Fousin, My Book Guru
Some people offer book advice and and your subtle nod of ‘yes,’ is actually an emphatic, but polite, declaration that there is no way on God’s green earth that is going to happen! Then there are the people who offer you books and you read them just because that person is the book guru and they must know you so well to know that for some cult-ish reason you will fall-in-love by whatever they offer you.
For me, my Frousin (fabulous friend/cousin) is my non-fiction book guru. It might be because we are peas in a pod, or maybe because she has a much higher tolerance for reading non-fiction than I do. You should also know that this relationship isn’t one sided. I give back. As I soar through young adult novels at an alarming rate, I am her fiction young adult book guru, which is really just as essential, if not even more (after all, everyone has a void for kids unrealistically fighting evil governments while falling-in-love). Anyway, if Frousin recommends a book, I read it. And love it. Even if it is horrific sounding, like when she recommended The Old Testament Template.
So last year, when Frousin informed me that With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God by Skye Jethani would rock my world, I ordered it. Then I recommended the Divergent series to her. True to our relationship, we each found each others’ sweet spot.
But for me, With became much more than a nice escape, but rather has become a foundational, game-changing marker in my life. Considering it has really affected the way I see my role in changing the world, and my life’s story on this blog, I decided it was essential I tell you about it as well.
The Ways We Relate To God
The driving concept of With is that everyone relates to God through differing perspectives (whether they believe in God or not). Much of the first five chapters of the book are focused on exploring these perspectives, which are they way we manage and control to chaos of life. Of course, with a background in cultural anthropology, these were like mini-ethnologies, those fascinating cultural studies. And, best of all, I found them to be remarkably true.
This made me wonder why I hadn’t heard of the Under God, Over God, From God, For God, and With God before! It was like a veil was lifted that made it clear why Friend X always thinks God is punishing them, why Friend Y doesn’t really pray, and why Person A church-hops and Person B usually never sees her inherent worth. Although no one perfectly fits into one particular category all the time, there is usually a category or two where an individual usually will strongly relate.
Now grasping the characteristics of these five ways of relating to God, I can usually pin-point the perspective someone is coming from and meet them there. This really helps me. Instead of judging Person A and Friend Y, I can help them work through their struggles, making steps towards walking “With God” rather than Under, Over, From, or For God. From a purely pragmatic perspective, I loved this book because it helped me get through the layers that divide so many Christians from one another. Considering, if you do any form of lay-counseling, or work in Christian ministry, I highly encourage reading it (while drinking coffee, obviously, because otherwise you won’t believe any of it).
The Root of My Identity Issue
But really, how this book impacted me personally is what matters and why I am here to share about it. But, my friends, that is a lot of personal and pretty much requires a ten-year review of my life. EeeeeeK!
Considering, I am putting that in a different post, Part 2 of With: Reimagining the Way I Relate to God. As Part 2 is actually the most important post, I hope you stay tuned as I take time to think through it (maybe I’ll join the guy in the picture below for “thinking time”).
Below is a video where the author, Skye Jethani, talks about three of the ways of relating to God, For God (radicals), From God (consumers), and With God (the ideal way of relating to God) in the context of the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son:
Um yes, buy the book: