Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships
Author: Christine Hoover
Reading Level: Easy
Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships by Christine Hoover is the friendship treatise for the 21st century Christian woman. I honestly believe that the entire church would be healthier if every woman in the American church read this book. As for me, this book was one of the most helpful books that I have ever read regarding women and our complex relationships with each other. It made me laugh, cry, and feel the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit. This book has caused me to value my friendships more and also served to make me a better and more Christlike friend for others.
Biblical Realities and Women’s Wish-Dreams
The twenty-five short chapters are ordered under five different sections: A New Vision for Friendship, Threats to Friendship, Discovering and Deepening Friendship, Being a Friend, and Receiving Friendship. In the first section, the author communicates the Biblical ideals of Christian friendship. Here she not only demonstrates an accurate understanding of the Biblical purpose for friendship, but she also demonstrates an acute understanding of the nature of women. She does this as she addresses what she calls our ‘wish-dreams’ for friendship and our ‘search for the one true friend to rule them all’ (i.e., what we think our friendships should be like and the assumptions we have about the purpose of our friendships). She carefully communicates with sensitivity regarding the different seasons of our lives and the subsequent changes in a woman’s friendships. She hits the difficulties of friendship at each of those stages head-on, and candidly shares the feelings that so many of us have felt as we leave the care-free and effortless relationships of childhood and begin to chart the deep and murky waters of adult friendship.
In the second section of the book, she cautions the reader about some of the threats to friendship: fear, insecurity, self-preoccupation, passivity, isolation, and entitlement. From there, she moves into an intensely practical section on developing and deepening the friendships that God has given to each one of us. She does this with several encouragements: take the initiative, be hospitable, be transparent, be open to new friendships, and extend yourself to other women in the effort to bless and serve them (not the reverse – them blessing and serving us).
No Friendship Stone Unturned
She continues the book by describing what true friendship looks like in real life. This section of the book is both distinctly Biblical and intensely practical. It covers topics such as how to listen well, use our words wisely, and empathize with our friends in their suffering. She also offers helpful counsel on managing expectations, being honest with our friends, learning to allow our friends to serve us, and praying for our friends. I especially appreciated the chapters on our friendships with unbelievers and the importance of using social media to bless our friends. She finishes the book with an admonition to heed the warnings of trustworthy friends and an encouragement to savor the friendships that God has already given each one of us.
In this phenomenal work on friendship, Christine Hoover left no friendship stone unturned. She writes about new friends, old friends, neighbor friends, long-distance friends, church friends, unchurched friends, and, conversely, the feelings of being friendless. In one profoundly moving chapter, she even shares a deeply personal account about losing a very close friend to cancer (I believe this is the friend to whom the book is dedicated). Lastly, the work concludes with three informal appendices: Questions for Friends to Discuss Together, Lessons on Friendship (listing the key principles taught in the book), and Wisdom from the Bible on Friendship (a sampling of Scriptures on the topic of friendship).
Book Recommendation and Purchase Link:
In short, there are very few books that I have read and liked enough to buy multiple copies to give out, but this book is one of them. I would recommend this book to any Christian woman who wants to grow in her understanding of the Biblical ideal for friendship or become the friend that she always wanted to have. At the great marriage supper of the lamb, I am going to look for Christine Hoover. When I find her, I am going to thank her for writing Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships.