Donald Miller was bad at relationships. Life had become a performance where even the smallest interaction was (at some level) an attempt to get validation and worth from others. But after a particularly bad ending to a romantic relationship, he’d endured enough pain to start questioning if the problem wasn’t with everyone else but perhaps with himself.
Scary Close is Don’s chronicle of the things he learned about relationships, himself, and true intimacy during the period between getting engaged and his wedding. One of the things that I’m increasingly coming to value is complete, unadulterated honesty and it’s here that Don truly shines. He not only prescribes honesty as the only path to true intimacy and love in relationships: he models it by sharing the ugly portions of his life and journey alongside the rest of it. Don has taken “the long road” (xvi) to emotional health in relationships and shares his story with the hopes that others will learn from his mistakes and find healthy relationships too.
“Love can’t be earned, it can only be given. And it can only be exchanged by people who are completely true with each other” (xvi). Don spends the majority of the book expounding on these words, illustrating through his experiences what love does and doesn’t look like and how to truly exchange love with others. Some might fault him for being too simplistic or optimistic in his approach. Surely it can’t be that simple! You can’t trust most people! You need to control other people and be always guarded in your interactions with others! To be sure, Don advises that you can’t expect a healthy relationship with an emotionally unhealthy person. But he’s been that emotionally unhealthy person and his empathy for those caught in patterns of manipulation or deception or whatever gives him a unique and grace-filled perspective. I think he sums it up well when he says:
“It’s a hard thing to be human. It’s a very hard thing. Nobody needs a judge or a scorekeeper lording their faults over them.
…Henry Cloud and John Townsend define what a safe person is. They say it’s somebody who speaks the truth in grace. I like that.” (p 113)
Scary Close is a book of truth spoken in grace. It’s refreshing and encouraging and a must-read for any fan of Don’s, anyone seeking insight on intimacy, or anyone simply hungry for authenticity in a world where it’s far too uncommon.
At one point Don shares that an article he read said “in the next five years we will become a conglomerate of the people we hang out with” (74). He finds some truth in that idea and so do I. In fact, I’d extend the idea to encompass the authors we “hang out with” by reading their words and thoughts. Who are you spending the most time with and who will you become most like? I think Donald Miller is worthy of inclusion in that group. If he’s already in your group, keep him there! This is his strongest offering so far. But if he isn’t, I’d like to introduce you to him: he’s a wise, humorous, and humble guide worth knowing.
Scary Close gets 5 stars out of 5 stars.
**Disclaimer: BookLook Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an impartial review.**