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. Whydo 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.