A safe place. Isn’t that what we all long for? A place to be ourselves, a place to stand in complete vulnerability and know that we are completely loved despite who we are and who we are not. Fairy tales are made of these things. A beauty hidden away where no one can see it and then someone comes along and sees her for who she truly is. When her true beauty is revealed, the slave becomes the princess, the sleeping one awakens, the voiceless one finds her voice and she lives out of her beauty all her days.
Is it any wonder that some of us love these stories and some of us hate them? Deep in all of us is the hope that someone will see us and love what they see. Not love who we pretend to be or who we wish to be, but love who we really are at our core. Love us at our worst. Love us in our most vulnerable places. So often we base our identity on what we’re doing, what we’re not doing, who we identify with, who others see us to be or who we wish we were. We are shakable at our core because our self worth is attached to the wrong things. What if there is a place where we can be where we are entirely safe and in turn be entirely safe for others? That is really what we want, isn’t it? We want to be ones who are secure and life giving to others. The truth is that if we are not secure, we will not be safe for others because we will be using them to fill a need in us they were never meant to fulfill. Their failures will threaten our well-being because we are leaning on them for our identity.
Safe people are a rarity and when you come across them you can’t help but notice. I was privileged to meet a beautiful elderly couple this past summer while hunting at garage sales in our neighborhood. Quite simply, an old garage sale changed my life.
It was a bright, sunny day and we were slowly walking from sale to sale when I happened upon a ranch home with an elderly couple standing in the driveway. Standing at the end of their driveway with wide smiles, they greeted every person who came near their domain that they call home. It was as if kindness radiated from their house. They treated us all as guests as if we had been invited to an important dinner party.People around me opened up and lively conversation surrounded me. Judging from the many entertaining items in their garage, I can only guess at the amount of people their open arms embraced over the years. They asked us about life and our families and when we answered, they looked intently at our face as if they were reading behind the spoken word. I felt an inner exhale I didn’t even know I had. They were present. I was almost moved to tears because they were so incredibly kind to me and my kids. I am used to kind people, yet this was different than a run of the mill encounter. Taking my time, I looked through their array of things very slowly not wanting to leave that sacred driveway or the people who graced that house. Even though they had nothing that I was looking for, I settled on a lantern set because I always wanted to remember the couple who caused a little shift in my soul. The little shift in me that wanted to be them. The place in my soul that wanted to see people first, value them, treat them like the gift that they are. The place in me that saw the difference a safe place for a sojourning heart can make.
This is God’s heart. He knows that in the the presence of His love, there is no hiding and no fear. He doesn’t overlook the ugly, but knows what to do about it. He knows how to separate the ugly of who we are not from the beauty of who we are. He sees the beauty behind the grime both in us and those around us but first we have to bring ourselves – grime and all- to Him. We are pretty good at stuffing the grime and masking it, but that grime always comes out as judgments, withdrawal, snide remarks, manipulation and all of the other things we do to hide who we really are out of fear and insulate ourselves from others who may hurt us. We cannot successfully hide our true heart condition. In the process of insulating ourselves we become a part of breaking those we love. We become unsafe for the hearts around us. We become part of the breaking of the world instead of part of the healing.
Being a safe place for others begins with us knowing that we are safe with the God who created us. Our broken places and bent places cannot separate us from Him if we bring them to Him openhanded. There isn’t a wound He can’t heal or a past He can’t redeem. There is not a thing that any of us have experienced or will experience that He cannot get past and that He cannot redeem.
Fairy tales are the story of the journey of our heart from bondage and danger to freedom and safety. The story of a great evil that tries to overtake the forgotten one and the prince who sees her true beauty and goes to great lengths to rescue the one he loves. This is our story. We may be in different chapters, but whether we are in the scary beginning part in chapter one or the more secure part in chapter ten, our God stands waiting with arms wide open. In Him is all of the security we could ever need. His perfect love casts out our fear. When we open our hearts to His unshakable love, we will begin to see how He sees and love how He loves. Our hearts will be intertwined with His and our lives will be on the firm foundation of His love. It will be the bedrock of our life. We will find a safe place.
I John 4:18 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.