by Donald Miller
How do we make healthy relationships when we haven’t been shaped by one? And how, in a culture that is all about making an impression, honing a bio and “looking good,” do we ever dare to take off the mask and show ourselves — cracks, dents, scratches and all? And, as scarred up as we may be, how do we find someone else who’s not also hiding wounds and faking a face, so that, eventually, the whole relationship investment doesn’t explode like a bomb strapped to the kitchen table?
Although Don Miller’s new book Scary Close is certainly not your typical how-to book — indeed, it isn’t a how-to book at all — it is worth reading with someone you think you love before you ever buy the kitchen table.
This is not the first Don Miller book I have recommended. Blue Like Jazz and In Search of God Knows What were both on my must-read list for high-school and college graduates in search of something more substantial than the wispy winds of Gen-X opinion to dictate the path for their 20-something feet.
With his usual risky transparency, Miller has tackled yet another life passage: the forming of hopefully permanent (rather than throw-away) relationships, and particularly, the one relationship that will form the foundation of a real home.
There is perhaps no place to hide that is better than in full view as a “public person.” Now a bestselling author, Miller confesses to using his carefully constructed persona to screen an increasingly shaky core. But after a parade of shallow and failed relationships built around ego fantasies, he admits to arriving in his 40s still an adolescent on the EQ (emotional quotient) scale.
Giving voice to the fears and failures that are so epidemic in our facade-promoting culture, Miller creates with his own honesty a non-defensive atmosphere for partner discussions and self-examination for those seeking a real and lasting partnership, friendship or marriage.
One of the things that drew me to this book was that it was recommended to me by young men for whom it had precipitated a male-to-male discussion. These men were married, yet were honest enough to admit that they wanted a richer, deeper relationship with their wives and children as well as a more substantial relationship with other good men that went beyond sports-and-cars talk.
Another man who had read it gave Scary Close to his wife, and she devoured it in two days. Then the two of them were freed up to talk about some important issues that had been too long ignored in their own relationship. And if one man’s transparent vulnerability can make a couple who love each other but want to love even better have an open discussion in the pursuit of that goal, well, I’m just sayin’….