Safety and security are wonderful things.
Who can argue with that? My childhood was spent in a suburban hamlet east of the Bay Area. Our little bedroom community was insulated by both hills and miles of freeway from the crime found in the cities surrounding San Francisco Bay. As a pre-teen I was able to ride my bike pretty much anywhere it would take me. I was free to explore the undeveloped areas of our community, just as long as I was sure to be home in time for dinner.
Much of my adult life has been spent in the pursue of safety and security as well. My wife and I made sure that we brought our kids up in communities that were free of crime. Our kids’ schools were ones that we considered “safe”. We were active in churches that promoted the notion that keeping your kids and family safe was a paramount task for parents. To many, obtaining and maintaining safety and security are fundamental to one’s existence.
Now, you might be asking “Can someone please explain to me what these two things actually are?” And, “what exactly do I need to be safe and secure from?”
When I think of what safety and security look like several images come to mind:
Living in a gated community.
Yet what these all have in common is that they provide safety and security from thing outside of us. They make us feel safe from outside elements.
But what can be said about our needs for all things safe and secure with our inner beings? One may ask “How can I find safety and security for the things of the heart and soul?”
Whatever the answer, it’s not likely to be as easy to find as those items that keep us safe from the outside elements.
From just about the moment we are born we are thirsty for a sense of safety and security. Long gone are the days when our first human interactions were a swat on the rear, a handoff to a nurse for a thorough scrubbing, and then a seat on a cold metal scale.
Today, when children are born doctors and nurses immediately place them on their mothers’ chest to provide skin-to-skin contact. Researchers (and probably a lot of common sense) has found that baby’s first moments are probably more than a little bit more enjoyable, and just plain better spent, with their mothers and fathers-their attachment figures.
These children and their parents are building a connection with one another.
This connection begins immediately after birth. And it provides these babies with a sense of
The parents and child are connected. The baby suckles the mother. Mother, father and baby look into each other’s eyes and the sense of connection grows.
As children grow up their sense of connectedness grows to include friends and schoolmates. Kids find connectedness by being teammates, living on the same block, and attending the same social events with other kids. A sense of connection helps kids make sense of their world. It provides purpose and meaning to their lives. Nowhere is this more noticeable that during the teen years when friends are in, and parents are… a necessary inconvenience.
For some, during the teen years the idea of being connected evolves from a surface-level phenomenon to a much deeper level. Some develop this during early or later adulthood. Some not at all. Researchers have found that what differentiates this deeper-level of connectedness with others is one’s level to become vulnerable with others.
Yes. You read it right. One’s ability to be vulnerable is what determines his or her true connectedness with others. And nowhere is this more evident than in adult romantic relationships. And just like with kids, connectedness gives adults a sense of purpose and meaning to their lives.
Long gone are the days of the Marlboro Man, riding the range solo with no need for anyone else.
Right now you might be thinking: I need to be vulnerable??? Really??? With others???
And that is because to become truly connected to others we must be vulnerable with others as well. To borrow from Tolkien, One does not simply acquire the gift of connectedness without paying the price of vulnerability. This is because it is only when we bear our true selves with another that then they can draw near to us.
The real version of us.
It is at this point where our fears come into play.
And we ask: “What if they find out who I really am?” Or, “What if they see my flaws?”
These are great questions. They are questions that deal with the inherent risks that are involved when we become vulnerable with others. If questions like these are serving as a barrier to you becoming vulnerable to those you are closest with, my question for you is:
If you cannot allow your true self to be seen, then how will you ever find true connectedness?
What we have to come to terms with is that when we are the most vulnerable, we then allow others in to our worlds and into our lives. We find connectedness, and in turn we find what we are truly longing for…