Wednesday Bookclub: Befriend, Chapters 6 & 7

Befriend, Chapter 6: Befriend the Shamed and Ashamed & Chapter 7: Befriend the Ones You Can’t Control

This week we are discussing chapters 6 & 7 of our bookclub book, Befriend, by Scott Sauls. Even if you haven’t read the material or didn’t participate last week, please don’t hesitate to share your heart! This is how it works: I’ll post some initial thoughts and recap some of Saul’s points, but then I will post Sauls’ questions in the comments section. If you see a question you want to answer, simply reply to the question. And if you want to reply to someone else’s comment, please do! Or, if you want to ask your own question or start a new talking point, just create an original comment that isn’t a reply to anyone else’s. Make sure you check back throughout the week in case someone has posted on your comment or asked you a question.

Ground rules: This is meant to be an encouraging, redemptive conversation. Please communicate with kindness and grace.

Chapter 6, Befriend the Shamed and Ashamed, might go down as being my favorite chapter in the book. Of course, I love talking about shame, so I love how Sauls unpacks it for the purpose of creating belonging. He reminds us that everyone is susceptible to being shamed and feeling those feelings of rejection and being unacceptable. He talks about how we like to shame others or enjoy the shame of others because it makes us feel better about our own shameful states. He quotes Brené Brown:

After studying vulnerability, shame, and authenticity for the past decade, here’s what I’ve learned. A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others.

So how do we put a stop to this vicious cycle of shaming others and delighting in others’ shame and suffering from shame ourselves? By understanding our identity in Christ and having confidence in God’s love for us. Only then will God’s voice be louder than our inner voice or the voice of someone else telling us we are less-than.

Chapter 7, Befriend the Ones You Can’t Control made me laugh out loud! Especially his story of how because of his pride, he and his new bride couldn’t read the Bible together—he couldn’t stand for her to have insight he didn’t or for her to question him on what they had read. Of course, it’s okay to laugh these many years later, but I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time. And we can all relate, right? It’s in our nature to want to control others.

What do we do when we can’t control others? What do we do with the guy in front of us on the way to preschool drop-off who won’t inch forward at the light and then causes us to miss the light?! And then we end up following him all the way to school because, well, it turns out he is the grandfather of one of my son’s classmates?! What do we do with the woman behind us at the grocery store who insists on talking to our daughter and making comments about our clothing and food choices and who just won’t be quiet when all I’m trying to do is get out of there as quickly as possible?

Sauls challenges us to remember that God has purpose in all of these things, and our responsibility is to trust him in all of it. To recognize that even if we could control everyone around us, we would just make a mess. God’s in the business of redemption, not getting my family to preschool as soon as possible. I love how Sauls sums up this chapter: We often want to control the people and environment around us. But we make a mess of things when we try to play God. We are poor authors of other people’s stories. The path to peace rests in relinquishing control to God.