After the Fall, Adam and Eve hid themselves and were afraid to approach God. This still plagues us today-that sense of distrust and fear of showing others “the real me.” I know this all too well. Everyone wants others in which they can drop their guard and be real with. We question, can we speak without being interrupted or misunderstood? Will they see me differently after I share? So how CAN we become safe for those struggling with their sexuality or with anything for that matter?
I think people are drawn to others who can listen and validate their humanity. Friends that take the time to hear and know where others are coming from(without exploding in anger, becoming cold and closed off, or judging) are necessary. But there also needs to be something said afterwards to validate what their feeling. Because from my own experience, when silence is the response or there is no follow-up, questions, prayer, or anything; well that just leaves room for regret and assumption that I did something wrong by sharing and will then never do it again with them. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely agree on everything all the time..rather, each person consistently walk away considering the other a friend. Safe people are humble, full of grace, empathetic, compassionate, kind, respectful even in disagreements or misunderstandings, and trustworthy.
Here’s a key: people struggling don’t always need answers as much as they need to know they aren’t alone. It’s already very easy to feel ostracized and abnormal from the majority when dealing with SSA. Having brothers and sisters willing to fight and walk with you brings needed support. Instead of making things intellectual, will you show compassion, love and grace by walking with me? After hearing my story, will you still see me through eyes of compassion and mercy? Am I still safe and wanted or am I condemned?
Acceptance is a big deal to create a safe place.
Acceptance is having a place to fit in and belong; this will combat loneliness. Being alone isn’t the same thing as feeling lonely. So the question to ask yourself is this: Am I an agent in building meaningful relationships with those that struggle?
Any time we share a struggle with someone, we risk being judged and condemned afterward. I admit that today, it is hard to talk face to face with individuals about how I may still struggle in my own ways. Even after writing blogs and teaching about the LGBT community, I still experience that initial fear. And are we asking one another how things are really going?
It’s easy to assume that things are fine. But honestly, if I haven’t built a meaningful relationship with you(or vice versa) by my perspective and you do ask about my struggle, I probably won’t share truthfully. Why? Because in my opinion, you haven’t become safe. There still lacks relationship.
In Love Into Light, Peter Hubbard writes, “How can Christians live in a culture that promotes the gay lifestyle, yet worship in a culture that never talks about it(other than possibly to condemn it)? Paul apparently knew people in the church at Corinth who had left the gay lifestyle, and he fearlessly referred to their new identity. Could the way we speak or don’t speak about SSA be an indicator of a deficient understanding of the gospel of Jesus? A church might listen to an SSA testimony with cynicism; therefore, the less said, the better.”
We must be willing to start the conversation to grow into a safe place. So who’s safe?