Relationships cost us. They cost us our masks. Donald Miller puts it this way in his new book, Scary Close:
If we live behind a mask we can impress but we can’t connect.
And it’s scary to remove the mask.
I had trouble getting into Scary Close because I loved Blue Like Jazz. I loved it because it felt like a breath of fresh air blowing through evangelicalism when it came out in 2003. Miller seemed vulnerable, like he was laying his life open. And now Scary Close seemed to be saying that his life then was all an act. Was I duped?
As I read further, though, I came to realize he was talking about growth and change, in his own life and, hopefully, in ours—an opening to others so we can know what real love is. For Don, it started with a mentor telling him, “You’re good at relationships.” Miller had recently broken off an engagement. He certainly didn’t feel good at relationships. But the affirmation lead to vulnerability, to be willing to invest in a relationship with Betsy, who became his wife. Don had to open himself, share who he really is, flaws and all:
If I was going to make Betsy happy, I’d have to trust that my flaws were the ways through which I would receive grace. We don’t think of our flaws as the glue that binds us to the people we love, but they are. Grace only sticks to our imperfections. Those who can’t accept their imperfections can’t accept grace either.
The book has a great chapter on manipulators so you don’t get sucked into their cesspool. It contains an interesting discussion on whether men do intimacy differently than women. I did find it a bit weird for Don to write a chapter on parenting when he has no children, but he does interview fathers whose families he respect to provide his advice.
Scary Close can help us exam how willing we are to tear off the masks so we can truly love and be loved. Dare to read it.