It’s Time to Drop the Act

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Years ago, while attending a week-long intensive family counseling session as we attempted to navigate our daughter’s recovery from drug abuse, I was introduced to the concept of masks. 4184292702_d5b9c5daeb_oYou might be thinking of Halloween or Opera or whatever, but this was different. This was about the “masks” we put on in order to cope with the situations or groups we deal with. The therapist encouraged us to look at and name our masks.

For example, our masks could be the dating mask, the parent mask, the professional mask, the country club mask, the mask that hides pain and on and on.These are “masks” we put on when we don’t want to be completely authentic or show our true thoughts and colors. Of course, the good thing is that they can help us to be socially appropriate and acceptable. They can help us to not cause hurt feelings, or to tear someone down. But on a bad day, they can literally mask who we are and decrease our ability to be real and authentic. I think we can safely argue that more often than not we need to drop the act and find a way to be authentic. This is the subject that is tackled in Scary Close.


We need to drop the act and find a way to be authentic.


I did not really want to read this book. I figured that I’m fairly transparent and I’ve been married for 33 years so a book about relationships would be a yawn. But I had to read it because a bunch of my friends get together every couple of months and discuss a book we read. This was the chosen book. So I read it. As with most books, it has some pros and some cons, but it’s an easy read and Donald Miller always tells a good story.

Scary Close is about dropping the act (mask) and finding true intimacy. It celebrates human relationships, challenges us to greater authenticity and intimacy in them, and is an amazingly transparent look into the author’s struggle with getting too close to anyone. He takes a brief look into his past failed relationships and is open and honest about his shortcomings. His story will resonate with many as he encourages us to truly be ourselves. He also tackles the human propensity to judge others. We all do this with stunning frequency and, this too, hinders our relational abilities as we quickly attribute pre-conceived notions about each other that tend to be relational landmines. Instead, we should love each other, even if we don’t want to.

As he begins to explore his story with his wife, he goes into great detail about dating her and their marriage. He challenges us to consider what true intimacy looks like and much of this has to do with dropping our act and being real, honest and vulnerable with each other. I resonated with the idea of choosing to not focus on “impressing” a lot of people, but to connect, influence and love fewer. For that, I applaud him as it can be a struggle for anyone who is a people pleaser.


Don’t focus on “impressing” a lot of people. Instead, connect, influence and love fewer.


One disappointment in the book is its lack of gospel centeredness. Although it is clear Donald Miller loves God, the emphasis was on how people and therapies helped him. Much of the therapies and people’s advice was good, but I think Mr. Miller missed an opportunity to use Scripture and the good news of Jesus Christ and His power to transform us as THE primary agent of change. There is most certainly a need for authentic relationships, reconciliation and redemption on a horizontal level with our friends and family, and this book addresses that need. However, more important is the vertical relationship that allows the Christian to rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ who is the ultimate picture of authentic relationship, reconciliation and redemption.

Where in your life do you need to drop the mask and be authentic? Have you allowed God to transform you into the new creature He promises in 2 Corinthians 5:17? “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

As a new creature in Christ how will you commit to authenticity in your relationships?


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Image Credit: Helga Weber, Creative Commons

Darlene Hanson


Darlene was born in California but grew up in several states including California, Nebraska, Hawaii and Oregon. She has been married for 32 years to her wonderful husband Eric and they have two daughters. Lauren, who is married to DJ and Allie, who is married to Jesse. Allie and Jesse have two children, Jed and Riley. Darlene and her husband Eric have lived in Fresno for the past 25 years. Having their grand children close and being able to hang out with them is one of their greatest joys! They also take yearly mission trips to serve the Hill Tribe Villages in Northern Thailand. Another passion for them both is working with Fresno State Athletics helping to serve the medical needs of the student athletes and hosting monthly Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership meetings in their home. One of Darlene’s greatest privileges is to disciple young women.

  • Michelle Walter

    Darlene I think I got much more out of your article than I did out of Scary Close!! Like you, I was reluctant to read it at first but trudged along and forever got the feeling that Donald Miller still isn’t really content with his life……and I think it is because, as you said, he has missed the opportunity to use scripture and the good news of Jesus as the power to transform.

    • Darlene Hanson

      Thank you for your comment! It truly is the gospel that transforms!

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