We’ve all been hurt, right? Our hearts have been devastated by betrayal. Our trust has been broken by lies. And our relationships have rocked by judgment and conditional love.
I’m know….hard stuff. I’m sorry, I hate to bring it up, but it’s important for us to acknowledge how this has impacted us…
We’ve all be hurt by unsafe people and many of us have closed off our hearts because of it. We’ve erected an invisible fortress, a wall of self-protection around our true selves. The “me” that God created is just doing whatever she can to keep herself from being hurt again by this crazy, unpredictable, fallen world in which we live.
The sad part about this is that the wall that was meant to protect, the one most of us have built and fortified, has turned us into an unsafe people, too.
Wait, you don’t believe me? Please know I’m not judging, I’m saying, me too. It is so easy for me to slip into the pattern of self-protection.
This is how it works: We meet a new person and we immediately begin to size them up.
Does she look safe? Hmmm, I dunno. She’s got that skull and crossbones tattoo – maybe she’s some kind of biker chick, a partier, an addict!
We judge, right? We judge based on the likelihood that the other person will hurt us.
We judge her look, her mannerisms, her speech. We judge her hair, her kids, her job, her car, her husband (or lack of husband).
Ok, maybe I shouldn’t say we…I do this (wow, I hate admitting that). I probably do this 10% of the time (I think I’m being totally honest here, but I’m checking in with God on that). Because of how God wired me, the other 90% of the time I have my wits about me and can be open and loving and unconditionally accepting. It’s that 10% that gets me tripped up and sometimes makes me not emotionally safe. I think I miss out on some really great people that 10% of the time.
**(As I think about it, it may be more than 10% – that 10% is conscious and there may be some sub/unconscious stuff going on, too – Lord, reveal my weaknesses and help me to do better.) (Also, I have a tattoo, it was just an example.)
HOW TO BE AN EMOTIONALLY SAFE PERSON
I want to be an emotionally safe person. I mean, really, God created my heart to connect to the hearts of others and if I let my own self-protection get in the way then I am not only walking outside His will, but I am being harmful instead of helpful to the people I was created to care about. Ugh…I hate that.
So, I’m just going to lay out a few characteristics of safe people so we can know what we’re shooting for…what I’m shooting for.
The first thing we need to acknowledge is that a safe person recognizes her own weaknesses and accepts the weaknesses of others. Therefore, she understands that no one is perfect and even the most faithful of friends may hurt us at some point. We are not aiming for perfection because perfection is just another wall that keeps us from being real – we are aiming for real goodness, kindness, thoughtfulness…real love.
With those traits as a foundation for relationship most everything else falls into line and, when conflict ensues (and it will), forgiveness and restoration can be achieved more quickly because of the solid relational foundation.
Ok, here goes:
A safe person:
- knows that we are all equal, made in the image of God and that no man is above another.
- understands that others are separate and does not wish to possess or force them to bend to her will.
- respects others’ freedom and individual identity.
- can set her own boundaries and respect the boundaries of others.
- is truthful, follows through on what she says and let’s her yes be yes and her no be no.
- understands that speaking truth without love is brutality, so speaks with love.
- values integrity and does the right thing even when it’s not the easy thing.
- listens with empathy, trying to understand the other’s perspective and is not preoccupied trying to come up with a response.
- shares herself whole-heartedly without pretense.
- asks for forgiveness and forgives others.
- is flexible, willing to change behavior, not just apologize over and over without changing.
- is faithful and can keep her friends’ confidence.
- accepts others as imperfect and human – wishes for their growth, but does not hold their weaknesses against them.
- accepts her own weaknesses and imperfections.
- can be vulnerable without expecting others to fix them or to be the determiner of their value.
- has a healthy self-esteem and invites constructive criticism without becoming defensive.
- earns trust and respect, doesn’t demand them.
- loves without condition.
- celebrates the victories of others without jealousy or envy.
- can own the things she makes up and messes up without trying to justify.
- draws others to God, longs to see them grow in relationship with Him, but allows them to be responsible for their own spiritual walk.
- is gracious.
In the end, a safe person feels safe. Listen to your gut (otherwise known as the Holy Spirit).
Ultimately, our goal as Christians is to be more like Jesus, the number one safe person. I mean, he died for us right, I’m not sure what else he could have done to earn our trust. And I believe that Jesus displayed all of the traits, each of them an example of his command to love.
Finally, we know it to be true that if he carries these qualities and we are made in his image, then it is possible for us to have them, too. It just takes practice and accountability. Just know that when you become an emotionally safe person, in all areas of your life, you will draw other safe people to you and, in this way, you take another step toward creating a life you love.
You deserve it.
P.S. If you liked this post and want to connect with other like-minded women who are rediscovering identity and growing in relationship with themselves and God, please consider joining us in my Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/graceover50 I hope to see you there – in the meantime, keep up on the happens here by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here: