Creating a “Safe Place”
To be a community where people experience the healing grace of Christ we must know how to be “safe people” and create “safe places”. This is especially true when the healing is in the area of sexual brokenness.
To be a safe place requires creating a community where broken people feel confident that they can be known and loved. It requires creating a community where people are skilled at the applying the healing medicine of the gospel to their wounds. What does this mean in practical terms?
It requires us to understand the importance of confidentiality and to practice it. We must learn to listen, weep and not be “preachy” and not get into fix-it mode. It means to help people experience “joy”: to feel that they are valued, that they are delighted in, merely for who they are and not what they do.
In short, people experience healing in the context of loving, gracious, persevering, joyful community. Knowing that people find “joy” in their presence; that in spite of their struggles and brokenness others find joy and delight in them is essential for their healing. Building joy means getting closer to God and to people. While it is a very authentic process that cannot be fabricated, here are some “joy-building” ideas from the excellent book, Living From the Heart that Jesus Gave You, to first practice with your own families and/or friends and then in our community groups and worshipping congregation.
1. Smile whenever you greet those you love, and use sincere tones.
2. Ask questions inviting others to tell you truthfully how they are doing, and what they are thinking. Listen intently without interrupting.
3. Take a sincere interest in really knowing the other person. Work hard to understand the other’s fears, joys, passions, talents and pain.
4. Treat each other with dignity and respect. When ending a discussion, try to make both people feel affirmed.
5. Use touch whenever appropriate: hold hands, link arms, give hugs, and use physical connections as effectively as you can.
6. Discover what brings a person joy: a time to talk, encouraging notes, a helping hand, or evening walks. Custom fit your attempts to bring joy. Give them little surprises that will cause their eyes to light up, and let your eyes light up, too!
7. Cherish babies and children by establishing through words and actions that you are authentically “glad to be with them.”