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 ?!?!