We all have ‘unsafe places’. Struggles, complexities, people, moments and long seasons in our life stories that cause us to want to shut down and stay far away. These things are normally places of pain that by definition seem better denied and not owned. They are ‘unsafe’ because to allow them freedom in memory and expression is to risk potential further pain. Many of us say, ‘what good is it anyway to bring up things that are better left in the darkness?’
But the problem is that the unsafe things in our past and present do not go away. They still exert a power, however seemingly benign. This power is not only detrimental to us, but can also be to others. Conversely, when we are willing to go to unsafe places and face them, however painful, we then create for others a safe zone. How many of us long to talk to someone that we know is ‘safe’, meaning in part that they will not judge or condemn us because often they have stared into the same darkness and not been destroyed?
This last week I saw a simple painting/drawing by Lisa Yaskow called Aslan on the Move. It pictures the wonderful character from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series named Aslan the Lion. On the painting along with the face of Aslan is a saying about him that has resonated through time, He isn’t safe, but he is good. There is so much profound meaning in this phrase from Lewis, that refers to the ultimate goodness of Aslan (as a type of Christ) but also the ultimate danger that he represents to all that is not only evil but also all that reeks of pretense and human evasion.
You see, we not only need to go to the unsafe places in our lives, but we need to do that in the company of the unsafe Person. I will talk in my next post of the importance of also having a ‘fellowship of the unsafe’ in our lives, people that are willing to be with us in our weakness and vulnerability because they have deeply experienced their own areas.
But ‘Aslan is on the move’. If we allow Him, He will lead us gently yet firmly to the unsafe places, transforming them in time into green pastures. In going to those places, we will then open to others those safe zones that can become transformed places.
More in the next post.