I don’t know when it started, but one day I became a safe person to those around me. Perhaps it’s been part of my own internal make up or perhaps I developed the skills and the temperament it takes to be the kind of a person people around me find “safe.” It’s not unusual for someone I barely know to share something deeply personal and important with me. While I’m honored and humbled, I remember the days where the opposite was true. People would tell me I came across unapproachable and intimidating. So what changed? Obviously I did, and while I might not have enough self awareness to understand the complete metamorphosis process, here’s part of my personal journey that changed me.
I embraced grace for myself and for those around me. In my early twenties my life was a series of black and white pictures. Grace helped me soften the landscape with shades of gray. Once I embraced the grace God has freely given me, I was able to be more gracious to those around me. I could not be a safe person without that understanding. Thinking about it now, I might even call it “shades of grace.”
Failure humbled me. Early in my career I thought I was invincible and to a great degree inerrant. And it was until my late 30’s before I could point out to something I could deem a big failure. I couldn’t take the heat in the career I felt called to and gifted for, so I quit. I walked away. I failed. There’s nothing that gives me more compassion for those who fail than remembering how it felt to come to grips with the fact that my dream was no longer going to happen the way I had planned. It was not going to happen at all.
Age gives me perspective. Age cannot give you wisdom. I’m convinced of that. Time, however, gives you perspective. As I listen to those in the middle of a storm, I can often relate to the feelings of fear and panic that often paralyze us during those situations. I’ve been through them–quite a few of them. Knowing that storms are always temporary no matter how threatening, helps me to listen, comfort and walk with my friends through their own turbulent times.
In which other ways can we become a safe person to those around us?