I had multiple friends recommend Donald Miller’s latest book, Scary Close, so I had it on my hold list at the library, but finally just borrowed it from one of those friends. It is about relationships and being our true selves in order to have and enjoy deeper relationships, romantic or otherwise. There are plenty of books, blogs, articles, etc. about being yourself and not hiding behind a mask, but Miller tells his own story of discovering this and working on aspects of his own personality in order to achieve this.
Because it does take work to build a relationship with someone. Sure, some relationships are easier and more natural than others, but no relationship will ever be perfect. Two things he talks about that really hit home for me was trusting others and validation. I would venture to say that most people don’t fully trust everyone. Most of us have experienced something in our lives that has caused us to distrust. It may be distrust of people in general, but likely it is distrust of certain groups – dates (men or women), pastors/ministers/clergy, parents, bosses. But no relationship can grow without trust. Ok, sure maybe everyone knows this, but what do you do to trust people more? And what about validation from others? If you are constantly looking for validation, you are likely lying about things and/or not being fully honest about things because you are too concerned about what others are thinking about you. After doing a visual exercise with a counselor about how we experience sosme kind of shame in our life (being made fun of, not being validated, etc.) and then have issues being ourselves fully, Miller realizes
“I was a self, covered in shame and hiding behind an act. Certainly it’s a black-and-white thing. I’ve no problem with a person being smart or funny, and I don’t think it’s wrong to receive validation in exchange for talent. But what Bill was getting at was deeper, a buried whisper within me that repeats a lie: I only matter if…”
I wouldn’t say I am awful at relationships, but there are definitely things I could actively work on. And one of those is the “I only matter if” lie. I’d say that everyone probably has at least one thing they could work on within the context of relationships. After all, no one is perfect but the closer you can get to relational perfection, the healthier your relationships will be.
If you’ve read Donald Miller before, you’ll love this. If you haven’t read Donald Miller, this is a good one, along with his other books. They are easy but are illuminating and entertaining at the same time.