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.


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 façade. 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.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

blogging thru Scary Close - chapters 3 and 4

We all have a façade.

Maybe because everyone does, it makes having this façade seem more acceptable in our minds. But the more I think about it, the angrier I get.  I don’t want the façade a person puts in front of me, and I really don’t want the façade of someone I’m close to and love dearly. I want them.

I think this should profoundly shape how we understand love.

About 10 years ago, I was emailing back and forth with someone who’d given me some really good advice on a message board (anyone remember those? It seemed that’s all the internet was back then.) We continued conversing over the course of several months, sharing struggles and life with each other. And he told me a story that I’ve never forgotten.

One day he was sitting on the kitchen table with his mom and he asked her why she loved his dad. She went on to list all of his wonderful qualities, the things he did that made her happy, made her smile. “He’s a great dad…. He cares for others so much… he makes me laugh… he’s there for me… he keeps his promises.”

All these are great things, and certainly revealing of one’s character. But after more digging he said, “Those are just the things he does. Why do you love him?” and after some thought, she seemed to understand what her son was really asking. She looked him right in the eye, shrugged, and said “I don’t know, honey. I just do.”

What does this have to do with the façade we all have and understanding love? Because the façade is just the things we do that we think will make us more palatable to the world. But this isn’t truly who we are.


Because, come on. This is something to pause about.

While I believe that love results in a series of decisions you make, I also know love is about connection… connection that often doesn’t make sense and can’t be explained.

“Why do you love them?”

“I just do.”

In chapter 3 of Scary Close is Don sharing about his time at Onsite, a Nashville retreat center providing workshops to help a person heal and grow. In his time there he learned we create a false self to cover our shame. This is the performer, the character we play in the theater of life. There is usually some skill or characteristic that we believe we make us likable to the rest of the world, and that is the characteristic we put on our outer self. This is the façade.

It’s at this point that I realize where Don will be taking us during this book. He is taking us on a journey to more fully accept our story. (Accept seems to be the key word here.) Our story is integral not just to understanding where we’ve been in our lives, but in understanding who we are. Who we actually are.

“Sometimes the story we’re telling the world isn’t half as enduring as the one that lives inside of us.” (pg.  22)

Chapter 4 is more of Don’s Onsite story, where he discovered that at a young age a “pleasure chemical” seeped into him when he was told his writing was smart. They weren’t allowed to tell each other what they did for a living while there, and he realized that our jobs are like wearing costumes. We use the things we do to sound impressive to the world.

But that isn’t who we are. We aren’t what we do, yet this is what we use to show ourselves to the world. We are afraid that who we are minus what we do isn’t enough.

There seems to be an honest acknowledgement of this truth at this point in the book, but it’s more understood than actually named. (This is a true characteristic of Don’s writing, now that I think about it.)

But how do we really love another? It is because of what they do? Or who they are? Don doesn’t answer these questions, but they are implied. It’s all part of the journey he is taking us on.

“I began to wonder what like would be like if I dropped the act and began to trust that being myself would be enough to get the love I needed.” (pg. 35)

How can this not profoundly affect how we understand love?

I know I keep saying this, but seriously… guys. Whoa.