How to Be a Safe Place for Hearts

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God has been teaching me something lately. And by lately, I mean over the last several years of my life. He’s been teaching me how to be a safe place for people’s hearts.

See, God puts us on the earth at the same time as other people, so that we’ll take care of each other. So, that we’ll have some folks to belong to and so that they’ll belong to us. Each one of us—we can be a safe place for another soul to find refuge.

But, for some reason, this being a safe place for others, it’s not our default. I think I know why.

In the beginning, and I’m talking way back in the Garden-beginning, our Maker had created this perfect space for communion. A beautiful place that was safe and where the first people could walk and talk with Him and live these wildly open lives.

Just think of it, the moment those first people opened their eyes and sucked air into their lungs, they belonged. As in they were in. And so they could go on lots of barefoot walks down those dirt paths with God and each other—their hearts fully exposed to one another, and their true selves always shining. There were no walls, no pretentions, nothing to hide. They were bare naked and unashamed. (Genesis 2:25)

But, then something happened that broke everything. There was this choice to not believe, to not trust the God who created everything and so sin entered in. God’s heart broke and ours fractured into a million pieces and ruined that honest, pure relationship between us.

Those two people ran for cover because they felt the tragic loss and they were so afraid. Walls in their hearts were erected and they hid from the One who had made them bare naked and unashamed and free.

And us humans, we’ve been covering up our real selves and building hedges around our hearts ever since. We struggle to belong and experience relationships as God intended them, there in the beginning.

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But, one day, something else happened. Because before we ever wrecked our friendship with Him there in the garden, God already had a plan. He wasn’t okay with us continuing on with this huge rift in our relationship, always running away and trying to cover up and being afraid and hiding from Him.

So Jesus came.

Jesus came to reveal to us the Father’s heart. God always wanted us to have that deep sense of belonging to each other and to Him. He wanted us to see that we can be completely and utterly known–I’m talking every crack and cranny of our insides and our outsides kind of known–and still be overwhelmingly and entirely loved.

Jesus showed up on the scene of humanity to mend what was broken between us and our Maker. Like a good big brother, He came to find us in our hide-out, take us by the hand and bring us back to the Father. Jesus restored that rift in relationship.

The Father’s heart is always the safest place. It’s the place where we most belong.

And when that relationship with Him is mended, when that union is restored, we learn how to live wildly free again. Soul naked and unashamed!

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Because here’s the thing–because of Jesus, we are fully known and profoundly loved! This sort of love sets us free to be our truest, realest selves! We can then open our arms up wide enough, too, to bring others in. We can be safe places for people’s hearts because Jesus wants them too, to know the Father’s love.

Listen, there are folks living here on the earth at the same time as us who can’t believe that anyone would be able to fully know them and still love them. There are folks all around us, always feeling like they are on the outside edges. And there are brothers and sisters of ours on the sidelines saying to themselves, “I can’t be known. I can’t be loved. You don’t know who I am. You don’t know what I’ve done.”

And God is not okay with that. He created us to belong, to have an intimate, personal relationship with Him. Our Maker gave us arms capable of reaching out wide enough and hearts that pump with the the passionate love of Jesus–the big brother who goes to the sidelines and alley ways and dark corners to pull others in.

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So, when we’re standing at the door on our way out to the next thing, and someone is telling us about their day, we can stand there long enough to really listen.

And when we’re sitting at the table and someone just keeps talking about the weather, we can learn how to go below the surface of things. It may require a little social awkwardness on our part and about fifteen seconds of brave, but we can tenderly ask the meaningful questions:

How are you doing, really?

Is there anything you’re struggling with?

How can I pray?

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Some people are in a world of dark and they just need someone to let them know there’s some light nearby. They just need someone to be the light nearby. We can talk about what actually matters while they’re still here with us. It’s why we live on the earth at the same time as them.

And when someone begins to let down the walls and cracks the facade, deal tenderly with them. Don’t judge them. Don’t try to fix them. Just stand there and be a safe place. In doing so, they’ll begin to trust again. They’ll have this sense of belonging and they won’t be so afraid. Because you’re showing them a little taste of what Jesus is like by letting them know that they’re in.

We become a refuge when we stop looking inward so much and start looking around us. When we choose to open up our arms wide enough to pull in the one standing nearest us. We can help others be their realest, truest, most alive and free selves. The person who God always intended for them (and us) to be!

You know, like way back in the Garden when we first walked barefoot with our Maker, just enjoying each others company.

Naked and unashamed.

 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34) The Message

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