Safe Haven. I think of those couple of people that I knew growing up where when I went to their home I felt completely safe. In particular, two married couples I can think of created spaces like that for me during my teen years. Where I felt loved and accepted each time I came over. How did they create that atmosphere? What was it that made me want to keep running back to their homes? They happened to have daughters near my age that I enjoyed being with, but that wasn’t why I tried to go back to their homes as often as I did. It was because they had something that reached me to my core. Did you ever have a place like that? What was it that attracted you?
In thinking on it, I see that love, actually unconditional love and acceptance were a couple of factors. Also open communication and respect for one another. I knew what to expect from them and what they expected from me. The warm affection and laughter was the icing on the cake. These families were not perfect by far, I saw them fight and lose their cool. But ultimately they loved each other where they were. It was beautiful really. And I believe perhaps less prevalent than we would like to think in our present times. In fact, there are a lot of us that come from families or even are families that struggle with many of these factors. Does that mean we are hopeless to create this in our lives and families going forward? No, I don’t believe that is true. However, the further I get in this exploration of love and creating space for it, the clearer it becomes what I am looking for. What I can run to when I am longing for that love, comes in its purest form in the one that said he WAS love.
Safe Haven. That is what God creates for us. A place to run to and be unconditionally loved. A place that he bought, yes literally, with his own flesh and blood. It sounds strange to say it like that…but he died for us. So let’s say we were standing in the way of a speeding bus for example; he was the hero that pushed us out of the way and got hit in the process. You know, the more I focus on that love and the reality of that acceptance, it makes me want to give that to people in my life. The desire to create a safe haven for others, and to show them where mine rests.
I saw the movie Unbroken recently. If you haven’t seen it, it is a story of a man who went through challenge after challenge including torture, yet came out the other end a better man. A man that loved so completely and WAS loved so completely that he was compelled to love others. Even those that tortured him were not out of the sphere of forgiveness and love that he had to offer. Sounds almost like those old bible stories about people like Paul and stuff. Getting shipwrecked and thrown in jail, yet forgiving those that hurt them and talking a lot about this God that loved them.
It is strange to think how God gets a rap for being unaccepting, unforgiving, narrow minded. And yet he compels and asks us to forgive those that harm us. He asks us to love as he loves. Honestly though in the smallest ways I still struggle to do so. Like when I was in Target the other day and my cart got too close to the exit so the wheels locked up suddenly. “Really?! Really?!” I mumbled into the air in frustration. As I made this statement, a little old lady shuffled by and as she did she called over her shoulder, “Don’t get frustrated.” Yes Jess, the cart is not trying to ruin your day. I do not even have love for the inanimate objects in my life sometimes. Yet you know what? He loves me, completely. And you know what else? He loves you too, completely.