Friday afternoon (several weeks ago now), my twitter stream alerted me that an interview was coming up that I didn’t want to miss. Paul Finebaum’s guests for the 3 o’clock hour were to be Ron Hall and Denver Moore, authors of Same Kind of Different As Me (SKODAM).
Several bloggers have mentioned and recommended this book since its release. I have seen it every single time I walk into a book store, but I have never taken the time to read it. I had a vague idea of what it’s about based on Tim Challies review. But, for some reason, I was unprepared for what I heard during the interview.
If you’re familiar with the Finebaum show, then you know that it’s a call-in show. Anyone can call and say whatever they want to say — sports-related or not, kind, unkind, rude, and downright mean. The callers Friday afternoon, however, were people who had read SKODAM and were deeply moved by the story. It had to be the nicest, most kind hour in the history of the Paul Finebaum show.
Hall and Moore were plugging a new book, What Difference Do It Make? (WDDIM). The new book covers what their lives have been like since the success of SKODAM. Their stories made me laugh. More than anything else, though, I marveled over how two very different men could become such close friends. I decided I had to make the trip to Birmingham to buy the books and meet the authors.
I felt kind of dumb going to a book signing for a couple of books I had not read. I didn’t have anything in particular to say to the authors besides, “I listened to you on the radio yesterday. Nice to meet you.” I guess that was better than nothing, though.
I introduced myself and we shook hands. They seemed to genuinely appreciate everyone who showed up to meet them. But what did I expect? If I wrote a book and real people who weren’t related to me showed up to buy it and asked for a signature, I’d be in such awe that I think I’d just about do anything they asked.
They were both very kind. And they pretty much looked exactly like I pictured them based on their voices. (You know you do it, too.)
I started reading SKODAM as soon as we got in the van. I read aloud all the way home. We all enjoyed that first hour because there are lots of funny stories mixed in with the terrible parts. I didn’t stop reading until I turned the last page. Then, I handed it to Karl, who had gotten hooked from my reading aloud in the van. He closed it around 12 AM and said, “I don’t appreciate your giving me books that make me cry.”
Sunday afternoon I read WDDIM. It is similar to SKODAM in that Ron and Denver write their perspectives of the same events. But interspersed between their chapters are personal accounts from readers who “felt led” to become more involved in helping the urban poor, adopt a child, raise money and gather donations for the poor in their community, etc.
As I was reading this book, I began to wonder why they wrote it. Just to make more money? But then I realized Ron was finishing the story of his relationship with his father.
Let me back up….Something that struck me as I read SKODAM was that Ron Hall was learning to go above and beyond in helping the urban poor in Ft. Worth while he ignored his broken relationship with his father, who, while he wasn’t homeless, was very poor. I wondered how he could reach out to strangers and ignore his father.
I wondered this because I do the same thing when it comes to my mother. I find it much easier to help someone I do not know than to help her. I guess because I want her to be different. I want her to change. In SKODAM, Hall explains how to help the homeless he had to release them of his expectations. In WDDIM, Hall shares how he learned to apply the same rules to his father, to accept who his father was and love him anyway.
This part of the story encouraged and challenged me. I don’t want to avoid helping my mother just because reaching out to her causes emotional problems for me. I want to do what’s right, what will glorify Christ, even if it hurts. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, and it’s obviously hypocritical to reach out to strangers and not even try to reach out to her. The verse that the Lord keeps bringing to mind is