This book caught my eye because of the cover. If I’m being honest, I absolutely judge a book by the cover and this cover was adorable. The other thing that made me click buy on this book was the fact that it was/is rated 5 out of 5 stars with 770 reviews on amazon, and it’s only been on the market since October 2017.
To be honest again though, I hesitated purchasing this book and it sat in my Amazon cart for awhile. I knew I wanted to start doing book reviews on my blog but was this really a good one to start with? After all, as I’ve said last December with my post on dating, dating isn’t really on my priority list right now. I may be going on a date or 2 here and there, but I’m not currently really focused on dating. I meet people, but I’ve got a pretty fulfilling single life, and I’m pretty picky when it comes to dating. So I didn’t think I needed to read this book right now.
But then again (yes I just started a sentence with a preposition, but I’m an adult, and this is my blog!) what is a need anyway? So I didn’t NEED this book right now but after reading it I feel like I did need it. It was really good for my soul. I love self help books, but it’s been years since I picked up a new self help book talking about romance in particular. This book is great for any single person who is looking to marry sometime (even if that sometime is years down the road), to someone casually dating, to someone in a relationship, or even married. Yes even married, because it goes into the first few years of that too, and the lessons they learned. For you single folks, if your goal in dating is to find someone you want to spend forever with, that’s kind of a big deal. We spend years in college to better equip us for a career, and oftentimes our career is subject to change – But typically people don’t spend much time looking into the philosophies of dating and marriage… And I consider marriage a much more important, life altering decision then a career choice. So, a little reflection and knowledge seeking for dating and marriage is more than appropriate, not to mention helpful.
As I opened the book, the second thing I noticed was the table of contents, all the chapters are named after popular songs according to what’s transpiring in that chapter. Now that was win number 2 for this book, a cute cover, and a cute way of ordering the information in the book. It just seemed so positively witty. Just saying.. Now, getting to the good stuff. This book is co authored by Jeff and Alyssa Bethke.
Side note: You may have heard of Jefferson (Jeff) and Alyssa Bethke before. Jeff has a popular YouTube channel with several viral videos, the main one being “Why I hate Religion, but Love Religion” which has acquired upwards of 33 million views since it was posted in 2012. If not for my seeing that video, and revisiting his channel over the years I probably wouldn’t have heard of this book. One thing I think is important however, is that a book stands on it’s own, and Jeff & Allysa’s book does.
It’s written in first person, and the authors switch off writing their side of the story. It’s written in such raw way, telling the stories of their past, leading up to meeting each other, and then going into their dating journey and marriage. The style of writing seamlessly incorporates biblical teaching and reflection whenever one of them learned something. I thought this was going to be a self help book, plain and simple – but it wasn’t. It’s the (true) love story of two broken people who become whole through their faith, and their quest to have a godly relationship with each other. Along with all the mistakes made along the way. Reading it, it feels like you’re having a conversation with them – sitting down with them and just getting these nuggets of wisdom that they had to learn the hard way.
Also because of the starkly different backgrounds of Jeff and Alyssa, this book becomes relate able and applicable to a wider audience. Jeff was addicted to porn from a young age and slept around. His dad wasn’t part of the picture, so he didn’t have any idea of what a healthy relationship could look like. It was seeing a healthy godly relationship that made him change the course of his life, and dedicate his life to Christ. Alyssa on the other hand, grew up as bit of a holy roller, she played the waiting game, striving for emotional and physical purity in relationships, but she wasn’t without issues either. She struggled with issues of self worth, not putting her trust in God, and a side effect of that was an eating disorder that plagued her from a young age and through college. She had the appearance of a healthy soul, playing the part of missionary and bible study leader, but she was tying her self worth to her appearance and what the opposite sex thought of her. Hiding all her issues to keep up appearances.
The thing that surprised me so much about this book is that even though it’s written in story form, Jeff and Alyssa still somehow fit in all the issues I think are so important in the dating culture, and it doesn’t feel crammed into the story, it feels natural. I don’t know how but they do, and they do it in a way that sticks. One of my pet peeves is when parents, teachers, or pastors tell someone something they should or shouldn’t do and don’t tell them why. And I’m sorry (not sorry) for saying this but I have to say it, no, just saying ‘it’s what God wants’ doesn’t count as a reason for something. You need to elaborate a little more, that just seems like a cop-out for really examining why it’s important. If that’s the way God wants it, then whyyyy? If it is possible to know why it is on his heart, than we should try to find that reason. Just saying ‘the Bible said so’ doesn’t always stick either, if you believe it’s something God wants, then why?
The lessons I learned growing up that really stuck were either mistakes I made, or mistakes I saw other people make. Lucky for me, while being home schooled, I have 7 older siblings. So when I saw their heartbreak or anguish when something didn’t go as planned, I was able to benefit from their misfortune. Likewise, my mistakes helped me better mentor my younger siblings. I was able to see the aftermath of the mistakes my siblings made, and they were able to see the aftermath of the mistakes I made. The aftermath showed why the action wasn’t the best route. That’s why I was able to take to heart the lessons.
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
This book gives you a peek into what it really looks like to strive for a wholesome relationships, and it shows you the WHY. Why is a relationship THAT way wholesome? Why is abstinence before marriage important and why do they call it ‘the better way’? Why is it important to end a relationship immediately if you see red flags? Why is it important to have Christian mentors? Why is it important to stay emotionally pure as well as physically? Why do we need to be vulnerable and open in marriage? Why is it better?
That’s really what I love the most about this book. The subtitle is ‘How we discovered God’s better way for love, dating, marriage, and sex’ and not only do they tell you a beautiful story of how they discovered it, but also the why behind the morals they learned to follow in their dating journey. The narrative goes into several years of there marriage and it is messy, crazy, and REAL. They had to grow a lot, but despite that- or because of that it’s beautiful.
A must read. If you’ve successfully made it through this book review you will have no trouble finishing the book😉
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go add another 5 star review on Amazon for this book.
Click the picture above to check it out. When you’re done reading it, let me know your thoughts on it!