“He’s your father.”
I can’t tell you how many times that was my mother’s response to me complaining about something Dad had done. Look, this isn’t easy to say, because I have a great love and respect for my father. But he’s not perfect. Dad made serious mistakes in his life—some that affected all of us for years.
I heard her say it to my siblings, too—when they complained or spoke ill of their mother. Trust me. They had every reason to feel slighted, abandoned, and have honest, real, sincere feelings about her. Bad ones. Okay? Let’s just leave it there. But Mom, a step-mother just ten years older than my sister, wouldn’t allow them to badmouth their parents. Either one of them.
And they respected her for it, even when they didn’t like it.
Just for clarity’s sake, Mom wasn’t trying to whitewash the truth. She didn’t want to pretend that the very wrongs that had been perpetrated in our lives weren’t real and didn’t matter. Quite the opposite. She just didn’t want us to build them into relationship-dividing issues.
Because, yes. My father blew it sometimes (as we all do). But if I allowed myself to complain and grumble about those mistakes, would I have remembered all the wonderful things he did? Or would I have become consumed with the ugly?
Mom taught me that we’d never forget those ugly things, but it wasn’t right to define someone by their mistakes. Just as no one is completely right in everything they say or do, a person’s wrongs do not mean that the things they’ve done well are irrelevant. They aren’t fake.
I’ve said before that my father taught me two very important rules that changed my life. You can read more about that HERE. However, my mother taught me about relationships.
Mom taught me that people are more important.
“Than what?” you might ask. How about than anything? People are more important than my comfort level when I meet them. The person who serves me the wrong meal or a badly cooked one at a restaurant are more important than me receiving what is “due me.” The cashier at the store is more important than me getting out of there ASAP.
A relationship between siblings is more important than the peace and quiet I receive if I just take a toy away from squabbling children.
This is why, back in October-ish, when I had the opportunity to review a book—The Lost Art of Relationship, I didn’t even have to think twice. Any book that focused on treating relationship-ping as an art? That’s a book for me. I requested a copy so fast it wasn’t even funny.
It arrived many weeks ago. I pulled it from the envelope, sighed at a cover that I didn’t feel did it justice, flipped it over, read the back, and sighed again. This time because I just knew it was going to be good. Couldn’t wait to read it. But you know… time. That, of course, begs the question:
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Is The Lost Art of Relationship Worth Your Time?
Are people worth your time? No, really. Are the souls that Jesus Christ lived and died for worth your time? Of course, they are. This book begins with that premise (although Dan Chrystal doesn’t put it quite that way) and takes you through just how to “relationship.”
Yeah. I went there. I verb-bed it. If we can “adult” in today’s world, we can “relationship,” too.
Three things about the book really bothered me. First, as I said, the cover. I am only mentioning it because, for those who make decisions based on covers, this one shouldn’t deter you. The facade doesn’t reflect the interior, so give it a shot. Second, pretty sure no one in 1973 got a Social Security card at birth. That was a pilot program in three states in the 80s before it rolled out nationwide in the latter eighties. Bear with me—there’s a point to this. It’s not a quick read—or at least, it wasn’t for me.
Yeah. That’s it. That’s what bothered me. Two inconsequential things (who cares about a cover when the inside is so great, and who cares about when Social Security cards became an automatic thing? If I wasn’t a historical fiction author, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed) and a good thing.
Yeah, I wanted to read it fast. I like to devour books. But you can’t with this one, and that’s a good thing.
So, what did I love specifically about The Lost Art of Relationship?
It’ll have to be specific because otherwise, I’d just say everything. I love that he took a difficult topic and made it approachable. Not once did what he showed feel impossible. Dan Chrystal intertwined enough personal stories (and not one read like those cheesy “examples” that ruin many non-fiction books) with solid Biblical teaching and common sense so that none of it was overdone.
Okay, you can’t “overdo” Scripture. Not really. But you can ram it down throats if you’re not careful. He was… so he didn’t.
None of the common issues with nonfiction surfaced as I read this. I didn’t find proof-texting. The illustrations fit the point (and was that a relief!). And this feels a bit weird to say, but it’s true. Dan Chrystal didn’t dump a bunch of false humility in here in the way of “here’s everything I’ve ever done wrong.” We didn’t get this single-sided thing that is so annoying. We saw his strengths, his weaknesses. Pastor Chrystal showed us, through his examples, just how to live this truth he presented.
I suspected that would be the case when I opened it to read and found an inscription.
Look, this guy sent out a bunch of books to reviewers. I seriously doubt that I’m the only one who got a hand-written, personalized note in the inside cover. Dan Chrystal lives what he teaches. With that short note (34 words including salutation/closing names), he opened the doors to relationship.
I recommend The Lost Art of Relationship to anyone looking to make relationships a priority in his or her life. Take your time. Savor. Highlight. Read and reread.
I’m not a big fan of taking Bible study time to study topics instead of, I don’t know, THE BIBLE (for an example of what I mean, see THIS video)… But for something like The Lost Art of Relationship, and for a short amount of time, I’d do it. I really think it’s that important.