Finding the Safe Space Within
Our world is in turmoil, and the United States is no exception. One response to this turbulence is to retreat to a safe space, which is defined as “a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.” In other words, a place to withdraw from the world.
Our universities, which should be preparing students to thrive on this bumpy journey we call life, are fragmenting. They are becoming ideological ghettos that have been carved out of what one writer said should be a vibrant academic community. I couldn’t agree more.
Unfortunately, these safe spaces are dividing our college and university students by race, religion, creed, political affiliation, or coveted cause. America was designed to unify people with these diverse characteristics, to build strength from our differences.
Yet, there is a safe space where you are not affected by hatred, bigotry, or irrational thought. That place is within you. You carry it with you to every meeting, job, and human interaction you face throughout the day. Here’s how to find it and live within its protected boundaries.
Realize that you are loved.
Yes, loved. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His disciples, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another” (John 13:34). Those quoting this scripture usually emphasize the commandment to love one another. But before you can do that, you must receive the love that Christ gives to those who follow Him. When you are filled with the love of God—and you know it—then and only then are you able to love others.
Working from a position of being loved removes your anxiety about being discriminated against, treated unfairly, or hated. It becomes your strength.
Abide in love.
Jesus further tells us to abide in His love. “Just as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. So abide in my love” (John 15:9). It isn’t enough to feel His love; you must remain in it, regardless of what is happening around you. Only when you truly know you are loved can you obey this precept. If you don’t really believe you are loved, you won’t have anything to give anyone else, and you will find yourself constantly at odds with the violent world in which we live.
Receive His peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus knew that His own would experience trials and tribulations, but He encouraged them to remain true to His call on them to love one another. His commandment that they not allow themselves to be overwhelmed by fear was the key to finding peace in the midst of the storm.
The Bible provides a year-long devotional on fear, saying 365 times, “Do not be afraid.” It also reminds us that “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). Those who have discovered the power of love are not afraid.
Released from insecurity.
Author and minister Joyce Meyer says on her website, “We have an epidemic of insecure people in our society today. Many people have an identity crisis because they don’t really know who they are and they base their worth and value on all the wrong things – what they do, what they look like, who they know, what they know or what they own.”
Security and safety are in the Christian’s DNA. Isaiah 54:17 assures us, “But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord….” With this promise from God, should we still seek safe spaces that insulate us from the “weapons formed against us”? There is no reason to be insecure in God’s economy.
The secret to being secure in Christ is knowing that you are in Christ. He has promised never to leave or forsake you. Therefore, in the midst of the turmoil that defines your day, your life will be a reflection of your position in Christ.
Where is your refuge?
In the Old Testament, Isaiah foretells that a King will come who will be a refuge for His people. “And a man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isaiah 32:3). This “man” will be the safe place for those who put their trust in Him.
Jesus has already come. He has fulfilled most of the prophecies about Him, and those who have believed in Him shall find their hiding place in Him.
If the world around you has frightened you and you feel like you need someplace safe to avoid the persecution you feel, remember that Jesus has overcome the world. He takes up residence in you, and you can retreat into Him at any time. But if you seclude yourself in physical safe places, how then will you shine His light?
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:15-16).