I needed to vent this morning. I needed to let my guard down and be real about something I was feeling. I needed a safe place. I mentally ticked off each “space” that I have deemed safe in my life and played out in my mind what it would look like if I were to vent in any of them.
I was disheartened when I realized that these places are safe only as long as I receive what I want to receive from them. I knew I would have to preface what I shared by saying, “I don’t need advice, I just need to be heard.” But as I replayed similar venting sessions from the past, I realized that I would get a lot more “Well, maybe you should’s” and “What if you’s,” and while there is a time and a place for those, today all I needed was someone to say, “That really sucks.”
I stood in my kitchen making my breakfast, trying to figure out where in the world I could take my hurt, find validation, and be heard the way I needed. I was upset that none of my self-declared safe places were going to offer those things. Suddenly the phrase, “safe place” ceased to hold value in my heart.
It occurred to me that when our safe places are made of up human beings, they’re never truly safe. Every person comes with their own worldview based on their experiences, and their own ideas about how to resolve conflict and how to process pain. What they have to offer may be completely the opposite of what I’m needing, and vice versa.
We can enjoy camaraderie and vulnerability in those spaces, sure. We can spur each other on toward healing and wholeness and speak as much truth as we have to give, but because we are all so full of our own humanity, we will eventually and inevitably fail at fulfilling someone else’s needs. We can’t have the right answer 100% of the time for 100% of the people.
This means that there is no true safe place on earth. There is no group of people, fellowship, club, or organization that will ever be everything I need it to be. Someone will always fail, someone will always say the wrong thing, or have an opposing view. That doesn’t mean we don’t continue on in transparency and vulnerability, it means that we do so at our own risk.
When we are met with those opposing views we have to decide what to do with them because we’ve essentially invited them by opening ourselves up. Of course there are times when the hard words are the ones we need to hear, even when they hurt. The point is that no matter what feedback we’re receiving, our places of refuge are no more or less safe because of that feedback. I venture to say that they were never safe to begin with.
We do have a safe place, though, and it is the only place we can go to receive that which we truly need.
After I determined that my earthly fortresses would fail me, I took my hurting heart to the Father who always has the right answer, who knows exactly how to tend my wounds, and who knows when to speak and when to listen. He is the only safe place, and the only true source of comfort.
It was a good reminder for me this morning, that while I love people and value wisdom and words from others who’ve gone before me or who walk beside me, there will inevitably come a day when their words will not be the ones I need to hear, and may even hurt my heart a little. I need to remember that the very first safe place I should to turn to is the spot reserved for me at the feet of my Savior.