“ Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” Proverbs 18:24
Recently during a retreat, our facilitator asked us to share the traits of a safe friend. Trustworthy, empathetic, encouraging and accountability were some of the characteristics that immediately rose to the surface. We were asked to write down the name of someone who was a safe friend to us. After a moment, I wrote the name of a sistahfriend who I’ve known since childhood. Next, we were called to share with the person next to us, the reason why we selected the particular friend. I shared with my partner that how this friend has accompanied me through journeys of joy, unspeakable pain and was a safe place of refuge and counsel. The simple act of speaking aloud how her safe refuge had impacted my life was powerful, and tears were flowing before I knew it.
It reminded me of when I was an elementary teacher, and whenever one of my students would fall, crash their tricycle, or experience an injury, they would immediately fly into my arms. They ran with open wounds, tears flowing and everything else. There was never any hesitation; they came immediately to me because I represented safety.
God’s presence is everywhere and one of the places that have been most evident in my life is through the gift of sacred and safe friends, the ones who you can share everything, ……. And I mean everything. Not just the simple, surface stuff. Those deep parts, that we even want to hide from ourselves, the dark moments, the parts of our life that even we are ashamed of, our brokenness and our flaws. I experience the love and grace of God through the friends that I can run to without hesitation, with my open wounds, tears flowing and everything else. George Eliot’s words captured the essence of this presence.
“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.” George Eliot
I was grateful to be able to write down the name of a friend and that was fine, But the deeper question was if someone else would write down mine.
The question gave me a moment to pause. One of the deepest hurts that can be experienced is when there is a betrayal of trust. Each of us can relive that moment when you realize that something shared in confidence has not been kept. These broken bonds can shatter some for a lifetime, creating walls that hinder us from trusting and establishing relationships. We were asked , during the retreat, to think of someone who broke our trust, or heart. But the question that came back to my spirit, is if the same question was asked, would someone write my name down. Probably so……….
Proverbs 11:13 “ Gossips can’t keep secrets, but a trustworthy person can.”
After having my own encounter many, many years ago, I made a decision at that very moment. The broken trust would not make me bitter, but it propelled me to even more intentional about honoring trust in my relationships and becoming a safe and sacred space for others.
One can never underestimate the power of safe and sacred spaces. Safe sand sacred paces allow us to share freely without fear of judgement, yet know that the truth will always be spoken in love. Safe spaces allow us to express vulnerability and accountability. Proverbs 18:10 immediately comes to my mind when I think of safe and sacred spaces. We should be places of refuge and strong towers for each other and experience the inexpressible comfort that Eliot describes in the quote.
Our communities cry out for safe spaces. Our sisters cry out for safe spaces. Our world cries out for safe spaces.
I was grateful to be able to write down the name of a safe friend and that was fine,
But the deeper question is if someone else would write down mine.
Striving to be a sacred and safe space.
Sheila P Spencer
From the Jewelry Box …..
“A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend, one human soul whom we can trust utterly, who knows the best and worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults.” Charles Kingsley
“Trust is the first step to love.” True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island... to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.”