After taking some time to process unsafe people in this post: http://neverbeenherebefore.blogspot.com/2015/02/unsafe-people.html
...I’ve had to time to read more in the Cloud and Townsend book about what safe people look like, and more importantly, how to become a safe person.
A safe relationship is one that draws us closer to God, draws us closer to others, and helps us become the real person God created us to be. This is a mere echo of discipleship, Cloud and Townsend say, knowing that our greatest call in life is to love God, love others, and grow into the person God created us to be.
From pages 144-146 of “Safe People” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend:
A safe person is:
- Someone who gives me the opportunity to grow
- Someone who increases love within me
- Someone who allows me to become the me that God intended
- Someone whose life touches mine and leaves me better for it
- Someone who offers us grace and is honest with us
As I finish up this book, I'm also reading Scary Close by Donald Miller and I'm finding there are many echoes, as Miller references Safe People a few times. (I find it interesting and probably quite providential on God’s part that I started to read Safe People a few weeks ago since I’ve owned it for two years… then Miller’s book was released and because I was so excited to read it, I am reading both at the same time.)
Here has been the biggest take away for me in being a safe person, especially in light of what I’ve read so far in Scary Close:
Safe people are simply people that have the ability to connect with us. Unsafe people don’t.
I resonate with this so much, as someone who just doesn’t connect with people easily. There are a lot of reasons for this, some of which are part of my personality type and some are simply parts of my story. So I feel like the pool of people I have to draw from is really small, because in the midst of the people I do connect with, some are unsafe. And they are unsafe in that they don't connect with me.
And I think where I struggle with living this out is what to do when you feel more connected to someone than they do to you. This is where all the unsafe person stuff starts to come out… because look at this list, from chapter 12, on how to become a safe person:
- Learned what you’ve gained (what the other person has given you)
- Learn your friends’ “need signal” (Learn to cue in on their emotional presence)
- Ask to help
- Be there
- Tell the truth
- Go into the world (get out of your safety zone and help the lonely, the oppressed, the less fortunate.)
I think we all have people in our lives that we feel a connection with but that still aren't there when you need them, and that haven’t learned our need signals. I certainly don’t expect my friends to read my mind, but I will never forget when, in the summer of 2012, my friends picked up on the needs signals that I did not even know I was giving off and made sure I didn’t permanently crawl inside of myself. You can read about it HERE.
It was the first time some friends actually put aside something and cared just for me. Without me asking, for no reason other that to help me. I honestly could not remember a time when anyone had never done that. Which is really sad, when I think about it, but I am still thankful for that day and that puzzle and that coffee. Perhaps it set a standard; an understanding in me that THIS is what love looks like. It draws close to you when you are drawing far away.
They told the truth – that they were worried about me and that they felt left out because I wasn’t telling them what was going on in my heart. There were there for me and they helped. They saw my need signal and did something about it.
As my regular readers know, a lot of work has happened in my heart since then, and I’m doing better to be vulnerable and ask for help when I need it. I’ve told the truth, even when it hurts, and I’ve reached out even though it felt desperate and embarrassing. I’ve done the hard work of connecting with those I care about.
Some have responded well and some have not. I only reached out to those I connected with, believing them to be safe. As I figure out this tangled web of intimacy and connection with people who are under NO obligation to be intimate and connect with me, I can’t help but wonder if there is any way to not be hurt in all this. Because this is pretty much the whole reason why it’s been so hard for me this last year: I had grown weary of being hurt and closed myself off from others in order to avoid this hurt. And here I am am, still hoping to avoid the hurt. Because I’ve experienced it yet again.
It kinda feels like I’m darned if I do and darned if I don’t.
And the darned if I do hurts a lot more.