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“The friend who loves their neighbor well in trial will continue to come alongside after the initial hardship is over”—Sara Beckham, Alongside
Most of us have experienced the desire to help someone during a time of medical diagnosis, loss, or grief. What are we to do? Sending over a meal is important, but how can we love others beyond taking them a meal? Alongside, is a practical guide of helpful suggestions complied by personal testimonies of the author and others in their time of crisis.
Author, Sarah Beckman, has been on both the giving and receiving end of help. Within a span of six years, Beckman lived through eleven weeks of bedrest prior the birth of her third child and four back surgeries. In her book, Alongside, Beckman incorporates her experiences with the advice of others to provide the byline of the book, “A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in the Time of Trial.” Alongside, features three parts, “First Things First, Taking Action, and Special Circumstances.”
In the first part Beckman, explains that at the heart of this book is the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40, NLT). “Reaching out to help others is more than ‘just doing the right thing.’ It is our God-given responsibility” (page 5).
“It’s Not About You” is the title of chapter two and a reoccurring theme throughout the book. In this chapter Beckman, reminds the giver not to focus on their personal feelings, but the feelings of the one they desire to help. This concept sounds simple, put as Beckman references throughout the book; often people unintentionally make hurtful statements to those they are trying to help.
In chapter three, “In the Know,” Beckman illustrates a tier system of relationship:
Tier 1: caregiver/close friend
Tier 2: friend/neighbor/co-worker/church member/sports team/shared organizations
Tier 3: acquaintance/friend or friend-of-the-family
Tier 4: infrequent interaction
I found this tier system to be golden. “Knowing your place in the life of the person in crisis will help you know how to respond” (page 15).
The second part of Alongside, features a variety of ways to love thy neighbor by taking action. I suffer from a chronic illness and I found this section exceptionally valuable. The first year of my diagnosis was the most difficult. Those who reached out, who made themselves present, those who took the time to visit, those who invited me to normal activities and didn’t always talk about my condition, and those who continued to remember my struggle are the ones I appreciate the most.
In the third part of Alongside, author Sarah Beckman shares five chapters of special circumstances such as in the case of a terminal illness, a messy situation, or when faith isn’t shared. Regardless of the difficult situation, being present is the truest gift of friendship. My favorite quote in the entire book is found in Chapter 7 “Be Present.” It reads, “The friend who loves their neighbor well in trial will continue to come alongside after the initial hardship is over” (page 60).
Meet Sarah Beckman
Sarah Beckman shares on her website, “I love coffee and green chile and golf and my Wisconsin Badgers. I love the water, but also the mountains. And I love traveling to Haiti…maybe because they have both.” To learn more about first time author, Sarah Beckman visit SaraBeckman.org.
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DISCLOSURE (IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FTC’S 16 CFR, PART 255: “GUIDES CONCERNING THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING”): MANY THANKS TO Morgan James Publisher FOR GIVING ME TWO COPIES of Alongside IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST OPINION.
P.S. If you are interested in reading more of my thoughts on chronic illness and friendship, read Four Lessons Chronic Illness Taught Me about Friendship.
©2017 April Dawn White
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