I made it back from Mississippi, limping a bit from a water skiing accident and a pulled hamstring. Oh well! Youth must be served.
One of the things I appreciated about my time in Mississippi is how people open up when they find a safe place where they know they are loved, have the freedom to be where they are on the journey that day, and aren’t manipulated into agreeing with other people’s perception of truth. They can notice what they need to notice, question what they need to question and struggle where they are struggling. That’s where real learning, real growth and real transformation happen.
That doesn’t happen immediately, especially when someone like me comes to town. It takes a bit of time to dismantle the “author pedestal” and help people find freedom from the need to posture, impress, or simply not look foolish when talking to me. But when they finally feel relaxed enough to drop their guard, real community can happen.
I would that all of us could find such friendships, or at least offer it to others from their own life. It reminds me of the description of a safe place in Bo’s Cafe. If you haven’t read this story yet, you might want to check it out.
“I’m not sure.” I shake my head back and forth while crossing my arms. “I don’t get you guys. You talk about this being a ‘safe place,’ but neither of you two seem very safe at the moment.”
Carlos put his fork down and pats his hands on his knees, like he’s realizing the need to change his approach.
“I guess that depends on what you mean by safe, huh?” he says. “See man, if safe is just nice and sweet, where everybody’s smiling at you and nobody’s ever dealing with nothing, that’s not safe. That’s a retirement home. I like nice. Even Hank likes nice. Push come to shove, nice wins. But nice ain’t enough for safe. A safe place isn’t a soft place.
Safe is a place where you can get out the worst about you and they don’t run you off, talk you down or head for the hills. It’s having someone to stand with when you start to face the shameful stuff, man. It’s where you can be a jerk and still have a place at the table the next day…where you don’t have to hide or fake or pretend or bluff. Safe is being loved more for revealing your crap, not less.