I attended a conference today. The conference highlighted research by the ACE Study. Before I get to the heart and soul of this post, let me just throw some fast facts your way.
In a nutshell, your ACE score is calculated by the various types of adverse childhood experiences encountered while growing up. The score is not per incident, but per category.
If you’re feeling brave, have a moment of self-reflection and find out your score here. The categories are:
- Recurrent physical abuse
- Recurrent emotional abuse
- Contact sexual abuse
- An alcohol and/or drug abuser in the household
- An incarcerated household member
- Someone who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal
- Mother is treated violently
- One or no parents
- Emotional or physical neglect
According to the Center for Disease Control, as your ACE score increases, your risk for the following health problems increase dramatically:
- Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Fetal death
- Health-related quality of life
- Illicit drug use
- Ischemic heart disease (IHD)
- Liver disease
- Risk for intimate partner violence
- Multiple sexual partners
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Suicide attempts
- Unintended pregnancies
- Early initiation of smoking
- Early initiation of sexual activity
- Adolescent pregnancy
As a worker in the social services, this research is of particular interest to me. So as I sat and listened (getting totally bummed out b.t.w), I thought the information was fascinating, but now what? How do I reduce these risks for people with high ACE scores?
The solution? There really isn’t one. Of course there were some panelists who gave great suggestions for our community and the legislators. But the true reality that Dr. Vincent Felitti pointed out was that there has been no research conducted showing the efficacy of interventions on the health of those with high ACE scores……insert jaw drop here.
No one else on the panel wanted to touch that. They politely interjected that there are great programs with great successes, but not ones that have been tested against this data. (Enter moment of panic as I pictured the futures of my high-scoring loved ones).
Now it’s time to back up. Programs are great. Early intervention programs are critical. Research is necessary. But as Dr. Felitti pointed out, they’re not the cure. And if we pretend they are, we are slapping a band-aid on a festering wound.
As a Christian in a secular culture, I have been very well indoctrinated that faith is to be kept separate from every other aspect of life. Keep your faith out of school, government, health care, public opinion, and particularly research. And as a student of history, I can point out many times when individuals have taken “faith” into these areas and run amuck with their personal agendas in the name of Christ.
But the devastation of this separation is band-aids for people in need of major surgery. The gospel was not written for perfect, rich, individuals living in their castles. The gospel was written for those individuals with high ACE scores. It was written for the sick, for the dying, for the lost, for the lonely, for you, and for me (Matt. 9:12-13).
And the solution is not to create a “Christian” government or “Christian” programs, but rather for the church to rise up and share this truth with the people. Rise up church. Rise up Christian. Because the reality is, if you know the truth about Jesus Christ, you have the truth that makes the power of an ACE score obsolete.
It is the power of Christ over sin. Not only the power for you to overcome sin, but also to overcome the scars embedded by the sins of others.
Set that Truth free. Don’t be afraid to share it. Don’t separate it from the rest of your life. The devastation of that separation is death, disease, and more devastation. But the reality of the Truth is everlasting life and healing, in this life, or the next.
“31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”’