For advocates of victims of domestic violence, this is one of the first questions you are taught to ask on a crisis call. Safety planning is an essential part of trauma informed care. The caller may have a plethora of problems they are facing, but getting them out of harm’s way is always the most pressing issue to resolve.
I remember the first time I asked a caller if they were in a safe place. I thought to myself, “man is that a loaded question!” There are so many ways to be and feel safe. Emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually…you name it. Notably, physical safety is the main focus on a crisis call, but feeling, being, knowing you are safe is a far more complex concept.
I cannot recall the first time I ever felt safe. But if I could remember, I imagine myself as a baby, cradled in my mother’s arms, as she lovingly rocked me to sleep. The room is dimly lit and you can just make out our silhouettes in the window. I can’t hear what she is saying to me, but the image of us together puts a smile on my face even now. There is such a warm sense of calm and content that fills your body when you know you are safe.
On the flip side, I have personal experience with trauma that left me feeling anything but safe. For many years, I walked around with a heightened fear that danger was around the corner. And that is a sad way to live. However, the most impactful time of feeling unsafe was when I got really honest with myself about my thoughts on God’s love. Questioning if He truly loved me. Never before had I entertained such a thought. Of course I knew God loved me. He loves everyone. And there is nothing we can do that can separate us from His love. I thought I wholeheartedly believed that. And yet, with the ebb and flow of life, my mind began to question how this was true.
It is interesting how easy it is to forget my first memory of feeling safe. And how it has never been easy to forget all the times that I felt unsafe. Fear can overwhelm your senses and thoughts. At times, it has paralyzed me from seeing the light in a dark situation. I’ve definitely had my raw moments of questioning with God…”if You love me, why did You make me this way? If You love me, why did terrible things happen to me? Because if You really loved me, You would have helped me, kept me safe.”
I have often heard people quote, “God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.” Honestly, I always thought the quote was a little cheesy, but it really packs a lot of wisdom in it.
The safest place in the world to be is knowing that you are loved. It transforms your mindset. Whatever fear, whatever real or perceived danger, just doesn’t seem as big anymore. Because you know you are not alone. That whatever pain, hurt, or dark times that may come your way, you are not facing it alone.
For a long time, I believed safety meant protection from physical harm. But more and more, I realize it means so much more than that. It means unconditional love.
In Lisa Bevere’s book, Without Rival, she shares her revelation about love. She discovered that “God does not love us equally; He loves us uniquely”. Equal implies that God’s love can be measured. And we cannot measure His love. It is too vast, large and wide. So if equal implies measurable, then “unique implies without equal or rival”. We are each uniquely loved and that is the safest place to be.
Safety can only be truly felt and known in love. And the seeds of truth can only be planted in love. When you believe the Truth, then you are safe. In whatever way “safe” means to you. It’s not just a thought or a feeling. But a reality.
So…are you in a safe place? This will always be my go to question if I ever handle another crisis call. But an even more important question for you today, deep down in your core, do you know that you are loved? Because you are and that is the Truth. And the Truth…well, it will set you free.