Every month, a few ladies from my church meet at a cafe for Bible study and I typically lead the study. In my last post, "Just Stay Calm," I wrote about how bad family news was causing me to be quite unsettled and anxious. Not surprisingly, I facilitated a study on peace. Our conversation was so nourishing, that I left the restaurant elated and confident that my family would be well, regardless of the mountain-sized problems in our lives.
Sunday's study, prepared me to be at peace during a chaotic week, but it did not prepare me for Tuesday. On Tuesday, our office had a heart-to-heart conversation, and we bared many things. It was healthy, necessary, and unexpected. It was also heavy. After our chat, we did not really process what had been shared. To use counseling terms, we did not "end the session" well. We all went back to the work of reviewing our current students' schedules and grades; looking through new student admission files, and creating schedules for our incoming students. This is one of the few times of the year when almost all of our doors are shut. We were "tunnel-vision-focused" on our tasks. The unprocessed effects of our chat sat in the minds of many, including myself, like an anvil on the ocean floor.
When I got home, at about 6:30 pm, I went right to sleep and I did not wake up until around 3:00 am. The mental and emotional weight of our office chat needed to be digested, and, apparently, this took much energy. I could not believe how exhausted I was. I could barely walk straight! I thought about how important it was to allow one's self to safely vent frustrations; and the importance of having friends, safe mentors, and, if needed, a therapist. You have to have a place where you feel safe speaking your truth.
One’s friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human.
I thought about some of our students who struggle to find safe beings and spaces. Life can be nearly unbearable without them. Just think of the many songs that have been written about the value of having real friends. I am showing my age by the ones I have placed in this post.
And what does it mean to be that safe person? I think it means to honor what is shared with you, whether or not you agree with it; to sometimes listen and say nothing, and at other times offer insight; to sit in silence, when silence is silently requested; and to convey how much you value your friend, family member, colleague, student, or whomever, simply by honestly valuing them. You cannot be safe if you are fake and you cannot fake safety, even if you truly care and are well-meaning. If you are feeling judgy-judgy about someone you care about, deal with your judgy self before attempting to be their listening ear. Love them by being true.
In addition to all of the above, I think that being a safe space for someone is like being fertilized soil - not that you are full of manure, but rather full of nutrients to help your friend grow in a way that best suits them. In this sense, one's safe spaces may not be comfortable, but rather a place to take, some difficult steps toward accountability. It is the uncomfortable growing space. I love this about the people close to me. They know my values, so they, lovingly point me in the direction of the person I aim to be. They hold me accountable for the goals I set for myself. Their interventions and advice may not always feel warm and fuzzy, but they are most appreciated. I am able to trust these friends in my weakness, because they will not let me drown in my temporary feelings.
Here, I share new discoveries and thoughts about things I love. Ride along with me. Comments are welcomed and appreciated.
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