Being a safe place for others

Posted by on Dec 28, 2012

I came across this post  below by Henri Nouwen, priest and author, from a friend of mine and it really hit a nerve and spoke to my heart.  Even if God’s not your thing it still makes a lot of sense.  Especially now as we try to remember the message of Christmas,  peace and goodwill to all men.  It’s very liberating to let go of the shackles of jealousy, bitterness and mean spirit to be able to meet others without an agenda.  Just be a welcoming friend, a listener, a shoulder to cry on and  someone to laugh with. We can overlook each other when we’re all so tied up in our busy modern lives.

The quickest and easiest way to win friends and influence people and be a very interesting person is to turn up without agenda, be interested in what others have to say instead of thinking what you’re going to say next.  Ask questions, encourage and cherish and all that effort will come back to you in bucket loads.  I know the message from Henri Nouwen is far deeper than I’m describing here but it’s full of common sense and something that we could all so easily do ourselves in our own lives.


Being Safe Places for Others by Henri Nouwen

When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them.   Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another.  When people realise that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies.

Many times this happens even without our planning.  Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it.  Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.


- Henri J. M. Nouwen