I was recently asked to do a review of Ed Young’s book, “Fifty Shades of They.” If you’re unfamiliar, Ed Young is a the Senior pastor of Fellowship Church. This church has three different campuses: Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, Miami, FL and London England. For more info. click here.
“Fifty Shades of They” discusses the importance of who the “they” are in your life, and by “They” I mean the people, places and things that contribute to who you are as a whole. I would say we all know that relationships are important because we are relational beings, but the challenge is understanding the impact that our “they” truly have on our lives. Sometimes the relationships we partake in–(not just the romantic type, but ALL relationships) are positive. Our “They” would be considered life-giving and positive. These are the types of relationships that propel us forward towards reaching our God-given potential. Everything in your life– people, places and things either bring you closer to God or take you away from Him.
Think about it.
Other times we participate in relationships that are not only unhealthy but that suck the life out of us. These relationships cause us to miss the mark. We fail to see and reach our God-given potential because these unhealthy relationships with our “They” lead to death. Death in purpose, perspective, and potential. We often tolerate this nasty type of “They” because we don’t know any better, we’re in denial, change is hard, and our vision is clouded by our sinful nature.
This book is filled with 50 short chapters detailing the different types of “they” we may find in our lives at any given time and the simple ways to identify them. Ed shares short stories that highlight the “They” and the Biblical truths that support the importance of having the right “They” in our lives.
If you’re like me, you appreciate a book that is straight to the point and “Fifty Shades of They” is exactly that. This book is a short read and you could finish it in a few hours. I’m all about finding great reads that give me new perspective on my faith and life, and that help me to be a better me. I don’t just read books, I highlight and mark them up. I found myself challenged by the content and God affirming recent changes in my life. In fact, I think it’s time for a re-read!
If you’re looking to give your life a relational makeover, “Fifty Shades of They” will help you do just that.
*Who you follow is part of your “They.”—What in the Hecknology! Read the book and you’ll understand what I’m talking about!
This stretch of not seeing JT was painful. Anngie wasn’t cooperating in any way. Steve would reach out to her through text, phone calls and e-mail to try to get some sort of contact with is son and she responded with, “this is my work e-mail address and you are not to contact me during work hours.”
She played games. As most parents know, there’s an unwritten rule about what time is appropriate to communicate between parents about their children. It is ALWAYS appropriate to communicate with each other about your children.
Anngie was difficult. All Steve wanted was to be with his son. Her behavior in her mind was the correct response, but what she was doing was hurtful.
No matter what she’d attempt to do, JT always knew who his daddy was. Nothing Anngie would ever do could ever take that away.
Months went by, and then we finally got to see JT.
He was finally old enough where Steve could pick him up from daycare two days a week and we could be with him for two hours before we had to bring him to his mom’s house.
I loved being with Steve and JT. It was incredible how much they were alike. They smiled the same squinty-eyed smile and had the same joyful demeanor. They even looked alike. JT had the same type of hair when he was about the same age as his dad.
It absolutely melted me to watch them interact with each other. To see those two play together and to hear JT giggle with pure joy and love because of his dad was priceless.
I was so thankful when Steve could get time with JT. He didn’t want to be that mystery father who was rarely around or who only showed up on birthdays and holidays. He desired to be there for JT all the time and for as much time as Anngie would allow.
Thankfully the court system was now regulating his parenting time so Steve was guaranteed time with JT and Anngie couldn’t do anything about it.
I prayed that God would turn this whole situation into a peaceful one, in which both sides of the equation could communicate and operate respectfully and selflessly with the best interest of JT in mind.
I know Steve was ready to have peace in his life and he was tired of wrestling with all of this, but there would still be challenges ahead.
You see, life is all about perspective. We cannot worry about people or situations we cannot control. When we’re faced with an uphill battle that is less than desirable we have to surrender it all to Jesus. Satan would love for us to wallow in self-pity and anger. He sucks the life right out of us if we don’t guard our hearts.
Praise Jesus that He already knows what’s going to happen! Even if we’re in a difficult season, we can’t stay in the valley forever. We must trust that His ways are higher than ours and we have to trust in His plan for our lives. Do I like that Anngie is being difficult, NOPE! But I refuse to allow her behavior to ruin my joy.
I’ve learned to lay my cares at Jesus’ feet. I refuse to carry around a burden too heavy for my human heart to bear. 1 Peter 5:7 tell us to “Cast all our cares on him because he cares for you.” God knows Anngie’s heart and I know He has everything in this situation figured out. I’ll continue to lift her up in prayer over this whole situation hoping that some day we can take some healthy steps forward.
Steve and I continued to spend time together. I couldn’t help but feel the weight of this decision on my shoulders both when we were together and apart. It was always on my mind.
We had more conversations about the whole situation and God continued to work in my heart. This wasn’t going to be easy. I was battling the hurt in my heart and the jealousy of what this woman took from me, and what Steve chose to give away.
“So, how or when are we going to tell my parents?” I asked.
“Ash, I want to be the one to tell them. This was a decision that I made and it shouldn’t be your responsibility to tell them.”
I was relieved. I had no idea how I’d even attempt to explain this one. My heart melted because he knew what all of this was doing to me, and he really manned-up.
In all my praying I never felt that I was supposed to leave Steve. There was something about him that made me want to stay. I tried to view this situation through the eyes of Jesus, because I know that He’s smarter than I am.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
There had to be something good that would come from this mess. A child, for one, is always a blessing; a true gift and miracle from God. There had to be more that God was trying to do in this situation, but I didn’t know what.
It would have been a totally different ball game if Steve were running away from the situation and the responsibilities that came with it. I wouldn’t have been around for that train wreck. Maybe God was trying to get Steve to grow up or get his attention?
He embraced the situation and he was excited to be a dad, and not only that, he was having a boy! He was so excited to be having a little “dude.”
I really struggled with the balance of being supportive and my own feelings. I tried to mask this struggle, but there was a lot going on in my head and in my heart. I tried my best to be encouraging even if it stung.
Our friends Rod and Dee decided to host a baby shower for Steve on June 27, 2010. I was so grateful that Steve had such great friends who were so supportive of him.
It was difficult to be the woman in Steve’s life that he cared about, but yet not be part of the baby shower. Instead, the woman who was carrying his child would be there. (I haven’t decided if I want to include her name).
Steve would soon be experiencing one of the most important events in his life mid July, but I wouldn’t be there to experience it with him.
Instead, I’d be sitting on the sidelines…benched.
I was silent.
Thoughts were riffling through my mind.
How could this be?
When did this happen?
I thought we were on the same page?
This wasn’t what I wanted. Surely he knew that.
What was he thinking?
We walked in silence. What had been an evening of joy and laughter quickly turned into confusion, hurt and disbelief.
He didn’t try to fill the conversational void by justify anything about the situation. He didn’t give me any excuses.
We walked up his driveway into his townhouse and sat down on the couch.
Why was this happening? Why was it that I found myself in another situation where I felt like I was again, being faced with dealing with the repercussions of someone else’s decisions? Why couldn’t things be simple?
Things were going so well. There always had to be something. Something I’d have to be accepting of or that I’d “deal with.”
Maybe Steve wasn’t who I thought he was…
I was crushed. I didn’t even know what to say and I didn’t say a word for a long time.
Steve didn’t know what to do. I could see he wasn’t sure whether to hug me, hold my hand, or if he should keep his distance.
Tears streamed down my stoic face. I was in a daze.
He sat by my side and put his hand on mine.
I wiped my tears.
“Ash, I’m so sorry. I wanted to tell you sooner but I wanted to be sure about us.”
Steve was sincere in his apology and he apologized several times. I believed him, and I believed in him, but it didn’t make this news any easier to take. I was hurt and I felt betrayed. How could he leave me in the dark about something so huge? Who else knew? How many people had I met that knew he was going to be a dad and I didn’t even know? For crying out loud, I was dating him and I didn’t even know?
My gaze shifted from a far off place, to his face.
“I know you’re sorry and I believe you… I’m feeling a lot of different emotions right now.”
I told him exactly how I felt.
Hurt. Betrayed. Deceived. Confused. Sad. Disappointed. Upset. Crushed.
His eyes welled up, and we were both crying. We wiped each other’s tears.
It was then I felt God nudging me to say something… He filled me with compassion, and gave me the words that God knew Steve needed to hear in that moment.
“Steve, you’re going to be such a great dad.”
He smiled a little, sniffled, and breathed a sigh of relief. Those words made him tear up even more. It was as if hearing those simple words provided him with the heavenly assurance he needed to hear and the load of his secret had been lifted off his shoulders.
We were now comforting each other. He knew I was completely crushed and I knew he was terrified.
I asked him questions about what had happened. Who was this other woman? When did this happen? What was his plan? And a bunch of other questions I won’t re-hash online.
I could see how shaken he was by the reality of what being a father meant for his life. Major changes were coming whether he was ready for them or not.
Again I wiped my tears. My heart had just taken a devastating blow.
I wasn’t angry with him, but I knew we had just hit a major fork in the road.
It wasn’t long after our first few dates that Steve bought me my own pair of pink Title boxing gloves. I still wasn’t quite sure what to think of him yet.
My initial reaction was, great, now I feel obligated to go to his class…but it didn’t stop there. He also bought my sister a pair too. We were basically a package deal. To get to me, you gotta go through my sister and vice versa. Way to reel her in with a pair of gloves!
It actually ended up being a great thing. Mel and I continued to go to Steve’s boxing classes and I got to know him better too.
Steve and I gradually spent more time together. Some times we’d cook together, work out, go on walks, go to sporting events, or watch UFC fights (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
The more time I spent with Steve, the more I learned about him. I learned he was a very connected guy. He was a smart aleck always prepared with a one-liner or a witty comeback. He didn’t say things in a hurtful way but he had a way of zinging you with truth.
He was intelligent, not only on a general knowledge level, but in his training. He’s the experienced trainer who could take you through a series of movements (exercise assessments) and could tell you exactly what you needed to do to improve the functionality of your body or give you a plan to correct your dysfunction. Steve loved helping people and having fun in the process.
He was a go-getter. If there was something he wanted, he’d work for it.
Well, apparently I was one of those things. We were working out at the gym and he introduced me to someone and said, “this my girlfriend, Ashley.”
I smiled and shook that person’s hand and just went with it in the moment, when inside I was dying, what was he thinking! Did I some how miss the conversation that we were “official” because I don’t remember having that conversation?
After our workout I went home to my sister Melia, who was my roommate at the time and filled her in.
“He introduced me to someone as his girlfriend!”
Now Mel knows me very well. I am what you call a commitment phobe when it comes to relationships. It’s really quite ridiculous actually.
“You can’t just start calling someone your girlfriend without asking her about it.”
We hemmed and hawed about the details of this situation and the positives and negatives of it. It eventually turned into me admitting, “I have a boyfriend.”
It was a regular evening and Steve and I were hanging out after work. We had cooked dinner together and he suggested we go on a walk.
We laughed, joked and talked. Just enjoying the evening together.
“I brought you on this walk because there’s something I want to tell you.” When he prefaced this chat with that, of course I had a little bit of panic…he’s going to tell me he loves me. What in the world am I going to do?
But that wasn’t it.
He said “There has been something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. I didn’t know where this relationship would go at first and I wanted to see how things developed before I told you.”
“Okay…well you know you can tell me anything right?” I ensured.
“Yes, I know that.” He paused as he gathered his thoughts.
“Ash, I’m going to be a dad.”