My wife and I have been going to Community Life Church for about four years now and, for most of that time, we have been members of the same Community Group. We met some amazing people, built great friendships, grew in the Lord together and walked with each other through some difficult times. But, as so often happens, life leads people in different directions, and we found ourselves looking for a new Community Group.
Well, last night we visited a new CG and met a new group of amazing people. We were nervous as first. Walking into a house of strangers is never the most comfortable experience, but within minutes we were made to feel extremely welcome. The people there were genuine, loving and vulnerable with each other. From what I could tell, this new CG seemed to be a safe place full of safe people.
According to Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, the authors of the book Safe People, there are three main attributes that safe people have:
1. Safe people are able to connect with us “in a way that we know that they are present with us.”
2. Safe people let you know that “you are accepted just like you are and that you will not be shamed or incur wrath for whatever you are experiencing.”
3. Safe people are “honest with us, telling us where we are wrong and where we need to change.”
God did not create us to have shallow relationships, keeping everyone at a distance and living life as if we were the only person on the planet. He created us for deep, meaningful relationships.
Sin prevents us from experiencing the perfect relationships we were created to have. But, even in the fallen world in which we live, through safe relationships with safe people, we can get a taste of what God created us to have.
A safe relationship is one where we can connect deeply with others in the context of unconditional love, where we can lay aside our masks and allow others to lay aside theirs, exposing all the brokenness that has resulted from sin. We can experience love and acceptance in the face of that brokenness, and be honest with one another, speaking those hard truths to one another, the ones that we don’t want to hear but know we need to, the truths that hurt and make us cry. We can then walk with each other down the path of healing until we have experienced full confession and repentance and forgiveness and restoration.
That is the kind of relationships you need. If you don’t have any safe relationships in your life, then ask God to bring you safe people with whom you can have safe relationships.
It is important, however, that you first ask God to reveal to you whether or not you are a safe person. Ask God if you are capable of connecting with someone on a deep level and able to accept them as they are while speaking hard truths to them in love with the absence of any condemnation. For if you are not a safe person, then you are someone that safe people will avoid.
If you want a safe relationship, you must first be a safe person.
If you want a relationship where you can feel safe enough to take off your mask and be vulnerable without condemnation, if you want to feel safe enough to expose all the brokenness that has resulted from your sin and experience love and acceptance in the face of that brokenness, if you want someone to love you enough to speak those hard truths to you that you don’t want to hear but know you need to, truths that will hurt and make you cry, and then have that person walk with you down the path of healing until you have experienced full confession and repentance and forgiveness and restoration, then you need to be a safe person that makes others feel comfortable enough to do the same.
Be a safe person. Safe people will then be drawn to you, and you will have safe relationships that God will use to help make you into the person he created you to be.