We are Called to FIND Safe People and we are Called to BE Safe People.
During the recent series Fighting the Flames from Within, Pastor Andrew referred often to the community aspect of shame. Shame is rooted in community and healing comes through community. Shame tells us that if people knew, we would be rejected.
Healing comes when we look into the eyes of our brother or sister in Christ and see love, compassion, and acceptance looking back at as. We long to see the eyes of Christ embracing us in our shame, but shame tells us “if they knew the truth, they would reject me.” Breaking the grip of this lie comes through telling our story to a safe person, a person who is able and willing, like Christ, to despise shame and refuse to join with its voice.
As Curt Thompson says in The Soul of Shame,
Shame is not something we “fix” in the privacy of our mental processes; evil would love for us to believe that to be so. We combat it within the context of conversation, prayer and other communal, embodied actions.
Answering the questions:
• What if we don’t have anyone we can go to?
• What if we don't really feel there are safe people we know to share with?
• How does one new to an area manage shame with limitations of close relationships?
Finding safe people can be challenging. We first need to understand that shame itself will tell us that no one is safe. Shame’s purpose is to isolate us and keep us isolated, and part of shame’s message is that no one can know our secret. No one is safe.
God created us for relationship. He created us for relationship with Him and for relationship with other people. In the Garden of Eden, God and Adam and Eve were in perfect relationship with each other and with God - naked and not ashamed. It was only when Adam and Eve chose their own satisfaction and ambition over relationship with God that things went very wrong. From the beginning, God has always had relationship as His number one priority.
If that is true, we must need relationships in order to experience life the way God intended it. There's just one problem. As broken humans we are constantly choosing our desires over relationship with God and others. Instead of running to God with our hurts and our internal pain, we medicate with all kinds of behaviors (relationship replacements) to escape pain and gratify desires (drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, eating, working). However, the truth is that all of humanity struggles to walk in intimate relationship with God and others. We need to learn how to relate intimately in safe relationships.
~ from L.I.F.E Recovery Guide by Melissa Haas
(L.I.F.E Recovery International – Living in Freedom Everyday)
Finding safe people takes effort!
It takes work, it takes intentionality, and we each need to own the responsibility. If we each wait for someone else to find us, we sit and wait alone. We need to intentionally make space in our lives to cultivate safe relationships so that we can walk in wholeness and healing. We need to choose to put ourselves in situations where we will meet and get to know others.
A great way to do that is to serve: show up, find a need and meet it. Join small groups, go to coffee or lunch one-on-one, volunteer as a greeter, go to Sunday school classes. Go to places where people are and be brave. Introduce yourself. Tell them you're new (or lonely, or…whatever is true about you) and looking for people to connect with.
Make it a priority to find and cultivate safe relationships. Reach out -not everyone will respond well, but do not give up until you find safe, healthy relationships. This will take work. It will take effort.
Do it! Fight for your healing!
Being safe people takes effort!
It takes work! It takes intentionality! We must each own the responsibility! We must each make it a propriety to make ourselves available to others, especially those new to the area, new to faith, or new to fellowship. If we wait for someone else to do it, people feel left out, excluded, and alone.
We need to make it a priority to not only be a safe person, but to help others find safe people. We cannot be everything to everyone, but we can facilitate connection, embrace people, and help them feel welcome. We must do this in order to actively be the Body of Christ and, as the church, walk in wholeness and healing.
How long has it been since you’ve had lunch, coffee, dinner or an evening of playing games with a new person? Maybe it’s time for some new friends...
Is your calendar so packed and full that there are no margins? No space for people? Friendships? Fellowship? Maybe it’s time for some space…
Are you lonely and longing for someone to talk to? Are you serving someone you’d like to get to know? Are you volunteering? Giving of your time and talents? Maybe it’s time to serve…
Coming soon: How to Identify Safe People