Day 23: Put safety first in caring for people.

I’m trying to finish a year-end update on The Well. Here is a part of what it covers:

Thanks to advancement in understanding the workings of the brain, a major transition is happening in mental health science. We now understand fairly well how experience, beginning in early childhood, leads to changes in the brain and body that result in mental illness in adulthood, including addiction.

Here is a link sent to me the other day by my long-time good friend Tom McNally that summarizes this new paradigm:

Treating the results of childhood trauma is still far from a slam dunk in every case, but for us even working at the lay level with now higher-degreed specialists, this knowledge has been a game changer. And perhaps it should come as no surprise that this knowledge fits amazingly well with the the Gospel of Jesus.

Safety First

The number one insight that arises out of the trauma-based understanding of dysfunction is that fear causes disconnection. The parts of the brain disconnect from each other, and individuals disconnect from others. The first step to healing both these conditions lies in providing loving safety. This has become a primary paradigm at The Well.

Indeed, the Gospel itself is about safety. Jesus’ action makes us safe with God, and therefore we are able to be safe with each other. We are able to change from the pharisaic response to wrong, which thinks that it is the responsibility of leaders to correct others, to a model of simple fellowship, helping each other see our own wrongs as we share life together.

It’s not a feel-good false safety that simply relegates morality to personal choice. Instead it is a lifestyle of highest standard, not only protecting each other but others who may be vulnerable to our unintended harm, which Paul describes at length in 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14.

Indeed, we chose to emphasize safe care and communication all year in 2018, and we believe it has brought results, such as specifically it has opened women up to respond to Jesus, some of whom I have written about this month. One of the coolest things about it is it is such a simple paradigm, fairly easily measured. Are people feeling safe here? Not only clients and visitors, but fellow workers. We recommend it as a regular topic of concern for any church or organization.