"If you’ve been a Christian for more than 5 minutes," said Christian speaker Sy Rogers, "you know that God doesn’t wave a magic wand and *bing* all your flaws, blind spots and weaknesses disappear after receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior. More often than not, God chooses to work via a process (in which we are invited to partner with Him and each other) rather than a one-time event." Much like how a mother goes through nine months of pregnancy (process) before giving birth (event).
Why does God do it this way? I’ve been reminded that we aren’t meant to live our lives or our faith in isolation. And it’s often through the process of our relationships that we are refined. Blind spots? What blind spots? I don’t have any…. Because let’s be honest: Facing and admitting to our own imperfections, our "shadow selves," can be painful.
A couple weeks ago, one of my (many) blind spots cropped up and a co-worker seemed a little offended by something I didn’t do. It seemed like they hinted at and implied judgment in their not-so-subtle questions. I felt a bit blindsided and, to be honest, I felt a little judged. Which led to feelings of condemnation (that I put on myself). But then I reached out to a friend for prayer and we ended up talking about it. She listened empathetically, gently asked questions in a non-judgmental way, but also "separated the wheat from the chaff" so that I could see any kernels of truth that this situation was inviting me to see. Then she encouraged me. Throughout the whole conversation, I never felt judged – even as my friend saw my blind spot. As Pastor C mentioned in his sermon/notes this past Sunday about needing "safe people" in our lives who speak the truth in love, my friend was that "safe person" for me in this situation. With this friend, I was also able to face my blind spot/flaw honestly but without fear or condemnation – which brings awareness (the first step) that leads to change. Growth. The path of wholeness and maturity.
What or who is a "safe person?" In their book Safe People: How to Find Relationships That are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend write: "The best example of a safe person is found in Jesus. In him were found the three qualities of a safe person: dwelling, grace, and truth (John 1:14) . . .
- Dwelling refers to someone’s ability to connect with us so that we know they are present with us.
- Grace is "unmerited favor," meaning that someone is on our side, that they are "for us" (implying unconditional love and acceptance) and that you will not be shamed or incur wrath for whatever you are experiencing.
- Truth is being real with one another, and living out the truth of God. People who will be honest with us, telling us where we are wrong and where we need to change – they are honest about our faults without condemning us.
Safe people and relationships:
- Draw us closer to God (Matthew 22:37-38)
- Draw us closer to others (Matthew 22:39)
- Help us to become the real person God created us to be (Ephesians 2:10)
"We promise to love you as is" has been a favorite motto of Hope Chapel through the years. I think it resonates with people because it implies that Hope Chapel Honolulu is a "safe place" – that we are a "safe people" whom you can trust. (We are not perfect on this side of heaven, but we are striving to be a safe people and place.) In addition to this promise, it co-exists with the promises and reminders that . . .
- "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
- "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)
God promises to love us with his grace and unconditional love (and nothing can separate us from his love), but that's not the end of the story. In fact, that's just the beginning. But the ending is even better: He also promises to complete the good work he began in us. This is the process in which he invites us to join him individually and in community, as we dwell with each other in grace and truth.