through the in-between, you may think, I don’t have much faith, so it’s hard for me to see that I’ll ever be out of this place. Jesus taught us that it’s not the amount of your faith but the object of your faith that matters.”
~page 107

Rating: 3 stars
Category: Relationships
Synopsis:A 30 day program to enrich your closest relationships.
Recommendation: Nothing particularly profound, but I have little doubt that when used as intended (working through day by day with your “key relationships” in mind), this could be life-changing.

**I received this book as part of WaterBrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books Program. Apart from the free copy of this book, I have received no compensation for my review. All opinions expressed are my own.**

A Dose of Cold, Hard Reality

August 20th, 2010

“There is no such thing as a perfect man,” Evan basically tells her, “and if there was, he wouldn’t marry you.”

Lori Gottlieb was on her way to a new way of looking at dating and marriage–thanks to a dose of cold, hard reality.

She shares her journey in Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. (See my review here.)

Along the way, she provides a dose of reality for her readers–and I couldn’t stop noting down fantastic quotes.

“Clampitt matches people like this: ‘Number one,’ she said, ‘I look at whether the two people have common relationship goals. Number two, I look at values. Things like independence, family, religion, loyalty. Number three, what are the key qualities this person needs? You get no more than five. Things like, he has to be very intelligent. Number four, I look at shared interests. Interests are great because it’s bonding and stimulating and fun to share those, but the other things are more important for the long-term. I put shared interests last for that reason.”

My dad said something similar when I was reeling from a breakup with a guy with whom I shared a lot of interests. Dad, of course, was saying it as an “other fish in the sea” type comment. But the fact remains, shared interests are only one aspect of a happy marital relationship–and a small aspect at that.

“Ferman says she took immediate physical chemistry off her list when she realized that, given a certain level of attraction, she could find someone very attractive over time.”

I tried to explain this concept to a friend. It took a while, but I think she eventually got it. At least for women, physical attraction is about a lot more than the physical. Physical attraction is just as much a function of shared values, experiences, thoughts, emotions.

You say you won’t date someone you’re not attracted to, I ask how you know you’re not attracted to him. Do you know him well enough to know that, really?

No, I’m not saying you should marry someone you’re not physically attracted to. But I am saying that there is a very real sense in which someone you are not attracted to initially becomes very attractive as you get to know them. And I’m not talking about “He has a beautiful mind–so what if I can’t stand his body?” I’m talking about real, honest to goodness physical attraction–but physical attraction that doesn’t exist until other connections have been made.

“So when these matchmakers ask their clients to consider the guy who is too-this or not-that-enough, they’re actually saying something quite simple: You can have rigid expectations and try to find someone who meets them, or you can let go of preconceived notions and find someone you’ll fall in love with.”

I’ve seen the lists a mile high, with dozens of non-negotiables. It’s the Goldilocks phenomenon, except that there’s no “just right” to be found. The problem is, these lists might be lists of what we want, but they’re only occasionally lists of what we need. In the quest for the fantasy man, women are not even giving a first glance to the many real men who might be around–and just might be “Mr. Right”–but who fail to live up to the standards of the non-existent fantasy man.

“Dr. Broder says he sees a heightened sense of entitlement that previous generations didn’t have. Our mothers might have wished, but certainly didn’t expect, that their husbands would constantly want to please them, be attracted to them, entertain them, enjoy sharing all their interests, and be the most charming person in the room. Instead, they knew that marriage involved failing health, aging, boredom, periods of stress and disconnection, annoying habits, issues with children, and hardships and misunderstandings of all sorts. But many women today seem to be looking for an idealized spiritual union instead of a realistic marital partnership.”

Have I ever mentioned that I’m a big fan of Gary Thomas’s book Sacred Marriage? Well, I am. The major question that book asks is “What if God intended marriage not to make us happy, but to make us holy?”

If you’re looking for a marriage in which you can continue living as you please without having to make adjustments, without having to be sanctified, without having to love sacrificially, you’re sadly mistaken about the reality of married life. Marriage requires you to learn selfless love, to lay down your life for and submit to your spouse. The quest for the “perfect” man belies this truth–and sets up marriages for failure. Because even if you manage to find the “perfect man”–and he decides to marry you, marriage is still going to be a challenge, it’s still going to be a process of sanctification.

“If this sounds unromantic, when I look at my friends’ marriages, with their routine day-to-dayness, they actually seem far more romantic than any dating relationship might be. Dating seems romantic, but for the most part it’s an extended audition. Marriage seems boring, but for the most part it’s a state of comfort and acceptance. Dating is about grand romantic gestures that mean little over the long term. Marriage is about small acts of kindness that bond you over a lifetime. It’s quietly romantic.

Compared to the “dream world” of chick flicks and romance novels, reality can seem pretty cold, pretty hard. But compared to the reality that living in the dream world creates, facing reality is a lot more pleasant.

Only Human

February 1st, 2010

Love Month Banner

A reminder for all the ladies out there: Even the most amazing man on earth is still only human. He can’t meet all your needs. He can’t fill all your holes. He can’t love you like you desire. It’s not necessarily that he doesn’t want to. It’s that he CAN’T. He’s only human.

And for the guys? Even the most amazing woman out there is still only human. She can’t supply what’s lacking in you. She can’t respect you like you desire. She can’t meet all your needs. It’s not necessarily that she doesn’t want to. It’s that she CAN’T. She’s only human.

It’s sad news for those of us who have bought into the romantic notion that satisfaction can be found in the perfect love relationship. We think that if only we had the right guy (or gal), we’d be content, we’d be happy, we’d be satisfied.

But contentment can’t be found in any man on earth. Happiness can’t be found in any man on earth. Satisfaction can’t be found in any man on earth. Because any man on earth is only human.

The good news is, there is a man who is more than just human. There is a man who can perfectly satisfy our every need and desire. There is a man who can fill your every longing. There is such a man, a man who is more than just human–but He can’t be found on this earth.

John 1 speaks of this man saying “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14)

Jesus Christ is fully human, but not only human. He is also fully God. (And the Word WAS God.)

While any man (or woman) on this earth will disappoint, Jesus Christ never will. He promises to “never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Nothing can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-39). He will “supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) And, He “who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

Fully God and fully man, Jesus Christ is the only one who will never disappoint.

As we begin our discussion of relationships, I’d like to start with a discussion of the MOST important relationship we can have–the relationship that puts everything else in perspective. I’d like to ground our whole discussion in relationship with Christ.

Because if you are looking for satisfaction in any other human, you will be disappointed. Today, and throughout this “Love Month”, I encourage you to seek satisfaction in the only man who is NOT only human–seek and find your satisfaction in Christ. He will never disappoint.

Talking Back: Love Month

February 1st, 2010

I’ve written before of my distaste for youth group “Love Month” and all that implies. When February rolls around, I generally find myself in a high dudgeon about something or the other–and spurting out bits and pieces of my thoughts to various and sundry.

But despite a dozen years or so’s experience with “Love Month”, I’ve never undertaken to organize my own thoughts on the matter in any comprehensive sense.

Well, no longer. Presenting…

Love Month Banner

This month in addition to some regular posts (about life, learning, and my Lord), I’ll be posting a whole glut of “Love Month” posts on such topics as:

  • The “gift” of singleness
  • Guarding our hearts
  • Female porn and the “M” word
  • No regret dating
  • Modesty
  • Myths about marriage
  • and much more

My goal in this “Love Month” is three-fold. First, I want to organize and share some of the things I’ve learned about male/female relationships and about singleness in my quarter century of experience as a single woman (okay, so I spent the first 6 years or so of my life oblivious to boys–still…) Second, I want to “talk back” at some of the well-meaning (or not so well meaning) myths that were promoted in the “love months” of my youth. And third, I want to encourage thought and dialogue about the various issues that affect us as we consider singleness, dating, marriage, and all the opposite sex relationships in between.

I invite you to join me on this journey as I take a look at what I think (and more importantly, what God thinks) about those “lovey-dovey” topics. And as you join me, I encourage you to do more than just read along. I encourage you to think along with me, to explore Scripture and experience along with me, to dialogue with your friends and family members (I love to discuss my theories on relationships with my mom), and to join the conversation by posting comments.

Undoubtedly, you’ll find yourself frustrated at some of the things I say–just like I have often found myself frustrated at the contents of youth group “love months.” But, here I offer you an opportunity to do more than just listen–I offer you an opportunity to talk back, to raise your objections, to discuss your thoughts. Please take the opportunity. Let’s make this a “love month” like no other–a love month that draws us closer into relationship with Christ and leads us towards a better understanding of how to live holy lives in whatever state we find ourselves.

**A note for married folk, men, and others unlike me: Please do us all a favor, and join in the discussion as well, adding your thoughts and perspectives. While I have plenty of experience with singleness, I have no experience with marriage ;-) And while I have lots of experience with being a girl, I am completely devoid of experience with boys (Wait. That’s not what I meant. I have plenty of experience with boys. Except that’s not what I meant either. I meant to say that I have no experience being a boy.) You can help me (and other readers) out by sharing what you know and have learned from your unique perspective(s).**

Incurable Romantic

March 15th, 2007

Romantic: imaginative but impractical; visionary; not based on fact; imaginary or fictitious

There is no doubt about it. I am a romantic. I’ve always been one with my nose in a book, living my life through the idealistic lens of the fictional world.

Romanticism has served me well for many years. It influences my perception of foods, of cultural items, of the entire world around me. I choose in advance what I like and what I don’t based on my romantic ideals.

I said to myself–“Beer is for loudmouthed slobs, cocktails are for silly socialites, hard liquor is for men behind doors with their cigars. Wine, wine is the only truly beautiful alcoholic drink. It is the ideal.” And so, I drink wine and enjoy it. I don’t enjoy cocktails half as much. And I’ve never tried beer or hard liquor. Romanticism shapes and tempers my taste for alcoholic beverages.

In the same way, my romantic nature has declared opera to be a superb art form, jazz to be a delicious musical genre, ballet to be beautiful. And I swooned over my first opera, listen to jazz on the radio, and delight over ballet. But all of this was determined before I every heard or saw any of these. My idealism told me my preferences and preferences willingly followed suit.

And so I walk through the world with ideas from majestic to mundane. I have ideals for myself–what I will wear, do, become. What is my list of goals but a romantic to-do list meant to mold me into my ideal? I have ideals for girl-guy flirtations. I have ideals about places, foods, activities, people.

And that is where romanticism fails me. No matter how hard I try, I cannot fit people into my idealistic world. Because people wear sweatpants and aren’t always polite to wait staff. People aren’t always intellectual and willing to relate the way I want them to. People, relationships, require work. They require a frank look at reality.

The ideal of an ethereal home filled with friends who constantly encourage one another falls short of reality. Reality is that we’re all busy and some days will pass that we won’t even speak to one another. A roommate will be loud just as we’re trying to sleep. Chores will be done differently than we’re used to, lights will be left on when no one’s in the room.

Reality and ideals collide and I must choose. Will I cling to my ideals and grow bitter toward the people in my life, or will I see reality for what it is? Will I lay down my desire for a perfect world in order to live with and love imperfect people? Or will I live the cold ideal–beautiful, but like an iceberg–sterile, serene, uninhabitable?

Coming home

September 10th, 2005

Returning from retreats is always melancholy for me. So much has changed in a brief amount of time–Now I must see how much of that change will last.

I meet new people, develop relationships. At the end of the week or weekend or whatever, we feel as close as any two pals can be. But now we’re back. Now the context is completely different. We all have our own sets of friends; we all have our own schedules, our own worries. All those things that, set aside, enabled us to have a relationship on a retreat, are now back at full force.

Walking around campus, I spot a familiar face surrounded by a group of unfamiliar faces. Do I smile, wave, go up and say Hi? I’m nervous. This is a new context. I’m not sure what to make of it. What f I’m an embarrassment in front of their friends? What if they’re too busy to talk with me? Now that they have their own friends, their own schedules, their own lives, maybe I’m not needed anymore.

Don’t mistake my words, there are plenty of people I’ve grown close to on retreats that I’m still friends with today. Week in the Word was a prime example–anytime I see girls from there or they see me, we rush across the room to say Hi. We ask how it’s going, sit around and chat for awhile. We’re still friends, not uncomfortable around each other. Still, it’s not the close-forged friendship of mutual experience that was formed on the retreat. Instead, we’re catching up on each others’ lives, lives we haven’t been a part of for a while.

I’ve always been somewhat of a loner, but I keep busy enough that I rarely recognize loneliness. Retreats, however, bring that out. It’s when I get back from a retreat that I long for a girlfriend that I can bare my soul to and she to me. It’s when I get back from a retreat that I long to have friends I can just call up and hang out with. It’s when I get back from a retreat that I wish I could count guys as everyday friends.

But I’m back and it’s busy again. Awkwardness keeps me from following through on what I want. Inertia kicks in and I do nothing to develop those friendships. I don’t even know how to develop friendships–and learning takes work. So returning from retreats can be melancholy for me.

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