Updated: Apr 29, 2021
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I've read quite a few books, probably more this year alone than I read throughout high school. That is saying something, considering we are only three months into this year. I loved to read fiction novels about romance and adventure. You name it; it was likely on my bookshelf. Within the last five years, I've been more into the "Self-Help" category. Not just in books but also in podcasts, motivational youtube videos, whatever it may be.
While watching Sadie Robertson's WHOA That's Good Podcast titled Finding the Right Someone: How to Navigate Relationships Pt 1, she introduced Ben Stuart. Ben is a preacher at Passion City Church in Washington D.C. He also wrote the book that we will discuss called Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Navigating Life + Love in the modern age.
In The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: How to Navigate Relationships Pt 2, she continues to discuss his book and ask intriguing questions that ultimately led me to jump in the car and speed on down to the store.
Let me start by saying this book is brilliant, and I rarely say that about books. I'll usually say they were decent descriptions about the accuracies of life and that if you're looking for a specific topic, then you should put it on your list. Right now, I'm telling y'all that you NEED to read this book. There is no “Maybe” about it. This book encompasses all aspects of a relationship with a significant other, starting when the relationship is just a seed to a tree's total development.
I was honestly captivated from page one. No lie, on page one, underneath the chapter titled "first things first," is a saying that boldly states, "We must get a relationship with God right before we can get a relationship with a guy or a girl right." Page one, I've already got my colored pens out underlining sentences and making comments about how rich the text is.
If you believe that God created this earth and put humans on it to cultivate the land and relationships, you must believe in a relationship between you and Him. So how do you ensure you are developing a good relationship? Oh, Ben talks about it throughout the whole section of singleness. He gives prime examples and alludes to different techniques. After reading the singleness section, I analyzed what I've done to develop my relationship with God. Ultimately I walked away with a desire to do more.
Then I came to the section on dating. Ben talks about how dating isn't necessarily in the Bible, but evaluation is. I'm sure you want to know what that means, and I was thinking the same thing when I read, "I would submit to you that dating is our modern process of evaluation." I'd never viewed dating as an evaluation process. Not long ago, I wholeheartedly believed that this earth was the product of "The Big Bang," and we were all here by complete accident. So I wasn't necessarily dialed in on relationships or their true meaning. Don't even get me started on our purpose; that was an eye-opener, and I'm not sure I was ready. Nevertheless, this section on dating covers who to date, how to date, and the process of evaluating living, breathing people. I wish I could encompass this chapter's brilliance in this short post, but the chapter is too rich even to come close.
In his section on engagement, he discusses the question that every girl I knew growing-up always asked, "How do you know when you have found the right one?" In previous sections, he touched on modern culture's primary examples of love. Many examples he gives from movies and music are also portrayed as acts of love throughout the Bible. While those are great examples of what love should entail, our culture can also negatively influence our perspective of love. Movies and music can give a dramatic example of what love should be or what happens when love goes wrong. They are in the entertainment business, and I'm not sure what else you'd expect then for it to be dramatic. The only issue is that modern society takes these acts literally. We want someone who "when the feeling's right I'm gonna run all night," as Bryan Adams sings in the song Run to You. But what about when the feelings not right? Are you going to belt from rooftops that you're "Bleeding Love" as Leona Lewis sang? The fact of the matter is that no one on this earth knows for certain when they have found "the one". Only God knows. However, Ben gives some pretty unique insight into how to tell if you're with the wrong person.
His final section on marriage discusses marriage as a picture. He begins by sharing, "Marriage is not just designed by God; it is meant to display something about God." God designed Eve for Adam after concluding that "It is not good for man to be alone." But He didn't stop there. Ben explains that this unity of humans is an example of Jesus and the church. He then explains the husband's role and the women's role in the relationship, likewise to Jesus and the church. How enlightening to know that God encompasses all aspects of marriage. Just as in singleness, God is not only present through the good, He is also present through the bad.
This book is a breath of fresh air in a world full of chaos. It leaves you analyzing and evaluating your beliefs on modern-day relationships. If there is one thing that I know for certain, you NEED to read this book. You will not be disappointed!