The Safe Place

Wookie has a problem.

For those of you who are new to CaseStudies, Wookie is one of the three cats that own and operate the Case household, and that we humans serve-well, at least that’s their interpretation.

Wookie used to be a fixture in my office. I’d sit here writing, and she’d be perched on the top of my high-back chair, watching and offering creative advice. If she wasn’t there, she’d be snuggled up in my lap or hanging on my shirt by her claws, a favorite napping position.

But right now, she’s downstairs, under one of the dining room chairs. It’s her “safe place.” I just went down there and tried picking her up. She was alright with that for a few moments, until she realized that I was venturing away from her “safe place.” I lulled her to semi-sleep in my arms, and carried her up here to my office, but then she realized that she wasn’t near her “safe place” anymore, and a look of utter terror appeared in her eyes. She was gone in a heartbeat, running full speed down the stairs and back to the “safe place.”

It’s apparent that Wookie has been through some sort of traumatic experience, although we don’t know just what. It’s not just the upstairs-if we take her to the lower level of our tri-level house, she reacts the same way. Something has frightened her terribly, and she only feels safe on the middle level, in her “safe place.”

We’ve tried everything. She’s had a problem with her skin being irritated and sore, and we took her to the vet Saturday and got her some medicine to help. Her skin condition has improved, but her fear remains. It’s a real heartbreak for us to see this little kitten who used to be so gregarious and active spending all her time in hiding in the “safe place.” We’re really hoping that we can help her get beyond whatever it is that scared her and help her get back to her old self.

Having a “safe place” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If we’re really honest, we’ll all admit to having a “safe place” or two. We need a place where we can go to lick our wounds and regroup. Sometimes, I retreat to my office. On my job, engineering radio stations, I’ve been known to go to transmitter sites in the wilderness, just to be alone and work through those overwhelming urges to slap a coworker silly.

If used appropriately, a “safe place” can be an important and productive part of keeping our lives balanced and on-track. Jesus had His “safe places.” We see many examples of Him going up to a mountain, or out to the wilderness alone to pray (Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 5:16, 6:12). Sometimes, we need to go to a “safe place” and just be alone, get quiet, and regroup. It’s a good and healthy thing to do-in fact, not doing it can be quite UNhealthy.

The problem is that sometimes, we go to our “safe place” and don’t want to come out. It turns from being a place of healing, cleansing and renewal to being a virtual prison. It’s restrictive, it’s limiting, but… it’s “safe.” In the “safe place”, we can be comfortable, and not have to stretch or grow. We don’t have to face our irrational fears, we don’t have to feel threatened, and we don’t have to take any risks at all-we can just be “safe”-and eventually, just wither and die. Even Wookie knows that she’s got to come out of the “safe place” once in a while, or she’ll starve to death.

I thank God for the times that He’s loved me enough to shove me out of my “safe place” and force me to get back into living again. I’m thankful for the times when He’s forced me to face my fears and conquer them, to get out of the comfort zone, and to break new ground and get on with living.

Has your “safe place” become a prison? Call on Jesus-he sets captives free!

Read the sequel to this article, titled “She’s Ba-a-a-a-ck!!”

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