“Soft places” are needed because life has so many hard places. I first heard these two words tucked together in “Savor” a devotional by Shauna Niequist and I have never forgotten them.
I invite you think about the “soft places” in your life.
Your “soft place” may be a dinner around the table, a cup of coffee in a quiet cafe, or a funny story while waiting for a meeting to begin.
I am blessed to have some “soft places” in my life. In difficult times, I sense my internal GPS searching for the address of these “soft places” near me.
Here are two examples of my nearest and dearest “soft places”:
My comfy chair in my devotional area. When I am troubled or not feeling well, my comfy chair calls to me and I ease my hurting body down into it and it surrounds me like a cloud. This chair carries years of reading the word, listing to music, tears of joy and sadness, and of course, laughter! It has always given me the softness I need to hear or heal.
Panera Bread is one of my “soft places” because sometimes I am not seeking quiet or peace; I am yearning for sounds of life, busyness and activity. It’s a place where I can feel like I am part of something without feeling burdened by any obligation. I get my food, sit in my booth, open my laptop, and blend totally in to the surroundings. And when I am done, I leave as unnoticed as I entered. Having those times of being where no one knows me; lets me release burdens of the demands of life and leave them, where no one will care.
Oh, but the greater joy is when we provide a “soft place” for another!
Here are 3 ways I have learned to be that “soft place” to others in their hard times:
Listen: In hard times, listening is difficult to find with those that are in the hard time with you. If we can offer the pillow of a listening ear with a heart of no condemnation; it can create a soft place for a heavy, weary heart. A secret to listening is to not to let it enter through your brain, but through your heart. Our brain will try and give resolution, and that is not always what they are looking for. When a heart listens, it releases love and love is the softest place to rest in.
Be Selfless: It is important to remember that when you truly want to help others… it is not about you! I have to tell myself that when I am with someone that is going through a hard place in life. My initial reaction is to compare it to something I went through; but it is not about me. A “soft place” offering is not about how I came through, it is giving them a place to obtain soul softness. Be selfless enough to let them talk or not talk, and just hover to cover while they take a pause in life.
Be Patient: As a soft place known by others, it means that people will sometimes come looking for that soft place time and time and time again. And maybe nothing has changed for them since the last pause in your presence; but let them know it is okay. A true “soft place” has no visitation limit. Stop for coffee as often as you want. Sit on my porch in the evening with my family as often as you need. Share a Sunday meal at my home as many times as food is provided. Soft places = open spaces; be it a natural space or a heart space.
It is my desire to inspire you to value and know the soft places within your life, and to be a soft place for one that you see pressing through a hard place.