Two best friends, 500 miles, one wheelchair, and the challenge of a lifetime.
Friendship takes on new meaning in this true story of Justin and Patrick, born less than two days apart in the same hospital. Best friends their whole lives, they grew up together, went to school together, and were best man in each other’s weddings. When Justin was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease that robbed him of the use of his arms and legs, Patrick was there, helping to feed and care for him in ways he’d never imagined. Determined to live life to the fullest, the friends refused to give into despair or let physical limitations control what was possible for Justin.
So when Justin heard about the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek through Spain, he wondered aloud to Patrick whether the two of them could ever do it. Patrick’s immediate response was: “I’ll push you.”
I’ll Push You is the real-life story of this incredible journey. A travel adventure full of love, humor, and spiritual truth, it exemplifies what every friendship is meant to be and shows what it means to never find yourself alone. You’ll discover how love and faith can push past all limits–and make us the best versions of ourselves.
So, a few weeks ago I was browsing through the available books at Tyndale. Don’t ask me why, I was so booked up with so many review books that I was just torturing myself with book options I truly didn’t feel I had time to read and do justice. But then this book jumped off the screen. I could hear it calling to me, a whisper at first growing louder in my head as I attempted to do a quick scroll and on with my evening. But it kept calling louder until it was the only thing I could hear in my overfull, scattered brain as I rushed through yet another evening of responsibility (OK, we all know the R word is not a complete truth) and on to what really matters…reading time. I kept going back to this book and it kept saying ‘pick me’, ‘you have to read me’, ‘you must read me’, ‘I said me!’. Talk about pressure. I mean where would I find time to toss in yet another book. So I expanded the schedule, threw a few things on Saturday, mainly, I can’t pass up a book period but this one HAD to be read. I requested it and it came in ‘book mail’ which makes me ecstatically happy. And then sat in the ‘to read’ pile as I whittled away at everything that was scheduled before it. It called to me from that stack ‘read faster!’ Some books are so pushy. (Totally an unintentional pun mind you.) It called to me for a reason, it changed me just a bit, and I’ll never regret choosing (or perhaps more honestly being chosen) by this book.
You know how when you read a book for pleasure but are occasionally lucky enough to take some small gem away from it that alters you, typically for the better. There is a world of growth opportunity and introspection at the very core of every page of this book. You just have to be open to it. Hoesntly, I think it is one I can happily reread multiple times and always find even more to take away from it. It’s not an overt, in your face ‘God’ book but it’s so many subtle layers of faith and Holy Spirit and deeper understanding all rolled up in one big ole squeeze of friendship and compassionate understanding. I think anyone of ‘faith’ not religion can take something away. Even those without ‘faith’ per se but an open heart to their fellow man can take soemthing away without feeling preached at. It’s just that good.
Every last one of us needs a Justin in our lives. Someone who helps us see that even dark clouds have silver linings, that it’s OK to let others do for you what you can no longer do for yourself. A Justin to impart the understanding that letter others ‘do’ is not about giving up or being indebted to someone else or being weak, that letting others ‘do’ is about strength. Strength in your faith in yourself as well as that person. Every last one of us needs a Patrick to jump in, no matter what no matter where, and step up to the plate. Always willing to lay it all on the line in utter confidence that there is always a way. A Patrick to help us understand that just because you can doesn’t mean it will be. That even the able bodied and strong also need help, sometimes from the very person they think they are helping. Last but for me the most important thing I took from this reading of ‘I’ll Push You’ (becaue you know it has to be read again!) is that we need to learn the balance of what is sabbath (not the literal calendar meaning) really is, choose to practice it in the most real sense, and understand how it can positively impact all areas of our lives. Seriously, this book people. You have to read this book!
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
About Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck
Two best friends, Justin Skeesuck & Patrick Gray, walked “The Way of St. James” or more commonly known as the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile epic pilgrimage across the vast terrain of northern Spain. What was unique about this journey was Justin was pushed in a wheelchair by Patrick the entire way!
Born a little over 36 hours apart in the same town and in the same hospital, they have grown up together, traveled together, and have navigated many of life’s challenges together.
Over the past 20+ years, a progressive neuromuscular disease has slowly taken away Justin’s ability to use of his arms and legs. From each morning until night, Justin requires daily assistance in every aspect of life such as eating, getting dressed, bathing and even using the restroom.