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Book Review: Scary Close by Donald Miller

April 3, 2020

Intimacy in relationships can be a very daunting and scary thing for us. Scary Close shows us how to grow in our relationships and how to base our relationships on honesty instead of performance. I think this book is essential for each of us to read because our entire lives are made of relationships, whether they are with parents, siblings, friends, spouses, God, coworkers, etc. Here a few things I learned from Donald Miller in his book Scary Close.

First, I learned that shame and insecurity have a stronger foothold in our relationships than many may think. At some point in our life, we are faced with a situation that tells us we don’t measure up. This situation could happen as a child or an adult, but the results are the same – we adopt a persona that we believe will allow people to love and connect with us. We start to forget that this persona we are putting on is not actually us and then we confuse it as our identity. It’s a scary cycle that almost all of us get stuck in. Miller explains this picture of a target with three different layers. The inner circle is self, the middle circle is shame, and the outer circle is false-self. Miller talks about how we all have a self because we are born with it, but then shame comes into the picture and we try to cover that up with a false persona. He goes on to say that when we are addicted to our outer shell/costume and we feel vulnerable without it. Miller states, “I began to wonder what life would be life if I dropped the act and began to trust the being myself would be enough to get the love I needed” (Miller, 2015, pg. 35). I wonder the same thing myself and that leads me to my next discovery.

Second, I learned that being yourself is better than being a false version of yourself. Yes, this means that vulnerability becomes a part of your everyday life, but that also means that true intimacy becomes a part of your everyday life. By being yourself, you are allowing yourself to open up and let people see who you are in all your faults and insecurities. This can be a terrifying thought, but it is important to remember that nothing good comes from staying in your comfort zone. Miller states, “To love someone is to give them power to hurt you” (Miller, 2015, pg. 90). It is when we decide to venture outside that we find true joy, happiness, and freedom.

Third, finding true intimacy means to give up control and learn how to trust. Miller states that his pastor friend says, “The root of sin is the desire for control” (Miller, 2015, pg. 90). It’s a humbling thing to think about how God is the only one who can control people’s stories, which is all the more reason for us to stop controlling our lives and the lives of people we care about. You cannot choose both control and a healthy love life, just like you cannot control somebody and have intimacy with them at the same time (Miller, 2015, pg. 95). Giving up control is one of the hardest things one can do, but also one of the most freeing. If God already has control of your life, why not freely give it to Him rather than gripping onto something so tight that isn’t even yours? Miller leaves us with a thought, “Perhaps that’s another reason true intimacy is so frightening. It’s the one thing we all want, and must give up control to get” (Miller, 2015, pg. 98).

Overall, I have learned so many life lessons and in just 226 pages. Scary Close is dripping with wisdom from a biblically sound man coming from a posture of humility and love. I would recommend this book to anyone because it has helped me so much in finding freedom both personally and in my relationships. I hope you learn how to jump into love and intimacy in the way that God would want for us!


Miller, D. (2015). Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books.

Written by: Kaitlyn Skarstein

Kaitlyn loves being able to write for the SA blog because she thinks it is important to share her voice. She loves being able to express her own opinions on important subjects that are relevant for students, faculty, and many others.