Feeling Not Afraid
The word “safe
” comes from, and is related to, the word “save
(The Latin root word salvus means “uninjured” or “healthy.”)
But what does it actually mean to be safe? Safety is defined as “feeling free from fear.”
Safety does not mean “being safe.” Rather, it’s a feeling of being safe. Safety is the absence of fear. You’re safe when you are not afraid. You can be in the middle of actual danger, yet still feel safe.
I would not say a toddler who wanders in front of traffic is safe, but that’s how the definition works.
(Similarly, comfort is defined as “a lack of apparent discomfort.” Not an actual lack of discomfort, but the lack of perceiving it.)
Safety represents a state in which we feel free of fear. And that’s all that matters. When you feel safe, you feel a lack of attack on your life.
Consequently, little children are much more safe than adults are. Most don’t fear the world as much as we do.
Statistically, of course, we should understand that as adults, we’ve lived longer, we’ve gotten through a lot more, and our experience should actually make us feel safer than children, but that’s hardly ever the case.
In the Hebrew Bible, there is mention of cities of refuge – places you could go to if someone was running after you. You could go to a city of refuge, and you’d be safe there. In the Middle Ages, there was the same notion. You could go inside a church and claim sanctuary. Then whoever was after you was supposed to leave you alone. An asylum is a retreat, a place to which we can retreat and feel safe.
As adults we need these places to find refuge for ourselves.
How about you?
If you think about your own life, in what or where do you take refuge? Where do you feel safe? Where do you find a little bit of sanctuary? What do you do to satisfy your biological need for soothing?
Is it drinking? Is it drugs? Is it surfing the Internet for hours on end? Is it being a workaholic? Is it being in denial? Staying busy all the time? What soothes you?
(I am not placing a value judgment on any of these actions, just asking you if you know what makes you feel safe.)
Where do you find your refuge?
This desire for safety – to feel safe – is why religion is such an important need in human life – we all want to feel saved. We want to feel safe.
Despite feeling as scared as we are, we want to feel as if we’re cared for, protected and loved.
And, ain’t that funny. We want to feel cared for, but for some of us, feeling loved and cared fore is terrifying!
Find or create in a safe place where you feel free from fear.