How I Became a Safe Person


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.

Trust safe person

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?

  • Good word. For me becoming a safe person has included learning to LISTEN rather than to SPEAK. Sometimes, in youth especially, we can tend to want to talk to much about ourselves versus practicing the power of listening to others. When we listen we show that we care.

    • That’s a great point Daniel. Listening is critical in becoming a safe person.

  • Mark Smith

    Thanks for this post, Maurilio. I need to become more of a safe person. 

  • I’ve never really had a description for it, but being a safe person is an easy way to describe it.  I sort of always chalked it up to the fact that my husband and I were in ministry which automatically made him, and me by default, a safe person.  But now that we’ve been out of professional ministry for almost 4 years, and random people still open up to me, shows me that its not really about the position I was in, but it was something in me.

    One thing I always try to emphasize with people is to be available.  At the grocery store, on the phone paying a bill, at the post office – if you have an attitude of availability, I think people can pick up on that.  

    I was asked to stop bothering a girl stocking the shelves at our grocery store because she was talking to me about her life.  I did have other things to do with my day, but I really try to make time to listen (as someone already mentioned).  Which I guess, would define being available as being willing to listen on someone else’s schedule.

    Thanks for the ideas to think over!

  • elizabeth perkins

    This is a open message to my Daughter ,
    Granddaughter, Son, Sister, Brother , Sister in law, Niece ,nephew,
    cousin , Aunt, Roommate , (I dont have to tell my Mother ,she knows)
    I promise that I will always be your ‘Safe Person’

    Safe person , some one who will never hurt you , use you , go against
    you IN ANY WAY. Someone who loves you and wants the best for you , some
    one you can trust.
    I promise .

  • Tricia Goyer

    Our lives never do go exactly as planned, do they? Being broken by God, and letting Him search the deep reaches of my hearts (and letting Him clean out all the junk), has transformed me. I love the stages you listed. My life followed that list in a similar way. Perspective also helps when we know someone who is still in that black and white season. Grace, grace goes a long way.

  • This is such a good post. I think something that has helped me become a “safe person” is being known as someone who speaks and does the hard truth even if it’s not what other people do. Who knew that embarrassment would mean people would trust me for advice? Of course, coupled with that there MUST be gentleness and you also have to be trustworthy . . . something you can only prove over time.

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