An auditorium of expectant people waited for Kathy Ide to finish introducing our keynote speaker that morning. As the smiling woman stepped up and made a joke, I think we all relaxed. She was real—authentic. Not stuck up in some lofty place. So not unreachable.
The people around me were comprised of wannabe authors, dedicated writers, successful people in the book industry, and faculty. The SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference.
They passed out booklets—samples of the contents of Mary DeMuth’s upcoming release, The Seven Deadly Friendships: How to Heal when Painful Relationships Eat at Your Joy. I snapped a picture of mine right there and shared on Instagram. From what she said about the content, this would be a book that could change lives.
You know, like mine.
Look, I had an unusual childhood. I knew lots of kids who moved a lot— “military brats” who were sent to a new place every 2-3 years by the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines. We moved even more often, never staying in one place for more than eighteen months—once or twice for just a month. My dad wasn’t military. I call him Pa Ingalls on steroids.
But all that moving. All those severed friendships over and over until I got old enough to be able to keep up with them through writing and later, phone calls. Well, when I heard about the types of people Mary discussed in her book, I also knew I was likely one or more of them.
Before I go further, I need to say something. My parents gave me a fabulous childhood and did a wonderful job creating consistency and stability in what was really a life of chaos. I never realized how unhealthy a life like that should have been until I met my husband—a guy who lived in the same house from birth until the day he drove to California to start a new life here as an adult.
Still, I wondered. Was I even more messed up than I thought? Well, hopefully, The Seven Deadly Friendships would tell me. So, I went home and marked the launch date on my calendar. Then I saw a call for a launch team. I signed up. In the weeks leading up to the release of her book, Mary DeMuth also taught a course I’d bought—all about launching books.
And then the book arrived.
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What Did I Learn about The Seven Deadly Friendships?
Oy! Where do I begin? You see, this book doesn’t just say, “Nervous Nellie (not a real friendship type) isn’t healthy because she is encouraging you to sin by being anxious.” Honestly, if I hadn’t heard Mary DeMuth speak on the topic of her book, I might not have bought it because that is the assumption I would have made.
I would have been wrong—so very wrong.
With kindness, compassion, and firmness without condemnation, Ms. DeMuth takes us bit by bit through her seven types of friends who are each based on one of the seven deadly sins. But it doesn’t start or stop with, “This type of person is evil because…”
No, first she introduces the type of friend and uses personal stories and other anecdotes to illustrate how that might look in your life. Rather than the canned, written-to-prove-a-point stories that so many non-fiction books employ, Ms. DeMuth either uses actual stories as she claims (shocker, I know), or uses her skills as a novelist to make them reasonable and realistic. I tend to assume the former. What can I say? I’m an optimist.
But The Seven Deadly Friendships doesn’t stop with identifying why your friendship is a mess or ended so badly.
She moves from understanding the type, to identifying the problem, considering a solution, and looking at the friendships through a Biblical lens. How are we to respond Biblically to this. Finally, she points the finger back at you. Are you this type of friend?
And that’s why I bought the book, of course. I wanted to be certain that I was not the very person I’d just read about. For the curious? One didn’t stand out to me. Like with most tests and things to help unbox my psyche, this one showed me a nice, even, a little bit of everything kind of person. I’m just all around messed up.
I could have told you that before I read The Seven Deadly Friendships but it was kind of cool to see how I’m messed up—specifically. And it was also nice to see that when I’ve chosen to step away from unhealthy relationships, I wasn’t unChristlike. How I did it may or may not have been. But as I’ve been learning over the last decade or so, there is nothing loving about encouraging a brother or sister in Christ in their sin by allowing them to perpetuate it… on you or anyone else.
Recommended for anyone who wants to understand the hurt and turmoil around them or in their lives. The book is well-written, not “verse-picked” or “proof-texted.” It’s meaty with everything you need to know to understand the topic and yet an easy read. If you have a friend who seems to attract toxic relationships, or if you are that person, I highly recommend The Seven Deadly Friendships.
Would you like to know if you or your friend exhibits traits of one of the seven deadly friendships? Take Mary’s Quiz. I did it both with myself and someone with whom I’ve had conflict recently. I found it enlightening.
More about the book.
Title: The Seven Deadly Friendships: How to heal when painful relationships eat away at your joy
Author: Mary DeMuth
Synopsis: Friends for a Season?
There’s something wrong with your friendship, but you can’t figure out why. Is everything in your head? Unfortunately, toxic friendships happen to everyone, but we seldom identify the underlying issues while we battle confusion or the friendship breaks up.
Maybe you’re left bewildered in the friendship’s wake, paralyzed to move forward.
After wading through several difficult friendships, Mary DeMuth reveals the seven different types of toxic relationships and empowers you to identify the messiest relationships causing you the greatest anguish.
- Face the reality of your broken relationship, and unearth exactly what went wrong.
- Discover why you may attract toxic people.
- Heal from broken relational patterns so you can choose safer friends.
- Evaluate when it’s time to press into a friendship or let it go.
You’ll gain a new relationship with Jesus as you trust him to be your confidant, healer, and life-giving friend.