The things we value are often based on our histories, our personalities, and our upbringings. For many women one of the most important things to us is safety. While not every woman fits in this category, I’m certainly in that group. When I enter a situation, I have a sixth sense if it’s safe or not, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If it’s not safe my guard is up, if it is safe I will let down my walls a little bit until there’s something that let’s me know it’s not safe and then my guard will go all the way back up.
Community should be safe.
Have you ever been in a community where it simply wasn’t safe? Maybe you didn’t trust the people around you or maybe there was a gossip problem or maybe hurts hadn’t been addressed and trust had been broken. For whatever reason, we’ve all faced moments and seasons in our lives when we haven’t felt safe in a community.
So what does a safe space look like?
A place to ask questions without fear or judgement.
A place for an open dialogue.
A place where conversations won’t be shared.
A place where gossip cannot exist.
Think about the people who formed the early church: many of these people had been shunned or shamed by the religious system of the day. If I were a Jew who had been living in that time, I probably would’ve been leery of the early church, worried that some of that same religiosity that had existed with the Pharisees and their homies would’ve taken root in the church. Yet, the church continued to grow and become a safe space for those who sought refuge there.
“And when he [Paul] had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.”
Acts 9:26-28 (ESV)
Paul, the artist formerly known as Saul, had been a persecutor and murderer of Christians – talk about a non-safe guy! I would’ve been afraid of him too and I definitely would’ve suspected that he was trying to infiltrate and potentially kill Christians. Yet, Barnabas was safe, he was one of those includers we talked about yesterday. Barnabas was intentional to create a safe and welcoming space for Paul though he had been the disciples’ worst enemy.
Let’s be intentional to create safe, welcoming spaces for people.
What does it mean to you for a community to be “safe”? And how do you intentionally create a safe space for the people around you?
Download Community: You’re Welcome at the Table, a free PDF, at sarahjcallen.com/community