|We Need More Safe, Less Nice|
July 9, 2012
Because of my deep desire to help people grow, I am reading all the time. You cannot give what you do not have, so I must keep growing myself -- and reading helps me do that. Here are some titles I have recently read (or am reading) that have meant a lot to me and are worth suggesting to you:
Pure Grace by Clark Whitten
TrueFaced by John Lynch, Bill Thrall and Bruce McNicol
Bo's Café by John Lynch, Bill Thrall and Bruce McNicol; Windblown Media, 2009
All three of these books share a common theme — what does it look like to live in God's grace? One element all the authors agree on is that there is safety in an environment of true grace. I like that; after all, the byline of my counseling ministry has always been "A safe place to heal." However, I think we sometimes have a distorted view of what "a safe place" is. Allow me to share an excerpt from Bo's Café (pages 119-120) that I think wonderfully explains the essence of safety. As we pick up, Carlos and Hank are sharing some insights with Steven, who is just at the beginning of his healing journey:
"Do you mind an observation, Steven?"
"I'm not sure." I shake my head and cross my arms. "I don't get you guys. You talk about this being a 'safe place,' but neither of you two seem very safe at the moment."
Carlos puts his fork down and pats his hands on his knees, like he's realizing the need to change his approach.
"I guess that depends on what you mean by safe, huh?" he says. "See, man, if safe is just nice and sweet, where everybody's smiling at you and nobody's ever dealing with nothing, that's not safe. That's a retirement home. I like nice. Even Hank likes nice. Push come to shove, nice wins. But nice ain't enough for safe. A safe place isn't a soft place.
"Safe is a place where you can get out the worst about you and they don't run you off, talk you down, or head for the hills. It's having someone to stand with when you start to face the shameful stuff, man. It's where you can be a jerk and still have a place at the table the next day, where you don't have to hide or fake or pretend or bluff. Safe is being loved more for revealing your crap, not less. Safe is not having to 'man up' or be coerced to 'get real' or none of that nonsense."
"No kidding," Hank adds. "Nothing worse than a bunch of guys in the name of 'being real' trying to one-up each other with their Internet porn issues or how much they drink. It's almost like bragging that you're a real man. Really, just another form of hiding. Because you ain't giving anyone in that room permission to help and stand with you in the issue. Dumb game. Fake game."
"See," Carlos says, "the deal isn't being able to just let everybody hear your garbage. Who wants that? Who needs that? I can get that in my own head. Safe is where I can tell you my garbage so you can enter in and stand with me in the solution of it. That's safe, man."
Please let me repeat Carlos's last sentence with emphasis: Safe is where I can tell you my garbage so you can enter in and stand with me in the solution of it. Do you realize this is exactly why Jesus is safe? I can tell Him all my garbage and then He stands alongside me so we can work on it together. He doesn't condemn me or reject me. Instead, He puts His arm around me and says, "Wow, that is a bunch of stuff, isn't it? Let's work on resolving that."
We Christians need to stop being so "nice." At the deepest levels, people don't need nice, they need safe. And perhaps as you read your Bible and some of the books above, you will realize just how safe Jesus is and you will want to share that with someone else.