A Third Way: Staying (Actually) Healthy And Safe

***Content below may be triggering for some individuals. Please proceed with emotional caution and an open mind***

So staying safe. Yeah, lets talk about it. It has a lot of other meanings now, and comes with a lot of stigma.

‘Stay safe!’ Doesn’t mean to make sure you lock your doors at night, or to make sure you get hugs from loved ones and see people regularly, or even to choose fresh veggies, healthy fats, and a grass-fed meat over a quick trip to Chik-Fil-A. Today saying ‘stay safe!’ is linked to washing hands and keeping your distance from people. But what is safety? Is it even in our control? What areas do we need to consider safety in?

Staying safe means to stay out of harms way. But I would argue that we are never really out of harms way. This is a dangerous world that we live in. That’s a fact of life we need to accept in order to fully live. Used needles are on the street, rusty nails could give you tetanus if you run through the grass, you could get hit by a driver who isn’t paying attention, a loose dog could attack you in your neighborhood, there could be a fire at night that could trap you, an armed man could find you in a parking garage, you could be electrocuted by using any appliance in your kitchen.

The list goes on. But what about other aspects of safety?

What about the children who are now growing up in isolation who found their one comfort in the socialization they found at school and are emotionally reeling from the disconnect?

What about the person living in fear from the person they share a home with, who was about to share with their small group but because social interaction was suddenly deemed dangerous, were denied community and restricted from their only line of hope.

What about the person struggling to make friends and be known, and now living alone and living in fear that leads to despair and causes them to finally pull the trigger on the item once used for personal protection that is now used to end their suffering?

You might feel shock from that last statement. But why? Why do we turn our eyes away from those who are suffering from mandated isolation and fear? Yes I said it.

No, I did not say that certain diseases and sicknesses and viruses do not exist. But why THIS fear? This world has always been filled with those. There is nothing new under the sun. Recent research on the microbiome has shown that our bodies, when healthy, host dozens of viruses that are naturally part of an ecosystem of bacteria that live within us. We are not sterile beings. And this is normal.

Let me say it again for the people in the back. THIS IS NORMAL! Our world has never been sterile, and sterilization does not equal health.

Let me take a slight tangent for a moment and explain something. I know this may be heady but I am heading somewhere so please give me five minutes of your time.

Lets start at the basics. We are a part of creation, a part of the created order. We are not humans and the earth ‘other’. We are called the pinnacle of God’s creation, and because of that, we function as a part of a designed pattern, just as the rest of the earth functions.

The earth functions in ecosystems- a balance of life and plants and terrain that are in perfect order as designed. And when you reintroduce organisms into ecosystems that don’t belong, or remove the balance of what is already present, you risk catastrophe. We’ve seen it countless times- ecosystems fall from the failure to protect or the ignorance of introduction.

A fantastic story and example I’ve seen is in Yellowstone. In the 1930’s the wolves were driven out. This wreaked havoc on the environment, as the downstream effects upset the balance. Without the wolves, the elk grew in population, they became more sedentary and were not forced to roam as prey usually are with predatory pressures. The elk then overate and stripped the natural resources and food that the beavers relied on, among other creatures. The beavers then suffered and many beaver dams suffered. The balance was destroyed. Other animals suffered. Today, with the wolves being reintroduced, the beavers have made a huge comeback, and life that once suffered has been restored. Its a beautiful story of the domino affects that changing an ecosystem can cause. Just one of many, many examples.

We, also, as a part of the created order have a role to play; we are not only a part of these ecosystems , we are an ecosystem. The microbiome in the soil, the bacteria and life in the roots, also has a home inside our bodies and our guts. And just as when an ecosystem is disrupted it causes detrimental harm, when our internal balance is upset, it ruins our internal ecosystems, damaging the terrain (our bodies and organs) and sending things into disarray and disease.

Does this make sense?

And back to my shocking statement earlier, let me link it. Ecosystems don’t function in isolation, all creatures function properly in community. The most unhealthy and unsafe thing about our world right now is the isolation and fear. Isolation does something to us unnatural, and it is NOT safe. We are sacrificing one mode of safety for a perceived different type of safety. Perceived because there is no guarantee of safety anywhere with anything, and what I know can help people be healthier is what is being ignored by so many.

Did I just say that immunocompromised people shouldn’t isolate? How insensitive!

No, I mean..you can go reread what I wrote, but it may seem like I am insinuating this if I left it here. But I assure you that I am not. Keep reading. Immunocompromised people have a severely disrupted internal ecosystem, microbiome, and state of health. This is known. Of course there are people who need extra care, but what they need is nutrition, and community. There are ways to quarantine and to simultaneously work on our health to improve our wellbeing, and to continue fellowship. Just like an ecosystem can be repaired, the state of our health can be repaired!

Am I being harsh? You might think I am, but why are we so sensitive? Why is this a topic we can’t touch with a ten-foot pole? Don’t we want what is actually best for people? Why will we not even consider it?

People die from lack of community. This does not seem safe to me. Creatures die when isolated, the stress causes their bodies to break down and they are more likely to succumb to disease. No healthy life thrives in isolation, and fear in a sterilized environment. This actually makes us more susceptible to viruses in our environment.

In light of how the ecosystems and creatures of the world and our bodies work, it is clear to see that life does not thrive in a sterilized, isolated environment. Did I repeat myself? Yes, I did…because we need to hear it. It is a beautiful balance of organisms that sustain healthy, thriving life in community. Why then this fear? If we support our bodies and lifestyles in such a way that supports the internal balance of our own personal ecosystems and our mental health, in line with how God created us to function, then this truly is how we are going to protect ourselves and ‘stay safe’.

When we choose to trust that our lives are ultimately safe in the saving embrace of Jesus Christ, that he is sovereign over all sickness and health, and when we steward our bodies through a healthy lifestyle, a nutrient dense, healing diet, and embrace our ecosystems as they were designed to be embraced, IN community, then let me say it again: THIS is the best way to stay healthy and safe.

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