I Corinthians 12:25-27
“So, that there should be no division in the body, but that its part should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it, if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
I want to share with you about something that is very near and dear to my heart. I think I have spent a lot of my lifetime searching for the truth of this. It is one of my greatest struggles to build. Yet I think it is a game changer for those who struggle with mental health issues. The thing that I want to talk with you about is the importance of building safe community. I am not talking about family connections that make us feel safe but I am talking about building safety within the community that might not be within our family unit. Trust me, I know how scary it can be to let people into our world in a way that causes us to be vulnerable and to trust that they will not hurt us intentionally. I also know how vital it is to have in our world. It can honestly make a difference knowing that we have a group of people who are walking with us through the struggle. I promise you building safe community is no easy task and it is filled with ups. downs, in’s, out’s and heartaches but the reward when you finally build it, I believe will be so worth all of it. I am on a mission to build a safe community around me. I hope you will join me on this mission. So, let’s talk safe community.
When I think about safe community, the first thing I think of is a place where I can be all of me. It is not community if it is a place that I have to hide any part of myself from those within it. Have you ever considered that you could be the hinderance to finding safe community? I think because of wounds left unhealed we tend to build protective walls around our lives and we shut out even the safest of communities. Oftentimes we don’t even recognize we have found it when we do because we are too busy protecting our hearts from getting hurt. I completely stand with you in protecting ourselves from being hurt but in reality I know that we are unable to do this no matter how many people we shut out. No matter how many protective layers we put in place, we will get hurt. The thing we forget is that we can also heal and build safe community if we allow the process to take place. I know the fear of letting go and being vulnerable, the way we count up the cost in our minds before we do it. Usually we come up with the amount of what we would pay is not worth it. We let the fear we are carrying be worth more than the beauty of having a safe community. I know how it feels to protect your heart but desire community deeply in your soul. We want it but at the same time, we don’t desire the pain or difficulty that comes with building it. Nothing good that you will ever build will come to you without sacrifice and some pain.
I want to share with you some statements that my friends sent me about what safe community means to them:
“Sisters in Christ who walk alongside one another in love and with transparency”. Carol
“A safe community is being in an atmosphere where I can be vulnerable in sharing who I am without it coming back to hurt me”. Val
“A group where you can be yourself without judging and receiving judgement”. Sylvia
“A safe community is somewhere that no matter who you are or who you are or what you believe you can go there without fear of judgement or persecution”. Avi
“A place where all people can live, work, grow and play without fear of being hurt or injured by anyone within the community”. Sonya
“The intentionality of a people to give a secure space of love, of requite, of respect and retrospect, of listening and sharing all with purpose and truth”. Precious
“Safe community to me would be a place where each person involved feels seen, heard, validated and accepted without feeling judged, less than or rejected”. Jane
“A safe community is a place where you can come as you are, because the love of Jesus Christ unites you”. Lisa
“A safe community is a space where you can be vulnerable to just be you-in sharing ideas, thoughts and spaces with others”. Maria
There is a theme that I hear within all of their quotes and that is a safe community is one without judgement. A safe community is one with unconditional love, a safe community is one that you can feel free to be yourself. Only you can truly determine what a safe community is for you. We are all different and we all require certain things to bring about safety and to build community within that space. Community may look different for me than it does for you. I honestly believe our mental health is a factor in how we do community, how we build community and how we determine what safe community looks like for us. Please know that safe community does not mean that we all believe the same way. It also does not mean that we have to agree with what everyone within that community believes in. Safe community means we invite the views of others without judgement.
In closing this post, I want to be totally honest with you. I to struggle with building safe community. As a matter of fact, I struggle with feeling safe in community. My mind is always working overtime trying to sort through or bargain with the fear of being rejected in community. I know the pain of rejection and the fear of feeling that again sometimes robs me of the opportunity to be vulnerable enough to let all of me be seen. Building community is hard work, it can be full of disappointments and wins. I believe in the end it will be worth it to find our people. You are worthy of a beautiful safe community. You belong in safe community. Pray for it, believe for it and fight for it. God desires to place you in community, will you let him?
Lord Jesus please help me to feel safe enough to be in community with those you have given to me. Amen