Safe Relationships

Posted on 2007-09-10. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |

This is from the last chapter of Hiding from Love. The chapter goes through some things that can help you come out of a life in hiding. This is from the second step: Actively Seek Confessional Relationships. It’s basically telling you how to determine if the relationship you have with someone else is a safe one – one in which you can be yourself and not fear a negative backlash.

As we begin the process of investigating our relational hiding patterns, we need to find safe relationships in which the immature parts of our soul can begin to emerge. Relationship is the soil from which grace can enter the injured self. Even so, it’s not enough to simply be connected to others. We also need to bring out our hurt parts to those people, releasing them out of darkness and paralysis in the limbo of the isolation of the past. This is called confession, or agreeing with the truth. The Bible says we are to confess our faults to one another to be healed.

The confession may be of our own sins, or of the sins of others against us. To confess is to allow others to see the part of us that we fear, hate, or are ashamed of. This is exposing those thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that we fear are actually beyond being loved. Developing caring attachments to God and others provides the balm for repairing injured parts. (emphasis mine) [To me, this is true intimacy – the state of being intimate or familiar, as in a mystic familiarity.]

It’s important here to discern safe from unsafe relationships. If we confess our injuries to a critical person, we run the risk of further injury and deeper hiding patterns. …

The following list of character traits… provides helpful criteria in determining who is safe and who isn’t. Look for:

  • People who react to you in a different way than those who injured you. Use your memory to tell the difference.
  • People who, over time, have a loving track record. See if their walk matches their talk.
  • People who can be observed from some emotional distance. Take small risks in vulnerability before taking bigger risks. …Many individuals are badly hurt by committing themselves to openness in relationships in which others can’t handle that level of honesty — and thus become critical, defensive, or parental.
  • People with the ability to accept imperfections in others. This refers to the difference between those who love the outside and those who love the inner self.
  • People who are no stranger to pain, yet are recovering. Those who have suffered spiritually and emotionally can identify with developmental injuries.
  • People who are aware of their own deficits. Those who know their unfinished parts are more likely to be safe with the unfinished parts of others.
  • People who have truth without condemnation. It’s easier to entrust our weaknesses to those who love us, and who will speak the truth in love.
  • People who have grace without license. Attaching to others who see God’s grace as leading to greater responsibility helps us to experience grace appropriately.
  • People who bear good fruit in your life. Ask yourself if your relationship with this person has made you more or less loving and responsible.

Overall, when you use this guide to identifying safe relationships, look for “good enough,” not “perfect.” Be willing to grow in these nine areas yourself as you look for them in others. I just can’t overstate it that whatever is unconfessed is beyond the reach of healing. The isolated injury that stays hidden feels “bad.” The injury that is connected feels loved.

WOW – that’s intimacy – the ability to be genuine and authentic with someone. It’s a protected vulnerability that can bring out your best. That’s some potent stuff there!

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