I read in Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love, “Home is where you are truly safe.” I don’t think we disagree about the extent we want this to be true.
How do we define “safe?” I like what my phone says when I ask Google: “Safe means protected from or not exposed to danger or risk, not likely to be harmed or lost.” Wouldn’t it be great if this definition described our families? And our homes?
At first glance, we may suppose this to be already true. What if we stretch our thoughts? Is home the place your child can struggle well? Is your family the group that protects each sibling, especially when they are vulnerable because they are struggling? Is home the place where struggle makes us stronger?
If not home, where? If not family, who? Is there a group of friends? Is there a social media site? Is there a video game? Who is giving your child comfort and strength when they daily deal with life’s challenges? Is this place a safe place? Will they gain wisdom there. . .or just find a comfortable place to hide or find some pain relief?
Home can be the place, and family can be the people, where children find the greatest safety and strength. Take heart. Safety and strength does not require perfection; perfection is often a demolisher of trust. On a bad day, we can still feel close. We don’t have to hide; our identity is not at stake because of what challenges us.
The safest place is where:
- Others protect us when we are vulnerable, instead of exploit us.
- We are truly known and heard, not labeled or judged.
- We can struggle and still belong; fear is not a part of struggle.
- Others sit beside us, instead of walk away from us.
- I can mature into my “best self”.
- I can ask for help; I give others permission to help me.
Our homes can be a safe places; safe places are built intentionally. Safe people have integrity; we can trust them to be consistent in easy times and hard times.
Consider your home. Celebrate the life-giving choices that are already habits in your family. Comment on this blog post and share practical ideas with other families about how you live out these choices.
Decide on one or two other life-giving choices your family can make to build a safer home and stronger family. Comment here and ask others for some ideas on how to practically begin these new life-giving habits.