There's a lot of talk these days about finding one's safe space. When something disturbing happens in our world, a growing number of people are falling apart and looking for a place where they can curl up into an emotional (and sometimes a physical) ball. A generation was raised to value their feelings above all else. They were encouraged to express their emotions, but not engage their inner man to deal with problems. They simply don't have the tools to interact with issues with strength and resolve.
So now there is a national conversation about 'safe spaces', where people can cry, sit, pet animals, and express their fear and anger in other ways that make them feel like people care about their inner conflict. Whether it is at universities or the work place, 'safe places' are being created to accommodate such people. Why would a 28-year old at Harvard need a room on campus where they can go to lie down on a couch with a 'therapy beagle' upon hearing about a shooting at the University of Oregon... or upon hearing the news of the election of a person with whom he disagrees?
Is it wrong to have a safe space? I don't think so. We do our best to create safe spaces at home, in our cars, in public situations, etc. There's nothing wrong with safety. And even in relationships, it is good to have certain people you can talk with without feeling like you are going to be betrayed or beat down because you reveal weaknesses in your life. But there is a difference between healthy care for your soul, and unhealthy coddling of your self. Care involves healthy empowering. Coddling involves unhealthy enabling. Care is a way to help someone overcome a problem. Coddling is a way to help someone succumb to a problem. Care encourages accountability. Coddling encourages avoidance. Care produces a victor. Coddling produces a victim. Care helps an injured person walk again. Coddling all but guarantees the injured person will remain a cripple. This is true in the physical realm as well as the emotional and spiritual realm.
The believer doesn't need to create a 'safe space.' The safe space already exists. In fact, it doesn't have to be created because our safe place is eternal. Thousands of years ago, David who was a shepherd and became one of the greatest kings in history wrote...
The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me, still I am confident.
I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.
For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.
Then my head will be high above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Lord, hear my voice when I call; be gracious to me and answer me.
My heart says this about You, “You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper; do not leave me or abandon me, God of my salvation.
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord cares for me.
Because of my adversaries, show me Your way, Lord, and lead me on a level path.
Do not give me over to the will of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing violence.
I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.
- Psalm 27
It may be easy to dismiss an ancient writer who knew nothing of modern terrorism, racism, and political turmoil. Was he just a white man with privilege who didn't understand what it meant to have to curl up with some Green Day and cry a bit?
Oh, David knew what it was like to be an underdog. He killed lions and bears who would attack his sheep. His brothers treated him like the runt of the family he was. You may have heard about David and Goliath. This is that David. To this day the phrase "David and Goliath" is used in military, sports, and any other context when insurmountable odds are at stake. David had to establish a kingdom, and then he had to fight off friends and family as well as other enemies who would seek to take it from him. David committed awful acts from which he had to repent. He lost his newborn son to death because of his selfishness. He knew about loss and struggle. He knew about everything that would take the heart of a man. And yes... he would take his ink and lyre and write songs to perform and put himself where he should be to survive the storms of life.
That place was in the care of God Himself. This Psalm perfectly explains where the believer finds safety and care. It is in the presence of a loving warrior God who will protect and perfect those who find refuge with Him. He doesn't coddle us. He fights with us and for us. God doesn't deny our hurt. But neither does He glorify it. God empowers transformation during the conflict.
You don't need a therapy dog to deal with bad news. You need the true God to deal with everything in your life. Don't run away from chaos. Run to your Creator. Not dealing with issues will not cause them to go away. We are to face struggle in the power of Christ. We are told to be courageous and not fear. This is not to diminish your pain, but it is to strengthen your purpose.
Today something will likely come up in your life that will inspire fear. You will have a choice to make in that moment. Will you curl up and cry, or will you hit your knees and cry out to Jesus? God is waiting for you to run to Him. There is no safer place than being with God in the middle of a battle.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.