“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
I love this line from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver describe Aslan, the powerful Lion King of Narnia, to the human children who were transported to their land through the magical wardrobe. Aslan, they say, is their only hope to end the curse of Narnia; always winter but never Christmas. Aslan is good, but not safe. There is a danger about him that cannot be ignored. But it is in his severe strength that Aslan’s goodness reaches its full display. What does this have to do with marriage?
One of the encouragements that I often give couples is to build a safe place for each other in their marriages. However, we can be fooled into believing that a safe place is void of disruption, without tension or struggle. But so often the opposite is true. Sometimes places we think are safe are actually just places that are dormant, sterile, and lifeless. To be truly safe, we have to risk being naked. We must trust the very one who knows all of our frailties that our vulnerability will be treated with honor and dignity. Instead of using our frailties to destroy us, they are used to build us up. This is true in our relationship with God, and in relationship with each other.
When I talk with couples about building a safe place in marriage I often refer to Genesis 2:25, The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.In the perfect garden, they stood completely exposed before their God and each other. I encourage couples to reach for the intimacy given to us in the garden: physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual nakedness. I believe it is in marriage that God offers us the very thing we long for. Being completely known, yet completely loved.
I realize that safety alone is not a sufficient goal. Safety alone does not offer the vibrant, abundant life we were created to experience. If you are like me, you may have tried to build a safe place by being too kind, patient… and passionless. After all, passion is not safe. It takes risks, makes mistakes, and reveals too much about who I am. Instead, I am inclined to play it safe, keep my preferences to myself in order to remain hidden; vigilantly deflect any attention for fear it will expose some vulnerability; engage only in activities where I feel competent, even though they keep me from growing.
The goal then is not sterile safety, but passionate goodness. Passionate like a Lion who could destroy us with one swipe of his paw, but instead lays down on a stone tablet to give his life for ours. This is the same commission we have in our relationships with one another. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:22, 25). We are called to know each other’s frailties, and instead of using them to destroy, offer a truly safe place to one another.
Does your marriage feel like winter but never Christmas? There is a springtime thaw within reach that can bring your marriage back toward the intimacy of the garden – fully naked, fully unashamed, fully safe. When we know each other intimately, we are given the opportunity to truly love.
Just like the humans who entered Narnia, it can just take a step in the right direction to change your world forever.