20140103_KristenStrong_sunlitgirl

Some memories don’t visit you but cement themselves as permanent landmarks in your mind.

Like the one formed when my good friend, the one with much older kids, swings by for a visit when the house looks like we’ve been livin’ large and cleanin’ little. And if you define “livin’ large” as surviving a house full of sick little people, then we have. Answering the doorbell, I shrug off the state of the house knowing my friend is no stranger to this stage of life.

As I walk toward the door, I look down at my baby girl asleep in my arms, body warm and worn out from a persistent virus. I open the door with one hand and smile, cock my head to quietly welcome my friend inside. Shutting the door behind her, I move to the sofa and clear off a mound of plastic dinosaurs so we can sit. We chat quietly for five minutes when James and Ethan, finally fever-free, run hollering into the room. My eyebrows furrow and I Shhh! them harshly, pointing to their sister. The baby wakes and I sigh exasperated. Swaying with my baby in my arms, I risk a see-through heart and confess,

“Ya know, some days with little ones are just so hard.”

I smooth hair out of my daughter’s eyes, and I’m blind to the forthcoming response.

“Well, you’re the ones who decided to have kids. What did you expect?”

I stare at her as her words ricochet off the walls and hit my heart. I hear the message loud and clear,

Quit whining, wimp.

That’ll teach you to be vulnerable, I say to myself.

My mouth shuts and the walls of my heart thicken because that’s what happens when you get a little too real with unsafe people. Instead of understanding and supporting, they hand you the bricks and cement and help you fashion a false exterior that looks like I’m fine! and Everything’s great! and Nope, I don’t need any help at all. 

I hold my sick baby girl close to my hurting heart. My friend leaves but her words linger and I’m left wondering what to do with them all.

I open up Scripture and read the psalmist’s words about days with evening shadows and withering grass, yet God’s compassion and goodness remain (Psalm 102).

I say the words out loud: There’s nothing wrong with a lament as long as I remember that when standing in hard times, God’s goodness stands stronger.

Early January comes in the wake of Christmas breakfasts and holiday parties with family and friends, and sometimes the memories we unwrap are hard voices saying our difficulties don’t matter. And when I think about how I’ve surely been one of the hard voices to another, my heart hurts.

Sister, if you risked a little vulnerability and the results weren’t pretty, I’m so sorry. Don’t see it as confirmation that you’re a hot mess; see it as the realization that the person you chose to share with probably isn’t safe. Remember our hearts are like the Old Testament tabernacle. Some parts are for many at the entrance. Some parts are a more holy place where safe people may cross the threshold. And still parts are for just you and God alone, a holy of holies.

Please know there’s no shame in admitting something is hard. Whether or not troubles come that make the 6 o’clock news, seasons appear when trials and tests rain down. God never asks us to skim over troubles but to trust Him with them.

“Nothing heals us like letting people know our scariest parts: When people listen to you cry and lament, and look at you with love, it’s like they are holding the baby of you.” Anne Lamott

Offering eye contact and words that say I understand birth a safe place for another woman to feel held. And where a woman feels held, she feels safe.

If someone counts us as a safe person, may we listen and provide genuine support in whatever ways we feel led. And ultimately, may we thank God for standing with us, for holding our hearts close to His. Because in Him, we are always safe.

A question for you: How do you discern if someone is a safe person? And if you have ever regretted sharing with an unsafe person, how do you rest in truth instead of building walls?

By Kristen Strong at Chasing Blue Skies, a safe place for you. 

{Interested in more solid encouragement? Discover how you can receive my new ebook, The Way Jesus Sees You: Reflections on Your True Identity, completely free.}

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  • http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God

    Kristen,
    I love the quote by Anne Lamott. Sometimes we just need the baby in us to be lovingly held. As a writer, I risk being vulnerable all the time and yes, there have been times when I have been burned. That’s when I cling to the One who truly knows and understands me. My challenge with being vulnerable (and here I go again) is that my own mother is a hard one to be vulnerable with…and if you can’t be vulnerable with your own mother??? Too many times I have expressed how a was feeling deep down inside only to be greeted with “don’t feel that way, feel this way.” Or I get the buck up, think positive thoughts speech. I have learned that even some of the people we love the most are not the safest places for us to express the deepest parts of ourselves. Thank you for a wonderful post, Kristen. As always, good to read you here!
    Love and blessings,
    Bev

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      Thank you, Bev. For your encouragement and your wise words. And when vulnerability is hard, may we all take your advice and cling to the One who fully gets us. Love you!

  • http://plantedoak.com Kristi Scorza-Sobieski

    thank you kristen for sharing. sometimes it’s as though we don’t even realize we have the same bruises or scars until someone shows us theirs. the beauty of it is the healing that comes when it is god who sheds light on our hurts. feeling a little bit of healing and hope this morning. god rocks. xo –

  • Karen B.

    Hi Kristin,
    I just read this quote yesterday, “saying someone can’t be sad because someone else may have it worse is just like saying someone can’t be happy because someone else might have it better.” I think this helps describe empathy. Somedays ARE simply hard! Who knows maybe that friend had someone tell her that same thing in response to being vulnerable one day when her kids were young and she just repeated it. I’m grateful that God was able to heal that bruise for you.

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      Karen, what a great quote—so true!

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      You may be right about that, Karen. And I love that quote too!

  • http://simpleandqualitylife.com/ Tiffany

    It seems like these moments happen so often with other moms, where so much of my insecuritiy lies. I, too, have probably been the one with the wounding words, wearing my “toughness” as a badge of honor. I appreciate what Karen B. said about passing on things we have heard before. I hadn’t thought about it that way but keeping that in mind will help me watch my words more closely.

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      I agree, Tiffany! Karen’s words *are* wise to keep in mind! And yep ~ I’m certain I’m guilty of wounding as well, so I’m preaching to myself today, too.

      Thanks for being here and sharing ~ your words are so appreciated.

      • Rebecca

        I too have been the tough woman who has worn her ‘toughness’ as a badge of honor. I have also wounded others with insensitive platitudes. I needed this today…as I have opened my heart to an unsafe person and got an earful in return. I don’t want to build walls but I also want to guard others from the damage of my unguarded tongue. Thank you for the encouragement…Lord help us all to learn from these instances in our lives.

  • Tara

    That is my prayer….for all that I’ve been thru in my personal life, Lord help me to just be as real as You allow me to be with others. And help me to be that “safe person” that show that God goodness stands stronger in those difficult & hard times!

    • http://simpleandqualitylife.com/ Tiffany

      I love the idea of being the “safe person.” There will never be too many of those.

      • Kimberly

        Safe=Trust. Who can you trust? Who is safe? Great questions, and sometimes we all need a reminder to be the trusted advisor. No judgement. We have all been there. God gave us people to touch and bless.
        Be blessed and know that Christ is our ultimate safe person.

  • http://www.kimberlyanncoyle.com Kimberly

    Every woman needs to read this, Kristen. Good, wise words here for all of us, whether we ourselves have been hurt or we have caused pain to others.

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      Thank you, Kimberly.

      I always love seeing your pretty face here! xo

  • Brenda

    Too often I err on the other side and don’t say ANYTHING for fear of saying the wrong thing. As someone who has been on the receiving end of those stepped on vulnerabilities, I struggle with not trusting myself to have the words…the healing, encouraging ones- and so I say nothing which in itself can be just as hurtful. Help me to be salt Oh Lord and always give me the right words. It does not come naturally to some of us.

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      Brenda, your words are my prayer, too. Thank you for sharing them here.

  • karyn

    O, we are back to wall building. I have to smile. Walls are the safest place to be in. No way in. A thick cement wall cannot be penetrated by with a power drill. Who has power drills. No one really would use a power drill to break down a wall.
    Yet, when I examine Scripture, was not Daniel in the Lion’s den with just JESUS and the four youths in the fire with the fourth Man, was not HE the Son of the Living God.
    Walls, they are safe. A safe haven.
    Who entered into the holiest of places. Were they not the Levite priest and the prophets.
    They were along with the LORD God Almighty, big time.
    Walls.
    I dunno. It is safe in these walls. There is not way in but the LORD said, I AM the way in.
    JESUS is with me. The safest place to be.
    Will I come out and play.
    Nah.
    I’ll play from the inside – looking out.

    • karyn

      ‘but’ not ‘by’
      Is it a good place to feel insecure.
      Yes, it is. No one is perfect. Just JESUS.

  • Lisa

    Wow – maybe I have too many walls, but if you want someone “safe” the only one to talk with is Jesus! I cannot think of anyone dear to me who has not wounded me at some time or another, and it usually goes back to my own insecurities. I try not to take offense where none is intended.

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      Lisa, I think you’re completely right about our insecurities playing a part in wounds. And yep, no one on this earth is going to be the perfect friend and always listen and share exactly like we’d hope or in the way we think is best. While this is true, there are still safe people who know us and our hearts better than others. They provide a safe place for us to share struggles and own our good, bad, and ugly. Safe people aren’t perfect people, but they have a track record of providing that safe place more often than not.

  • http://www.christinamariehernandez.wordpress.com Christina

    This is wonderful Kristen. I’m really struggling with finding that one safe person to share with. Please pray for me.

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      I’m praying God leads you to more than one. Much love to you, Christina!

  • Heidi

    And being the safe person, may in turn teach us more about empathy and and how to look for the safe person we may need…
    I think Our loving Father has put this here today through you, and all of the messages, for me too. Sometimes it’s so hard to come out of the dark from being the “strong, tough skinned one”, to wearing my heart on my sleeve, as God softens it. Such a sad day yesterday, grieving the death of my lovely grandmother, and other things held very dear to me just brushed aside, and once again being made to feel guilty and wrong for my emotions and feelings when they were expressed. This is right on time. I thank you. Our God shines through this page and all of you.

  • Linda

    I consider myself a safe and empathetic person but am a sinner and sometimes have a bad day. Maybe the older friend was coming over for some encouragement herself? You can’t give out from an empty well. I think so much has to do with grace and risking love and vulnerability over and over again. Yes, some people are not safe and abuse trust, etc, but shutting down and labeling one another as unsafe after one comment does not help our larger cause of building community as sisters or showing the world the love Christians have for each other.

    • http://www.inhotpursuitofgod.blogspot.com Erin Szczerba

      Very wise, Linda.

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      Thank you so much for sharing here with us, Linda. Your thoughtful words are so appreciated!

      It’s important for me to state that I would never believe someone to be an unsafe listener after a single comment. As I told Lisa above, safe people have a track record of providing a safe place for us to share our good, bad, and ugly. It takes time and usually more than one conversation to discover this. And just because someone has proven to be an unsafe listener to me doesn’t mean she isn’t a valuable, trustworthy listener and friend to someone else (or to a whole community of folks).

  • http://www.ahouseandyard.com Calista

    I think what has helped me most is to remember that we are each accountable to God for our own actions.

    When I’ve regretted being vulnerable with someone because they were hurtful or thoughtless in return, it’s their mistake not mine. God is faithful to comfort and strengthen me and I will think twice before sharing with that person again.

    On the flip-side, I’m prayerful to really hear others and the need behind whatever it is they may share with me. To be a safe place. Since I’ve been hurt after being vulnerable, I am more conscious of not hurting someone else when they’re vulnerable.

    God holds me accountable for what I do, not what someone else does.

  • Kim

    This really resonated with me and really affirms why women collectively have such a tough time truly supporting each other – with eye contact and words that say “I understand” instead of snarkiness from their own insecurities or judgements.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  • http://ruthpovey.me Ruth Povey

    Thank you for this, Kristen, exactly what I needed to read today

  • http://www.especiallyfondofyou.com Christy

    Oh me. Ouch! I hate to think I have been on both ends of those kinds of words. May I be ever-mindful of the power of a word. May mine always be full of love and grace. Thanks for this today.

  • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

    Kristen, so sorry for that hurt, friend. I wish I’d been there to give you a big hug. A few months ago I was so tired and stressed and told a friend something that was going on. She looked at me and said, “This is the third time you’ve told me that.” I didn’t remember doing it (which shows how overwhelmed I was), but that shut me up and I didn’t talk to anyone for a while. Words are powerful and we should use them wisely and kindly.

  • http://www.inhotpursuitofgod.blogspot.com Erin Szczerba

    Hi Kristen,
    Thank you for sharing this. It’s hard to admit when we’ve been hurt. I know that I often try to stuff those feelings for fear they mean I am not enough. And I can relate to a few of the ladies who have commented that it is scary to go from the disguise of the “strong, tough-skinned one” to the tender, vulnerable, empathic one. Very, very scary.
    However, reading this reminds me of something Don Miller wrote on his blog in the last couple of months. Something about the story we create in our minds when we’ve been hurt and the antidote being: ask the person about the story. For example, what might you find out about your friend’s safety if you told her how it felt when she responded as she did and then asked her if something was going on with her that day?
    I believe that is the true test of a safe person. Going to them when we have been hurt, being honest with them about our own feelings, and seeing how they respond. We all say dumb, flippant things in response to our friend’s feelings at times. So, what a detriment it is to ourselves when we write someone off as “unsafe” before going to them with our feelings. I know I have done this numerous times!
    I am a single mom and dating is where I find myself most vulnerable. My heart is still healing from a recent relationship and the end of it. I am in the middle of a “trial season” and my ex-beau was in the middle of a “blessings season”, making it a bit hard for us to relate to each other. At one point he said to me “I think you might be bad luck, hun.” That really stung. Badly. I talked with God about it and He led me to realize that I can never expect anyone to say what I need to hear all of the time. But I can always be honest about my true feelings. So I told him that the comment hurt and that I’d made myself vulnerable to him by sharing with him all of the things going “wrong” in my life. His response? “It was just a joke, no need to get your feathers ruffled. But you do seem to have more bad luck stuff happen in your life than most people.” So…there was a clue about his safety-level. Not very.
    You are very brave in writing about vulnerability. And you are absolutely right when you compare our hearts to a tabernacle. We are wise to heed your wisdom in saving the inner-most part of our hearts for God, and God alone.
    xo,
    Erin

  • http://houseofgoldvb.com/ Kelly G.

    Goodness. I feel like I’ve been unsafe with letting people in my LIFE, not just in a moment; I’ve made friendships that have burned like crazy. I think the beautiful part of this is not in protecting yourself from these altogether, but allowing yourself to be healed from the caustic words and actions. The Lord does not promise sunshine and roses in friendships, but he can teach us not to become bitter and how to forgive.

    The beauty in all of this is -also- to learn how to love your friends better and to BE the safe person for them.

  • http://facetsofjoy.com Joy

    Thank you! My heart really “needed” this message. Especially these words *Sister, if you risked a little vulnerability and the results weren’t pretty, I’m so sorry. Don’t see it as confirmation that you’re a hot mess; see it as the realization that the person you chose to share with probably isn’t safe.*

    I know that our physical bodies thrive when they feel comfortable and safe – yet I hadn’t really thought about or felt into the idea of “safe heart connections”. This is a boundary I am excited to consider and explore.

    I rest in truth instead of building walls because I trust in Love and I know I am holding God’s hand as I move through this world. That knowing allows me to share, even in “unsafe” spaces; although I can see how the feel of freedom and joy would naturally amplify with the use of discernment. Thank you!

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      Joy, your comment is golden. I especially love your parallel about how our physical bodies need to feel comfortable and safe just as our emotional heart connections need the same. Thank you for this. You and your words are a gift!

  • http://www.thepaparazzimom.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    Thank you, Kristen. I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately and you hit the nail on the head. It does make me build walls and then it makes me engage in some very unhealthy self-talking too. Self-loathing talk. I start to think I’m pathetic and my “un-safe” friend(s) told the truth I needed to hear. Which then makes me never want to talk about how I’m feeling with anyone because how I’m feeling is wrong. Wow. Clearly, I need to spend some time in Scripture and sitting with Jesus, the One who knows how I am feeling and the only real safe place there is. Thank you for posting this and making me feel not so alone.

  • maria

    I am always shocked when I hear such blatant disregard of other’s struggles or pain! It certainly indicates a need on the part of the inconsiderate person that should start with prayer for them. I am glad that there seems to be more people that would be more compassionate than those that are not, at least in my grateful experience. We do need to have some safe people who we can talk to! I imagine we all have had some experience like this where injury is added to insult; and I do hope after reading this post to be more careful that my words don’t wound but rather offer understanding and a safe place to receive encouragement and support! Thank you!

  • Karen

    Amazed at God’s timing for this post…. just yesterday, I decided that “vulnerable” would be my one word for 2014. Too often, I shy away from closer relationships and new challenges for fear of making myself too vulnerable. This year, I want to embrace vulnerability — with other people, with God, with myself. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  • http://covertocoverchronologically.blogspot.com Bev Brandon

    What did you long to hear your friend say?

    Seems that people don’t want us to suffer. Don’t want us to complain. But wait, I’m just as lousy at words as they. What lies beneath those pat answers that shut us down! I’ve not walked in your house slippers but I had 3 babies in 3 years and wrestled with this…and I’m older and still do. I bump up against other’s sins all the time. What will I do with what stirs within me? I don’t want to be looked over, loved less. This a.m. I read IPet 4:8 about covering other’s sins with a blanket of love. Love what you are doing letting t.h.i.s. drive you to God in dependence rather than distancing from true friends. You are. You will.

    Can I say this. I loved this post about weighty words. Made me want to knock on your door. You invited us in and that’s beautiful. I came to your post as a stranger and leave as a cyber friend. Hug those sick kids for me. Bev
    PS – I have written this like four times so I hope it doesn’t do multiple entries.
    sent from my iPhone

  • Kelley Light

    Thank you! :)

  • http://www.murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com Kristen

    Ouch! The comment that you received actually hurt me! (Yowza!) I’m glad for the reminder that we need to be the one full of gentle words and kind, understanding hearts.

  • http://Nellikalinyuk.com Nelli k

    I love this! God has been healing me from allowing past relationships define if I will let others in today. I have been told I’m an open book, I don’t know if I agree but I do think I’m a honest vulnerable person. Vulnerability has healed some of my past life scars and lead me to a lot of freedom. I think our job is to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us to safe ladies, sometimes we just need love & compassion and nothing else! Thank you for sharing your heart I completely agree!

  • http://www.GodCenteredmom.com Heather

    Kristen…thank you for being vulnerable with us and speaking truth so eloquently and tenderly. The imagery of the tabernacle and our choice of what to share…fabulous. Will be keeping that picture in mind as a filter when deciding what to share. Such a great article. Thank you for faithfully writing!

  • http://www.amyjbennett.com Amy

    This -> ” Don’t see it as confirmation that you’re a hot mess; see it as the realization that the person you chose to share with probably isn’t safe. ” It’s taken me years and years to learn this with some people. I think I always want to think the relationship is improving or the person has moved on but over and over they prove they aren’t a safe person for me. I don’t like to build up walls with them but they aren’t giving me a chance to do otherwise. Thanks for helping me see it’s not me.

  • http://www.beckykopitzke.com Becky Kopitzke

    Oh, Kristen, I think I felt a physical lurch in my stomach – more like a stab, really – when I read your “friend’s” response that day. I can so relate to your message here, and I’m reminded of the value in my own personal mission to be that safe place for other women. Blessings to you, sister!

  • http://sunrisewithasixpack.com Karin

    Oh the memory that your post has dredged up! I had a friend once tell me that there was something “wrong” with my kids because they were toddlers not sleeping well. Huh?? She went on to take a few jabs at me and my husband. It all came out of nowhere, but of course it was crushing. That friendship stalled pretty quickly (though, years later, we are now in touch and friendly with each other). I was hurt and mad, so I excommunicated her from my life. In hindsight, I see that she had some insecurities and issues in her own life. I see now that I probably should have given her grace – at the same time keeping her from the “safe” place in my heart. Thanks for sharing this. It’s so good to keep it real. Happy New Year, my friend! Love you.

  • http://www.thewordweaver.com Deb Weaver

    Oh, the wisdom in this: “Remember our hearts are like the Old Testament tabernacle. Some parts are for many at the entrance. Some parts are a more holy place where safe people may cross the threshold. And still parts are for just you and God alone, a holy of holies.” I sometimes struggle with sharing too much at the entrance and am learning to be more selective and careful. I plan to print this part out for a reminder. Thank you.

    Deb Weaver

  • http://pinknewgirl.wordpress.com Donna

    Spoke to me. There’s God’s power in the words you wrote

  • Valorie MacDonald

    Oh my… Yes, just this…. just now!!!
    I have been more than a little guarded and with people who logically should be indeed on the short list of the trustworthy in my life.
    It has left me more than wary…I’m weary, bone.dry, drained.
    All about me swirl the words of the bright.and.shiny.faced ones, rushing headlong into the new year with anticipation, well it’s making me feel like even more of an emotional cave.dweller! Lol
    But I’m just asking God to help me, even within myself, to live honestly with that which is
    my own. Tend to that which is my responsibility in relationships, in my health and in caring for my own heart, being sure my new.found ability to begin to dream is not compromised. Being a life.long “pleaser,” this is still quite new and a bit scary… Sounds like I don’t really need to be worrying about others’ words or opinions; I think I have plenty on my plate just with my kids and me!) THANK YOU for your honesty here.

  • http://n/a Carol Wengrowich

    Our hearts are precious! A lot of the time, we don’t realize that or give attention to that. Then we have difficulty discerning what people are safe for us to be vulnerable with. The scripture says we must guard our hearts and that we must also put a guard over our mouths. I have had to learn the hard way that not everyone is worthy of my thoughts or concerns. And, yes I said, “worthy”. Now this is not spoken with pride, but with conscious wisdom, that which comes from knowing God’s Word and truly letting Him change the way we think, perceive, feel, touch, hear, see, give and love. This is a real process to learn how to understand things God’s way. For me I don’t ask for a guard, I ask for armies to protect me and give me wisdom. Remember God is faithful and good—all the time!! To those of you who have been desperately hurt or broken by others, get alone with God. He is The Gracious Father. He can and will change the way you think. He WILL restore you and give you peace. He Will give you new hope. He WILL give you new LIFE. He will give you WISDOM! Ask Jesus to give you a heart of total forgiveness to those who have hurt you. If you don’t, you will not experience the blessings of God’s grace. You cannot love like Jesus does, with unforgiveness in your heart. Oh how I love Him and thank Him for this transformation of my broken heart to LIFE – real life!! Pray for your enemies. Blessings to all of you from our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Valorie MacDonald

      Yes, Carol! Thank you for this timely reminder; I actually just sent a message to my prayer partner in which I mentioned the difficult and painful events of the holiday season and actually things that I had forgiven throughout the year, but which still hold some pain because it’s a “big picture” thing with the same people. I shared with her that I’ve been made deeply aware that I need to cling to the Father heart of God like never before.
      Every time we grow I think it can be natural to then pull away a bit, even just in the busy.ness of
      life. I am reminded I must rely on Him as my vital necessity, even as food and drink; as air to my lungs. Thank you:)

  • J.

    Such a wonderful post, thank you! I think that when someone responds to the emotional content of your message, she is showing empathy. She is actively imagining how you feel, and responds to that. Rather than getting distracted by judgement, or how she was raised (such as no complaining, ever, allowed), someone with empathy will hone in on how you are feeling, and want to show support and caring. Some people jump to: “what can I do to help?” Others just stay in the moment: “It’s so hard, isn’t it?” Little by little, as you get to know someone, she shows her true colors, and demonstrates whether she is safe or not, by her demonstrating empathy.
    I’m so sorry you were responded to so harshly when you just could have used a caring and supportive response!
    xo Jan

  • Melissa

    I have this vision sometimes, kind of a guided imagery. With the loss of acceptance by my own mother, “the one you should be able to be vulnerable with”…. I found that I miss crawling in my mom’s arms and her rocking me. I yearn to provide it for my own children. So somehow, somewhere, the image of Christ holding me in his arms, rocking me. Comforts and warms me. Sometimes it does embarrass me…. it’s my “secret” vision. Embarrasses me because I should be “old enough” to handle this or that. But I still want to be cradled, to be hugged, to be accepted as a child unconditionally. It my toughest times I imagine Him holding me as only the Abba can comforting me as the only parent that loves me through it all. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability… Grace be with you.

    • Beth WIlliams

      Melissa,

      Don’t be embarrassed by your vision. Lots of us women want to be cradled and hugged. I absolutely want to be hugged and snuggle with my hubby. It is nothing to be ashamed of. We were made to be loved and to love one another.

      God Bless@

  • http://www.dianewbailey.net Diane W. Bailey

    Beautiful words sweet friend. I have learned over the years that wounded people wound others. To me her calloused comment screams of “this is something someone said to me once.” I’m sorry those words touched you at all.

    I too have been hurt by calloused words from a wounded person; they sting and I can ruminate over them years later if I’m not careful.

    My life is an open book because I gave it to Christ for Him to have his way. But there are times that my honesty has not been God led and I have opened myself up for attack.

    Discernment of safe people is hard for me. I usually stand in the back of the room for a days, months, years watching people before I decide whether or not to trust them. And then there are those people (like you) that you know right away, they are a soul sister. Love you!

  • Beth WIlliams

    Kristen,

    So So sorry about that woman’s words. Perhaps she and other should do the Bible study “The Power of a Woman’s Words” by Sharon Jaynes. It talks about how words heal, hurt, help, and encourage. It is not only about what we say, but how we say it. I try to ask God to put His hand over my mouth so I don’t say the wrong things. I want to always have empathy and compassion on another.

    Not everyone is cut out to be a parent, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t step in and help out in a pinch or just give a kind word or two. I fully believe we should be more Christ-like in our dealings, especially with other Christians.

    Thanks for a superb post! God bless and may your children be healthy in 2014~!!

  • http://www.lisajobaker.com Lisa-Jo Baker (@lisajobaker)

    Oh no she didn’t!!! Can NOT believe a “friend” would be so callous. Yeow, I’m all bristlly here just imagining that moment. Love how you love on all of us and teach us over and over again the value of friendship, no matter what it’s cost us in the past. LOVE YOU

  • http://www.kristinwithani.wordpress.com Kristin S

    Oh, this is a hard one. I work in a Christian ministry and on my team, there are a handful of unsafe people. See? Even people in full time ministry aren’t perfect. :-) I’ve been there for 18 years. About once a semester I’m asked to lead a devotional time for our team. I just can’t do it. I’ve done it once and it didn’t feel safe. It makes me so sad because the rest are dear, safe friends. I feel like it’s my fault and I shouldn’t feel that way. But experience telling. Words hurt.

    I do want to be a safe friend.

    I think what is most heavy for me is that I put up walls and just avoid those unsafe people. That’s not community. But do I have to be everyone’s friend? No. I do have to love and be kind. What does that look like?

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      Kristin, thank you for sharing your heart here. You bring up some thoughtful points and great questions.

      I’m so sorry you’ve had that difficult experience within your team. You’re right ~ no one person is perfect, so no group of folks will be perfect, either.

      Oh how I get that desire to just avoid the unsafe people. And while I know this generally isn’t the right thing to do, I know it also isn’t responsible of me to be vulnerable with them, either. So, I explore that vast middle ground, that which lies between avoiding her completely and inviting her over for weekly coffee dates. Depending on the nature of the relationship and how the Holy Spirit leads, I probably won’t mind discussing surface things and asking her questions like what she did for the holidays, how do her kids like school…things of that nature. And I’ll answer similar questions. Whether or not I’m called to be her friend, I can be friendly.

      The good news is that a relationship with an unsafe person may not always look like it does today. God is in the business of raising the dead, and He can certainly raise “dead” relationships, too. Or improve damaged ones. Even if someone has proven to be unsafe today, I rest knowing that if it’s God’s will, that relationship could change in the future.

      I hope I’ve at least partly answered your questions, Kristin. Thank you for being a part of our community here. You are treasured.

  • muchalone

    I have yet to find a safe person. I crave honest interactions with others and have tried to find that place where sharing is honest, but not too detailed. Not sure I’ll ever have it figured out, so I have settled into a somewhat distant, yet polite co-existence with the people I encounter around me. I guess I have a safe strategy, instead of a safe person.

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      I’m so familiar with this strategy. So familiar.

      It’s difficult, isn’t it?

      With an arm around your shoulders, I’m praying right now that you have that craving for honest interactions met. Because it’s real and needed and you are so. worth. it. May God turn your safe strategy into a safe person so that you know them as one in the same. Much love to you.

  • Jen

    Friend, these are life giving words. May God continue to bless others in a rippling effect with these messages.

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      I love you to pieces, Jen. Thank you for being a safe place for me!

  • Sarah Dittmer

    Wow. Some “friend” she was. True friends encourage, not tear down. Wonder what’s behind her walls? We should never be afraid to “be real” with others, especially those that are considered friends. My grandma always said, in reference to friends, “If they want to see me, I’m here whether the house is ready or not. If they want to see my house, make an appointment.” =)
    Thanks for this post.

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      AMEN to your grandma, Sarah!

      And thank you for being here today. xo

  • Jana

    You are spot on here. I have definitely felt this feeling. After comments like this I can just feel myself withdrawing. Have you read any books by Brene Brown? She is a shame researcher and talks a lot about vulnerability. She has a story very similar to this in one of her books

    • http://chasingblueskies.net/ Kristen Strong

      Jana, I’m sooo embarrassed I haven’t, although her books are on my list! I have listened to her TED talks before on this subject and she is brilliant.

  • Katherine

    Thank you for your words here. There are so many volnerabilities, so many walls, so many areas where I find myself lost, hurting and needing to lament…… but to whom? How does one find those people who are not going to hand you brick and mortar?
    I LOVED, truely LOVED your analogy of the tabernacle and our hearts! That is so true and made me stop and ponder.
    This line also spoke to my volnerable heart: “There’s nothing wrong with a lament as long as I remember that when standing in hard times, God’s goodness stands stronger.”
    Going through the aftermath of a house fire has one standing in hard times….. and as I read this I saw myself standing there….. then I read the words “God’s goodness stand stronger” Oh, how I needed to hear those words! Glimmers of hope in dark times. God’s goodness stands stronger!
    Thank you for sharing your heart and letting God speak to mine.
    Blessings.

  • Nancy R

    On the other hand, I, my husband and my first born are listeners. Thank God that I have these guys to listen to me. However, outside this group in my family it is very hard to find true listeners so I rarely share my deep parts. My first born son aches to have a soul mate that he can share his inner being with. He needs prayer for this. It also means I have to give other people’s concerns over to God otherwise I become depleted from empathy and compassion.

  • Kathleen

    “Sister, if you risked a little vulnerability and the results weren’t pretty, I’m so sorry. Don’t see it as confirmation that you’re a hot mess; see it as the realization that the person you chose to share with probably isn’t safe. Remember our hearts are like the Old Testament tabernacle. Some parts are for many at the entrance. Some parts are a more holy place where safe people may cross the threshold. And still parts are for just you and God alone, a holy of holies.” This is pure gold. Thank you for this analogy.

  • Debi Schuhow

    This touched me. I have learned to take that hurt to God and ask Him to help me not erect any walls around my heart. I don’t know how God does it but He does touch my heart, heal it, and helps me to keep on sticking my neck out.

  • Christy

    This article was really amazing! Going through one of the most painful years of my life, I have been greeted by those, who mean well, offered callous platitudes or advice that further crushed my heart. I thinking, I need to change or I am such a mess, reading this made me realize that I am not a mess, I just chose to share with a unsafe person. Wow, that is liberating and applies healing to my heart.