Cover Image: Find Your People

Find Your People

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There seems to be an ache for our human bodies. We have heard about backaches, headaches, toothaches, tummy-aches, even something internally like heartaches. What about loneliness-ache? In what is considered a problem that is larger than any kind of ache, loneliness has become a major health matter around the world. As society becomes more individualistic and self-centered, we are losing connections and community living. The downsides of loneliness are all visible out there. Depression rates are rising while mental health deteriorating. We feel secure when in our own rooms and inner sanctuary, yet there is an underlying sense of discontentment exhibited via various stages of sadness. Worse, we are subconsciously accepting our lonely lives as the defacto normal way of life. Unless of course, we learn to fight the lies such as:
- Not needing people
- No need for friends
- No need for community
- No need to rely on others
- No need to connect with others
- That we can survive on our own
- ...

The key message in this book is that we are built not to be alone but to connect and relate with one another. We are our best selves when we are in healthy meaningful relationships with God and with others. We need to belong and be a part of a community, for better or for worse, and this is not just limited to marriage. It is about life. We need friends and we need to be a part of a closely-knit community. Celebrations are nothing without loved ones and trusted friends to enjoy together. Perhaps, this is why the TV series "Friends" had become such a hit. Many people crave the friendships they watch on television. When we sink deeper into the self-focused world, we become more isolated. Here, author Jennie Allen not only reminds us about our need for one another, she shares with us powerful stories about how women washing clothes together in a village experience rising depression when their incomes improve to the point that each of them could wash clothes in their own homes. One stark comment from a refugee hits home: "The more resources a person gets, the more walls he or she puts up. And the more lonely they become." We all need a village we could live in, with people we could grow with, and relationships we could enjoy. She asserts that the Internet is not sufficient to be our village simply because those do not go far enough. For any relationship to be meaningful and authentic, three qualities are needed for all: Availability; Humility; and Transparency. Together with five patterns or practices, we can begin cultivating relationships to "Find Your People." These five patterns can be symbolized by five objects.

1) Fire: Create warmth for closer proximity; Overcoming busyness
2) Open Doors: Promote safe transparency through sharing of pain and shame
3) Anvil: Sharpen accountability by addressing pride
4) Shovel: Digs deep toward finding shared values; avoids shallow talk
5) Table: Cultivate consistency via conversations; works out any conflicts

My Thoughts
==============
According to a recent Economist survey, men are lonelier in America than anywhere else in the world. The research from the University of Pennsylvania reveals that the more time one spends on social media, the less one has in building relationships. If we draw the circle wider, loneliness affects everyone, not just men. Author Jennie Allen has given us a precious resource to help build greater connections and healthier communities through practical steps and helpful advice. Our society is restless and often lonely. The problem seems more acute in richer economies or first-world countries. If we probe further, we would recognize that regardless of income levels or economic influences, we are all prone to be lonely people. Even for those of us who grew up in a tightly knitted community, when transitioning into different stages of life, we would soon see people going off in different directions. When that time comes, it becomes more challenging to find people that we can trust to talk to and to share our hearts. 

With loneliness increasingly linked to poor health, it is crucial to arrest the slide. Books like this can only work if people are willing to recognize the problem in the first place. Perhaps, if we are honest with ourselves, we are often too proud to tell others we are lonely. Our culture is full of self-help, self-fulfillment, and self-focused activities. Sometimes, the inability to fulfill our deepest needs can tempt us to cocoon ourselves further into ourselves. How do we avoid that from happening? Recognize that we are all prone to loneliness. Even if we are not lonely at this time, there is no telling how we will be when we transition into another phase of life. We can stay off social media. We can also try to turn attention away from ourselves. All of these are useless if we do not reach out and connect with others. This will be difficult because lonely people are quite difficult to reach out to. Perhaps, before we attempt to solve another person's problems, why not take baby steps in doing what we can to nourish the existing groups and relationships we are in. That could be a good start to give ourselves a feeling of the challenges in forming relationships. Once we are aware of the challenges, perhaps we might be more than ready to accept the ideas in this book. In summary, for the uninitiated, first, read this book to recognize the issue. Next, put the ideas in this book into practice. Finally, buy another copy to give away, perhaps to another person you sense might be lonely. 

Jennie Allen is the founder and visionary of IF: Gathering as well as the New York Times bestselling author of Get Out of Your Head, Made for This, Anything, and Nothing to Prove. A frequent speaker at national events and conferences, she is a passionate leader, following God’s call on her life to catalyze a generation to live what they believe. Jennie earned a master’s in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Zac, have four children.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.

conrade
This book has been provided courtesy of Waterbrook Multnomah and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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This is a great must read. Jennie makes the case for the necessity of having not just friends but friends who are ready to take on the battle with you. This book is real and practical calling people to take a risk, find friends, and to not face this life alone. She addresses some of the common pitfalls while also encouraging you to continue prioritizing people in your life.
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A practical guide to making friends, getting to know others, and letting them know you. Something that is very much needed today! The only thing that made me give it 4 stars instead of 5 is that the author kind of 'glorifies' the community of 3rd world countries. It is different there, but it's not always ideal either. I did grow up in a 3rd world country, so I'm not just talking about something I know nothing about. Overall, though, a really good book!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance e-book! All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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I love Allen’s books and this one was no different. She is able to open one’s eyes and heart to the message of Jesus. In a new Covid normal world, finding our people is so important.
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This book is written from a Christian point of  view on the topic of the importance 0f creating and keeping intimate  relationships.  Jennie Allen gives five practices to help you develop closer relationships.  As someone who has felt the need for more close friends, this was a helpful book.  Her recommendations to initiate connections with those already in your life was helpful to me.  This quote sums up the book for me: "You and I don't need fifty people to know our hard, bur we do need a few who are in it with us".  If you do not have these few close and safe people in your life, this would be a helpful book to use as a roadmap to make those close friends.
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Another great read from Jennie Allen on the importance of finding your tribe and continuing to fellowship with each other. We often settle for quick texts with todays culture of “busy” but Jennie does a great job speaking on the importance of truly connecting.
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I am not the target audience for this book. I rarely read "Christian Living" especially those books marketed to women. I have generally found them filled with stories and low on substance. However, I thought that this book was really good. I have only known of Jennie through her work on the IF:Gathering and the women in my church have done a number of her studies. This was my first personal encounter with her work.

The book is all about trying to create "a village," or your community. It is about trying to find real deep friendships. The main narrative device is talking about her move to Dallas and trying to find friends there. The book is filled with personal stories about the ups and downs of that adventure in gaining, keeping, and losing friends. 

One of the biggest strengths of this book was its focus on application. Most chapters had explicit helpful guides on ways to build community. I found myself writing them down and thinking about them more. The book wasn't just platitudes, stories, or even examples of how she did it. Instead there were real good suggestions on ways to make this happen. I particularly appreciated a recurring theme of looking for the people already in front of you. 

The book still has some weaknesses of the genre, but that's just my opinion. I didn't particularly love the writing style at points. It often felt like she was just giving instead of writing a book. But many will prefer and love that about the book. I also would have loved some more interaction with other historic Christian writers outside of quotes here and there. It seemed like a glaring oversight to have the only interaction of Bonhoeffer's "Life Together" be a small quote near the end. But these criticisms could be simple nitpicks.

I think fans of Jennie and other Christian Living books will love this one. It's needed, easy to read, and practically helpful. I even think those who don't typically like this kinds of books, like me, will find it worthwhile. This is one that I will end up purchasing for our church and rereading.
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This book was a much needed push towards prioritizing finding my village. As a new mom, I have been spending a lot of time at home and get very isolated. This book was challenging and also encouraging and I’m starting my journey of finding true Christian community that has been missing in my life for a long time. I highly recommend this book!
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What a timely and encouraging book! In an era of increased isolation and loneliness due to the pandemic and social media, Allen offers practical steps for creating and engaging in much-needed community. We weren't created to live alone and Allen suggests ways to find our people, restore broken relationships, and hone in on the friendships we most need.
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"Come close and let me tell you my hopes for us here. I want us to trade lonely and isolated lives that experience brief bursts of connectedness for intimately connected lives that know only brief intervals of feeling alone."

I found this to be an encouraging, biblically-based book. Jennie presents lies and fears that one might encounter when trying to find community and helps provide tools to overcome this. She includes practical steps to take and helpful advice like important qualities to look for in potential friends and talks about how different friends play different roles.

This book is formed around Jennie's move from Austin to Dallas and her experience in changing friendships and community. It seems like she has always had a solid group of people around her and was never starting from zero per se. In that sense, I think it would be hard to look to this book for advice and guidance if you are moving to a new place where you do not know anyone.
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Find Your People is a nice, quick read, that I'd recommend if you are in a church setting, feel overwhelmed at the task of making friends, and need a little encouragement to know you aren't alone. It can be read all at once, or you can read it over the course of 5ish weeks and follow a challenge put out by the author. 

I liked this book. It had some good advice that I would like to try to implement, and gave some ideas on how to overcome certain obstacles like busy-ness and pride. I will say, this book is probably best used in situations where you do have a lot of acquaintances. Part of the process that Allen puts out is to narrow down your acquaintances to a village, to an inner circle. This would be hard to do if you had just moved somewhere with no contacts or long-lost friends.

If you are desiring closer friendships and like reading self-help books, particularly Christian ones, then this might be a good book for you to pick up. 3.5 stars rounded up.

Thanks to Netgalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah for the e-ARC!
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I received an arc from NetGalley and this is my honest opinion. 
This is the second devotional I have read by this author and while this book makes me feel a little uncomfortable with the closeness  this book is calling us to be with our friends, maybe that’s the point. 
Maybe we need to feel that uncomfortableness to reach a place where we are vulnerable and can open up. This book will cause you to dig deep and come out of your shell if you are an introvert like myself. She repeated a lot of the same things and some things didn’t seem realistic in my opinion.
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This isn’t a book for people who need help finding community. The author has community. Lots of it, actually. It’s not always geographically proximate, and she’s often traveling too much to stay in daily touch with her friends. But she has a robust network she can plug back into whenever she chooses to take the time.  

I was hopeful as I began this book - I need it, and I know others do too. Reading the first few paragraphs, the author’s description of a time she felt incredibly alone and isolated hit so close to home for me, I almost stopped breathing. I felt so grateful to not be the only one experiencing this, and looked forward to what she’d share about  how she navigated her isolation and opened herself to the challenge of finding people with whom to connect.

Wow, did I feel duped as I read the rest of the introduction. Because the rest of the story is that she wasn’t alone at all - she was just…feeling alone, I guess. But then a friend called and they talked, and everything was great. And she reached out to her sister, with whom there had been some sort of tiff she declined to describe. They met for coffee and patched things up. Voila, loneliness vanquished, just like that, in a single paragraph.

The book continues in much the same vein. She moves from Austin to Dallas, where she doesn’t know many people. Sounds like a great example. Except that she already has a church to plug into because they’d lived in Dallas before. (So no church shopping across 17 Sundays for them, no family disagreements about where to settle in, no sense of feeling like Goldilocks, no fear that you’ll never really fit in.) With one call to the church she had a wonderful babysitter who became a friend…and then a small group invited them to join…and those people became their friends, and their kids’ friends. 

I’ll admit that when she confessed that her friends’ biggest complaint about her is that she doesn’t seem to need them enough - she’s too self sufficient - it felt a bit like when a job candidate is put on the spot in an interview and pressed to name their biggest weakness, and all they’ll say is,, “Well, I tend to be too organized…”

And the romanticized, simplistic descriptions of community life in the African nations she’s visited are.…just awkward. 

I am so sorry to leave such a rough review. I’m disappointed. I wanted this to book to deliver, even a little bit, on the promise of the title. And wow, it did not.
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