Daniel Fava | Simple Acts Of Kindness & Compassion In Everyday Life | K&C 16

Where am I being kind and compassionate in my everyday life? Daniel Fava, a web-designer and online marketing strategist, is confronted by this very relatable question as he joins Gordon for the next conversation on the podcast. In this episode, Daniel explores with Gordon what he learned about kindness and compassion 13 years ago on a trip to India and how he is still applying it today. Listen in for an encouraging reminder that a small act, when done with love, can be the most powerful act of all.

Meet Daniel Fava

Daniel Fava was born and raised on Long Island, NY and is currently one of just five hockey fans in Atlanta where he currently lives with his wife. After using his skills as a web designer to help his wife launch a private therapy practice in 2011, Daniel decided he want to share those same skills with others. Thus, in 2016 he began a blog called Create My Therapist Website to help therapists learn how to use effective website design and online marketing strategies to launch and grow their private practice. Later he started a podcast to emphasize the importance of going beyond websites and employing online marketing and other strategies for private practice growth.

Coming in solidly as an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, Daniel brews his own beer. Meanwhile, bourbon is his love language—alongside a good hot dog, a good slice of pizza, and a good burger. He’s traveled to 12 countries, including a hike with his wife to the Mt. Everest Base Camp, and he also plays guitar, piano, drums, and bass.

On a Mission

Beginning with his first short-term mission trip to Ukraine in 2008, missions work has been a huge part of Daniel’s life, shaping both who he is as well as the shared vision he and his wife hold for their lives. When he steps outside his daily life and heads abroad on mission, he’s asking the questions: What is God doing in a different location? How can I serve? Share love? Do some tangible work, or help meet needs?

The Ultimate Act of Kindness

In 2009 during a mission trip to India, Daniel spent two days in Calcutta visiting one of the homes founded by Mother Teresa for those suffering with a long-term illness or disability who have no one else to care for them. That’s where he learned about what Gordon describes as “the ultimate act of kindness”—the ministry of presence. Like many of us, Daniel is often task-oriented. He’s used to waiting for directions and looking for someone else to lead the way. However, on his first day in the home, confronted by extreme poverty and human suffering, there was no one to tell him what to do. Self-conscious and out of his element, Daniel jumped in to cross-barriers of language, culture, class, and life-experience to connect with a man through physical contact and simply being present. With his own inner barriers broken, Daniel felt lighter on his second day in the home. He was better able to jump in and be present, even while helping out with a simple task or two—without being focused on himself and his performance.

Refueling our Capacity for Kindness and Compassion

As an introvert, Daniel was on sensory overload during his trip to India. There was no personal space. During this time, he relied on a few key practices that helped keep his inner reservoir of kindness and compassion full. This included getting up early before the rest of his team to journal and find time to be alone with himself and God. As he was faithful to these disciplines, kindness and compassion could continue flowing from his own reservoir to those around him.

Making Sense of Injustice & Learning through Diverse Abilities

Coming face-to-face with extreme poverty and suffering can force us to confront just how much the circumstances of our birth shapes our lives. Daniel wrestled with questions about social justice while he was in India, and while he didn’t find any clear answers, he believes that love and grace can make a difference.

Meanwhile, Gordon shared about powerful lessons he learned during Lent while listening to Henri Nouwen’s book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life. In the book, Henri shares about his experiences in a L’ARCHE community. L’ARCHE communities worldwide exist to form a network of relationships between members both with and without intellectual disabilities.

Conclusion

Give yourself the gift of perspective. Taking time out to connect with people whose struggles are different than our own—or perhaps more similar than we might think—can be life-changing. Daniel says we won’t regret making the time to step away and volunteer or spend time on mission overseas. He assures us that there’s a gift to unwrap through these experiences that we can’t receive any other way than taking our eyes off of ourselves and being present in the reality of another.

Links & Resources Mentioned

Private Practice Elevation – https://privatepracticeelevation.com/
Daniel Fava on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/DanielFava/
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) – https://ywam.org/
Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, by Henri J. M. Nouwen
L’ARCHE – https://www.larche.org/

Show summary written by Anne Milligan

Gordon (00:00):
Well, hello folks, and welcome again to the kindness and compassion podcast. And I'm, I'm looking forward to you meeting a friend of mine, Daniel fava, who I've, uh, I've known for some time now. And Daniel is, um, somebody that I've done some work with not only professionally, but just we're in the same space as far as consulting with people around private practices and the therapy, uh, realm and, uh, Daniel. Welcome.
Daniel (00:28):
Thanks so much for having me Gordon. I'm super excited to, uh, to hang out with you and, uh, and chat.
Gordon (00:33):
Yes. And, and Daniel and I were just kinda reminiscing before we started recording. We had, uh, both got to be at a conference together this first time I had met Daniel in person and it was, uh, it was the, the conference was called the faith and practice conference. So it was really geared towards therapists that, um, kinda liked to incorporate faith based kinds of things with their practices. And one of the things that I'll let Daniel tell more about himself here, but, uh, Daniel's wife is a therapist as well. And so Daniel, um, tell folks a little bit about yourself.
Daniel (01:11):
Yeah. So as you said, my wife is a therapist and she's a, she's a huge part of my story and really my career, uh, because it started helping her get her private practice online, back in 2012. So, uh, I have a website design and development background, and so got her business online with an online presence and a, and a nice website and helped her get some of those first clients, uh, into her practice. And then in 2016, decided to launch my own. Um, I mean, basically I was a freelancer back then, so I figured, oh, I can make some more websites for therapists and I can start a blog and all that stuff. And, um, so over the last, uh, six years or so, it's kind of morphed into, uh, more of a website design agency and SEO agency. And we, we live in Atlanta right now. We've been here since we've been married in 2010, so about 12 years and it's home, I'm, uh, born and raised in New York, long island. Uh, the New York Rangers are in the Stanley cup playoffs right now. So I'm super excited and that always pulls me back home and I love watching them play and listen to the chance at Madison square garden. So, yeah.
Gordon (02:16):
Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, it's a, yeah, as I've gotten to know Daniel, one of the things that I knew his background is part of his story, which is a big part of what I'm looking forward to him, kinda sharing with you, all that are listening is his work, uh, doing some mission work in India and the impact that made on his life and just really how he really changed his mind, maybe about some things. And I don't wanna put words in your mouth, mouth, Daniel around that. Um, but tell, tell folks a little bit about your story with that and just what a difference it made for you.
Daniel (02:57):
Yeah, so yeah, so missions work is a huge, it's really a huge part of my life and who I am and who, you know, myself and my wife are in our relationship. Um, and so first of all, I mean, before even getting into the story, Gordon, I just wanna say thank you for, for this project that you're doing with this podcast, for giving, giving people a space to kind of dig into compassion and kindness. Like when you invited me to be on here, it really, I, I had to reflect, you know, a little bit about, okay, where, where has kindness and compassion played a big role in my life? Uh, where does it play now? I can be, I can sometimes get so pretty hard on myself. Cause my first thought was like, well, where am I being kind and compassionate, you know, in my everyday life.
Daniel (03:42):
And so for my story and my life, uh, since about oh 2008 or so, um, have been doing, I went on my first mission trip to Ukraine and I loved the, the sort of the aspect of taking time out of life and, you know, career and job and all that stuff to just focus on others, you know, to focus on, you know, for me it's what is God doing in a different location? How can I serve and really just share love or share tangible, um, you know, work, maybe that's building something or just, you know, helping meet needs in other countries. So in 2009, I, I joined up with a youth with a mission, which is a, an organization that they have a basis around the world and they basically, um, teach people how to, how to really be disciples of Jesus. And so I did a three month discipleship training school in Montana.
Daniel (04:45):
Um, prior to this, I had lost my job and I had also called off a wedding. I was engaged to somebody that wasn't wasn't the right fit. And so my life was kind of completely wide open. So I took a break from my life and said, okay, God, what are you saying? What are you doing? I have no idea what to do next, let me go to Montana for three months and, you know, go through this, this training and just focus on, you know, what, what did God wanna do in my life? And so part of that was there for three months. So, I mean, that was almost like a mission trip in itself being away for three months in Montana. But then at the end of that, we do an outreach to India and Thailand was where I was scheduled to go. And so I went to, I went to Calcutta India and that was our first stop.
Daniel (05:32):
And, um, one of the places that we got to, we did a bunch of stuff there, but one of the places that we went to was, and I believe it was only for two days was one of the mother Teresa Holmes, uh, in Calcutta. And that was just amazing in, in and of itself just to be in a place where, I mean, we've all likely heard stories about mother Teresa and all that she's done. Um, but there's, there's either two or three. Uh, I forget exactly two or three mother Teresa Holmes is what they call them. And one is for people who are just terminally ill. And so what she saw when she was in calcu was that because of the cast system and just how things work over there, there was, you know, a large group of people who, when they were terminally ill and dying, they would just be basically left for dad.
Daniel (06:24):
And so she wanted to give them a place where they could die with dignity, being surrounded by, you know, people who love and, and care for them. And other home that she started, which was the one that I found myself in was for people with long term illness. So it might not be that they're terminally ill. It could be that they've got a serious injury or they've just got an illness, um, you know, long term. And so what I remember from that experience, and I actually, I was a ferocious journaler back then. And so I had to revisit my journal. So it was, it was kind of cool just having this podcast on the calendar to like, oh, let me go back to this journal from this, you know, pivotal point in my life. And, uh, it took me right back, you know, to that first day there.
Daniel (07:08):
And so try to imagine you're surrounded by all these other volunteers, you know, and people, people also want to go and experience and kind of give them them give of themselves. So you've got people from all over the world, um, who are just there to volunteer. They could be traveling through Calcutta and they've heard about, you know, the mother Teresa Holmes and they wanna experience it. And so basically it's like, you, you show up, you sign in the day starts and nobody tells you what to do. And you're just, you're in this place. And there's there's rooms, it's almost kind of, some of the rooms feel like a hospital, you know, there's just beds of, um, of people just laying there. Um, and, you know, as a, as a male, I was in the, the section where, where the men were, um, and there's nobody telling you what to do.
Daniel (07:55):
And so I remember just these waves of self-consciousness coming over me because I'm like, oh, I'm, I'm here to serve. What can I do? And there's nobody telling you exactly what to do. And it's just like, you just gotta jump in and do it. And, you know, my heart was, I feel like my heart was in a good place because I was like, I want to serve, I wanna, you know, help out. But there was this sort of aspect of my upbringing was like, it's, it's all about the task. You know, like, mm-hmm, , what should I do? Gimme direction, tell me what to do. Um, I'm not always so quick to jump in. It's like, I'm, I'm looking for somebody to lead. Um, and so I remember just kind of wandering around feeling just useless, you know, and that was like, and then I start to get sort of very self-conscious and start like, oh, you're, you're not able to jump in.
Daniel (08:43):
You're an introvert, like all this sort, like that's holding you back, all that sort of stuff. And so I, I finally got very frustrated and was just like, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna do it. I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna jump in. And, you know, one of the, another volunteer I ran into said, well, the, the men, like when you just, you just massage them or just talk to them and sit with them. So I found myself next to this man's bed and he was just lying there. Obviously we couldn't speak each other's language, so I just, you know, smiled and, um, and just kind of motioned him like massage massage. And he just kind of, he's just slowly nodded to me. And so I found myself massaging this man's legs who were like, no joke, his legs up above his knee. Wasn't really thicker than my wrist, you know?
Daniel (09:26):
And so I'm having this experience of just like praying for this man as I'm massaging him or, um, you know, praying in my head or praying out loud as I'm massaging him being. So, you know, number one, thankful for my health and my life, and also just being so confronted with, um, just extreme poverty that like this, this man, I don't know, his life story, you know, likely he's, he's in this situation because of where he's lived, where he lives and the family he's born into. And that's really it, you know? And so I'm having this time of like, you know, giving, giving this man a massage, sitting with him, just one on one. And I'm also having this sort of spiritual experience where I'm praying at the same time and just thinking through all these things, you know? And so while I was so focused on the tasks or like, you know, what can I do to help out? I found myself just, you know, one on one with someone and just realizing that that was really what it was, you know, all about.
Gordon (10:34):
Right. Wow, wow. What a beautiful story. And that, um, it, to me, it just kind of speaks to what I, what I like to refer to as just the ministry of, of presence. And, um, mm-hmm, just being, being there with, with folks. Um, not that you could fix anything for that man or right. That sort of thing, other than just to provide comfort and, and be with him is yeah. To, to me the ultimate act act of kindness. Really.
Daniel (11:06):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And cuz I was so hung up on like somebody tell me what to do and put me to work and that sort of thing. And so, you know, I came, I think it was like, um, I forget maybe it was about four hours. We were there in the morning for, and then sort of came away from that. We had some free time, the rest of the day. I remember, you know, just really like reflecting on my motives, you know, what mm-hmm why, why was I feeling? So self-conscious when I was there to like, you know, truly I wanted to serve and if truly I wanted to serve, it's not really about me. It's about the people that are there. It's not about proving anything. It's about the people that you're there to serve, not about the serving in and of itself.
Daniel (11:47):
So I felt like, I felt like God was really just challenging me to, to, you know, kind of let go of all those, those sorts of things. Mm-hmm um, and so I remember, you know, the next day, like I said, we were there for just two days the next day I remember feeling like I had sort of come to terms with why I was there and what I can do and it's okay. It's okay if I'm just standing around. It's okay. If I jump in it's it's just like there was this lightness. I remember just having a lot of actual, like fun the next day, just being there, being present and knowing that I could sit with someone one on one or, um, it's a big place. So they had like lots of cleaning to do, which was mm-hmm actually a lot of fun because they've, they've got basically just like holes in the wall and they just dump, they just dump buckets and buckets of water and then sweep all of the water through these holes in the wall.
Daniel (12:40):
So I found myself doing that the next day. And so it was kind of like, it was a more lighter and fun experience because I had let go of, I need to do this. I need to do that. Whereas I could just be, I could be present. And when I'm not so focused on myself and kind of how I'm thinking and feeling or have to perform, I could jump into whatever, you know, like I said, it could have been one on one with somebody who was there and sick or it could be helping, um, you know, the, the nuns out with cleaning and, and washing dishes and serving food, you know, whatever it was. It was just, I was much more present that second day.
Gordon (13:14):
Yeah. Yeah. It's a, it's amazing how transformative those, those experiences are when you're yeah. When you're confronted, you know, there's a, I think for, uh, I think for a lot of us that have had the experience of going on mission trips, I've I think I shared in the previous episode of this podcast, that one of the things that I was involved in for several years, uh, was going on mission trips to the country of Honduras and yeah, again, uh, you know, at that, at that time, next to Haiti, Honduras was the poorest poorest country in the, in the Western hemisphere. And, um, just being, being confronted with what I, uh, what I think of is just abject poverty and then interacting with people even through a language barrier, because I, I know just a tiny bit of Spanish , uh, but not being able to speak the language, but you make that connection and, and you realize that there's, there's something deeper and something greater that, that tugs at you through that.
Daniel (14:19):
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That's one thing I just, I love about missions and I've been to been to Thailand, India, Guatemala, Cameroon, um, uh, what else, Mexico? We go to Mexico, a decent amount through our church still mm-hmm um, and it's just, there's, there's just that commonality of humanity and we all have the basic, uh, you know, need of, um, of just love and presence, you know, from one another. Right. And so it's, it's really, for me, I, my wife and I don't really feel called to like live in another country long term, but we do have dreams to take sabbaticals and serve mm-hmm like maybe in the summers when our kids are outta school, mm-hmm , um, but even with the short term trips and we still take them, uh, my wife and I, we help with our, uh, with the missions committee at our church. And there's still something about taking a week off to get out of your business, to get out of, um, mm-hmm, the, the routine of, of parenting and schedules and all that to just serve and sit with somebody mm-hmm and meet a need, you know?
Gordon (15:28):
Right, right. Yeah. I'm, I'm reminded, and we were chatting about this a little bit before we, before we started recording, um, back during lent of this year. Um, I, I took on the task of, uh, what the, I, I don't know if that's a task, but just kind of a discipline of, of reading. Um, well actually listening to on audible Henry Allen's book on discernment. And, um, he reflects in there several times about his work in the LAR community, which LAR is a community, uh, for profoundly disabled people. And what they do is then the kid, they actually live in community where they're paired up with a caregiver. And so they go go through their whole, you know, they, they just live intentionally that way. And wow, just, um, it's, it's quite, it's quite a calling, but it's just, um, really thinking about being able to find God or some people like to might, might put it at a higher power or finding something greater than your, than ourselves in doing just those very simple things of taking care of someone else. Yeah. You know, the bathing and the, like you mentioned, doing the massage, those kinds of things are just are to totally trans transformative, I think for people.
Daniel (16:51):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and, you know, that kind of just, that brings me just back to mother Teresa, you know, what, and what she did. And, you know, through this experience, I just began to learn a little bit more, uh, about her. And you could see, you know, in, in Calcutta and India, which is, you know, predominantly, uh, Hindu, there was still, when you're, you're walking down the street, you're seeing in gift shops in other places you're seeing pictures of mother Teresa, you know, they had such respect and honor for this woman when basically she lives to meet those simple needs of, you know, the one person, you know, one at a time. And that really impacted a culture and, you know, a nation or, you know, really the world, obviously, you know, mm-hmm cause she's impacted me, you know? Yeah. So, and, um, there's this great quote that she has and I needed to look it up, so I wouldn't botch it, but it's, uh, not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. Yes. And it's like, that brings us back to that simple, you know, just yeah. Massaging someone's leg and not even being able to talk to them. It's so simple. But when it's done, when it's done with great love can really just impact a life.
Gordon (18:06):
Right. Yeah. So what, what did, uh, going to a place like Cal kata do for your, I guess maybe your worldview or how you think about your life now and that sort of thing?
Daniel (18:21):
Um, I , that's funny. I actually, I learned a lot about my introversion, uh, through that mm-hmm, through that trip. Uh Calta is just, um, I don't know how many people live there, but it's India, you know, so it's, I remember just being, you know, from the moment you wake up also, you know, being on a trip. So I was part of a team, you know, so I had my team there when I woke up mm-hmm and we'd go out into the city and you're on buses where you're super, extremely hot crammed in, and there's just, there's no personal space at all. I think India was, for me, it was just, uh, it was sensory overload mm-hmm . And so I, I learned a lot about my own sort of practices of, uh, journaling and quiet time getting up before the team was up.
Daniel (19:04):
So I could go outside and be alone, uh, with my thoughts and be alone with God and think, and pray and worship and listen to music mm-hmm , you know, and just kind of find time to recharge, you know, that sort of thing. And that was sort of like the, the, the first, um, uh, being immersed in that sort of culture really. I needed that. Otherwise I wasn't going to be able to do small things, but great love because I would just be anxious and right. Just, uh, exhausted all the time. So, I mean, that was sort of a, kind of a practical thing of just learning about my own personality. Right. Um, I think for, you know, like you said before, just being confronted with poverty, that was a, that was a big, that was kind of just crazy to say. And just to think that just it's crazy that, you know, I'm just because I grew up, uh, in New York or my, the family I grew up in, I am, I've got so many more opportunities than just because the, these other people are, are born a certain place or into a certain family.
Daniel (20:04):
Um, so there's, you know, there's a lot of just like, you're confronted with that justice question and I really don't have, you know, a great answer for it other than, you know, that's, it's, we live in a, in a, in a, in a world that's, that's pretty broken at times, but there's also just through, you know, love and grace and being with, you know, a person we can, we can make a difference. And so, I mean, that was kind of, that was a big thing to kind of wrestle with was just the, the poverty aspect and coming home. I was away, you know, in Montana for three months and then India and Thailand for, uh, about two months or so. And just kind of, there's a, a re-entry culture shock from a trip that long mm-hmm , mm-hmm, where you're just like, you're like, I don't, I don't need a car.
Daniel (20:44):
I don't need these things. Why do I have to find a job job? You know, like Uhhuh, Jesus, Jesus didn't have a job. He didn't have a place to stay. And, you know, he was, he just got, you know, he, he, he did his thing and he impacted the world. Like, why can't I do that? You know? So it is just, it's a, it was a lot to, a lot to wrestle with, but sure. Um, but when I was in Thailand, so kind of, we can kind wrap up the story here when I was in Thailand was where I met my wife. And so when I was in, when I was in India, I had this sense and this feeling, and, uh, just felt like I was gonna meet somebody who was going to be a lifelong best friend of mine. And I had no idea that that person was going to be, uh, my wife, who was, who was there doing mission work and our paths crossed. And so I kind of, I came home and she, she helped me walk through all of that sort of stuff. And she had her own reentry mm-hmm , uh, things to, to go through too. So at least I had somebody to, um, to walk through with that. And she, she was she's a therapist. So that was helpful.
Gordon (21:37):
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It's, uh, you know, it's, uh, as I think back at you were reminding me of kind of some of my trips to Honduras, and I can remember the first time that I came back from having gone down there. I remember somebody , somebody asked me I was working at the time, uh, for a funny thing. I was working for an agency at the time, and we actually worked with a lot of, a lot of poor families, um, in the United States, but it's a totally different kind of poverty when you go to a third world country like that. But I remember somebody asking me, well, how, how was your mission trip? And I just, just remember breaking down in tears just because it was such, it made such a huge impact. And, and just, just really, like you said, sensory overload at times.
Gordon (22:29):
And, um, yeah, but I think it also, you know, to kind of bring us full circle around to the whole kindness and compassion thing. I think everyone should give themselves the opportunity, the gift of doing some kind of work like that, where you're working with people. Yeah. Um, even if it's just, you know, even, even locally at doing like a habitat for humanity build or any of that sort of thing. Yeah. Where, where you're working with people that are struggling with things in their life, um, it is life changing to be able to just be alongside them through that journey.
Daniel (23:04):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that's, I mean, this conversation is kind of challenging me all over again. Um, you know, the last few years I've really been focused on, on my business and also my mm-hmm , I got a five year old and a one year old, you know, so life is, is crazy. And, um, it's often hard to find ways to volunteer, but it's, it's so it's so important because we can get so focused on mm-hmm on life. And, you know, there's, there's nothing wrong with being focused on life, but there's a really, um, there's a gift that you receive that you just, you can't experience, uh, other than, than putting yourself out there. And mm-hmm, serving and just getting your eyes off yourself for just a little bit.
Gordon (23:45):
Right. Right. Well, Daniel, I, this has been a great conversation and, uh, I hopefully we'll be able to continue it again. I mean, this, uh, this is, I think the, the, exactly the kinda stuff that I, I wanna share with people on this podcast, tell folks how they can get in touch with you if they'd like to connect with you in some way.
Daniel (24:05):
Yeah, sure. You can find me, uh, at private practice, elevation.com and you can also just find me on Instagram, um, at Daniel fava, just do a search, uh, for my name and I would be happy to connect there as well.
Gordon (24:18):
Yes. Yes. And, and Daniel's got a wonderful, uh, for, for those out of you out there that are baby therapists, just a quick plug for Daniel, he's got a wonderful, uh, business and he's done, he did a lot to help us with our website and our own prac practice. And so that's his expertise and he knows what he's doing and he's got the heart for you.
Daniel (24:40):
thanks, Gordon. I appreciate that.
Gordon (24:41):
All right. Take care, Daniel.
Daniel (24:43):
Thanks.
Gordon (24:58):
Well, I just love having conversations like the one I had with Daniel. I, and, you know, I would really encourage you if you haven't really explored it is to look at how you can do maybe some volunteer or mission work or whatever you want to call that and helping people that are less fortunate, because I think one of the things that it does is it truly changes can truly change your life. I know for me, in my own story, when I went to Honduras, um, and it was really just after hearing someone speak at my church, uh, about their trips. And I went down in the context of going on a habitat for humanity, uh, trip, but it truly was life changing and really changed the trajectory of my life at that particular time. And really helped me explore what I was being called to do.
Gordon (25:49):
And just working with people that are, were struggling and it eventually led into my work as a therapist and all of that sort of thing. So, you know, I don't want to go into the whole long story there, but I would encourage you to, to maybe seek out opportunities to do work like that. Um, and I'm really appreciative to Daniel and I appreciate my relationship with him and the fact that he was willing to be vulnerable and talk about how his work in India really truly changed his life. So, um, yeah. So if you've got a story like this, you'd like to cha uh, to share love, to hear from you. And again, you can go over to kindness and compassion.com and, uh, go up to the contact us form and, um, O into the contact us page. I, and there is a form there that you can fill out to be a guest on the podcast and love to hear from you.
Gordon (26:47):
So, and also if you would like to support us in this work, consider becoming a patron. And if you become a patron, one thing, little perk there is that you could get some bling as I like to call it. There's, uh, there's a coffee mug, there's stickers. There's, t-shirts that sort of thing that you can get by becoming a patron. So take care folks, and look forward to being with you again in future episodes of the kindness and compassion podcast, Owen, and do take time to follow us wherever you might be listening to this and leave us a review and leave us a rating. Uh, that'll just help us get boosted up so other people can find this particular podcast. So take care folks and have a great rest of your week or weekend. Whenever you might be listening to this.

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L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person.  He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook .  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

Dawn Gabriel | Finding Deeper Meaning and Redemption Through Soul Care | K&C 14


In this episode Dawn Gabriel, LPC joins Gordon for a deep dive into redemption and finding your soul through spirituality, the divine, or the universe. Dawn, a licensed professional counselor and the person behind the Faith Fringes Podcast, opens the show by being vulnerable and speaking about the divorce she experienced at the age of twenty-five. Then, she explains how the divorce changed her relationship with faith and God. Tune in as we chat about the importance of finding a sense of purpose on your journey, the problem with short-term pleasure, and how to express meaning within our lives.

Meet Dawn Gabriel

Dawn Gabriel, LPC

Dawn Gabriel is the founder and CEO of Authentic Connections Counseling Center and host of Faith Fringes podcast.

Dawn creates engaging space for fellow clinicians and healers to look deeper into their spirituality and faith. She has about 20 years of diverse experience in the clinical mental health world and currently focuses on helping therapists engage their spirituality in new ways in order to cultivate a deeper and authentic connection with God. Dawn hosts Soul Care Retreats that are exclusively for therapists as she believes that we need our own sacred place to slow down and let go of all that we hold in order to continue our transformative work with others.

Dawn is a chai and wine connoisseur, a hiking trail enthusiast, a wife, and mom of two boys who all love living and adventuring in Colorado.

Free Giveaway – Spiritual Reflections Course – https://faithfringes.com/spiritual-reflections-course/
FREE 8 week email course to engage more of your own faith journey from a different perspective. Included is a journaling workbook to guide you through exercises that will help you explore what you were brought up to believe, including disillusion and hurt, while also cultivating a deeper and authentic connection with God.

Dawn’s Divorce and A Story of Redemption

Dawn went through a divorce at the age of twenty-five. She lived in a conservative culture where you don’t get a divorce, no matter what. Well, Dawn found out that her husband cheated on her. Unfortunately, Dawn did not get positive support from her church on her journey. It was the antithesis of kindness and compassion. Now, Dawn has been remarried for thirteen years; it has been her story of redemption. Something that has helped Dawn on her journey is a particular book; she recommends reading The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus by Brennan Manning.

How You Can Connect and Communicate With God

Growing up, Dawn was conservative. The churches she went to taught a lot about following the rules rather than speaking about what your relationship should look like with God. When Dawn got a divorce, she thought she was committing the biggest sin. She believed God would be condemning her during one of the worst pains of Dawn’s life. Eventually, Dawn realized she shouldn’t be thinking about what she could do for God. Instead, Dawn started to focus on how she could connect with God. Overall, think about where you find peace when communicating with God.

Ways To Find Faith In Your Daily Life

There tends to be a deeper place within our souls. Whether you have a traditional faith or not, there’s still this element that you have to ground in something bigger than yourself. The way you are doing life may not be working anymore, and you may crave something more profound. If you are on a journey of self-awareness, you may want to find faith in spirituality, the divine, or the universe. When we don’t have meaningful things in our lives, we will quickly substitute with pleasure. Things that provide us pleasure are usually short-lived and hollow. All in all, there is something bigger than ourselves, and it’s time to connect with that.

Creating A Sense of Purpose To Give Us Deeper Meaning

We should have a more profound sense of purpose and meaning, they are basic human needs. Sometimes we don’t find that more profound sense of purpose until we meet our other basic human needs. However, it’s still critical to wrestling with your sense of purpose. If you don’t find meaning, you may try and fill that void in other ways. Those other ways will not be as fulfilling as finding your purpose. We need to find ways to express meaning through kindness and compassion. That way, we can discover life-long peace, forgiveness, and purpose.

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About

L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person.  He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook .  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

Katelyn Printz | When We Change Our Mind About Things | K&C 11


In this episode, Katelyn Printz joins us to talk about the process she went through in changing her mind about some things. Katelyn shares her story about growing up with some fairly narrow conservative Christian views.  As an undergraduate in college, Katlyn’s eyes were opened up to various ways of thinking, allowing her to reconsider some of the opinions she had as a child. Katelyn speaks about the importance of allowing your faith to be a continuous process as you grow and learn. Tune in as we chat about the many ways to love and worship and why it’s critical to have kindness and compassion for yourself and others as they make changes to their faith and beliefs. 

Meet Katelyn Printz

Katelyn Printz
Katelyn Printz

Katelyn is a middle school teacher who has spent the past 5 years teaching science and Bible/Theology classes. She grew up in and attended seminary in a very conservation denomination that did not look fondly on her wrestling with big questions around racism, LGBTQ theology, women in leadership, ect. This led to many months of study and deconstruction of old beliefs. Her process eventually brought her to the Episcopal Church. Leaving her childhood church community has resulted in many difficult conversations with family and friends who disagree with where she has landed. The process of reckoning with hard questions and being pressed towards hard conversations has pushed her to spend lots of time thinking about how to disagree with compassion and kindness.  Katelyn lives in Kingsport, TN with her old rescue dog, Buddy. 

Rethinking Conservative Christian Views

Katelyn grew up in a very conservative Christian denomination; views were narrow in what was permissible or not permissible. She found a lot of safety knowing where the boundary lines were for right and wrong. However, Katlyn was always curious and had a lot of questions about her ethics and morals. However, she was afraid to be as straightforward about all her questions. Katlyn went to a Christian university, where she was exposed to liturgical-style things for the first time. At university, Katlyn realized that there are Christian people who think differently than the minimal perspective that she grew up with. 

Permitting Yourself To Be Patient When It Comes To Faith

Before Katelyn has a conversation with someone else, she has had to learn how to permit herself not to understand something fully. She permits herself to wrestle with her thoughts and allows faith to be a continuous process. You don’t need to have airtight boxes when it comes to faith; this can be a challenging idea to understand. Many people struggle to give themselves grace and compassion. Remember to be patient with yourself as you read and learn. It can be exhausting to undo the beliefs that you have held since childhood. Overall, give yourself permission to have a conversation and say, “I don’t know.” 

There Are Many Ways To Love and Worship God

Katelyn was working at a bush hospital in Kenya during college. She enjoyed watching people love and worship God in a way that was just very different from her own. At a Kenyan church, there is a lot of exuberant, joyful dancing. Plus, there is a lot more openness to the supernatural. The activity of angelic or demonic forces is just more prominent in Kenya versus the United States. Watching other people worship with such explosive joy was very beautiful, especially when compared to a formal religious ceremony in America.

Working on Kindness and Compassion With Yourself and With Others 

Katelyn is working on showing herself kindness and compassion. There are still a lot of aspects of her theology that she is rethinking. Have compassion for yourself; you don’t need everything figured out. Plus, you don’t need to act like you know exactly what you’re doing. Also, Katelyn makes sure to have kindness and compassion for the people around her. Find the humanity in every person. It’s critical to be kind about accepting change and how slow or fast others are willing to change. Lastly, Katelyn knows when to pull back. If she has an unhealthy conversation, she knows when to stop engaging. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, kindness and compassion comes to fruition by being curious about people.  As Katelyn points out, when we allow ourselves to get curious rather than defensive, we can have a discourse that is based on compassion.  We might not always agree with another’s point of view, but we can still be curious.  And you never know… it might just lead to changing you mind about some things…

 

Gordon (00:00):
Hello, everyone. And welcome again to the podcast. And I'm so glad for you to get to know Caitlin prince Caitlin. Welcome to the podcast.
Katelyn (00:08):
Thank you. B, I'm really excited to be here.
Gordon (00:11):
Yes, yes. And I've gotten to know Caitlin over the last few years, really again, through, through my church context and just conversations we've had about theology and just, um, a lot of the different changes in life that come along and in getting to know Caitlin, I know that she's been on this pretty fascinating journey just with changing her mind about things and changing kind of her view of things, particularly theological, but, um, Caitlin welcome and tell, tell folks a little bit more about yourself and how you've landed, where you've landed.
Katelyn (00:50):
Okay. Well, I grew up in a very conservative, um, Christian denomination, um, very, I guess, narrow in what was viewed as, um, permissible or not permissible. And I just soaked it all up. I think I was a little, um, I rule follower and I found a lot of safety in knowing where the boundary lines were and what was right and what was wrong or what I thought was right and wrong. Mm-hmm, based on how it was taught to me. And so I think in my early years, the very black and white way of looking at things really, um, fit the way my brain was wired. Mm-hmm
Gordon (01:39):

Katelyn (01:40):
And, but I've also always been very curious. And so I had a lot of questions and there were aspects of the black and white contrast, I think, to sing right versus wrong, or, um, complicating questions about God that I think have always bothered me and also made me feel a little on the fringes, I suppose, of that, um, church community, um, because my questions maybe introduced, uh, doubt or uncertainty about the strength of my faith. And so I was very curious, but afraid to be as straightforward about all the questions that I had, um, as maybe I, I could have been, I, um, went to a Christian university where I was actually exposed to, uh, liturgical style things for the first time. And that's where I was first introduced to some authors that I now spent more time with. like held Evans and Peter ends and stuff like that.
Katelyn (02:48):
And that started, uh, helping me realize that there are beautiful Christian people who think differently than the very, um, limited perspective. I guess I had known up to that point. I really loved theology and I wanted to do something in the field of theology, but my church upbringing top that women could not be ordained or hold any kind of position of leadership. And so after I finished college, I did go to seminary, but not with the ordained. I just wanted to learn and study more, um, and maybe be involved in a church in some capacity. But at that time I didn't believe that, uh, being ordained was something that was possible for me. Mm-hmm
Gordon (03:41):
were, what were some of the things maybe that, um, through your readings and education that really kind of caused to begin to change your mind or get curious?
Katelyn (03:58):
Hmm. Um, to be honest, it started with beliefs around, um, racism and white privilege. So even when I was still very deep in the conservative world, I started reading, um, Austin chaning brown was the first book I read. I'm still here. Mm-hmm . And that kind of started me down this path of, wait a second. Maybe, maybe my denomination has missed the vote on some things. And if we've missed the vote on how we, um, have cared for and loved people of color, are there other people in the margins that we have, um, rejected or hurt in the way that we have
Gordon (04:51):
Mm-hmm um,
Katelyn (04:52):
Moved in the world, I guess. And that led to questions around, um, sexuality was next, I think . Yeah. Um, but then mixed in all of those things was just wrestling with this idea of God as a very wrathful and vengeful, um, punishing entity who is very exacting in this, like, um, there was a lot of talk about grace, but I didn't really understand how that grace applied because it was very, uh, conditional, I guess it felt like mm-hmm um, and yeah, a lot of questions around God's WRA and, um, my denomination taught predestination. And so I really struggled with this concept of certain people being chosen to go to heaven and others being chosen to go to hell like that was something I wrestled with for a long time. Just not feeling like it was consistent with the loving pieces of God that we see in scripture though.
Gordon (06:00):
Right?
Katelyn (06:01):
Yeah.
Gordon (06:02):
Yeah. So as, as your, as your theology and it might be helpful for us to maybe tell folks that are listening, you know, when, when, when we speak of theology, what comes to mind for you? Because I think that's at least in my mind that has a lot to do with why people believe what they believe
Katelyn (06:23):
Mm-hmm um, well, I guess being a language nerd, I just think of like, very literally like the study of God and mm-hmm I think I found the path originally to be very narrow of like, this is the very specific way in which you must study and know about God mm-hmm , but I think now I'm starting to see that that's a much wider and broader path than I ever thought in the beginning.
Gordon (06:58):
Right, right. Mm-hmm yeah. So yeah. So I, if you were to describe your theology now, what is that, what is that like?
Katelyn (07:10):
I think now the question I tried to ask is does this look or sound like love, um, and kind of work from there, I've really come to realize that there was talk of grace before. Um, but I don't think I really wrestled with the expansiveness of it and the welcomingness or hospitality of God and the way that his people can mirror that. I suppose.
Gordon (07:47):
Mm-hmm mm-hmm yeah. So yeah. You know, one of the things that I know that, uh, you had shared with me, Caitlin, is, is that part of the, part of this journey for you has been, you know, really maybe confront is too strong of a word, but really having to have conversations and interactions with people that maybe, you know, whether it's family members or, or for, you know, people that you grew up with or went to church with mm-hmm and being able to have that discourse. And so how, how has that been working for you and how have you been able to do that?
Katelyn (08:30):
Well, it's tricky and I don't necessarily think I have it figured out or that I've done it right each time
Gordon (08:37):
Mm-hmm .
Katelyn (08:38):
Um, but I think foundational to, before I could go into a conversation with someone else was really learning how to grant myself permission, to not understand something fully permission, to wrestle and to allow faith, to be a continuous process of trying to draw near to God. And it not meaning that I have my airtight boxes of this means this, and this means that mm-hmm . Um, and I think, honestly, that was the hardest part, um, because I had been trained at the graduate level in mm-hmm the theological doctrine in my previous denomination. It was, I just struggled so much to give myself grace and compassion in this whole, like, I know that I don't believe that , but I don't know what I do believe instead right. Like it's not, but what is it? Um, mm-hmm and that was really difficult for me to sit with and to be patient with myself as I read and got tired of reading and then had to take a break because it's exhausting to really, uh, undo a lot of things that turn out to be kind of central to your identity and your formation as a child.
Gordon (10:09):
Right. Right.
Katelyn (10:11):
So that's the hardest part I think. And what I'm still working on when it came to O conversation with other people like my parents or family members, who've watched me kind of go through this changing of my mind. Um, I think I've also had to work on, um, what that passage just says, like always being ready to have an answer for the hope that's in you or whatever. Mm-hmm . I was always told that as a kid and I always would play it in my mind as like, well, whenever you're sharing what you think about something, you need to be able to be very winsome and very clear and just lay it all out there in a like properly defensive way so that it makes sense to the other person mm-hmm um, because that's how you are a faithful witness for Christ mm-hmm
Gordon (11:05):

Katelyn (11:07):
And rethinking my beliefs on things made that aspect very difficult. And so also trying to give myself permission to have conversations and then say, I don't know, mm-hmm or to say when things are getting uncomfortable or maybe a little tense to be like, I really love you, and I understand where you're coming from, but I'm not ready to talk about this any further mm-hmm yeah,
Gordon (11:41):
Yeah, yeah. That's a, yeah. And that's a, I think a, a struggle for a lot of people is, is that being able to, in many ways, by doing that in the way that you described is really kind of an act of kindness and compassion, not only towards yourself, but also to the other person, cuz I think a lot of times we can get into heated these discourse where things mm-hmm, just get more and more emotionally flooded and then, then we're not doing, then it becomes no discourse at all. It's just two people yelling at each other kinda thing. Mm-hmm yeah. And so that's a, that's a, I think an important, important piece and it's been a, been kind of a theme that's come out in other episodes of this POS podcaster, just being able to slow things down enough to respond to each other rather than just react to mm-hmm yeah.
Katelyn (12:37):
I've tried to kind of in myself and in the person that I'm talking to try to tease out, is this curiosity or is this defensiveness mm-hmm because I think when we're both coming from a place of curiosity, the conversation becomes more about relationship with each other. It becomes more about, uh, wanting to know and understand the other person better it less about wanting to be right, or to be agreed with, but more about mutual understanding of the other person. Even if you don't walk away with a, um, a feeling of agreement I suppose.
Gordon (13:19):
Right, right. Yeah. Well, I, to change gears a little bit, Caitlin, one of the things that I know just about your, your background is that you spent quite some time working as a missionary or mission kind of the mission field, so to speak, how, how did that impact your life and how did that really kind of change your theology to some degree?
Katelyn (13:47):
Well, so I was working at a Bush hospital in Kenya, in the summers, in between my college years. And then once again, after college and it was a, a Christian organization, um, I really think that it, this was before like I really started deconstructing or had left my previous sound this before all of that. But I think the biggest thing I took away from it was watching people love and worship God in a way that was just very different from mine. So Kenyan church is this like exuberant, joyful dancing, extremely long, like the whole day experience. Um, mm-hmm and there's a lot more, I guess, openness in their mind to the supernatural. So like the mm-hmm activity of, um, angelic or demonic forces was just more prominent or talked about more than I think it is in the us. And so to kind of think about faith in that sense and to wash, watch others worship with such joy, um, just like explosive joy was, uh, was very beautiful coming from a tradition that is much more formal Um-huh
Gordon (15:26):

Katelyn (15:27):
Yeah. And very like we sit in our chairs and we sing kind of softly
Gordon (15:33):
Mm-hmm
Katelyn (15:35):
Yeah,
Gordon (15:36):
Yeah. It's uh, I've I've heard it referred to as, uh, the, the happy clappy versus the frozen chosen. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, yeah. Yes. So yeah. It's well, it's, it's been nice and as be in being, uh, CA's friend and just being connected with her to see, to see your growth in this and what you're discovering about yourself and just how you live into that live into all of this with kindness and compassion and yeah. So what, what sort of maybe kind of, um, closing thoughts do you have just about, about that? Um, you know, how are you, how do you see yourself living into kindness and compassion through this, these changes you're going through with changing theology thing, changing beliefs and, and all of that.
Katelyn (16:28):
Mm-hmm, , I'm still working on showing myself kindness and compassion as there's still a lot of, um, aspects of my theology that I am still rethinking or, you know, I have a stack of books, a mile high, but I'm, , mm-hmm, working through them very slowly. And so just having compassion with myself for not having to have everything figured out and to be willing to, uh, welcome others into that piece and not try to act like I, um, I know exactly what I'm doing cause I don't mm-hmm
Gordon (17:05):
. Yeah.
Katelyn (17:07):
And then I guess for, uh, dear friends around me, just having kindness and compassion around their, um, the rate at which they themselves want to change or are accepting my change. I, I find myself frustrated sometimes and I have to remind myself that, you know, just a few months ago, that's exactly where I was or what I was thinking. Mm-hmm I, I don't know, just finding the humanity in knowing the person's story and my relationship with them and understanding exactly the fear and the need for certainty and control. That's just so prevalent and mm-hmm, kinda under probably undergirding a lot of these conversations about what is faith
Gordon (18:07):
Mm-hmm .
Katelyn (18:09):
Yeah. And then knowing when to pull back and be like, this is not a, a beneficial or a healthy conversation right now. I love them still, but I, we cannot, I don't, I don't want to engage in it in an angry or hurtful
Gordon (18:30):
Mm-hmm
Katelyn (18:31):
Of course.
Gordon (18:32):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I love that. And I think it's, um, I think it's, for all of us, it's an ongoing, it's an ongoing kind of thing, ongoing journey and struggle to really kind of, to, to wrestle with these, these deeper issues. Um, I'm always, always reminded in, in thinking about people that go through kind of changes in their, their belief system or whatever is, um, uh, J Jacob wrestling with the angel, which is an image out the Bible. And I always think of it as Jacob wrestling with God, which might, might not be literally cardiac, but that's how kind interpret that that particular scripture in the Bible is, is that I think God wants us to wrestle with these things. And I think to be able to, to know ourselves better and also know each other better is, is our wider communities to be able to, to talk about these things and understand 'em and, uh, you're exactly right.
Gordon (19:33):
There are no clear black and white answers and that's where we get, I think can get into the weeds. Mm-hmm is, um, another way I think about it is that we, we tend to want to think of is in, in terms of either, or it's either this mm-hmm or it's that mm-hmm , but most of the time it's not either, or, but both, and that there's this kind of, this, this melding of ideas that is somehow another greater than the whole, so mm-hmm yeah, yeah. So, well, Caitlin, I'm so glad, um, I wanna be respectful of your time and I'm so glad you joined me in this conversation and this is, uh, this is exactly the kind of meaty stuff I love talking about in this podcast. So, uh, tell, and, and we'll have some more information, uh, in the show notes about if you wanna maybe somehow or another contact Caitlin or talk to her, I'm sure she'd be, uh, not, not to put words in your mouth. I'm sure you'd be O open for that. Somebody would like have conversation like this and we'll have her information in the show notes and the show numbers for people. So, but Caitlin, thanks for joining me in this episode.
Katelyn (20:49):
Yeah. Thank you, Gordon. And thank you for your role in helping me rethink some things.
Gordon (20:55):
You're welcome. You're welcome. Mm-hmm .

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About

L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person.  He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook .  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

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