Religion Magazine

A Final Note for Those in Crisis

By Marilyngardner5 @marilyngard


I thought it fitting to write a last word on the crisis piece. The comments in the piece Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis hurt my heart. And so this piece is for you. All of you who wrote in the comments – thank you for your heart. Thank you for your vulnerability. This one’s for you.

Know your safe people and cry and laugh with them. Be kind to those who aren’t safe, but don’t let them into your sanctuary.

There is being vulnerable and then there is being safe. Can safety and vulnerability coexist?

I think they must coexist. Particularly at different points in our lives. Only when we feel safe can we be vulnerable. When we are in the midst of a crisis, not matter what the crisis is, it’s difficult to be vulnerable. Because all of our safeguards are gone.

When we let people who are not safe into the sanctuaries of our souls they tend to break things. They take those fragile pieces and treat them poorly, throwing them around, tossing out words and behaviours that shatter our safety. And when those fragile pieces break, it can take a lot of work to put them back together. Trust is broken easily, but repaired slowly.

Several years ago I heard a story about a public school in New York City that wanted to take down the fence around the school yard. I’m not sure why, perhaps they wanted children to feel more freedom. But the opposite happened: instead of more freedom, children huddled together in the middle of the play ground. They were afraid and they could not move freely. When they had the fence, they could run and play, there was safety around the perimeter and it made all the difference. The fence, instead of constricting, gave freedom.

We need fences in the sanctuaries of our souls. We are not made to be emotionally naked with everyone, everyone is not safe. But with proper fences, we have freedom to be vulnerable. 

So know your safe people, and be vulnerable with them. But keep proper fences, not walls that cannot be penetrated, but fences that allow freedom around the sanctuary of your soul.

Lastly, can we learn to give grace to those who mess it up? Give grace to those people who muddle through their own discomfort with crisis and loss, and say things that are stupid? I think this is something that I will work to learn the rest of my life, but they too are deserving of grace. The time comes into everyone’s life when they will suffer crisis and loss. No one is immune to this. Some have far more than their share of loss, others seem impervious to even raging storms. But the human experience includes loss. Every relationship ultimately ends in loss. When that person, the one who used the wrong words, goes through loss, may we be the first to give grace. 

If you are just coming by, you may want to take a look at these two posts:

Note: The content in this piece is largely taken from here.

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