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.
I am going to suggest something crazy, something that lacks market savvy and something that requires great faith. Go to the vault and get the box. Open it and bring out the real you. I make this suggestion because it is a travesty that sin—our sin, their sin, any sin—should direct our lives.
If you hide yourself, you will never grow to maturity. You will never know who you really are. You will never know who you could be if only all of you were available for the "renewing" and "transforming" God is so eager to work in you. Hiding parts of you in a safe deposit box not only delays your exposure to reality but hinders your own growth.
Again I say go to the vault and get the box.
Open it and bring out the real you.
Open it and enter the next relationship as the real you.
Open the box and be ALL you, all He has called you to be, all He has made you to be.
This is dangerous, but no investment is without risk. There is danger, but we are not left alone and not left without an advocate (Job 16:19; Romans 8:26-27; Hebrews 6:20). Even in our fear we must confess that the Father's love is great and "higher than the heavens (Psalms 108:4). His faithfulness, far from lying limp on the ground, "reaches to the skies" (Psalms 108:4). There is danger in this world but we trust in a God whose ways are "higher than [our] ways" (Isaiah 55:9). We trust in a God whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).
We are not foolish but wise. We act but we act shrewdly. Being you does not mean entering relationship with carelessness. Paul tells us that we are to be "very careful … how [we] live—not as unwise but as wise" (Ephesians 5:15). The call to open the box is not a call to recklessness but wholeness.
You can hide your most tender and vulnerable parts in that safe deposit box but you may soon forget who you really are. Somewhere down the road (perhaps marriage) when you are ready to love and to give ALL of you—you may be too numb to turn that switch.
If you are good at hiding, you may just hide too well. You may come to believe that the partial you IS you. What a tragedy to conduct a relationship or even get married without having touched what is hidden inside that safe deposit box. If you do not know who you really are, no one else will.
There is grave danger in remaining open, and there is folly in being TOO open. There are levels of intimacy, and we do not bare all of who we are to everyone that comes along. I am not talking about opening your heart to the cutest or the most persistent.
We must be wise, but love demands ALL of us. Love! Risk! Hurt! and do it all again because that is living and that is how God made us. Anything else is not Christian. It is not even human.
Hudson Russell Davis was born on a small Island in the West Indies called Dominica, and this is only one reason he does not like cold weather and loves guava. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a B.A. in Graphic Design and earned a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University studying historical theology. Hudson has worked as a graphic artist and worship leader but expresses himself through poetry, prose, photography, and music. His activities are just about anything outdoors, but tennis is his current passion. He and his wife Rachel were married in 2009.
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**This article first published on September 2, 2010.
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