That's not the point. You don't need to use the language of Dave's friend's e-mail as your model. Here's what happened:

  1. Dave's friend acknowledged Dave's illness and its difficulties.
  2. He treated Dave like a whole human being who didn't need to be coddled or pitied.
  3. He used humor.
  4. He talked to Dave like an adult whom he still expected to function in the world.
  5. And he gave Dave a job, even if it was just lending Dave's pickup truck to a friend.

There were other things that didn't happen:

  1. My brother's friend didn't try to make himself comfortable at Dave's expense by minimizing his struggle.
  2. He didn't assume a faintly tragic tone and try to make Dave a project or a charity case.
  3. And he didn't try to make himself feel good at Dave's expense by somehow calling attention to "what a really good friend he has been."

That's a lot to accomplish in the few lines of an e-mail message, but it's all there and captures the goal of this book. The Dave Test is designed to start us on that journey of becoming our own versions of people who care: people who can be themselves, who have found a new place to sit with their own suffering, and who can walk with friends in the hardest of times.

This journey is about soul craft. It's about growing up and about becoming fully alive, fully human, and completely available to the people we love.

Suffering and sorrow are not things God sends our way, but they can and do radicalize life. We can allow that radicalization to grow within us. We can let it change, deepen, and ennoble us. Or we can run from the challenge it presents. But if we do run, then we will live our lives in hiding—hiding from ourselves, from one another, from life's realities, and from God.

My hope is that this book will provide a place to do the kind of soul work that will spare us that experience and enrich our shared journey.