The recent cold snap reminded me of boyhood days growing up in North Central Pennsylvania. We had all kinds of water around where I lived. Swimming pools, farmer’s ponds, small streams and the Susquehanna River. When winter came and the boys were out playing, frozen ponds, pools and rivers held a certain facination. I remember as a little kid dabbling along the edge of a small stream near our house, testing the ice to see if it would hold me. I got numerous wet, freezing cold feet. Later as I got a little older and a little braver I got opportunities to get my whole body soaking wet and freezing, freezing cold when the ice would break and I’d fall through. I’m really lucky to be alive because I was a little dare devil! As I got older and wiser from the numerous plunges into frozen water as the ice gave way, I learned how to test the ice before trusting it. I had grown very cautious and skeptical that any ice could hold me. I’d put only part of my weight on the edge, if it held I’d shift more weight to the ice, if it held, I’d stomp down, then throw big rocks out a ways to see if I could hear or see it crack. After numerous and extensive tests, I’d begin to trust the ice with my weight. Easy going at first, then with more courage and confidence, as I walked further out and heard no cracking, I’d give myself fully to the ice, running sliding, playing freely. It was a conscious, internal submission believing the ice was safe and I could trust it to hold me up.
If you are big enough to be reading this you are then fully aware of how often "the ice" of a relationship has broken and plunged you into its frigid waters. That doesn’t happen too many times and we begin to really never put our weight fully into a relationship again. We grow skeptical and cautious wondering if we could ever trust anyone again with ourselves. We often feel the pressure put on us by others to "trust the ice." We are coerced, manipulated, shamed, guilt tripped, etc. but the truth is we have to do major testing, just a little piece of ourselves at a time before fully trusting, before we will venture putting our full weight into a relationship. It may take much time and testing before we feel free to frolic and enjoy with reckless abandon again! That kind of life is worth pursuing. It is worth becoming a safe person to help others be able to achieve that kind of life.
So am I a safe person? Can I be trusted? Will others be able to feel so safe with me so they can play freely in relationship with me? So how can I become a person others can trust with the full weight of their lives?
I’ve been learning from a ministry called Truefaced and pondering this all week. First, I realize I can never "make" anyone feel safe enough to trust me. I can’t give them a list of 10 reasons why they should trust me. I can’t preach it into them, beat it into them or sell it to them. I can’t say "you need to feel safe enough to trust me." I can only become the kind of person that others test and realize I am safe, I can be trusted.
I have to choose I will become safe. I have to know I cannot make anyone change anything and basically give up on that. I have to open myself to trust God will do what He does when I do what I can do. I can love and accept, I can listen, I can withhold my instinct to correct, or preach to you what you "should" or "ought" to do and give you space to decide what you will do, which is the only true obedience anyway.
I have to know you have been "wet and frozen" too many times to trust me without testing me. You need to be given time and space to lean on the edge alittle, maybe throw a few rocks before you are willing to trust your full weight to my friendship. In time, hopefully inside you come to believe I’m capable of holding the full weight of your friendship and you will become free enough to run, and slide and have fun knowing it is fully safe.
When you trust fully, you can also believe the truth, look at yourself more honestly, choose to make some really healthy choices and experience a richer, fuller more meaningful life. That all begins when someone creates a safe place for you. What a privilge then because ultimately we create an environment where God does His thing, brings life change from the inside out because we choose to trust Him and trust Him with the outcome of our obedience to Him.