It’s not news to say that men in today’s culture are isolated.
We get wrapped up in work, duties and responsibilities to the exclusion of meaningful relationships. The friendships we create are founded in activity and performance. We work together, watch sports together or volunteer together. If we stop those activities, we find ourselves alone and we have no one to talk to when difficult times arise.
Depression and disengagement run rampant in today’s American man.
Scott Sauls challenges this status quo in his new book, befriend. He acknowledges the difficulty of having true friendships and the messiness that results, and offers up a new way. Scott describes meaningful relationships like sandpaper—they might burn and irritate, but eventually become “smoother, not in spite of the friction, but because of it.” He encourages us to exchange our digital, transactional and one-dimensional relationships with ones that will grow and mature with us. When we move from isolation, we can find belonging.
To help us in that transition, Scott brings us a collection of 21 short essays. He encourages us to read the book in a community of others, to talk about the challenges of developing true friendships. Another option (and my preferred one) is to read one chapter each day for 3 weeks like a devotional. This method will focus our thoughts daily on people we can befriend. Each essay concludes with a summary, appropriate Bible verses, and focus questions to help us apply the topics in our lives.
Each essay discusses people we might struggle to befriend, starting with ourselves.
We must fight through the shame, the feeling of “less than” or “not enough,” in order to have friendships with anyone else. Our validation and confidence needs to come from Jesus, who knows us and loves us deeply. Once we have grasped that truth, we can begin to reach out to others with a sense of who we are. We have no need to project a false self when we know we are accepted by the One who matters the most.
Throughout the next 20 chapters, Scott describes several different groups we struggle to befriend. People who are shamed and ashamed. The rich and the poor. He does not shy away from difficult issues such as sexual minorities and racial differences, but addresses them with the grace Jesus demonstrated.
Throughout the essays, he points to the truth in the Scriptures and applies it to our relationships. When we show the love and grace Jesus gave to us, the pride and arrogance we hide behind will disappear, and we become the person God has called us to be. If you’re tired of shallow friendships, befriend offers a great road map and guidance for stepping out of isolation and into authenticity.
I received a free copy of befriend from Buzzplant to write this review.