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.:. Safe Place

Fran Woods

God provides safe places for us and these are places where we can take refuge (Psalm 31:1). These places are described with many images throughout the Scriptures and especially in the Psalms. Here are a few examples:

Recently I’ve been reminded about the validity of having a safe place where one may retreat to take a breather from the stresses and strains of life. I was reminded of the safe place concept through my reading in a book about EMDR. I quote the following passage from that book:

“Before their first ninety-minute session was over, Beverly had taught Susan how to create a safe place inside, where she could go to calm herself when intense feelings came up. Susan pictured her bed from childhood, which had been her own little corner of the world. Made of fruitwood, the bed was part of a Queen Anne-style bedroom set given her by her parents when she was ten. Beverly had Susan imagine the bedroom and experience the feelings of safety, and then she used sequential sets of eye movements to help strengthen the positive emotions. Soon Susan was able to bring up the image on her own and have the positive feelings emerge strongly along with it. With this tool, Susan could let go of any feelings of disturbance that came up during the session, and she could use it also if any distress arose outside of Beverly’s office.”

I was reminded that I’d come across this idea before. It is used in many kinds of therapy and has proved effective in providing respite from intense emotional pain. I’ve also seen the concept used in psychodramas.

The director of the psychodrama will often have the person who is dealing with intense trauma create a safe place somewhere in the room to which them may retreat during the weekend if their distress gets to be too much.

Recently during healing prayer ministry with one person I felt as though God reminded me about safe places in order to share it with them. This client had had two profound experiences with Jesus. The first occurred while this person was looking at the painful memory scene and feeling excluded, out of the picture. Jesus came picked the person up and held them in his arms - a sense of deep comfort and calm were immediate. The second again occurred while the person was looking at a painful memory scene and feeling the intensity of being unloved. Jesus appeared to the person on the cross. He showed his feet, his hands and his side and then told the person that he loved them - the effect again was immediate calm, and a strong sense of being loved. I had a sense that these two experiences were more than just for healing, God was also wanting to give the person a safe place to which to retreat any time they needed. Other places still had pain and weren’t yet safe. These two places are safe because Jesus is there and He has vaporised the lies which had held the person in deep pain. Jesus brought His peace - a lasting peace.

A safe place may be a secret place that is just between the person and God. It is symbolic rather than a real location, though for some there may be a real location. Folk I know have reported the following safe/secret places where they know God is and when they go He is always there for them: a beautiful garden, a castle, a cottage, a cave, a hollow tree, etc. The particular place is frequently meaningful to the person in some way and maybe invoking happy memories or beauty.

I have a safe place. God took me to it several years ago. It was deep in my imagination. I knew it had to be a God-thing as up till that time I had no imagination and found it hard to see pictures inside me. This place is very precious to me so excuse me if I don’t explicitly identify it here. Every time I go there I find God - sometimes it’s Jesus, sometimes Father, sometimes Holy Spirit, sometimes all three. In this place I experience no pain. It just disappears as I arrive, sometimes I leave the pain at the door, sometimes God washes me clean or picks the pain off me as if it were bits of straw or prickles poking into me. Here in this place He talks with me and I with Him - often there are no words but we talk nonetheless.

As a child I had a safe place. It was my bed which most nights I would turn into a boat (sort of like a tug-boat) by scrunching up the sheets and blankets all around me so that my boat had sides to keep me safe from the stormy and unsafe ocean of my life. In my imagination I would sail off to another place where it felt calm and safe. I have no idea how long I did this but I think it was over a significant period of time.

Last year God showed me that my present safe place is actually inside, in my spirit - that part of me where Satan cannot dwell because it’s where God Himself dwells. I can go and be there any time. It has been and is really helpful as I’ve been learning to listen more to God and pay attention to His perspective on what’s happening around and in me.

There’s a great little song that sums up something of the sentiment of the safe/secret place. In that place there is safety, rest and healing, and yet, there’s so much more. Our longings for God are stirred, our perspective is changed.

In the secret, in the quiet place, In the stillness You are there.
In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait.
Only you are there, only for You, ‘Cause I want to know you more.
I want to know You,
I want to hear Your voice.
I want to know You more,
I want to touch you,
I want to see your face,
I want to know You more.
I am reaching for the highest goal, that I might receive the prize.
Pressing onward, pushing every hindrance aside, out of my way
‘Cause I want to know you more.

Finally, I’m reminded of a saying I heard or read some years ago:

“Though I may tremble on the rock, the rock never trembles under me.”

Whatever our safe place, Jesus is there. The fantastic thing is that since Jesus is in us, in our spirit, our place of safety is there with him.

Copyright 2001 Fran Woods

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