blogging thru Scary Close – chapters 15 and 16
“You complete me” is the line that lost me in the movie Jerry McGuire. It’s just such a ridiculous concept. Having this expectation of another person is CRAZY. I mean it. Downright crazy.
But it sounds so romantic. This whole idea that getting married will take away so much of your hurt and your brokenness and make you satisfied and whole… But we live in a broken world! With broken people! That’s just not going to happen… Why don’t we get this?!?
Don writes in chapter 15 about the significance of knowing who you are and letting the other person be themselves. “…and the sleepless nights I’ve spent wondering what they were thinking or how much they liked me or whether I was a good enough man for them. A complete waste of time.” (pg. 207)
Thinking back to chapter 14, it’s no wonder relationships don’t work out for people who are so worried what the other was thinking about them or whether they were good enough. That’s not about building something together. It’s about the false assumption that we are only good if we are in a pair, and that on our own we are less than. What a destructive belief this is.
As Don looked over the people he knew who were in thriving marriages of 30 or 40 years, it was because they “loved each other as an act of their conscious will” (pg. 211)
I’ve believed for many, many years that love is a decision. And love requires trying. All Don is doing here is reminding me that I’m not crazy. I know the world doesn’t think it’s a decision… that love is just something that happens. Poof! There’s love.
Love takes work. It takes trying. It takes effort on both sides. And it’s not the kind of trying that has you hustling for approval, trying to make the other person happy with you. It’s about trying together, moving forward in relationship together. For love to flourish, it’s a conscious act of the will. “Love is worth fighting for, but something you can’t be the only one fighting. At times, people need to fight for you.” (unknown) There is much we long for in this world, longing that causes us to fight with each other and grow weary with dissatisfaction. It’s easy to grow angry and frustrated at others because they aren’t taking that longing away for us.
Longing is part of life. But it cannot be fulfilled by another person. “Betsy and I are going to try as hard as we can not to put the burden of that longing on each other. Instead, we will comfort each other in the longing and even love it for what it is, a promise that God will someday fulfill us.” (pgs. 215-216) When we expect the other person to complete us, to make the longing go away, we are making a huge mistake. No one can do that, be that, for another. Yet we far too often go into relationships with the idea that we were missing something (true) and the other person will make that go away (not true). We look to the other person or to the marriage to complete the missing piece. But no. We don’t work like that, and the gospel doesn’t work like that.
The last chapter of Don’s book is glorious. “Love is a decision,” he reiterates. (See! I told you!!!) “It is as much something you made happen as it is something that happens to you.” (pg. 224) This chapter is so glorious that I’m going to say the least about it of any other chapter he wrote.
Scary Close is a book that I will read and reread many times. Don’s writing does that to me, but this one in particular has helped me grow through my fear, my vulnerability. It’s helped me push through my comfort into risk and toward grace in loving people who need that grace. The book has felt like peeling back layers of an onion (and not just because of the tears) but because he started with our outer selves, helping us understand the fallacy in our armor. And that peeling back these layers more and more are scary and the tears will come. But we must do the peeling.
Because love is about trying together. Not for their approval or for them to complete you, but about building together to make something beautiful out of this mess of a world. This trying involves vulnerability, risk, and most of all, knowing yourself and being known by another. This is scary. Scary close.