As we continue our series of lessons from horror, I want to look at something important that we don’t take nearly as serious. Mental health is something that is becoming more and more of a conversation, and that’s a good thing. There has been a stigma surrounding it for so long, people being afraid to open up that there seems to be something off, people like me. For a long time, I have struggled with anxiety, and haven’t always felt able to talk. My family and wife are the ones who have helped me be open and able to talk. They are safe people. This is a term that many have heard when it comes to mental health, find safe people to be open with. It can be hard to find these safe people, but we need to realize that having community is so vital, no matter what you may be going through. The sad thing is, many of us choose poorly. We choose negative influences over the positives, because we have an enemy working against us. This is a topic I talk about with students and kids about, because negative influences can lead us into some dark spots. God has designed us for community, so find a safe one.
One of my favorite movies is George Romero’s, Night of the Living Dead. It’s a great movie with social commentary, but one of the biggest moments is the struggle our characters find themselves in. Sure, zombies are always bad news, but there is a bigger threat. The group of survivors have come together, but the group is not safe, and in the moment when our heroes need to come together, they fall apart. They didn’t choose this group and end up with a couple of bad apples that end up getting them killed. I think this movie gives a great warning, you need safe people to trust. We need to learn that community has power, so choose the people in your community with care. I don’t want you to end up like people in zombie movies, I want you to be able to weather the storm and live into the morning light; God has made us to live with purpose in solid community.
Safe people are different with the same mindset.
The people in your community should be different, but all Christ-minded. You need people that will challenge you to grow, you need different perspectives and not just cookie-cutter friends. Different is good, except when it comes to the heart. We need people running after Christ as our closest people. I know this may be hard, but you need people around you who are able to pray for you and fight with you in this spiritual battle. I know there may be people in your life who don’t have a relationship with God, and I’m not saying that you need to cut them out, but when it comes to having your safe people, you need people who are in constant pursuit of God’s plan. In this life, we are going to face heavy attack, and people without a relationship can only help so much.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” We need people to run alongside us in this race. We need brothers and sisters to encourage us and pray with us in the fight, we need people we can trust. We need people who are uniquely made and are focused on Jesus, we need to surround ourselves with safe people.
Safe people create a safe place, and so should you.
When working with small group leaders, one of the biggest things I tell them to do in their group is to create a safe place. You need people to feel safe, that they can share openly without judgement and not worry about that to spread outside of the group (within reason of course, as some issues pose a threat to others or themselves). We need to be able to be a safe space for others as well. As we saw last week, it’s not about us, we need to be focused on what God has called us to be, and he has called us to love others just as we want to be loved. We need people that are safe and we need to be safe for others. Don’t be the person in your community that others avoid opening up to, be the one who people come to because you encourage and lift them up in prayer.
John 15:12-13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” God has called us to fight for others, to love and help them enter the kingdom of heaven, so that they can live in freedom. We need to be able to humble ourselves and fight for each other, we need to fight to be safe people and surround ourselves with safe people.
I want to close this post out with a personal story. For a long time, I felt like an outsider, I didn’t have people in my life that I could open up to. I had my parents, but still felt very alone. I came to a new church, and had a group of guys reach out to me. I didn’t open up at first, but over time, I connected to them deeply. We had a small group, and I didn’t feel alone. I didn’t feel like an outsider or a mutant to them, I was safe and was surrounded by safe people. In the years after that, after we had left for college and gone separate ways, one of my closest friends took his own life. He hadn’t connected with people that were safe, he actually found himself with very unsafe people and he got lost. They led him into things that changed his head, and while he wasn’t innocent in his actions, he hadn’t found safe people that encouraged him in the right ways. I don’t want your story to be like his. I went through some heavy issues a year after that, but I thank God every day for the safe people I had in my life that let me talk out my struggle and encouraged me to stay in the fight.
Stay in the fight. You need safe people who are focused on the same mind and you need to create a safe place for others. Don’t walk through life alone, you were made for community, so surround yourself with safe people.