The first book I started this year with was Lore Ferguson Wilbert’s Handle with Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry. And it is very likely to be one of the top three books I read in 2021.
This is a book that I will make a wide recommendation for—if you grew up in the Purity Movement of the ‘90s and early 2000s, you may be immensely helped by this book. If you are a leader in a church/ministry or you are a parent that wants to parent your children differently from how you were raised, you should also read this book. If you were abused by touch, this book may also be healing for you. If you just want to love people better—there is plenty in these pages for you too. Finally, Christianity Today had this book as a runner up in their “books for women” category, but I think it would be helpful for men to read as well.
Here are my 20 standout quotes from this book—with the hope that these few words will cause you to want to read the entire book.
- I felt uncomfortable with the touch of pastors, professors, ministers, father-figures, and brothers—and not necessarily because I was uncomfortable, but because they seemed to be (22).
- It seemed like the ones with whom I shouldn’t have been a threat saw me as such (23).
- If we don’t know what to do with our hands or can’t keep them to ourselves, the answer isn’t to sit on them for all of time. It’s to learn to use them rightly—and to train our sons and daughters from a young age the practice of caring touch (39).
- I can recall a few standout moments in my twenties and early thirties when I felt the joy of the Lord or the elation of understanding his Word, but mostly I remember the fatherly hug of my pastor in his backyard when I learned an awful truth about my family, the hand of a mother-figure brushing my hair back as I sobbed on her couch on a particularly painful and snowy Christmas evening, the embrace of a friend as she handed me cash for my car’s tires in a time I struggled financially, and the hug of a roommate after a disappointing date (53).
- Singleness can be a lonely place. And its lonely edges, for many, show up most often around touch and the lack of it (113).
- Your aim should be Christlikeness, and Christ gave touch in loving and appropriate ways, and he received it likewise (125).
- When we set up boundaries like “I’ll never hug a person of the opposite sex” as a reaction to present fears or possible outcomes, we are not being faithful to the ways of Jesus, but being driven by weak arguments, unresolved personal histories, or “What ifs?” (133).
- Living in assurance that God loves us frees us from the fear of other people’s assumptions (139).
- When we restrict touch between friends because we only equate it to erotic touch, we do children a disservice for their future. They will wrestle to undo the tight web of belief that all touch is erotic for the rest of their lives (141).
- We cannot play chess with people or relationships; our only call is to be faithful to the Word of God (143).
- A side hug between friends says there’s fear of being more than just friends instead of trust and appreciation (144).
- While the desire to enter in a healthy marriage is not a bad desire, again, the problem with the whole purity movement was that getting the relationship was idolized instead of God (149).
- The biblical truth is that practicing sexual abstinence doesn’t guarantee marriage or crazy-awesome sex any more than taking up our cross and following Christ guarantees us health, wealth, or happiness (150).
- Sex is not the glue that holds a marriage together, friendship is (156).
- He [God] is changing us into people whose ultimate prize is Christ—not marriage, not a relationship, not sex, and not virginity (160).
- All our lives tell a complex story. Every experience is formative for us, and every part anyone has played in our lives affects, on some level, how we live, move, and breathe (198).
- We are persons and therefore all our relationships are personal (220).
- Spirituality in the way of Jesus is about learning to be used as an instrument of his healing grace in the lives of others as we make our wounds available to them (222).
- And I remember: I am just this body, mind, and heart right now and I am not the Christ. But I have the Christ and I have his Spirit within me and I have the love of the Father and, by his grace and in his goodness, these sins aren’t all there is (230).
- Of all the one hundred billion people who have ever walked the face of this earth, abusing and being abused, touching and being touched, he sees you and loves you and made your body to glorify him just as it is—broken and being made whole. You are loved (237).