Book Review: Relationships, A Mess Worth Making

Hello friends! Thanks for being patient with this blog. Life has been crazy but I am hopeful that the next few weeks will be less busy and more productive in the writing realm : ) I am especially thankful for Desiree who has stepped in and filled the gap when I wasn’t writing anything at all. Here is an excellent book review that she sent to me this week. I placed it under marriage, but really, it would be appropriate for any relationship. Enjoy!

Author: Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp
Recommended for: Any Christian

Every day of our lives is made up of interactions with people. These interactions bring disappointments, comfort, encouragement, frustration, and cause myriads of emotions. In any given relationship, we are moving closer to the person or drifting or even actively moving away from him. And that’s just one side of the equation. Regardless of the direction we are moving, the other person is going a direction as well. Because of sin, unfulfilled expectations, miscommunication, and dozens of other things, relationships are complicated and far from perfect—and they are risky. We give of ourselves, and it can hurt immensely when the response is negative or even neutral. We may want to form barriers to protect ourselves rather than get involved, especially if things have already gone badly.

Obviously, from the title, Lane and Tripp are calling for people everywhere to choose involvement over isolation. And they have 15 chapters that describe why and how this should be done. Chapter topics include profound discussions of sin, mercy, and forgiveness. Throughout the chapters are examples that serve as case studies to help us see how these biblical concepts work out in very practical ways.

For me, the most surprising section of the book was the chapter called “Provision,” which emphasizes what God has given us to solve relationship problems. When I face a relationship problem, one of the things I’m always looking for is some kind of explanation. I often feel that if I can just understand why something happened (or what someone was thinking), I can find a way to avoid the problem in the future and cope with it now. However, the authors point out that explanation is not enough. They show that explanations, while initially comforting, often reveal that the problems are worse than we thought (more deeply rooted or complicated) and that we are inadequate to solve the problem. We must have more than explanation: we need imagination.

They write, “Imagination is not the ability to dream up things that aren’t real; it is the ability to see what is real but often unseen. . . . For a Christian whose hope is in an invisible God, seeing the unseen is essential.”

They focus on two “unseen realities” that are essential for our Christian walk: our true identity based on our relationship with God, and the resources that we have available to us because of what God provides.

This whole book was very helpful and encouraging, and this particular chapter helped me to combat my obsession with explanation. Instead of relying on explanations to find a solution to my relationship difficulties and troubles, I need to rely first and foremost on the reality of my connection to God and the grace that He provides.

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