Do You Have A Circle Of Safety?

They stood beside me.
Shoulder to shoulder and when my little shield of faith started to droop under the tiredness of the battle, they came in closer, knowing one day, perhaps the next, I would rise again.
Friends are crucial in this life.

If you have a mental illness then you are in a battle that you cannot face alone.

Who has stood by your side and believed in you?

I am currently reading Simon Sinek’s latest book Leaders Eat Last.

 He writes about the importance of having a Circle of Safety derived from a Fable of Aesop.

 A lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four. —Aesop, sixth century B.C

 Often I have seen people being picked off my the struggles of this life simply because they haven’t had a Circle of safety. A group of others who are looking out for them. More than just friends, but warriors in arms. Ready to make a stand and come to your aid and you doing likewise.

 Sinek goes on to write about the Spartans.

 The Spartans, a warrior society in ancient Greece, were feared and revered for their strength, courage and endurance. The power of the Spartan army did not come from the sharpness of their spears, however; it came from the strength of their shields. Losing one’s shield in battle was considered the single greatest crime a Spartan could commit. “Spartans excuse without penalty the warrior who loses his helmet or breastplate in battle,” writes Steven Pressfield in his account of the Battle of Thermopylae (the battle upon which the movie 300 is based), “but punish the loss of all citizenship rights the man who discards his shield.” And the reason was simple. “A warrior carries helmet and breastplate for his own protection, but his shield for the safety of the whole line.”

 Paul writes to the Christians in the Roman stronghold of Ephesus to ‘take up the shield of faith’ Ephesians 6:13-17. This passage is often seen as an individuals call to spiritual disciplines, but I think Paul was writing not just to individuals but to the corporate grouping, a small group of Christians meeting in a local home.

 They were a ‘Circle of Safety’ for each other. When ones ‘Shield of faith’ drooped and became heavy the others would come around and shield them.

 This is what Church is all about. Its not a building, nor is it a time of the week. Its a relationship we offer to each other, a line of safety.

 Jesus said this

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20

 Where a Circle of Safety is created, Christ will be right in the middle of it.

Does this fill you with hope?

 A few years ago I was supporting someone going through a tough phase in their life. I could see that things would change for them if they just persisted a bit longer. The challenge was hard and painful for them and also for those that loved them. Their faith shield was drooping and so I offered for them to borrow some faith from me.

They borrowed some faith and made it through.

 Faith which they couldn’t muster up in themselves they borrowed from others.

 They trusted me and my belief that things would change, and so took some of what I offered and kept on going.

 What does this take?

  1. Time. Relationships of this quality take time to build. Relationships like this don’t just happen overnight but are built day by day, week by week, month by month.
  2. A time. A commitment to meet on a regular basis and checkout how each others shields are looking. It might be for lunch, breakfast or over a cup of coffee, but there is a regular time where we stand shoulder to shoulder and talk about the lions we face.
  3. Trials. In a fight, who would you like standing next to you? A couple of new recruits or a couple of seasoned warriors. Being tested and tried builds muscle. Faith grows through experience, trial by trial.

Questions to Consider and leave a comment

  1. Who is in your ‘Circle of Safety’?
  2. Why is it that we have a tendency to want to face our trials alone?
  3. Have you ever ‘borrowed faith’ from someone else? What was it like?
Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: Taifighta via Compfight cc

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