7> Unsafe people are unstable over time instead of being consistent
Are you the romantic / naive type? If so, you’re particular vulnerable to unsafe people because you tend to trust people immediately instead of putting them through the test of time. As cliched as it may sound, time is indeed the best judge of character.
Who we are and what we do are very, very related. Character cannot be completely hidden over a lifetime; it leaks out sooner or later. As Jesus said, “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke 12:3). So hiding and pretending aren’t ever going to pay off for us.
And time tends to prove out the truth. As time passes, spouses, for example, learn the truth about each other’s ability to love, to listen, to be responsible, and to forgive. No matter what one says, the other one has years of memories that will either confirm or deny that person’s words.
Those who are not safe are those who are “relational sprinters” as compared to a “marathoner.” A sprinter is there for you if you are there. But, out of sight is out of mind. So, he may promise something and then never come through with what he promised. This trait makes the person unsafe with friends and family. You cannot depend on him. He commits and commits and commits – but he does not come through. If you ask him to return the lawnmower he borrowed last week, don’t block out your mowing hours on your schedule anytime soon.
He is not a bad person, nor is he insincere. But he loves the intense warmth of being close to a person in the here-and-now. It gets somewhat addictive to him, and he can’t delay gratification to help a person who isn’t around, when another, in-the-flesh person is available. And so he routinely disappoints himself and his friends. He flunks the time test.
Safety isn’t like that. People who pass the test of time are “timeless” people. They guard your trust as if it were money in the bank. They are stable and reliable in their emotional commitments.
That’s why time-friendly people tend to make fewer emotional commitments than an unsafe person. They have a profound understanding of how much time it takes to be there for someone, so they think, deliberate, and pray long and hard before they decide to invest in a relationship. You might think they are aloof or uncaring. They’re not. They are, instead, unwilling to write bad cheques, emotionally speaking.
Look for people who are “anchored” over time. Don’t go for flashy, intense, addictive types. A Ford that will be there tomorrow is a lot better than a Maserati that might be gone. There are stable Maseratis. But it’s best to drive them awhile, that is, test out the relationship over time, to make sure.
Here are some traits to look for in your relationships:
- Are they living up to their commitments to me?
- Are they here for me only when I’m here?
- Do they tell me no when they don’t have time?
- Do they make promises they can’t keep?
- Am I the last or most recent in a string of broken relationships?
- Do others warn me about their pattern of relating?
Love is abiding, timeless, and unchanging, just like its Author. Find people who love you, and love you well over time, like He does: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).