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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"Just Show Up" (Kara Tippetts)

TITLE: Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together
AUTHOR: Kara Tippetts
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2015, (192 pages).

This book begins with a somber greeting: "Hi. My name is Kara Tippetts, and I may not be alive when you read this book. I hope so, but I don’t know. That decision is in the hands of the Author of my life—His name is Jesus. I trust Him with every ounce of who I am."

With these words, Tippetts begins this book with hope, that even when she does not know what to do, what to say, or what to answer, just showing up is already a blessing in itself. It is also a step of humility to come as we are to say: "I'm here. I may not have the answers, but I'm here." With "Just Show Up" as her principle of perseverance through the ups and downs, and especially the suffering moments of life, cancer patient Tippetts shows us what perseverance means amid the pains and sorrows of life. Tippetts died on March 22, 2015, but not without touching the lives of many. Through this book, her life continues to influence many even after her death. Written with Jill Lynn Buteyn, author of inspirational novel, Falling for Texas, this book is an honest down to earth retelling of the struggles through the tough times of life by simply walking together and being present for each other.

It all began when the Tippetts's family went to Colorado to plant a Church. Buteyn joined that Church and the friendship with Tippetts blossomed. Tippetts was an extrovert while Buteyn an introvert. They knew each other for only six months but their friendship seemed like an eternity. Both are mothers together. They were not afraid of sharing their pains and joys. They cried together, laughed together, and wrote this book together. They shared "big love" together. Instead of promising perfect answers, they supplied honest ones. Instead of simply writing a book to give us a laundry list of do's and don'ts, they issue readers a challenge to "start showing up" for the people we love. The two basic questions are:
  1. Ask WHO is the one suffering and in need of us showing up.
  2. Ask ourselves about any fears of anxieties preventing us from showing up.
Gently, the authors show us how to overcome the fears of showing up. They keep contrasting it with the tendency to do things perfectly. Those who insist on perfection will never take the plunge. Those who are more interested in doing things together, regardless, are those more willing to try. In showing up for one another, readers learn that silence is not something to be uncomfortable about. Just being present includes creative ways like using the concentric circles approach to be together. The ones suffering the most stay in the center of the ring. The ones who feel they are relatively least in pain and suffering at that time move to the fringes, but always staying connected. Friends do one thing best: Being there for one another. Friends learn to be humble to receive and to be generous to give. Friendships may change from struggle to struggle, but we should never gossip or minimize the reality of each struggle. For every situation is unique. Beware of insecurity which can damage relationships. Whether it is going through the ups and downs, dealing with future plans, suffering is made more bearable when people show up for one another. This is the beauty of community.

It takes a dying person to teach many of us how to live. It takes one who has struggled through immense pain to be able to speak with some authority about the importance of showing up. This book is not some kind of a self-help book to boost up our ego in order to overcome our problems and issues of life. Neither is it a manual that contains lots of do's and don'ts that supply steps to overcome our mountains. It is simply a guide to encourage us to be there for one another. Whether friends or family, close or distant, as long as we are people, we all have the capacity to show up. In pastoral care, one of the most important things is to remember the gift of presence. Far too often, especially in an Internet and social media era, we condense our words into abbreviations and send out inspirational quips. The problem lies in that "problem-solving" mentality behind all of these actions.

Tippetts and Buteyn have shown us a different and a more honest way of sharing our lives. It means simply being ready, being comfortable, and being courageous to be who we are and to show up for one another. The words and wisdom in this book is small enough to wipe the smallest tear and big enough to hug the biggest fear.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of David C. Cook Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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