Chapter 13 is titled, Befriend the Poor and Empty-Handed. I followed Pastor Sauls on Facebook, so I wasn’t surprised by this chapter—I know of his heart for the poor and unfortunate. I love how he unpacks the truth behind Martin Luthers thought, We are all beggars, this is true, with statistics about children being born into poverty and their unlikelyhood of ever going to college simply because of the lot they’re given—their parents’ focus is on survival and finding money for the next meal, not on PSAT prep and college essays.
We have been reading two chapters at a time, but I cried my way through chapter 12 and guessed many of you might have, too, so I thought we could just discuss this one chapter. Chapter 12 is titled Befriend Those Grieving and Dying. Sauls starts by sharing part of his own story in which his mother is doing poorly and he is witness to his parents suffering together. He not only sees his mother suffer physically, but his father suffer as her husband who loves her deeply and is grieved by this cruel reminder of human mortality. But as Sauls watches his parents brave this suffering together, he is reminded of the things on this earth that really matter—the small, mundane things that communicate love and that are gifts from God given to us to express sorrow and devotion and delight.
Chapter 10: Befriend Dysfunctional Family Members This chapter spoke to my heart, and I hope it does to yours as well. Sauls talks in this chapter about how God designed his church to be a family—how he is our father, and he invented the family structure! We crave relationship and we need relationships. We need parents and siblings and grandparents. But so many of us have broken family relationships or grew up in dysfunctional families. Many of us were abused and cannot be in relationship with those abusive family members. And yet, we are not alone in these painful situations; Sauls pointed out that Jesus’ own earthly family had serious issues, just like so many of ours!
Oh, friends, wasn’t Chapter 8 so beautiful?! I read it so slowly, soaking in the beauty and the wisdom. Chapter 8 is Befriend True Friends and Significant Others, in which Sauls compares the covenant nature of biblical relationships to the consumerism practiced in modern day relationships, including both romantic relationships and close friendships. He talks about the importance of being known, oh glory! He asserts, I need you to call my bluff. You need me to call your bluff too.
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.