Safe Spaces – Then and Now

I was thinking about Safe Spaces the other day, and I realized they have changed a whole lot from when I was growing up. I was in grade school when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. Afterwards, there was a surge in activity in most cities. An Early Warning System was put into place should there be a nuclear attack. In our town, a speaker was set up on top of the tallest building in town. For a few years after that, we would have monthly drills. The siren would go off and if we were at school, we were instructed to get under our desks and wait for the all clear siren. Our school was about three blocks from a building where there was a bomb shelter set up. In case of a real nuclear attack, I’m assuming we would walk to the bomb shelter. If we could all reach the bomb shelter, we would be “safe” from the impending  attack. That was our Safe Space. fallout-shelter-2835496_640 Photo by Lenzius. Courtesy of Pixabay.

I remember walking by that building as a child and thinking about the Bomb Shelter in the basement. I didn’t know anyone in my town who built one in their backyard, so basically we had one shelter for about 17,000 people. Anyone who was lucky enough to be near the shelter when the attack occurred would be safe initially from the radioactive fallout. The whole town viewed that building as their Safe Space.

Fast forward fifty years. Colleges and universities initially set up Safe Spaces for students so that they could talk about their problems in a safe environment where no one would harass them or make fun of them. I see no problem with that. Students need a space where they can go and be themselves without fear of repercussions. Since their initial set-up, Identity Politics have taken over, and some students go to Safe Spaces so that they will not have to listen to divergent opinions. Instead of interacting in a climate of differing ideas, some students have chosen to isolate themselves so that they do not have to hear or think about anything that is dissimilar to their particular beliefs.

The Safe Spaces of my youth were set up to protect us physically from real biological harm. Some of the Safe Spaces today are being used to protect students from Ideological Diversity. Do they really need protection from ideas that are disparate from the ones they espouse at the moment? What kind of thinkers are we enabling if they will not expose themselves to differing ideas? Are we really willing to encourage students to be weak mentally and not expose themselves process dissimilar opinions?

These are questions we need to ask when setting up Safe Spaces on campus. Are they there to help students who really need help or are they being used to protect students from hearing something they don’t like or feel uncomfortable with? What kind of preparation are we giving them for entry into adult society? They will, after all, have to go out into the real world when they graduate and get jobs. On those jobs, they will be exposed to people from many diverse backgrounds who hold opinions that may be quite different than the ones they espoused in college. Will they be able to cope with them? After all, I have never seen a job site yet that had a Safe Space set up for employees who felt uncomfortable listening to their fellow workers’ opinions. Have you?

Secrets…”From Their Lips to God’s Ears.”

Before I wrote my last post, I began to think about secrets and how they affect us. I read different studies and articles about secrets. Most studies came to the conclusion that many of the secrets we carry are not harmful but there are some that are not good for us. They usually separated the secrets into two categories: those that we don’t think about and those that we think about a lot. The studies usually concluded that it is the secrets that we continually think about that cause us damage. They cause us stress and we know that stress is not good for us. The studies were very general and a bit vague so I decided to come up with my own SECRETS CHART  and let you know how I try to process them.secret-2725302_1280 Photo by Phlim 1310 Courtesy of Pixabay

                                                        SECRETS CHART

WHITE:

beautiful bloom blooming blossom

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

These secrets are usually very nondescript. Someone may say, “Don’t tell anyone about my makeup secrets or where I got this dress.” These secrets do not evoke an emotional reaction inside of me and they do not affect me one way or the other.

 

BEIGE:

selective focus photography of white petaled flowers

Photo by Irina Kostenich on Pexels.com

These secrets are usually social and relational. I will hear, “Don’t tell anyone that I like him,” or “We’re going together but we don’t want anyone to know.” Again these secrets are just information and again usually they do not affect me one way or the other.

 

YELLOW:

flower roses bloom blossom

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The secrets in this category are of a different sort. These are the secrets that I may hear in the job I work at. These are secrets that, by law or agreement, I am not allowed to tell anyone. When I work in a medical office, people’s health information is private and is protected by law. When I work in an office where there are corporate secrets, I have signed a non-disclosure contract. If I work in an attorney’s office, ditto, attorney-client privilege. These secrets are usually documented but must not leave the office or only leave the office if they are requested legally or subpoenaed. A person must use EXTREME CAUTION with these secrets because if you say anything to anyone, you have broken the law and can lose your job. 

I know that these secrets can affect you emotionally having worked in both a legal office and a medical office. The best thing I can do with them after I have processed them emotionally is to give them to God. I can’t change what I have heard and now know about someone, but I don’t want to carry the information around inside of me. I must pass it along, hence, “From their lips to God’s ears.” I can talk to God about what I know and leave the information with Him. After all, He is in charge of the world, not me.

 

RED:

beautiful bloom blooming blossom

Photo by asim alnamat on Pexels.com

The secrets in this category are DANGEROUS. They make me STOP and do something about them. If someone is breaking the law, I need to report it. If a child tells me they are being abused, I must report it. If someone is stealing from my employer, I need to report it. These are not secrets I am supposed to carry and do nothing about. They are secrets that must come to the light of day and be exposed.

 

BROWN:

rose-1010688_640

These secrets are some of the most difficult to carry. People tell you things before they pass and you are not allowed to share the information. Someone has been cheating on their spouse. A woman wonders if her child belongs to her husband. The secrets in this category are emotionally charged but again, I probably should not take action about them. What do I do with this information so that it doesn’t harm me? Again, after I process these secrets, I must release them to God. I do not want to carry this information and most of the time I did not solicit it. Someone may have confided in me because they thought I was trustworthy. So again, I give the secrets to God, “From their lips to God’s ears.” I let Him carry them.

 

BLACK:

grayscale macro photography of rose

Photo by Karin S on Pexels.com

This category of secrets is the most destructive. These are the “DEEP, DARK SECRETS” that we carry. These secrets consist of things we have done or possibly have been done to us in decades past. There is shame associated with these secrets and we don’t want to talk to anyone about them. What do we do with those secrets? First, we take them to God and talk to Him about them. My motto changes slightly here, it now becomes, “From my lips to God’s ears.”

If we have done wrong, we tell God. The Bible gives us some guidance here: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. We ask for His forgiveness and we ask Him to cleanse us from the sin we are carrying around. Then we see if there is something we need to do about what we have confessed. Is there someone we need to ask forgiveness from? Do we need to call or write a letter? Have we stolen something? Do we need to make amends? These actions help us become free from the hold the secrets have had on us. If we are not sure about what we should do, we may need to speak to a pastor, priest or counselor. These professionals can give us counsel and guidance about how to proceed if we need to make restitution for anything. Many times, there is nothing we should do but let our secrets (sins) go into the Sea of Forgetfulness. We have done what we could and we need to release ourselves from them.

What if the secret is about what someone has done to us? These secrets are a bit trickier. Sometimes bringing these secrets to the light of day will destroy people and families. Is that something I want or need to do? A good place to start with these secrets is with a professional: pastor, priest or counselor. If you are embarrassed, let me tell you, these people have heard everything and nothing you say will surprise them. They can help you sort through the maze of your emotions and help bring you healing and help you figure out if you are supposed to do anything with these secrets.

Do you live in a culture where you cannot share these things with anyone? If you do, will you be blamed as the perpetrator instead of the victim? Will you be punished for what someone did to you? Then you must keep your secret, but share it with a loving God who will be there to help give your heart healing and you vindication. Remember, He has seen what happened to you and He will eventually take care of it in His time. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord, Romans 12: 19. 

 

Secrets, sometimes they are nothing, sometimes they are everything. Seek counsel if you need it and trust God. He will help guide you through the maze about what to do with them. Most important, don’t let the secrets you carry affect you and your mental and emotional health! 

 

 

 

 

Food Fast…Juice Fast…News Fast?

Lots of us have done a bit of fasting over the years. We may fast from food for one reason or another. Sometimes we fast for health reasons; i.e. we must fast gluten or other foods we are allergic to. At times we go on juice fasts where we spend one day a week drinking juice in order to clean out our bodies. There are a lot of health benefits that have been documented relating to fasting and many of us have tried a  lot of them.

We also fast for spiritual reasons. We want to pray and spend more time focused on God than on our physical needs, so we may fast a meal or two. Other times we may fast one day a week. Sometimes we fast several days at a time in order to try to get God’s attention on a matter. We may also fast based on a spiritual calendar in order to fulfill the requirements of our religious beliefs.

administration articles bank black and white

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

All well and good, but have you ever considered a News Fast? For the past several weeks it has been excruciating to watch the news. Children are suffering, families are separated and politicians are vying for the camera in order to give us their opinion on the problems. Add to that the natural disasters that have occurred, i.e, volcanoes erupting, floods, forest fires and severe storms dropping hail the size of baseballs on people, just to name a few. After a while, any person who has an ounce of sensitivity in their souls can get Compassion Fatigue. We turn on the television and all we see are hurting people and there isn’t much we can do about it. By the time the nightly news is over, we have watched hundreds if not thousands of people deal with some very difficult situations. 

After our thirty minute exposure to the news, we want to be able to focus our minds on something different, but who can? After all, we have just seen tremendous suffering played out in front of our eyes. Many times, we have heard from those suffering in first-person accounts. We cannot easily forget or ignore what they have been going through. 

What can we do when we are confronted with all of the suffering? We can give to a charity that is working with victims of whatever crisis we are watching. We can write or call our congressmen if there is something they can do about a particular problem. And of course, we can pray for those in need. That said though, sometimes we just need to take a break from it all.

When everything gets a bit much for me, I go on a News Fast. I turn off the nightly news and I give myself a few days to recover from all of the suffering I have witnessed. It is the equivalent of taking a few mental health days and I find it’s essential for my state of mind. I may totally unplug and not turn on any kind of technology for a while. It is certainly peaceful and refreshing for me and I find it is necessary to maintain a positive mental attitude.

For centuries, people only knew about what was happening in their particular community. Every now and then, they would get news about what was happening further out from the radius of their communities, but there was no way they could hear about all of the bad news that was happening around the globe. I don’t believe we were created with the capacity to cope with the kinds of trauma we are subjected to night after night on the news without needing a break from it from time to time.

 We need to learn to be kind to ourselves and give ours minds and hearts a break from all of the suffering and spend time focusing on more positive things. There are lots of ways to do this and each one of us knows what works for us to help us destress, unwind and rejuvenate. Whatever it takes, it is important to take care of ourselves so that we can function in a positive way in this problem-laden world we live in. Food Fast…Juice Fast…News Fast? I’ll definitely take the News Fast, thank you!