Safe Enough.

grayscale photo of man hugging woman

My dad’s mother died when he was 14 and he learned to fend for himself in a wild world. When he had children of his own, he wanted to raise us to work hard, think rationally, make wise decisions, and live a respectable life. There would be no mooching off of others. I was taught to pursue independence and work toward self-sufficiency.

This is a great work-ethic to have, but I might’ve taken it farther than I was meant to. I am an Enneagram type 7 and my type interprets much of childhood through the message, ” It’s not okay to depend on anyone for anything.” This message felt amplified through my dad’s past.

In this imperfect world, I live with anxiety constantly poking at my side and leaning forward to whisper, “It’s not safe to rely on people. It’s not safe to be in relationships.”

And what can I argue? People have fallen through in my life. People have really hurt me. I have cried many a tear as the result of one relationship or another and no matter who I surround myself with, I have yet to feel ultimate security.

blue lego minifig on white surface

So I–along with my anxiety–conclude it is true: relationships are not safe.

My counselor picked up on this line of thinking I have. She–like a good counselor–didn’t ask me to bash it in the face and leave it for dead along the side of the road. She challenged me, “Anxiety might be right that relationships aren’t entirely safe. But could they be safe enough?”

Save enough to have. Safe enough to pursue. Save enough to accept?

And, thinking on this, I was reminded again of Immanuel. Immanuel–God with me. God in me. God who cannot leave me. God who doesn’t shy away from my sin and my faults and my mistakes.

God who loves me when I am unlovable. God who knows me when I feel unknowable. God who gives me value when I feel worthless. God who defines value.

My identity is secure. My worth has a rock solid foundation. If all other relationships failed, nothing would change in my identity with my God.

And if this is the case–if I can be 100% certain of my God, secure in my identity, 100% safe in this relationship–then so what if other relationships aren’t entirely safe? So what if they hit some bumps and I argue with my sisters or scare my boyfriend or lose contact with best friends from the past?

I mean, yes, there are repercussions. Obviously my security in God has not saved me from the tears and hurt I’ve experienced in the past. I still have to be careful about who I offer myself to and with whom I am vulnerable. People will still hurt me and I will still feel like a failure. That kind of safety I am never guaranteed.

But at the end of the day, these relationships do not–and cannot–define my worth. And because that, at least, is secure. Entirely secure. I have wiggle room in my other relationships. I am free to take risks and take chances. I am feel to be in a relationship with another imperfect human because my safety is not tied to this human but to my immovable, inseparable God.

And what relief! Not only relief to me who is now free to love sisters, to love a boyfriend, to hop back into contact with best friends–to love and forgive and learn and grow–but these significant people in my life are freed from the responsibility of being perfectly safe and secure for me–a burden far too great for them to ever live up to!

Thank you, Lord!

And because of Immanuel–because of God in me, never going to leave me, always 100% safe, I am safe enough. Anxiety speaks truth–relationships are not safe. AND God also speaks truth. Because of Immanuel, I am safe enough to be in relationships.

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