Book Review: Scary Close, by Donald Miller

Remarkably, the most common regret of the dying was this: they wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not the life others expected of them…

It’s true I’ve been hurt a few times after revealing myself. There are people who lie in wait for the vulnerable and pounce as a way to feel powerful. But God forgive them. I’m willing to take the occasional blow to find people I connect with. As long as you’re willing to turn the other cheek with the mean ones, vulnerability can get you a wealth of friends.

Can you imagine coming to the end of your life, being surrounded by people who loved you, only to realize they never fully knew you? Or having poems you never shared or injustices you said nothing about? Can you imagine realizing, then, it was too late?

How can we be loved if we are always in hiding?

(Scary Close, by Donald Miller, p. 140).

This quote from Scary Close by Donald Miller, is a reference to the author having read an article about a palliative care nurse who treated patients with twelve or fewer weeks to live. The nurse found the greatest regret of the dying was wishing they had had the courage to live a life true to themselves, rather than living the life others expected them to live. Does that resonate with you? It resonates with me (Helen).

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The subtitle for Scary Close is “dropping the act and finding true intimacy.” Needless to say, the subject matter of Miller’s latest memoir is undeniably relevant. In recent years, social media has made it even easier to create a mask to hide behind. We can edit our profile pictures, update our statuses, and capture snapshots of our lives in such a way as to make the world around us believe we have it all. On and off line, we can cultivate images of who we are by presenting ourselves as having it “all together.” I’m not immune to this. Scary Close begs the question, how can we be genuinely loved if we are not genuinely known? And how can we be genuinely known if we are too afraid to be our genuine selves? Are we willing to stop acting as our own publicity agents, and truly connect with others from a place of honesty?

Scary Close cut to the core of a lot of what I’ve been wrestling with lately, and to be honest, I’m not sure where to begin with the work of “dropping the act and finding true intimacy” in so many of the relationships in my life. Miller says “For some, becoming capable of intimacy is as difficult as losing a hundred pounds” (p. 217) – I feel like losing a hundred pounds might be easier! While Scary Close doesn’t provide a list of steps to embracing authenticity and vulnerability, it is a comforting example of someone who was able to do just this. If you are questioning whether the life you are living is true to who you are, or whether your relationships are founded out of a place of authenticity, let Miller’s memoir be a friend in your journey towards embracing true relationships, intimacy, and genuine love.

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One thought on “Book Review: Scary Close, by Donald Miller

  1. Books great ain’t it. I finished reading it just before the start of the new year. Donald Miller is great always hits so close to home. I’m actually reading it again because it’s so good I just want to read it to the end and then start all over again..something he said in the book that stood out to me that was so great was, “sacrifices make better stories.” Or well at least something along those lines. It’s true.

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