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Monday, November 19, 2007

Feeling Unsafe

A man talked with me the other day about an experience he'd had. He described a situation he'd found himself in where he said he felt unsafe. I nodded in agreement or understanding, showing compassion and the appropriate level of concern. He'd made changes in the circumstances by disrupting the pattern of those around him. These changes had served to eliminate the circumstances that he believed had been responsible for making him feel unsafe.

Since that time, I've been pondering this quite a bit. Questions continue to nag at me about this. The first question is whether feeling unsafe is a problem. Let's face it, for the most part, we are not safe. God tells us we are secure, and that is true enough for most of us. But secure and safe are not the same thing. In fact, I'm almost certain that in order to get to secure, one may have to sacrifice safe.

I have been driving my daughter's scooter on the city streets recently, and definitely did not feel safe. In fact, I was waiting to make a left turn into a shopping center the other day, when a teen-aged boy slammed on his brakes and slide into me. As tires were screeching and the red paint of the scooter was scraping off onto his car door, he yelled at me, "Dude, it's not my fault! That other guy cut me off!" I wasn't hurt, and it turned into a bit of a discipling opportunity between me and this young man.

We pulled our vehicles into the shopping center and he gathered the bits of his car that my little scooter had scraped off into the street. He couldn't understand why I wasn't mad, and it gave me an opportunity to talk to him about fault, forgiveness, not sweating the small stuff and generally putting things in their proper perspective. I was definitely not safe. I could have been killed or seriously injured. But of course I was neither. Instead, I was given the opportunity to give God's wisdom to a young man I'd never met.

So let's go back to my conversation with this man, who felt unsafe and made changes to rectify that. The second question that comes to mind is whether feeling unsafe, if it is a problem, is one worth solving? This man confessed that the action he'd taken (to feel safe) had hurt other people. But he continued to justify those costs with the fact that he'd felt unsafe. He was implying that feeling safe was worth offending others and damaging his relationships with them. (I wonder if he realized that's what he was saying.) The more I've considered this, the more I realize that he'd decided to make feeling safe a priority over maintaining relationship with those he'd offended. Is feeling safe really worth all that?

I've long been a student of feelings. I've learned that feelings are great liars and deceivers. They rarely serve us well. For the most part, most of us don't have much trouble admitting that. But the dichotomy continues as we admit that feeling don't serve us well ... and then spend so much of our mind share paying attention to them! Why would otherwise sane, rational people do such a ridiculous thing? (And lest you thing I'm being overly critical of others, let me go ahead and confess that I too have been one of those otherwise sane, rational people!)

People, when we are in situations where we may feel unsafe, we need to take those thoughts and feelings captive to the truth. We need to consider the situation with God's perspective. Is it really an unsafe situation? If so, is that really the big hairy problem we might be making it out to be? Or does God want us to walk through unsafe situations --- so that He can be glorified? I think it's time we start to realize that secure and safe are not the same thing. Perhaps more importantly though, secure is priceless. And frankly, feeling safe may more often than not be not worth the trouble it causes.

So how safe do you feel with what I've just said?

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