i’ve been thinking lately about what it is in people that makes us perceive someone else to be “safe” while others to be “unsafe”. i’m not talking about the ‘hey-little-girl-want-some-ice-cream?’ kind of unsafe here… but rather, the degree in someone that communicates to us that it is not ok to open ourselves up to. or the degree to which i can look at someone and trust them and be totally comfortable sharing the real me without sugarcoating and hiding and glossing over the truth.
let’s face it… some people have it. and some people don’t.
over the years, there are definitely some people i’ve not shared certain things with. part of that has been due to my own immaturity and need to be comfortable with my own imperfections, but they are still worth noting. real ministry is done in the context of real relationships, and if these things mark your life, you probably aren’t (perceived as) a safe person.
when you only share the good things in life i wonder if you’re safe. “do you ever struggle, or am i the only one?” if you only share the good, people will tend to think that you’re not comfortable talking about the bad. they know it’s there in you just like it is in them, but if you’re not cool with going there, then they know they can’t truly fit in around you.
when you spiritualize everything we talk about i wonder if you’re safe. “do you always have a verse for everything?” i’m not knocking scripture memory here or bashing the value of talking in ways that ascribe glory to God… but sometimes i think people hide behind spiritual cliches because it gets them out of uncomfortable moments. when i’m hurting, sometimes the best thing you can say to me is nothing at all. just being there with your mouth shut will communicate trust in ways that your words never could.
when you never share details about your life that could make you vulnerable i wonder if you’re safe. “do you ever stop managing your image and let down your guard?” if you’ve never inadvertently asked me to extend grace to you because you’ve shared something potentially vulnerable about yourself, what makes you think i will share something vulnerable about myself and expect to receive grace back? relationships are a two-way street, and the best way to get something out of me that will make me vulnerable is to lead the way by sharing something about yourself that makes you vulnerable.
so how do you be a person that others open to?
do the opposite of the above.
share the good… but also the bad. and don’t leave out the ugly. talk about your losses just as much as your wins. when someone asks how you’re doing, give them an honest response, and watch for how they react. share the things about you that are messy and raw. and let people in on the parts of you that God is still working on.
our generation is hungry for authentic people to open up to. will you be the one to lead the way?