Connect with us


Relationships: A Mess Worth Making—A Review

Although “Relationships: A Mess Worth Making” has its weaknesses, it’s still a book rich with biblical wisdom and practical advice.



Let’s face it. Relationships aren’t easy. In fact, they can be down right messy. Many times they’re characterized by unmet expectations, selfish agendas, frustration, hurt, and disappointment. Often leaving us ready to throw in the towel, wishing for the safety of an ideal, sinless world where relationships are devoid of difficulty and instead defined solely by the markings of conflict-free living. But as Tim Lane and Paul Tripp argue in their book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, without these relationship lows, we’d be less likely to recognize our weak, needy state and seek out the "help God alone can provide."

They explain that it’s through the messiness of relationships that "our hearts are revealed, our weaknesses are exposed, and we start coming to the end of ourselves." Here, we realize our need for God’s strength to help us navigate the stormy waters of relational life. And it’s our admittance that we can’t fix relationships on our own, that allows Him to intervene and to use the difficulty as a means of maturing us in godliness and making us more like Him.

The writing duo cover a lot of ground in the book’s fifteen chapters. Much more than can be discussed in a single review. While I learned valuable insights from each section—including those on sin, agendas, talk, forgiveness, and time and money—for me the most profound discussion occurs in chapter 6. In it, Lane and Tripp address the importance of building our relationships on a solid foundation. They write:

Good relationships are always built on the foundation stones of identity and worship….For our relationships to be what God designed them to be, the rebuilding, restoring, and reconciling must start with a solid new foundation.

This foundation is not what we say or do. It begins in the heart, the source of the thoughts and motives that shape what we do and say. Your heart is always with you, and in profound ways it shapes your interactions with others. If your heart’s foundation is solid, based on God’s truth, design, and purpose for us, we will be able to build healthy, God-honoring relationships even though we are flawed people living in a broken world.

Until this chapter, I didn’t fully realize how much these two stones of identity (who we are) and worship (who God is) influence my own daily interactions with others. But as Lane and Tripp explain "the things we believe about God and ourselves are the foundation for all the decisions we make, all the actions we take, and all the words we speak."

For example, if I define myself as simply a wife and mother, than I will daily seek my identity in my husband and children. I’ll look to them to bring me contentment and joy. When they fail to, I’ll find myself disappointed, disillusioned, frustrated, and more apt to focus on their shortcomings. I’ll be unable to love and serve them as I should because my focus is inward. However, if my identity is rooted in who I am in Christ, "I remember that Christ has given me everything I need to be the person he designed me to be, [and] I am free to serve and love."

The authors go on to explain that remembering who we are isn’t enough. We also need to remember who God is because "real love and esteem for other people are always rooted in our worship of God." I was convicted as I read of the important role our worship of God as Creator, as sovereign, and as Savior plays in the way we relate to others. I walked away from this chapter realizing my need to be more careful to view others’ differences as part of God’s handiwork. Lane and Tripp encourage:

God wants me to remember that his hands formed every part of you. His attention never wandered, his hand never slipped, he made no mistakes, and there were no accidents. The shape of your chin, the size of your frame, your personality, your intellectual gifts, your natural abilities, the color of your hair and skin, the timbre of your voice, the way you walk, and a million other things that make you who you are were all crafted by a gloriously wise Creator. You are the creature you are because of his beautiful plan.

I was reminded to view everyone I interact with—from my family members, friends, and neighbors to the checkout clerk at the grocery store—as I do my unborn baby: as one fearfully and wonderfully made.

While this chapter challenged me in many ways, I did feel that Lane and Tripp failed to fully explore the issue of cultures and customs. They argue:

When I look at you, I need to see God’s sovereign hand writing your story perfectly. The person you are and the responses you make to life have been shaped by his sovereign choices and your responses to the story he has written for you. He determined that you would be part of the customs and cultures of a certain ethnic group. He planned that you would be shaped by living in a certain geographical setting. He determined that you would live in a particular family, with all of its powerfully influential values and rules, spoken and unspoken….

If I fail to honor God’s sovereignty in the influences he has placed in your life and the way those influences have shaped you, I will attempt to take God’s place and clone you into my own image. I will tend to think my way is better than your way, my culture better than your culture, and my customs and manners more appropriate than yours. I will be constantly frustrated by you and even more frustrated by my attempts to remake you into my image.

I understand what the authors are intending to communicate here. We shouldn’t seek to change others according to our preferences and what we believe to be "the right way" of doing things. Instead, our goal should be to honor, respect, and celebrate our differences; to clearly see that these differences stem from God’s hand on our individual lives. But in doing so, they allow this section to read like an Intro to Intercultural Communication class by leaning too heavily toward cultural sensitivity. It would have been helpful for them to clarify that while yes, God places us in a particular culture that has specific customs, cultures and customs are often man made. Because of this, there is a place to question and help others see the need for change in the area of cultural customs that fly in the face of God’s Word.

Aside from this issue of being too culturally sensitive, I was also distracted by the book’s use of "I." In the first chapter the two authors explain their writing process, telling us that "we discussed our way through sentences, paragraphs, pages, and chapters." Yet throughout the work, stories are told in first person. I was left to guess if the personal experience belonged to Lane or to Tripp.

Although Relationships: A Mess Worth Making has its weaknesses, its strengths far outweigh any shortcomings. It’s a book rich with biblical wisdom and practical advice that make it a must read for those with the desire to learn how to better glorify God through their relationships.

Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.


When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.



One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

Continue Reading


Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.



“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

Continue Reading


He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.



Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

Continue Reading

Become An Insider!

Enter your email address below to stay in the loop on the latest from Ungrind.

Welcome to Ungrind!

Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

Latest Articles

What Women Are Saying

"I am all about sites who encourage women. There's too much going on in the daily grind that it's nice when someone recognizes. No matter if you're a single or married woman, in your 20's or 40's, Ungrind will encourage you where you're at. "

-- Renee Fisher, author of Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me




We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.


Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Relationships: A Mess Worth Making—A Review

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 5 min