Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Scary close - a book

When you haven’t blogged for a time, you have less of an idea of what to blog about. And it's probably too late to talk about the tragedy that was the death of Gilbert Jonathan Crombie.

So, um, to books.

The most recent book I finished is Donald Miller’s latest work Scary Close. The truth is, I am not even sure why I read this book. I am not holding out any hope of being asked out by a Christian man any time soon, or of having any opportunity to work through any of the substance of the book by being in an actual relationship, and have largely given up on that whole idea (because let’s just be honest, rarely do I meet a Christian man who has a serious enough interest in yours truly to prompt him to the action of asking me out, and anything else is just a game I am no longer interested in playing, because it’s just hard enough without the man not being serious or ever getting beyond ambiguities and subtleties to communicate anything — and I do believe it is the man’s responsibility to sort these things out and do the asking, and the times that I have tried to because the man wasn’t, and I thought I could spare his wounds, or his fears or paranoia, or his lack of chutzpah, or salvage something out of a lukewarm and non-committal interest, or deal with his resentment against women in general or me in particular, or whatever other rationale I invented, it’s been a disaster, and I am not repeating it — and in the end, it's the reality that if the man is truly interested he will take personal and decisive action, not just “vicinitize” at large crowd events (which might be alright if the guy was going to walk across the room and say hello, but isn’t alright if I have to do it) or mess about on social media). So, I just read it to torture myself over the past, basically.

But I do like Don Miller’s style and I enjoyed reading it and appreciated his honesty. Much of it isn’t new if you are someone who has read a few psychological and relationship books, but I just liked the picture he put together, and the stories he told, of what it looks like to be healthy in relationships and how he started to get there. The reality is that I think I have been essentially afraid of relationships for a long time, which has only gotten worse after attempts to make myself vulnerable were met with scorn, or even worse, nothing. And I have been foolish in the past, and shared things about myself with men who were not sharing anything in return or demonstrating any tangible commitment, and if I could take it all back I would. But at the same time the general thrust of the book is about learning to trust that other people are not out to get you (even though sometimes they actually are, or they end up getting you out of their own fear), and how distrust brings out the worst in us, and also that you are a lot healthier in relation to others if you essentially believe you are good for them and can be what that need, and act on that (because you are no good for anybody if you are snivelling around thinking you have nothing to offer and that the other person needs nothing from you). There’re chapters on manipulation and kinds of manipulators, on codependency, on not needing others to heal your own wounds or trying to heal theirs either (I think a lot of my own angst has come from feeling like it was somehow up to me to patch up men’s wounds, but that’s a downward spiral to nowhere and I can’t), on what can help make great parenting and so on.

The book is essentially a story of his own little journey (that is now so clichĂ©, but what else do you call it?), which is easy to read and you and you don’t really finish it with any dot points, and that’s more or less how it wraps up with this:
I suppose that’s the point of this book. There’s truth in the idea we’re never going to be perfect in love but we can get close. And the closer we get, the healthier we will be. Love is not a game any of us can win, it’s just a story we can live and enjoy. It’s a noble ambition, then, to add a chapter to the story of love, and to make our chapter a good one.
Yes. (He said something I appreciated about longing also, but I will save that for a separate post.)


Jessica said...

You read such good books and write such good reviews! I think I'll download the audiobook of this. Although it sounds like it might be confronting.

Ali said...

Ah thanks Jess! I wouldn't sign off on everything he says, but still found it worth reading (especially given it's so easy to read). It's quite the gentle approach to a confronting topic, from a guy who's honest and humorous about his own life (but it did make me cringe at times - we are all works in progress!).

Jessica said...

Just listened to the Longing part. That bit IS good.