“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” Brennan Manning

Monday, July 7, 2014

Finding a Safe Place

Before we can let down our defenses, we have to feel safe.  I didn’t understand this until about a year ago when I first started to open my heart.  After a lifetime of hurts, I was afraid of being hurt again so I walled off my heart.  Behind my impenetrable wall, I felt lonely and untouchable.  A sweet friend encouraged me to join an online Book Club over the book, Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. In reading her book, I realized that I was locked in shame and afraid to be vulnerable.  I didn’t feel loved and connected because I didn’t let people see my true self.  So, I began to “dare greatly” and unveil all that I had been trying to outrun all my life.

One of the first things my friend, Kelli, told me was, “you are safe here.”  I didn’t really know what that meant, but I know that it touched something deep.  Later, I began therapy and one of my first assignments was to find a “safe place.”  That was so frustrating for me!  I stayed up all night trying to find a safe place, but everywhere I would go in my mind was not safe at all.  On a beach, I was chased so I constructed walls to keep me safe, but then was assaulted by sea! Outdoors has always been a haven for me so I sat on a high rock in the woods overlooking a gentle river, but was attacked by an angry animal.  I couldn’t find safety anywhere!  That really disturbed me.  I didn’t realize I had been living in fear and paranoia - running from everything.

Though the Book Club, a Pastor from Iowa reached out to me - or really just responded to me.  I didn’t know he was a Pastor or I would have run as fast as I could the other direction!  But he was real and I felt safe sharing my struggles with him because he never judged or scolded me.  He just listened and when I wanted to quit, feeling completely hopeless, he didn’t give me the ‘right’ answer, he just encouraged me to let Jesus hold me and listen to His heartbeat.  

After a sleepless night of running for safety, exhausted, I stopped trying and just rested on my Savior’s chest.  While all this was in my head, it was so real and my physical body actually relaxed. Jesus became my Safe Place.  

When we feel safe, we can finally drop our defenses and face the darkness within.  We can acknowledge the pain and confusion and let the Light in.  We open our hearts to being loved as we are instead of pretending to be the way we think people want us to be.  There is so much freedom and healing when we let others see our ugly parts and we are accepted as we are.

Love enters in and heals our broken hearts.  It takes courage to trust when we haven’t known the safety of love and acceptance before.  When we have spent our lives running and hiding, being captured and loved feels very scary and we quickly want to fight and run again, but God holds us still and gently reassures us that though it hurts, our suffering is not in vain and He is at work to heal and restore us.  He will keep us safe.  It’s okay to rest.

I am forever thankful for the friends that God has placed in my life.  Thank you, Kelli, for walking with me every day of this crazy adventure and reading my endless processing and helping me see myself like God does.  I believe Providence brought you into all the craziness of MO so we could be bosom friends!  Thank you for never getting sick of me.  You show me what grace means.

Thank you, Dave, for listening to God and befriending a complete stranger and sharing the Good News with me hundreds of times.  Thank you for not judging my doubts, fears, anxieties, and self-hatred.  Thank you for being Jesus to me by always responding and always pointing me back to our Abba who loves us as we are, not as we should be.  Thank you for being so patient with me and for being my friend.   

I’m so thankful for my man who has stuck with me even through days where I lost hope and couldn’t figure out how to live.  Babe, you have proven your faithfulness to me over and over again.  I am so thankful that God is healing our marriage and we are learning to be safer and safer for each other and making our home a safe place for our children to grow up and discover who they are.  I love you, Babe!

I’m also thankful for the friends who have given me a voice when I have felt shut down so often in my life. Thank you for being there for me - to listen and let me cry or rant, and still seeing Jesus in me. Thank you for liking me ‘as is’ and accepting me like God does.  You all have taught me God’s unconditional love.  

Thank you, Jesus, for being my Safe Place and never ever leaving my side - my whole life!  I can live knowing that I am securely Your Beloved and You will never let me go!  I am safe now to be who You created me to be.