Monday, May 04, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 15 and 16

“You complete me” is the line that lost me in the movie Jerry McGuire. It’s just such a ridiculous concept. Having this expectation of another person is CRAZY. I mean it. Downright crazy.

But it sounds so romantic. This whole idea that getting married will take away so much of your hurt and your brokenness and make you satisfied and whole… But we live in a broken world! With broken people! That’s just not going to happen... Why don’t we get this?!?

Don writes in chapter 15 about the significance of knowing who you are and letting the other person be themselves. “…and the sleepless nights I’ve spent wondering what they were thinking or how much they liked me or whether I was a good enough man for them. A complete waste of time.” (pg. 207) 

Thinking back to chapter 14, it’s no wonder relationships don’t work out for people who are so worried what the other was thinking about them or whether they were good enough. That’s not about building something together. It’s about the false assumption that we are only good if we are in a pair, and that on our own we are less than. What a destructive belief this is.

As Don looked over the people he knew who were in thriving marriages of 30 or 40 years, it was because they “loved each other as an act of their conscious will” (pg. 211)

I’ve believed for many, many years that love is a decision. And love requires trying. All Don is doing here is reminding me that I’m not crazy. I know the world doesn’t think it’s a decision… that love is just something that happens. Poof! There’s love.

NO.

Love takes work. It takes trying. It takes effort on both sides. And it’s not the kind of trying that has you hustling for approval, trying to make the other person happy with you. It’s about trying together, moving forward in relationship together. For love to flourish, it’s a conscious act of the will. “Love is worth fighting for, but something you can’t be the only one fighting. At times, people need to fight for you.” (unknown) There is much we long for in this world, longing that causes us to fight with each other and grow weary with dissatisfaction.  It's easy to grow angry and frustrated at others because they aren’t taking that longing away for us.

Longing is part of life. But it cannot be fulfilled by another person.  “Betsy and I are going to try as hard as we can not to put the burden of that longing on each other. Instead, we will comfort each other in the longing and even love it for what it is, a promise that God will someday fulfill us.” (pgs. 215-216) When we expect the other person to complete us, to make the longing go away, we are making a huge mistake. No one can do that, be that, for another. Yet we far too often go into relationships with the idea that we were missing something (true) and the other person will make that go away (not true). We look to the other person or to the marriage to complete the missing piece. But no. We don't work like that, and the gospel doesn't work like that.

The last chapter of Don’s book is glorious. “Love is a decision,” he reiterates. (See! I told you!!!) “It is as much something you made happen as it is something that happens to you.” (pg. 224) This chapter is so glorious that I’m going to say the least about it of any other chapter he wrote.

Scary Close is a book that I will read and reread many times. Don’s writing does that to me, but this one in particular has helped me grow through my fear, my vulnerability. It’s helped me push through my comfort into risk and toward grace in loving people who need that grace. The book has felt like peeling back layers of an onion (and not just because of the tears) but because he started with our outer selves, helping us understand the fallacy in our armor. And that peeling back these layers more and more are scary and the tears will come. But we must do the peeling. 

Because love is about trying together. Not for their approval or for them to complete you, but about building together to make something beautiful out of this mess of a world. This trying involves vulnerability, risk, and most of all, knowing yourself and being known by another. This is scary. Scary close.



Friday, May 01, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapter 14


Chapter 14 is called Do Men Do Intimacy Differently?

This is the longest chapter in the book, and the one all the women will run to in attempt to understand the men in their lives. Will it accomplish that? I’m not sure.

The first sentence is one that struck fear in my heart: “Men move towards what makes them feel competent.” (pg. 187) Don thinks this is likely why men run from intimacy – because they don’t feel competent in intimate relationships. This struck fear in my heart because my immediate thought was, “I already have a lot of expectations on me, now I have to make sure men feel competent around me, too? Sheesh. Am I their mother?”

But men aren’t bad at intimacy, he claims. He’ll talk about his feelings because that’s how his wife connects with him. But it is not something that comes naturally to Don, and most men. So men are led to believe they are bad at intimacy. This is closely tied to feelings of masculinity, because as men are drawn towards what makes them feel competent, they are also drawn toward careers that make them feel masculine, he says. He lost me a little at this point, and never really fleshes out the masculine concept (which is probably a good thing, because I think there are many ways for men to be masculine. But that’s another post for another time.)

Don moves on at this point in the chapter and doesn’t really connect the dots for me just yet. He begins to tell the story of Dan, a guy he hired to help grow his company.  Their conversations didn’t start about a business plan for the future; they started with a life plan. Particularly a plan for Don and his marriage with Betsy. Slowly, Dan begins to show Don how asking what you want your marriage to look like is about two people working toward a fixed point. As all relationships are living and moving and becoming something, two people, in romantic relationships or otherwise, should walk together with the same goal in mind. This is about building… and nurturing and growing.

This nurturing and growing concept in relationships is interesting to me. Because if we allow things to “take a natural course” then as Christians, we know that will lead to a more sinful place. We are broken people in a broken world, so for us to just “let things happen” in our relationships likely means what will happen also be something broken. So it makes sense to me that we must make an effort together to direct the relationship away from our natural tendencies of brokenness, ultimately to a healthy and God-honoring place instead. “I let friendships, business relationships, and even my relationship with Betsy take a natural course rather than guiding them to a healthy place.” (pg. 194)

So “building” is how men do intimacy, I guess. Though Don never comes out and says that in plain language (again, that’s not really his style.) But this makes sense to me, because as all women have probably experienced in their lifetime, men like to fix us when we feel broken. 

Fixing is not that different from building, if you think about it. Metaphorical fixing is far more likely to happen in a world that already has a lot of assumptions built. Cultural assumptions, historical ones, gender-based ones. These expectations and assumptions are built into us and the world, and are part of what makes us feel broken. They are definitely part of what makes us experience brokenness. When a man sees a woman they care for sad and broken then I imagine all they want to do is build something to make it better for us. Or simply fix the thing already built that is causing us the pain to begin with.

It’s sweet, really. I get that. Not always necessary. But it’s sweet.

If men are wired for building, what can we do as women to foster and nurture this, rather than make them feel like they are bad at intimacy, because it looks different than our way of connecting? How can we help men build without dismissing our own way of connecting, not making them feel incompetent?
“Men like to build and create and feel their power, and if they don’t do it in healthy ways they usually do it in unhealthy ways.” (pg. 203)                                                                                                                            
I’ve seen men with the desire to create and feel power build it in unhealthy ways. Through a relationship with a woman who is needy and weak, a job that builds them up so they want to spend every moment there, a hobby they are exceptional at so every extra cent of their paycheck is poured into it. It’s pretty normal, actually, once you start looking around for it. Now I just have an understanding of why.               

Men are from Mars and woman are from Venus. Both we’re both still planets, you know? And that means we can both try. Try to understand each other and figure out some way to meet in the middle, so that intimacy isn’t just a series of let-downs and disappointments, but about two people moving together and toward each other at the same time. For the sake of love, for the sake of friendship, for the sake of healing.


Because this world needs oh so much healing.                                                                   

loving a person... it's no small thing

This pretty much sums up the last couple of weeks for me. It's the "reaching out and trying" part that hits me pretty hard right now.


Loving a person just the way they are, it's no small thing
It takes some time to see things through
Sometimes things change, sometimes we're waiting
We need grace either way

Hold on to me
I'll hold on to you
Let's find out the beauty of seeing things through

There's a lot of pain in reaching out and trying
It's a vulnerable place to be
Love and pride can't occupy the same spaces baby
Only one makes you free

Hold on to me
I'll hold on to you
Let's find out the beauty of seeing things through

If we go looking for offense
We're going to find it
If we go looking for real love
We're going to find it

Thursday, April 23, 2015

i'm no good at this


I was spending some time talking with God last night, trying to make a decision. Not really an earth shattering one, but it kind of was. Because I knew that no matter what choice I made, it meant something was coming to an end.

I’ve never been very good at saying goodbye. The first time I realized just how bad I was at it was when I was graduating from college and my friend Ryan came over to my dorm room the night before graduation. He handed me a small gift, wrapped in newspaper. It was a book of devotionals from the Psalms, and he’d written this on this inside cover,

Stephanie,
Ahh, how short these four years have been, and how close we have become. My heart is sad, and I have realized how selfish it is to grieve and pity the hours I spent doing other things rather than getting to know more about you. Shall we ever learn? Perhaps for a few minutes.

Thank you so much, Steph, for laughing with me, and thanks for your silence when I was crying. God has given you the gift of compassion and I pray that you will always wear it proudly upon your sleeve.

May your memory be strong and healthy and always remember to crawl under a barbwire fence.  So let your belly get dirty, for God made the mud and when it oozes between your toes you have been promised to be cleaned some other time. Bless you.

With His love and mine,
Ryan-Jacob Wilson

So you can understand that I cried, right? I read that inscription, filled with inside jokes and sweet words from a man who had become such a dear friend and I bawled like a baby. Ryan was a friend who made me laugh like no other.. . A man I could be myself with, because he was himself with me. We went on a beautiful journey together in college and our friendship was one of my sweetest memories of being there.

But I had no words of eloquence for Ryan that night. He and I were in the back room of my dorm suite. A bunch of friends and my two roommates were in the front room, laughing and enjoying their last night on campus. And I just cried with Ryan. He held me and I cried and cried. Because I had to leave. But I didn’t want to.


When I drove away from the seminary five years ago with a car full of my stuff and my belly full of coffee and a crepe from the City Creperie, I thought about my last conversation with my mentor just one hour earlier and how that brought up so many of the same emotions. I just didn’t feel done with St. Louis yet. I wasn’t ready for ministry… I wasn’t ready to leave the people who’d helped heal me and get me to the next stage of my life.  I had to go. But I didn’t want to.

The decision I had to make last night was a sign that things are coming to an end here. I don’t know exactly when and what will happen next, but I know I don’t feel ready.  (Sensing a pattern here?) It feels different this time, of course, because there isn’t fear attached to my uncertainty this time. My uncertainty now is simply based in wanting to have the closure I need to move on.

But I am bad at saying goodbye. I am not good at being done. I think this is because my mind and my heart are consistently living in the “what if?” place of my imagination, seeing into both the past and the future, wondering about all the possibilities if I stayed a little bit longer.

I will flounder and blunder my way through saying goodbye. Crying most of the time. Not saying what I want to say. Probably forgetting to say goodbye to someone, and then hurting their feelings. And probably saying the wrong things when people say goodbye to me, because I’m…  just bad at this. And the last thing I want to do is not leave well. Not leave feeling some closure. 

There has been a lot of beauty in this journey, and the last several months have felt more like a mess. I guess I just want to remember the beauty.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 12 and 13



Vulnerability and openness act as the soil that fosters security. (pg. 157)

In chapter 12, Don writes about a friend who cheated on his wife when their children were very young.  He chose to tell them what he did, once they grew old enough to understand. He believed openness and honesty would bring intimacy, and that secrets wouldn’t. He gave his children the power to reject him, not forgive him. “There are no shadows in our family,“ his friend says. “We don’t hide anything. But that’s a tough place to get to. It takes work and it’s painful.” (pg. 160)

I’ve seen firsthand what secrets can do to people. To friends. To family. It fosters gossip and rumors. Mistrust. Misunderstanding. And just so many hurt feelings. Because the truth comes out eventually. It may not be the full version of truth, if we insist on continuing to hide. But some or all measure of the truth comes out whether we want it to or not. This kind of half-truth secrecy is a major barrier to intimacy. Secrets create walls. Failure to communicate fosters separation.

“When you are with God, there is no darkness, no hiding, no pretending,” Paul said to Don, when telling him the story of their choice to tell their children what happened in their marriage.  And we must do our part to restore what has become broken in our relationships, he says.

We must do this even when it hurts, because all ourselves are out there, exposed to the light. Like when air hits a cut on our hand. It’s the only thing that can heal it, but man. Does it ever hurt.

"God is watching!” We’d hear the adults around us say when we were children. “So don’t screw up!” But instead, the truth should be that in God, there is no darkness, and you have the courage and freedom to be yourself. The light will heal the wound, not make it worse. Don‘s friend Paul understood this, and it’s why he chose to tell his children of the sin in his past. We will screw up. We are bad people. And yet we are offered forgiveness because our God loves us. He has set us free from the law of sin and death. This kind of forgiveness, this kind of openness, is scary.

I guess that’s why the book is called Scary Close.

“Honesty is the soil intimacy grows in.” (pg 168) and in this intimacy we are to be safe people for each other, offering the grace to screw up. And the love to push each other to be better. We are giving each other such power over our hearts when we allow this. Part of me is still struggling if this kind of openness hurts more or less than the hurt that accompanies a closed heart.

We can find an echo here in living inwardly or outwardly, which is ultimately where this statement:

“Grace over guilt”

takes us next.

“Grace over guilt.” These are the words from chapter 13 that stood out to me, the words of the gospel, the words Don has built his company on.

The words all the perfectionists of the world need to hear.

Grace over guilt.

Say them to yourselves over and over. Every day.

The premise chapter 13 seems to be that if we tend to live outwardly rather than inwardly, we will be more fulfilled. This is perfectly echoed in his company’s manifesto, where it’s stated that they believe in grace over guilt.

Guilt is inwardly focused. You make someone feel guilty because of how they've failed you. But if you offer them grace, it suddenly becomes about them and what they need and not you and what you want. The trick is getting them to accept and understand this outward focus, which is so counter-intuitive to our selfish and evil hearts.

God is dictating all of this for me right now, because every chapter I read is an eerie reflection of something I’m already in the process of learning, or is a forecast of what will likely happening in the next few weeks. I mean, did I not just post about navel-gazing and grace ?!?!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

the beauty and the mess of grace

I’ve been thinking about this word a lot lately.

Do you remember that scene in Evan Almighty when Morgan Freeman is talking to Noah’s wife and he says to her, “If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous?”

Selah

Sometimes the law is too easy for me. Because instead of comparing myself to Jesus and seeing my inability to keep the law, I compare myself to others and think how better I am at keeping the law than they are.

There will always be a tension between justice and mercy. I side with justice most of the time, probably because I grew up with the law being preached to me and not grace. I want others to feel accountable for what they've done. I want every moment to be a teachable moment, rather than just being present and offering grace. Yes. This is my greatest vice, and such a sin.

I am a failure. So are you. But in Christ, our failure does not condemn us. (Romans 8:1) This is not a verse for when we are doing a great job. This is a verse that speaks gospel truth to us when we are failing - when we are at our worst and in need of some grace.

Selah

What does it look like when grace grips us?

I can tell you what it does to me. When it grips me, my heart stops. My posture changes. My eyes close. My head shakes back and forth. All in an acknowledgement that I just don’t deserve what’s been given to me.

The tears come and my heart breaks with repentance. I see how I’ve broken God’s heart, how I’ve hurt others and

 I
just
break.

Grace grips my heart and my mind and my soul. I’m overcome because I'm just such a mess.

 “The love of God freely given to us in Jesus alone carries the power to awaken a response of love in our hearts toward one another.” Tullian Tchividjian

Though it has not been easy, and my heart is broken from those who’ve hurt me, God is using this mess to show me the beauty of grace. He is giving me opportunities to show grace to others. Because the law can’t change them. It can show them what is wrong… but it cannot woo their hearts into a place of brokenness and repentance. This is not my job; only grace can do this.

This is the single most difficult thing about being a Christ follower for me. Ignoring justice and giving grace because I have been given grace. This should be freeing. But instead I feel like a doormat and a sense of unfairness in a world that is all about being fair. But I am not called to live in the world’s economy. I am called to live in God’s.


God’s economy only has one currency: the grace of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close [the risk of being careful - chapter 11]



I remember being part of a ministry in college where we were trained to be mediators for our fellow students. We had a wonderful pastor and counselor train us during a weekend retreat each year. Showing us how to listen, how to manage conflict, how to do the hard things of life with our fellow students. Every year he gave us a poem. I have a copy in one of my scrapbooks. It’s about risk.

I haven’t thought about it for a while, but I remember it having a profound effect on me, which is why I’ve kept it all these years. There is so much emotional risk in what we are doing in this life with each other. And because there is risk there is fear.

I spent a lot of time in my thesis exploring fear for the learner and how it creates obstacles to learning. And sometimes even greater obstacles occur in fear-based learning in how the learner uses what they’ve learned. There are many contributing factors for transformational learning to take into account as a teacher – and one of the biggest, in my opinion, was climate. If the tone of the room, the attitude of the professor, the mood of fellow students isn’t safe, fear becomes an obstacle.

When Don was in a weird place with his writing, taking longer and longer to finish each book, a friend told him he was being too careful with his writing. (pg. 142)

Careful.

I find myself repeating this word, letting it roll off my tongue slowly. Letting the sound of those two syllables make its way up to my ears and sink in. Deep.

I’m wondering about being careful.

Finding connection with another human is hard. That’s why we are so careful about it. We are careful who we invite in. This makes sense. Our hearts are precious commodities; they should be handled with care. This hard stuff goes beyond connection, though, and then makes its way to the most painful of all emotions for the perfectionist and overachiever: failure.

This fear… this disequilibrating fear that messes with our head and our heart and hands.

This fear that paralyzes us in the face of expectations and those we love.

This fear that stop us from trying.

This fear of failure makes us be careful.

And being careful hurts.

It might not seem like it as we do all our maneuvering, trying so hard to avoid and side-step the hard stuff that we just can’t deal with because we don’t want others to see our junk and we don’t want to fail others when they are so brave to show us theirs. Being this kind of careful hurts those who want you to stop avoiding and stop being careful and just want you...

to be there. [This is a weird kind of whisper, isn’t it?]

Everyone’s version of being there is different. I have one friend whose idea of being there for me means calling me every morning at 7:50 while I’m putting on my eye makeup and just checks in. (This might be a little much, but I love her for it.) Another friend’s version of being there is to send me stuff in a text that makes me laugh. Another's version of being there is sending me flowers. Another's is to take me to lunch or coffee. None of these are right and none of these are wrong. These are reflections of who they are and how they want to show me how much I mean to them. They are just being the friend they know how to be for someone who needs them.

There is fear that what you have to offer (your version of being there) and this is the fear that it just might not be enough.

The fear of being found lacking is profound. I think this is particularly true for men. The book, The Silence of Adam, has led me to this conclusion. A book that instead of depicting Eve as being deceived and then subsequently deceiving Adam, the book describes that Adam was there the whole time, yet said and did nothing. The author traces the problem with men to the silence with which Adam became complicit in the first fall from God's grace. Adam failed to trust in God's word and example, and modern men do the same when, instead of following God's example in dealing with uncertainties, they retreat into self-righteousness and toughness that mask anger and fear.

We fail each other. We’re human. We love, we hate. We get angry, we retreat.  We say things we regret, we do things we regret.

But if we become too careful about this, we risk something bigger than we can imagine.

[I] wonder if the time we spend trying to become somebody people will love isn't wasted because the most powerful, more attractive person we can be is who we already are, an ever-changing being that is becoming and will never arrive.” (pgs. 148-149)

We’re all still learning to love. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 9 and 10



Deception in any form kills intimacy. (pg 103)

If you’ve been lurking around here at all in the last 18 months or so, you’ve probably realized that I’m working on living an authentic life. A lot. I don’t think that’s meant that I was living in deception before, but that I am working to tear down walls that have built up over the years as a result of being hurt, being deceived by the world’s wisdom that we must protect ourselves so we don’t get hurt. While I suppose a measure of my last comment is true, that we must protect ourselves, I also believe protecting ourselves can turn into a form of manipulation and deception. This is what I’m working on. And I’ll be honest, I feel like I’m screwing it up. Because it shouldn’t hurt this much, should it? People shouldn’t have this much power to hurt each other, should they?

But they do. And one of the many ways we do this to each other is identified in chapter nine as five categories of manipulators:

The Scorekeeper
The Judge
The False Hero
The Fearmonger
The Flopper

I’m wont get into the details of describing each of them. Some are self-explanatory, yes. But as I’ve mentioned before, I want you to read the book. J

I’ve read through this chapter several times, searching for myself, even trying to label people in my life as one of the five. I don’t know how wise this is… I worry how it might cause me to fear and mistrust people, looking for things that aren’t there. The one that seems most likely to be me is the Scorekeeper, but if you remember this post, I am great and keeping score. But I never keep score in order to call in those favors when I want to control a person.

That said, it’s pretty easy to find yourself in bits and pieces of all five manipulators. Perhaps they are like hidden parts of our personalities that surface during certain situations. (Or certain people bring it out in us.)

Here is why all this stuff about manipulators is so important, and he says it in the next chapter. “The deeper you fuse your soul to somebody, the more damage you do when you become a bomb.” (pg. 125)

When people hurt us and make us feel like we are less than, a bother, not worthy of them, it’s easy to fall into a terrible trap. A belief that we are not good for people. Several years ago, during the birth of the internet, I was totally hooked on one of those quiz websites and I remember taking a quiz called, “What’s your biggest fear?”

Turns out mine was not being good enough.

Still true.

As Don has grown with his wife and learned how to love because of her, she helped him believe that he wasn't just good, but great for people. “I realized that one of the reasons I’d been so isolated was because I’d subconsciously believe I wasn’t all that good for people… I wonder how many people are withholding the love they could provide because they secretly believe they have fatal flaws.”

Page 129 has a few ripples on it. These ripples were from my tears. Big stuff here.

I’ve been trying very hard to figure out how to be okay with not being good enough for people. I've been trying to learn how to be ok with failing them and screwing things up. I try to make it up to them… make amends with them… and, as I’ve written about before, I try to “hustle.”

I want to be done with all the trying and hustling but unfortunately it’s not in my nature because of my biggest fear. There is such a lack of gospel truth in this, it’s shocking. I get it all now, because Don has shown me that I am withholding love because I have fatal flaws.

Lots and lots of big ripples.




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

this isn't about me

I’ve never been a great multi-tasker. When I am deep in a project, like today when my head is completely immersed in James 5:7-9, the phone rings and it’s some salesman from a publishing company wanting my business, I get a little irritated.

I’d prefer to just hole up, ignore the world, and finish my single task, thank you very much.

My, my. How very selfish of me.

The funny thing is, of all the behaviors that makes me most sick to my stomach, it’s selfishness. But of course, the nausea only comes when I see it in others. When I’m being selfish, it’s justified. I’m right and they are just plain wrong. Do it my way, I demand. I’m the one who’s hurting, I martyr. (Is that a verb? Nope? Too bad. I’m making it one.)  I’m the one who needs, I whine. I’m the one struggling and try to figure things out, I lament.

I’m the one who needs you to be this, do this, handle this, right now.


I was thinking about all my selfishness tonight (after pretty much thinking about it all day. Ahem.) I noticed that I have this friend who is always apologizing to me. Sometimes for the weirdest things. But they apologize frequently. Sometimes it’s because they didn’t do something they said they would do, or there was some kind of unmet expectation. Whatever the reason, I started thinking about why they apologized so much. Was it because I had such unfair expectations of them that they feel like they are always failing me? (Ouch.)

That’s really only a question they can answer. But it still got me thinking. Yes, there are times when they need to apologize. But even so, why am I focusing on what they are doing wrong so much? What about what I am doing wrong?

I’m being a lousy friend.

I’m so wrapped up in myself and what I am going through, that I just sit and wait for everyone else to check in on me. Instead of checking in on them.  And when they don’t, I feel sorry for myself. I vow to write them off and never speak to them again. (Okay... I might be exaggerating a little. But you get the idea.)

I’m pretty ashamed of myself right now.



Tonight while I was reading, I had NEEDTOBREATHE’s newest record on repeat, and these lyrics from the song Wasteland hit me particularly hard.

There was a greatness I thought for awhile
But somehow it changed
Some kind of blindness I used to protect me
From all of my stains
Yeah I wish this was vertigo
But it just feels like I'm falling slow

I was blind to my sin and the scales were starting to fall away from my eyes. Needless to say, the grieving began. I will spare you the details. They aren’t pretty. (I really need to invest in some good waterproof mascara.)


Ok. I get it. The 2x4 has officially smacked me and the welt on my head is pretty swollen. Pardon me while I stop thinking about myself for a while. It will be a nice change of pace.

Monday, March 16, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 7 and 8



Do you ever get tired of trying?

I do. I get tired of trying to be more than I actually am. Tired of being the one who presses. Tired of being the one who is desperate. Tired of being the one who is always drowning, asking for help (But no one can hear her.)

Tired of the hustle. Tired of caring about those who don’t care back.

Just…tired.

Chapters 7 and 8 really made me understand this.

The people we chose to love can destroy us, because true intimacy can only happen when we give up control and allow someone to destroy us, forgive them when they do, and hope they forgive you when you need to be forgiven.

I seem to be good at choosing and loving those who make me try. A lot.

And how much do I make people try for me? (I really don’t want to pull at that thread.)

As Christ-followers, we can mistake enablement for grace, and Don tells us that our hearts are worth protecting. How do we balance this with grace? These are truths I’ve known for a while, far before I read chapter 7. But I still don’t fully understand how to balance grace with protecting my heart. This is something I’ve been desperate to figure out most of my life.

This is perhaps because of my ridiculously high sense of justice. I prefer to be right rather than to be in the relationship. Yet I will feel every hurt of that broken relationship until it very nearly kills me.

The heart of the problem and the essence of the solution, says my fellow writer, Kansas Bob, is that I am still learning to love. One of the many things love is about is that expresses what we are about. And we make time for what matters to us. If you don’t make time for me, you don’t love me enough to matter. This is how I feel. I’m not proud of it. But it is how I feel.

The process of learning to love and be loved by someone, Don writes, is a “slow and natural process.”

So I guess I’m trying too hard.

But what about the truth that love is a decision? Does this not imply there is trying in the midst of it somewhere?  And when do you stop trying, set down all the baggage that person has given you and just walk away?

I never really thought I was that controlling of a person. But perhaps I am. The next chapter is about manipulators. I pray I don’t find myself there.


I’m still tired, guys.

Monday, March 09, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 5 and 6

I’m just gonna be straightforward: I hate chapter 5. I hate it because it’s about change. And fear.

I’m going through a lot of change in my life right now. Most of the relationships in my life have changed recently. My job is changing significantly. My job has always been a bit chaotic, and so I relied on my relationships to get me through. To be the steady part of my life…  the ease that I needed in the midst of a lot of unrest. And most of these relationships have shifted significantly or are simply gone. So the change in my life has been magnified by being alone with it all.

Never have I felt so lonely. And never have I felt so scared.

“What else keeps us from living a better story than fear?” Don asks. (pg. 41)

Not all of chapter 5 is about fear. There is more stuff in the chapter that is painful, like his realization that our flaws are the way in which we receive grace. And that perfectionists think the world will only love them when they are perfect.

But then he circles back around to fear, connecting risk and love to fear and the unknown.

I hate chapter 5.


I hate it because it’s all things I’ve heard before. Some a LONG time ago. I hate that it doesn’t seem as though much has changed for me in this area. I still struggle with conditional love, believing people don’t love me for who I really am. I still am afraid to take risks because I am far more afraid of rejection than I am of pretty much anything else.

Oh, and I hated chapter 6, too.

Because in chapter 6 Don tells about his inner and outer self. His outer self being him at age 9, and 9 year-old Don was expected to perform for the world.

I don’t really have a clearly defined inner and outer self, though I know I need to spend more time really thinking about it. But I do know there are certain people who don’t get the outer me – the fa├žade. I’ve chosen to trust them with the real me.

Do you have any idea how much it hurts to put yourself – your real self – out there with someone only to not get what you need in return?

You probably do. We all have. I feel like I am living that just about every day, because the people I’ve shown my real self to are the ones who are leaving and changing and not with me anymore. So I have to start all over with some new people, I guess. That hurts my heart. A lot. It was hard enough the first time.

“God is going to reveal me as a flawed human being as fast as he can and he’s going to enjoy it because it will force me to grapple with real intimacy.” (pg. 56)

Yep. And all the hurt and risk that goes with being rejected for your flawed self.

This risk and rejection is real, and it also requires wisdom. “The ones we tend to stay in love with are, in the long run, the ones who do a decent job living us back.”

I once told a friend, who said he wanted to be enough for me, that life and friendship wasn’t about being enough. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s about being yourself and showing up. Maybe it’s about showing that you care by doing a decent job of loving each other back.