“Relationships are teleological. They’re all going somewhere and they’re turning us into something, hopefully something better, something new.”Scary Close, Donald Miller
I read a lot, like a lot. So for me to pick out books that changed my life is really hard. But if you flung me over a roof right now and forced me to choose one book, Scary Close would be my pick (sorry Bible).
Scary Close deals with vulnerability and intimacy within relationships. The first time I read Scary Close 2 years ago, I flung my iPad across my bed out of sheer shookethness.
If you knew me pre-book (before April 2017), you’d consider me a closed book, someone really tough to get to know. There were a one-too-many occasions where not-so-close friends would approach my closest friends asking how they got to know Grace better. How does one get closer to Grace?
I’ve always been an extrovert. I have no problem connecting with and being around people. I enjoy bringing people from all walks of life together and sharing a meal or doing an afternoon activity together.
However, even though I was constantly surrounded by people, I struggled to be known and loved, because I sucked at intimacy and vulnerability. I hated opening up and airing out my dirty laundry – why do that when I could just present myself as perfect, or at least, interesting?
I was afraid of being vulnerable because I saw vulnerability as a weakness.
So I just used people to shield myself from ever fully being known. If people were busy getting to know each other, they won’t have time to get to know me.
I clearly remember the moment that this fear of mine was further compounded in high school.
A boy told me the reason he wanted to cut things off between us because he was tired of feeling like he was the only one putting in effort, and he felt like there was nothing new in our conversations anymore.
In essence, I was boring to him.
This fear of losing someone I cared about because I was boring shaped me into the girl that I was in my college years.
Instead of resting in the truth that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, and that no boy should ever dictate my worth, I took his stupidity way too personally and I begun to curate myself into this image of elusive interestingness.
This Grace lives in New York, makes her own major, is a licensed scuba-diver, has international internship experiences, is a leader in her church, attends theatre shows and concerts (for free), is always surrounded by the best friends ever, travels all over the world, constantly has something going on. She was the girl that got away.
Suck on that, boy.
This lie I believed – that I had to be interesting to be loved – became a core identity.
So in my pursuit to come off to others as interesting, I pushed people away when they got too close.
I didn’t want them to get bored of me.
Back then, I would only limit one-on-one hangouts to one hour, or two hours max, so that I had enough conversational materials to avoid any awkward silences. I could not fathom going on holidays with only one other person, let alone imagining how I would want to spend my entire life with only one other person.
When you constantly push people away, when the storms of life strike you, you realise that you’re all alone with no one that truly understands you.
I had so many friends all over the world, yet I felt alone.
When I read Scary Close, it was April of my senior semester. Life was going to change drastically in a month after I graduate from NYU.
On the outside, I kept my cool. But deep down, I knew I couldn’t keep pushing people away if I was going to succeed in the real adult world.
I realised I had to change after reading Scary Close. I couldn’t just do superficial dinners and meaningless conversations when a lonely future was at stake.
I had to be vulnerable. I had to open up and risk people getting bored of me. I had to take the risk of losing control over my ‘interesting’ image and trusting people to just love me, including the boring bits of me.
But here’s the crazy thing about taking risks on people – they are worth it.
In my own time, slowly but surely, I begun to share my own struggles and insecurities. Instead of being judged and shunned, people showered me with love and started sharing their own stories. Instead of loneliness, I gained strong and reliable friendships, sisterhoods and communities.
I opened up to people, and I got real friends in return – friends who know all of me and still wanted to spend time with me.
I now know that vulnerability is not a weakness – it is a strength, and it is beautiful.
The most interesting thing I’ve discovered is: the moment I stopped caring about being someone interesting, my life actually became more interesting. The past 2 years have been an absolute roller coaster, and it’s not ending anytime soon.
So how does this all relate to the future?
We’re not meant to do this life alone.
Yeah, God can do all things on His own, but what’s extra cool about God is that He trusts us to do His work. It’s so beautiful because we’re not just robots under God’s will – we get to be willing stewards of God’s love for other people.
God doesn’t expect us to be perfect when we first meet Him, just as how my friends don’t expect me to be perfect 24/7. He’ll never force us to follow Him. He just hopes that we’d say yes to adventuring with Him when He asks, because His love will transform our lives, just like how my friends’ love transformed my life.
We have the choice to be vulnerable.
We get to choose who we want to do life with. We have a choice to build up walls or let people in, and I always choose vulnerability because with every risk of getting hurt is the equal potential of getting to know an incredible human being, of gaining a new friend.
It’s great to do life and go on adventures, but it’s so much better, more fun and fulfilling with someone to do it all with.
So, don’t be afraid to let people in. Let people surprise you.
There are girls who already have their entire wedding planned out – Pinterest-boards, colour schemes, the ‘yes’ dress, catering company etc. Kudos to them. I have mad respect for my lovely girlfriends who can tell me the different types of rings out there.
But that’s not me. I literally don’t care about the details of my wedding, other than my mate-of-honour and my bridesmaids. I’m more concerned that my future husband won’t have enough friends to complement my bridesmaids (in that case, he can have my mate-of-honour and my brother).
And the other detail I know about my wedding is the guest list for one of the biggest days of my life. The guest list is constantly growing, which is exciting because the more the merrier!
Those on my guest list aren’t there because they are people I know about – they get invited not because they know of me, but because they know me – they are friends and family.
After all, what makes a wedding a celebration is not the couple, but the people from all walks of the couple’s life coming together to celebrate the couple.
The people are what makes a party a partay.
You may not know who you’re getting married to, but you better know who’s getting invited to your wedding. And if you don’t know, you better start letting people surprise you. It’s worth it, I promise.
This post couldn’t have been possible without Donald Miller’s Scary Close, so here’s another plug to BUY THE BOOK AND READ IT.