Intimacy and authentic relationship is found in a lifestyle that includes honesty and vulnerability. Throughout Mission: Intimacy we have been discovering God’s plan for intimate relationships, however we cannot address this topic without giving you a few insights about using wisdom in how much you share, and with whom.
To experience levels of friendship and intimacy, the assurance that the other person is a “safe” person is important. We also don’t experience depth of relationship overnight. It comes out of the journey that starts as an acquaintance, becomes a friendship, and then proceeds as mutual trust and honesty are deepened.
What determines a safe person? What does a safe relationship look like? Books have been written on this topic! If you have questions and concerns that are more in depth than this text, I recommend the book “Safe People” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend [i]. My short answer below includes some of the ideas presented in their book.
A safe person is:
Some results of a safe relationship are:
The above descriptions give some important guidelines for safe people and safe relationships. It is wise to have guidelines, but also realizing no person is perfect. Even the best of friends will fail us from time to time.
Always be authentic. Masks, pretense, hypocrisy, and dishonesty are never a part of God’s plan. Wisdom means that you carefully choose what is to be shared in each situation. It is not necessary to arbitrarily tell every detail of your personal life to a crowd of people, or even to an individual. Unless God is prompting you to share some very personal details, that would be unwise. Yet it is God’s plan for you to have a few safe and trustworthy people in your life with whom you can share those details.
With the above cautions in mind, I urge you to ask the Lord to bring safe people into your life and for Him to help you develop healthy and satisfying relationships. Also, ask Him to give you His wisdom (James 1:5-6), and to help you be a safe person for others.
Let me close with a quote from Dr. Henry Cloud and a word from scripture.
“The way we learn to find people who we can have a healthy relationship with, is only partly based on knowledge. The biggest part of the solution has to do with our own character. To pick people of good character, we have to first become a person of healthy character. To find someone who can connect, we have to connect. To relate to someone with good boundaries, we have to have good boundaries of our own. To be with someone who is real, we have to grow past our own perfectionism.” – Dr. Henry Cloud
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” Romans 12:9-10 (The Message)
[i] Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (1995). Safe People. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.