A ‘Safe’ Day at the Beach
Sitting on the floor of my bedroom, I eagerly awaited the first glimmer of daylight. As the sun crept through the crack of my blue and white curtains, anticipation began to bubble over.
We were going to the beach!
My family didn’t visit the Gulf Coast often so it was an extremely special opportunity to swim, find shells and jump in the waves.
I was impatient but flooded with the excitement expectation brings.
Dressed in my favorite floral jumper and orange bathing suit, I was ready and just needed everyone else in my family to wake up and get moving. Finally arriving at the beach, we quickly set up so we could make our way into the water.
As usual, the water felt safe and full of possibility as we waded and swam.
A Safe Place Can Change
But it didn’t take long for my safe place to change. It wasn’t a huge event but enough to rattle my sense of peace and security.
We knew something was wrong when my mom shrieked. Peering into the water, we saw a small but opportunistic gray crab attached to her toe.
Leaping into my mom’s arms, I did not release my grip until we were safely on shore.
My safe place was suddenly filled with danger. I couldn’t enjoy the moment because I felt exposed and vulnerable.
You would have thought a shark had attacked us!
In Relationships Love Flows from Safety
Although a minor offense, one small crab disrupted my sense of safety with one small decision.
Much like my shifting perspective of underwater danger, it doesn’t take much for our safety to feel compromised in relationships.
We get disappointed or hurt, expectations are unmet or someone pulls away; leaving us exposed, vulnerable, and unable to express love and joy.
One decision or incident can change our ability to be comfortable with someone.
In order to love others fully, transparent, and engaged, we must feel we are in a safe place–accepted and cared for.
From this place of protection, we are free to be ourselves and love extravagantly.
But unrestrained love is very difficult without a sense of belonging, boundaries, mutual respect, and loads of forgiveness.
Safety in Our Identity in Christ
Our sense of safety in relationships is elevated when we experience a new identity in Christ.
“Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways].”Romans 6:4 AMP
Walking in newness of life because of our relationship with Christ shifts our definition of safety. From the confident position of a loved child of God, we see ourselves differently.
We are chosen, belong, beloved, and protected. From our safe place, we can genuinely and openly love ourselves and love others.
“Keep me safe, O God, I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to God, “Be my Lord!” Without you, nothing makes sense.” Psalm 16:1-2 MSG
Sink or Swim
But sometimes a small (or big) action shatters feelings of safety in a relationship and it is difficult to love. We have to decide if we are going to sink or swim.
When we sink, we give up on love and choose loneliness and sometimes bitterness. When we swim, we persevere in pursuing relationships. We grieve, learn, grow, forgive and then love again.
We may not stay in the same relationship because once safety is compromised it is hard to regain trust. But sometimes with dear people who value the friendship, trust and safety can return.
“Following Jesus is simple, but not easy. Love until it hurts, and then love more.” – Mother Teresa
Loving and Trusting Again
After our encounter with the crab, I slowly began to feel safe in the water with a new sense of caution. I also realized my expectations were naïve; of course, things that bite live in the water!
In relationships, we should never take each other for granted, keep an eye on expectations and realize people hurt each other.
We can trust God will comfort us if we are rejected or hurt and guide us if it is time to move on and find a new safe place to love.
“May God who gives patience, steadiness, and encouragement help you to live in complete harmony with each other—each with the attitude of Christ toward the other. And then all of us can praise the Lord together with one voice, giving glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6 TLB
About the Author:
Mary Rooney Armand is the creator and writer for the faith-based blog ButterflyLiving.org. Mary has also written a Christian Book titled, “Identity, Understanding and Accepting Who I am in Christ” available on Amazon. Mary teaches retreats, leads small groups, directed Kids Hope USA, a mentoring program for children, worked in marketing and sales, and has led mission trips to Honduras. Mary is a life coach and has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and an MBA. She and her wonderful husband Cory live in Louisiana with their 4 children and 2 dogs!
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