Safe Place with Ruth Graham

I heard on the news this morning that we forgive to be free from the hurt an injury. I heard we forgive because God commanded it. I heard we forgive in order to move on from the tragedy.

All that is true but it isn’t the real reason to forgive. The real reason and basis for forgiveness is to reveal the character of God. God is all about forgiveness – it is His nature. The precious people from the AME in Charleston are showing us an example of the character and nature of God. If ever we saw it on display, it was last night.


But, please let us remember, forgiveness is a process. These folks made the choice to forgive now it has to be worked out and lived. It does not meant they won’t get angry, have feelings of revenge, weep, scream…they most assuredly will. But they won’t stay there. The grieving process will begin. It is messy – even for the Christian. But it is healing.

The pain is real. The loss is immense. The grace of God works in and through it to bring God glory. That is what those precious people did last night – glorify God. Our ultimate purpose is to glorify God.



Rachel Dolezal didn’t identify as a white…so she chose to become black. But, in reality, she couldn’t become black. It is something you are or are not. I was born white with white parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents. I am white. No matter how hard I try, I can never be anything else. Rachel changed her hair, deepened her skin color, associated with blacks and their culture, studied African-American studies. She passed herself off as a black woman and was quite good at it – she fooled a lot of people. But she is still a white woman. No matter what. Her natural parents are white.

The former Bruce Jenner didn’t identify as a male. He faked it for a long time.

I am sure there is a great angst in pretending you are something you are not. You must always worry you will be “found out”. Is it worth it.

Recently, someone asked me why I was so transparent I replied, “If I tell on myself then no one can tell on me.” I don’t want to be blindsided by my own sin and faults – and they can show up at the most awkward times! I just find it easier to be honest. Less stressful.

That’s not to say I tell everything I know. Somethings don’t need to be shared. I have seen people try to be honest but tell way too much and the listeners became uncomfortable.  I cannot tell another person’s story – that’s their’s to tell. I get so annoyed when someone comes up to me all excited with someone else’s news…be it good or bad. We should only tell on ourselves. I can only tell on myself – no one else.

So…telling on myself makes life a lot simpler. Yes, I do open myself up to criticism and misunderstanding but I don’t have to pretend to be something I am not. Poor Bruce and Rachel – the years they pretended and where did it get them? Rachel has become a joke and known as a liar. I am distressed for her parents and family. Bruce has become a hero to some – not to me – and is making a large fortune off of his situation. But the story isn’t finished. I suspect he will not be a happy person, content and fulfilled.

I am not sure if it is a “fad”, a trend…but what happened to contentment? Content with race, gender, size, shape, family…somethings we can change. If we don’t like our job, or size, or income we can work to alter that, within reason. God made us as we are and put us where we are. He has a purpose and that purpose is to bring Him glory wherever we are. The Apostle Paul told us, “holiness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim. 6: 6) He also told us that  he had learned to be content. (Phil. 4:12) Hebrews tells us to be content with what we have (Heb. 13:5). The Hebrews reference is to material things – but the other references are not limited.

God says He wants truth in the inward parts – down deep where no one sees – but God. King David prayed that God would keep him from hidden faults. Transparency is freeing. It is also God’s desire for us. I don’t think we need to worry about being trans anything. Let’s be content and grateful for what we do have and who we are.


PS – I know these matters are complicated. There are pathological, psychological, sociological issues involved. But there are spiritual issues, too. We make matters worse by compounding them with sin.


There are two new books I’d like to recommend! First a disclaimer: both are written by friends!

Your Sacred Yes, Trading Life-Draining Obligations for Freedom, Passion and Joy by Susie Larson.


Killing Cows, Six Sacred Cows Keeping You from A fully Satisfied Life by Tony Ferraro.

Both are excellent. They can be ordered on Amazon.

I love Susie’s “Faith Declaration”:

I declare in the mighty name of Jesus that I am an anointed, appointed child of God! I am filled with he Holy Spirit and empowered by His love. I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth. I have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to do His will. I refuse to throw my yes around like it doesn’t matter. It is a gift, and my time is a gift. God invites me to walk with Him and do the next thing He gives me to do. I am loved, called, and fully equipped to live he powerful life God has assigned to me. I refuse the rat race because God has called me to the sacred race. And I will run with holy passion and conviction.

That is just a taste of what is inside her book!

There are 6 sacred cows Tony tackles in his book. Three of them are Judgment, Culture and Fear. You have to buy the book to learn the other three!

Tony says in his book, “Satan desires to separate us from God and from our community. He can do this many different ways, but one key strategy is in the name of “righteousness”. In this case,  by “righteousness” I really mean self-righteousness. Satan will convince us that we are operating on a higher plane and with the clearest point of view. Subsequently, we act alone and without community, precisely where the enemy wants us.”

I recommend both books highly! Enjoy!

Also, Phillip Yancey’s newest book: Vanishing Grace. Talk about “a safe place”!

How many people in recent years have been felled by a hidden sin in their life? It wasn’t bad enough to have their sin, mistake, crime found out but they compounded it by trying to cover it up. Presidents, Governors, Senators, pastors, sports figure, leaders of all sorts…TV personalities… Often the crime is not as bad as the cover-up – though the crime is pretty bad…the explanations, stories, lies, excuses are pathetic.  The latest is Dennis Hastert. But he is just one of so many. His crime was 30+ years ago. I can only imagine the fear of being “found out” he carried for all this years. And after all of that he was found out anyway. In actuality, at this point it is the cover-up, not the crime, that has put him at odds with the law. Certainly it wasn’t worth it.

I hesitate to jump in too early because we don’t know what the situation was but at this point, it looks bad. I do have questions as to the timing of the revelation. Why now? Who is behind this? Politics is a very dirty business. (I am very sad about it. He had seemed to have such a clean record. He served at a difficult time. He had a good reputation. A good legacy… so sad… I do pray for him and his family.) I believe him to be a Christian so I assume he has asked for and been given forgiveness by God and others.

Although we, and I include myself in that, try so hard to look like we have it all together and have a handle on life…we don’t. All of us are broken but we work so hard to keep up appearances. We wear our masks – some decorated quite elaborately and expensively but they are just masks, soon to expose us for what we are – pretenders. Why do we pretend? We are afraid. Afraid of what? People won’t like us or find us deficient.

I’m not sure how many of you watch the BBC/PBS show by that name, “Keeping up Appearances” on Saturday night. Set in England, the main character tries so hard to be what she isn’t (a member of the upper class) and hide the things she is (a pretentious ordinary housewife)! She gets into all sorts of predicaments – it’s quite comical. But it is so true of human nature! We want people to think well of us. Sadly, we pretend to be what/who we are not. Richer than we are, more educated than we are, more popular than we are, busier than we are…the list is endless. How many of us are really comfortable in our own skins, if we really think about it? It is sad. We envy and try to emulate those around us that seem to have more than we do in a variety of areas.

How many times have we driven by a shabby house only to see a brand-new Mercedes out front? I remember looking for a house in Florida years ago…often the downstairs was furnished but not the upstairs! The family couldn’t afford to furnish the whole house but didn’t want people to know! So sad.

To live authentically is freedom. To be who you are inside and out. (I’m not going to comment on Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner at this time.) It is easier to be authentic. It does take energy to cover shame. But shame is a lie. We don’t have to live there. We can be free. And it is so much easier to tell on ourselves rather than have someone rat us out! The Bible tells us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) So true. Find someone that is safe – someone who is authentic (Willing to confess their sins to you) and begin to confess even your darkest secrets. You will find it painful at first but so liberating!

You will no longer be afraid of being found out, of the other shoe dropping, nor will you have to keep up appearances!