A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine recommended the book “Scary Close” by Donald Miller to me. I’d just come off a certain season of my life that had left me looking more deeply into myself and working on more self-awareness in light of what I felt God was showing me. I had been leaning too much on my own wisdom rather than the Lord’s (Prov.3:5), and I felt a desire to cast aside my pretensions and really get to know myself. The story of Don Miller as he tackled the time before he got married and how it forced him to undergo a process of self-examination was enlightening for me. He pursued his growth through a variety of avenues – from professional therapy and coaching camps to deep and meaningful friendships given to him by the Lord.
As I went through this narrative, I reflected on the key principles I was picking up and considering how it impacted me in light of God’s Word and what I have also learned through my past few years walking with Jesus Christ.
- Dropping the Facade – Just as the subscript of the book says, I realized that I really needed to drop my facades. This wasn’t just with regards to other people, but particularly with myself. But I recognized that if I really wanted to grow, I needed to start with admitting to myself my own reality. The fundamental concept of digging into the heart of why I thought the way I thought, why I spoke or acted the way I did, and why I felt the way I felt, all this was necessary for me to have a real start in changing and being renewed. I could not surrender myself to Christ if I did not even have a firm grip on myself to surrender to Him. There is no real point in hiding one’s real feelings and thoughts from an omniscient God anyhow.
- Anchored Value – Coming from admitting to myself my reality – flaws and all – the question then arises as to what is the next step to take? Clearly, there would be a process that would need to be undergone to address these things. But before I jumped into those stages, I needed to find a firm foundation which I could stand on and from which I could move ahead with confidence. This pointed me back to one of the key tenets of the Gospel – that Christ valued me enough to die for me. I could stand in the truth that regardless of my reality, good or bad, improved or not, I had already been given a priceless value by the Lord. I would always be valued and loved, always worth keeping in His eternal hands. This knowledge would allow me to make mistakes and unveil myself as needed, without fear of rejection. His perfect love casts out all fear.
- Finding Whetstones – With the confidence that God is indeed my strong tower to whom I can return to as I journey along in my path of vulnerability and growth, I saw that a person needed to be exposed to the right stuff to be able to grow in the proper direction. Certainly, the Lord is enough to sustain and guide us in His Word. I needed to find useful learning material, ideally anchored in His word and written by those who were grounded in Christ. Beyond this, however, I needed to find healthy and loving friends who could help me walk along the way. It is known that a person is influenced immensely by the company he regularly keeps, and therefore if I wanted to become a complete person in Christ, I needed to find those who could expose my blind spots and graciously point me in the right direction. Having a varied set of friends with the right mindset and good, mature, habits, was necessary. I needed to search for and develop close relationships with people who had a good relationship with God and with other people as well.
- Staying the Course – As a natural introvert, despite my highly sociable nature, there is a tendency to withdraw and deny the companionship of others especially when hurt or tired. And I exposed myself to people who understood what I was trying to do, I had to force myself to be honest and not to withdraw from their presence. But if I desired to work through the deeper concerns of the heart and character, to learn to expand one’s way of thinking and feeling, I needed to dig in and go through this. Genuine connections could and did happen while I remained anchored in Christ during these times. It was important that I remained connected to people and to God, while I was unpeeled and new light shed on the narrow crevices of my mind.
I looked at these key points as I reviewed the book and have been trying then to apply them to my life. It has been producing fruit since then, as the openness to learning more about myself has helped me to identify and understand various habits and thought processes. It has allowed me to see more humbly the viewpoints of other people, even if I may ultimately not agree with them. And ultimately, it has let me draw closer to the Lord, letting down my walls and “image” in the face of a loving God.