The Relational Economy: Safe Deposit Boxes - Part 1
- Thursday, September 02, 2010
Countless times I have invested that which was precious in me only to have it returned too quickly or squandered. Too often I was zealous or overzealous only to find my ardor misplaced. I leapt only to find a chasm where I thought was a bridge. I moved when perhaps I should have stayed put.
With every cut I bled just a little more. I grew, but my shadow grew with me. I saw further and felt deeper, but the shadow occasionally darkened my mood. Over time I became a little less sure of myself. To be honest, I became a little less me.
So I assessed the situation with the precision of an Alexander or Napoleon and concluded that it would not happen again. I don't remember if I said "at all cost" but that was the net result. I took out a safe deposit box and placed in it all that I most treasured about me. I put in it anything that didn't win me favor in the relational economy.
I have met and admired people who seemed nearly unaffected by the rise and fall of the relational economy—but not many. For most a safe deposit box is a nearly essential part of survival. In it they hide their valuables. That is before they build the vault to hide their whole self. Initially it is simply a place to keep the things they consider fragile. There they place their dreams and hopes—safe—lest reality spoil them.
Once they feel secure they step out into the world without fear that their softer side, their more vulnerable side, will ever be threatened. They can be all that the world wants them to be once they have left the trusting inner child in the safe deposit box. Then they can make available just enough of themselves to say that they are fine. They feel comfortable saying they are "open" to another relationship, and they are—but only in part.
This is not how it was meant to be. From the beginning it was not so, but we live in a world that suffers from the curse and relate to people who are shaped by sin. We are afraid of being completely naked because we fear rejection (Genesis 3:10). We are scared to be known even as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12). This makes for shallow relationships.
I used to love the line from Bob Dylan's song "Like a Rolling Stone": "When you ain't got nothing, you've got nothing to lose." That's not true! You can still lose your soul and that is quite regrettable. You can become a shell of yourself and that is truly sad.
What a shame to date someone whose other self is in a safe deposit box, someone who is not altogether there. What a shame it would be to wake up in a marriage and be unknown or not know the person next to you. It happens. It happens far too often.
Much of our troubles flow from our own sin and the sin of others. We are assaulted by words that flow from sinful hearts. We experience the hurt of unredeemed hearts. We suffer at the hands of angry, scared, desperate people shaped by a world full of sinners. So just like the first couple, our natural instinct is to hide. They were afraid, so they hid (Genesis 3:10). We are afraid, so we hide what we treasure in the safe deposit box.
While there is still enough hope, still enough trust, still enough confidence to risk some of who we are, we hide only parts of us. This is personal protectionism stemming from fear. It is ultimately a product of the fall. We fear being known, being naked, and rightfully so. None of us is without fault. None of us is without blemish. Apart from grace we are all undone, but hiding is not the answer.
Certainly, there is a caution that comes from wisdom and that is good. We must understand that not everyone has good intentions, not everyone can or should be trusted. But there is a hesitancy that is from unfounded fears and that is sad. To be governed by our fears is very sad. When the wounds we have suffered not only inform but also determine our path—we are in trouble.
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