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.

 

Uriah Gilford | Kindness & Compassion In Practical Ways | K&C 10

In this episode Gordon talks with Uriah Guilford, MFT, a marriage and family therapist from Northern California, about how kindness and compassion has impacted his life inside the therapy room and outside.  They talk about ways  in which we can all experience “compassion fatigue” and the need to shift to be more other focused on a bigger scale.

Uriah shares a personal story about a mission trip to Mexico with his oldest daughter and what realizations came through serving others. We also talk about how acknowledgement and validation is very profound and healing and how that takes place in therapy.

Meet Uriah Guilford

Uriah Guilford MFTUriah is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 17 years of counseling experience.

He has a direct, but gentle approach, using insight and humor to motivate people to make positive changes.

He believes in focusing on people’s strengths and having specific goals in counseling to work towards, making as much progress as possible in the shortest time possible.

He is also married and has two wonderful daughters. You can read more of his personal story HERE.

Uriah helps young people ages 16-25 overcome anxiety, depression and other life challenges. He focuses on providing life skills and tools to increase emotional intelligence, handle anger & stress effectively and have satisfying relationships with friends and family members.

He works with families to improve communication and connection, as well as offering parent coaching, which can make a huge difference in creating a happy family.

In addition to these focuses, Uriah also works with men in their 30’s and 40’s, helping them to succeed at work and thrive at home.

Some of my most valuable experience came from the 6 years that I spent working in residential treatment centers for adolescents. I did everything with the teens, from cooking for them, going hiking and playing basketball to doing individual, family and group therapy with them. They taught me some amazing lessons about strength and courage in the face of adversity and how to be the kind of therapist that they really needed.

Uriah’s journey is to help teenagers and young adults to cope with and overcome the challenges they face. He is a practicing therapist for over 20 years and has recently shifted to be more in a role of supporting other therapists on his team.

Compassion Fatigue & Burnout

Over the last several years, a lot of us have experienced “compassion fatigue” on many different levels.  In that we can experience vicarious trauma from the news in the world and seeing the suffering of others.  Burnout on the other hand is when we feel overwhelmed with our work and our vocation feels stressful. Uriah and Gordon discuss ways in which they have overcome this.  Ultimately, when we turn our focus outward and put our energy into helping others in practical ways, we can experience something different.

Experiencing Compassion Through Mission Work

Uriah shares a story about a mission trip that he took with his oldest daughter to Mexico. Doing something for someone on a different scale was eye opening and life changing for him. By doing the job of the framing of the front door for a single mom of four kids that had escaped a domestic violence situation brought a new sense of purpose and was very impactful in forming a new perspective of how he wanted to serve others going forward.

Gordon also shares being on a mission trip to Honduras and how that brought on an overwhelming sense of compassion. Both Uriah and Gordon agree that it is impossible to forget a feeling of obligation to do more and how these were transformational experiences.

Taking Concrete Action

Uriah’s Wish for the world is to see a lot more people taking concrete actions and choosing a life kindness and compassion. With the ongoing mental health crisis, his mission is to help other therapist avoid burnout. We need more therapist to be thriving to be able to help our communities. Find out more about Uriah and his work at – productivetherapist.com and guilfordfamilycounseling.com

Conclusion

We all have the potential for experiencing kindness and compassion in very small and practical ways.  Self-care and care of others goes hand in hand.  When we take care of ourselves and do those things that nurture and allows us to be vulnerable with others, we can experience compassion for ourselves and others.   Its where kindness and compassion is found day in and day out.  Take care of yourself and others.

 

Gordon (00:00):
Hello folks, and welcome again to the podcast. And I'm glad for you to get to know my good friend, Uriah, Gilford, uh, Uriah. And I have known each other about a year now, but he's another therapist and, uh, has been with me along the journey as I was kind of planning this podcast. And so, um, I knew he would be a good one to be here and tell some of his stories of kindness and compassion. So welcome your eye.
Uriah (00:26):
Thank you so much for having me Gordon. Always a pleasure.
Gordon (00:29):
Yeah. So a as you think about, um, practices of kindness and compassion, and we've talked about this a little bit along the way, um, what, what comes to for you just in your work as a therapist and how it's impacted people's lives?
Uriah (00:48):
Yeah. So I've been a practicing therapist for over 20 years, and I think I, I probably will start introducing myself as a retired therapist because I did stop providing direct services, but for just a little over 20 years, I was a licensed marriage and family therapist. Well, actually the 20 years covers pre-licensed time. Um, and certainly that if you had asked me two years ago, that would be my primary answer would be, this is my role. This is my position as a therapist. And I work with teenagers and families and provide compassion and kindness in, in that sort of context of helping families heal and grow and connect with each other. Um, and then I think that's changed somewhat since I'm no longer an acting therapist and I'm more in a role of supporting the therapist that are on my team. And, um, so yeah, it's kind of, it's kind of shifting mm-hmm but one thing that I was thinking about in preparing for this conversation was that even though I've been a licensed therapist for so long, I think living day to day and being others focused and giving kindness and compassion to others, um, as a primary sort of, you know, um, position has always been a challenge for me, to be honest.
Uriah (02:00):
And so I was thrilled to have this conversation with you and, um, I think I like I'm developing as a, a person, um, to be more others focused, even though I've been a therapist for so long. Does that make sense?
Gordon (02:11):
Yeah, it does. It does. Um, and that, that makes sense because I think, um, you know, we can, we can sit in a therapy room with people and, you know, I think most of us that are in this field are kind of naturally empathetic, but there can become a little bit of burnout in just almost a little bit of compassion. Fatigue is maybe one thing that comes to mind. Um, and so I think, you know, being self aware of that is an important piece, definitely for a lot of us. So
Uriah (02:47):
I had several walls of compassion, fatigue over my career.
Gordon (02:50):
Oh yeah.
Uriah (02:50):
Working with, uh, primarily teenage boys who were not excited about being in the counseling room and hitting some walls with that. But that, that was my specialty and I, I loved it for sure.
Gordon (03:01):
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I know one of the things we talked about before we started recording is you had kinda some stories that, uh, where you've, where kindness and compassion you've had kind of that intersection with kindness and compassion in different settings, both in the therapy room and outside the therapy. Right.
Uriah (03:20):
Definitely. I had an experience last year where my oldest daughter and I went to, um, Mexico on a house building trip with our church and, um, down there in this particular part of Mexico, there's an orphanage. Um, that's doing really great work. There's a, a women's shelter. And then there's also this, um, you know, project of building houses for the women that are coming out of the women's shelter. And, um, this is not the kind of thing that I've ever done before. So it was new experience for myself mm-hmm and for my daughter. And I just knew I had a sense that this would be good for both of us, for our relationship. And then also kind of getting ourselves out of our normal context and, and doing something for somebody else on a different scale. And it was, it was a really neat experience.
Uriah (04:04):
It was a great group. And I had part of the, part of what I was doing was, um, you know, I don't, I'm not a person with a ton of construction experience, so , I was kind of following, you know, the directions and, and, and trying to figure out what I was doing. And on one day towards the end of the, a house build, um, I was sort of tasked with, um, framing the front door of this house and something I've never done before. So I was like, okay, I can do this. I can figure this out. And I spent a really long time getting it just right, the, the framing of the front door of this house. And this is a house that we were building for, uh, a single her with four kids who had come out of a domestic violence situation, very, very poor.
Uriah (04:46):
And, um, we, we found out that she was in a very unsafe situation for a period of time and was able to escape that. And there was a good possibility that the house that they'd lived in, um, over the last couple years may not have had a locking door, probably didn't have a, a locking door to keep her and her family safe. Mm-hmm . So I spent all this time on this door. I was like, I don't know why I care about this so much, but I'm doing this mm-hmm . And then as we were kind of meeting as a team, um, the next day we were talking about our experiences and, um, I was talking about how meaningful it was for me to, to do this part of the project for this family. And I had like this, uh, in the moment I had this connection between realizing that over the last number of years, I've been a therapist and I've been in the room trying to help families.
Uriah (05:32):
Some that were not in the same situation, but in very difficult situations and trying to bring my empathy and compassion to them and help them in their, their journey. I always felt limited because there was only so much I could do, you know, in 50 minutes in a therapy session. And this was a totally different experience where I was able to do something very practical, very concrete that, um, to me, felt like making a difference. Mm-hmm like I'm doing something that's impacting somebody else's life. Um, and it's in a different sort of arena. And I, I was sharing this with the team that we, you know, we were there with and I just started crying. Yeah. Cause it hit me so hard and right. Um, it made me realize that I want to put myself in positions where I can do that more. Mm-hmm that was pretty, pretty neat experience.
Gordon (06:18):
Yeah. Yeah. I think for anybody that's done anything like that, I, I, I don't know if we shared, um, with each other yet your I, but I used to do, do a lot of mission trips to Honduras and would do similar things. In fact, I got started going down there doing a, went on a habit that for humanity trip and building, you know, building houses and doing the, the hard labor and that kind of thing. And being in a, being in a place where people are in many ways, living in abject poverty, uh, by our standards anyway, mm-hmm and, and really being confronted with, um, maybe a little bit of, um, privileged guilt, you know? Sure. Seeing, seeing folks that were really struggling and, um, you know, living just day to day existence that was, would by our, by our standards would be very harsh and, um, so different in living through that.
Gordon (07:21):
And it's, it's, it's one of those things where I think you, when, when you experience something like that, the there's an overwhelming sense of compassion. Mm-hmm um, um, and I think, um, to, to be able to, to share that and to be able to know that, okay, we're providing a dry place for this person to sleep, which is just huge. Um, it, it is just CRA it is, it just it's, it changes our, for me, it was transformational and it really, um, really kind of set me on a whole trajectory that I find myself in now just by going and being with those people.
Uriah (08:05):
That's amazing. I love that. It, it seems like it's impossible for most people to go into a situation like that and not have an overwhelming feeling of compassion. Um, I think most people would, and a lot of us haven't seen true, like abject poverty um, one of the other things we did was we went, and this is part of, there's a group there that has sort of a, a ministry that goes to this particular, you're the largest dump in the area. And they go and they bring water and, and burritos and food, um, on a regular basis because there's these people that are living there in the dump, um, surrounded by burning to crash. I like it was the most, I don't know what the word, I can't even think of the word. It was like, um, impossible to forget experience to, to see, and to see these people living in this kind of conditions. And, um, for sure, like you said before, um, little bit of a privileged guilt and also realizing, oh my gosh, I have so much in my life. My family has so much mm-hmm, , I feel like there's an obligation to, to do more, to show up and, and, and give more time, money, et cetera. Right. So that, that definitely made a mark on me, for sure. In, in the best way. Yeah.
Gordon (09:14):
You know, in, in your work as a therapist, um, changed, kinda changed courses here just a little bit. What, what sort of impact have you seen where people have been, maybe been affected by kindness and it's changed them?
Uriah (09:33):
Yeah, that's a good question. I, I think about the families that I worked with over the years, um, I'm primarily a family therapist. That's how I kind of still identify, even though I'm retired, Uhhuh . Um, and I think about the experience that the, these parents would have when they were searching for help, struggling with their teenager, struggling with their relationship with their teenager, and maybe some acting out behaviors or just, you know, depression, anxiety, those kinds of things, and not knowing what to do. And, um, I always felt so good about providing the services that I did and when the parents would find me, find my website and then connect with me, we would be able to talk on the phone. And just in a short conversation, I would be able to express, you know, that I understand to some degree what they're going through and that I actually have some skills and some resources and, and a, and a way to provide help that will get them from where they are to where they wanna be.
Uriah (10:29):
Mm-hmm um, I was always so pleased with the relief that they would feel just after like 15, 20 minute phone call, like, oh my goodness. I feel, I think I found somebody that's, that's going to help me in my family. Mm-hmm so, yeah, that, that comes to mind for sure. And, and that has always been, felt like a privilege to do that. And now, and now in my practice, I have other therapists that are providing those same services. Mm-hmm and so we can, we're doing that on a larger, on a larger scale, but that always just made me feel so good.
Gordon (10:58):
Right. Right. Well, I think, uh, you know, my experience in similar similar situations, I think when people come in for therapy or counseling, um, when they, when they get to tell about themselves and it not be met with judgment or not be met with this or shame or any of that sort of thing, it has a way of just kind of transforming people, um, um, just in the, in the therapy room. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I'm reminded of a story. I'll tell a little story here as well. Just a with a, with a client I was working with several years ago and it was a, it was a man and he, um, it long, long story short is that he had been abused, sexually abused as a, as a child, as a, as a pre, you know, young teen. And he had never really talked about that and never really shared that. And it had affected him so much that he just lived with his ongoing, terrible depression, and he had had some shock therapy and, you know, just some, you know, really kind of, kind of the pulled out all the stops with their, with the treatment of the depression. But when he was finally able to talk about that, mm um, it was such a sense of relief for him. And then also be met with compassion and not disdain or the, all the internal shame that he was feeling mm-hmm was, was acknowledged and validated,
Uriah (12:37):
You know? Yeah. That's amazing. And that can happen in so many contexts, not just therapy, obviously anytime there's a human to human connection where some, one, one person expresses their vulnerability and what's, you know, shares something about what's really going on with them. And then the other person on the other side, doesn't respond with judgment or criticism. Like you're saying, um, that's a profound thing because I think we all think that everybody, if, if people really knew what I was going through or what I'm dealing with and they would, mm-hmm, certainly not want to know me. Talk to me, be close to me. Um, so having that sort of the, the term that comes to mind from grad school is corrective emotional experience, right?
Gordon (13:15):
Yes. Yes.
Uriah (13:16):
Uhhuh is really meaningful. Yeah.
Gordon (13:18):
Yeah. Yeah. So it, to, to kind of pull things together for us, you right. As you think about, um, just this whole topic of kindness and compassion, um, what, what sort of changes would you hope for in the world?
Uriah (13:36):
Hmm. That's a good question. Do you ask that one to everyone?
Gordon (13:38):
I like that. No. No, just you,
Uriah (13:40):
You should you should definitely ask that more. Yeah. Yeah. What sort of changes? Well, I mean, obviously when, when you look around the world and everything that's going on, uh, we, we need a lot more people taking concrete action and choosing to live a life of kindness and compassion. Um, and so I'm trying to do more, more on, on my side and with my family. And, uh, we're going back to Mexico this year. Mm-hmm, both, my kids are going and my oldest wants to go back the plan wasn't for her to go, but she was so excited that she wanted to go back. Yeah. Um, and, and honestly, I, I think the other thing that comes to mind when you ask that question is my current mission is helping therapists avoid burnout. Um, and we, and I'm doing that by providing virtual administrative support to therapists across the us, through my business called productive therapist. Sorry to give a little plug here, but, um, yeah, it's okay. That's, that's really me meaningful in the sense that I think obviously there's an ongoing mental health crisis in the world mm-hmm and in the United States, of course. And, um, we need more therapists to, um, be thriving and doing, doing the, the best work that they can do, um, to help our communities, you know, both locally and, and globally. So, yeah,
Gordon (14:57):
Yeah, yeah. I couldn't agree more. I think it's, um, you know, I think the more that we can teach people how to deal with their own own emotions and their own struggles, because I think, um, uh, as we know, just from the brain science what's happening in the brain is that that's that part of our brain called the Amy amygdala that takes over, which is really kind of fear based. And it's there for a good reason. It helps us survive, but when we can teach people how to kind of maybe better control that part themselves, they're much better equipped to show kindness and compassion and, and, and live with other people in a better way.
Uriah (15:41):
Absolutely. Yeah,
Gordon (15:43):
Yeah. Yeah. So you, right. Tell folks how they can get in touch with you if they wanna find out more about you.
Uriah (15:50):
Yeah. Probably the best place is productive therapist.com. That's kind of home for all of my, uh, current current passions. And then, uh, Gilford family counseling.com is, is where my, my group practice, uh, lives. Yeah.
Gordon (16:03):
Yes. So we'll have all this in the show notes and the show summary. And so thanks Uriah for being on this podcast and letting folks hear from
Uriah (16:13):
You. Thanks so much for having me Gordon.

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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.

 

Jane Carter | Kindness and Compassion In The Face Of Anger | K&C 9

Photo by Max LaRochelle on Unsplash

In this episode Gordon talks with Jane Carter, LPC a therapist and private practice business coach about how we handle anger in the context of kindness and compassion. We explore how being “polite” does not always equate to being kind. In fact, sometimes politeness can be a form of anger turned inward. We also explore how expressing our anger in healthy ways can lead to greater emotional intimacy and be an act of kindness and compassion. We also look at how we can confront injustices as an act of kindness and compassion.

Meet Jane Carter

 

Jane Carter, LPC

Jane Carter, LPC is a counselor and business coach from Asheville, NC. Jane has spent the last several years in private practice as a counselor and has recently begun focusing more on business coaching, not only for therapists but other businesses as well. Her website is: JaneCarterCoaching.com

Jane says, “As a therapist, business coach, and life coach, I love helping people navigate the path to achieving their goals for a meaningful life. I apply these principles in my own life in the mountains of Asheville, NC, where I’m an outdoorswoman, world-traveler, dog-mama, food-and-wine lover, reader, and coffee-shop connoisseur. (I’m also known for making up great puns on the fly).”

How do we handle anger in a genuine way without turning into a jerk?

One concept that is important to understand is the difference between anger and rage. Anger is actually a useful emotion in that it is a signal for when something is not right or amiss. Anger serves to protect us from harm. Rage on the other hand is when anger runs unchecked and does harm to others. Anger can be a “check engine” light and being able to say, something is not right here. It indicates that a boundary is being violated. Jane says, “anger is a tool that God has given us to protect ourselves and also let us know when things are just not right”.

Anger as Change Agent

Anger can be a very good motivator for change. Jane gives the example of John Lewis and the civil rights movement. How we respond with love even when people are greeted with anger and disdain. The key is to be able to look beyond our own fear and see the humanity of others. That even though we might not agree with the other we see the hurt and fear of others.

It is possible to be angry with someone without it being an end to the relationship. Jane mentions that sometimes we get angry because we care about the other person. She says, “indifference is not love”. Anger has a way of signaling us that something is not right in the relationship. And we do ourselves a disservice by pretending that everything is okay.

The key to handling anger with kindness is slowing things down and being curious about what is happening with the other person.

“Legit Beef”

Jane shares listening to a radio show where people would call in and talk about what they were angry about. And the radio host would commemorate by saying “that’s legit beef” or “that’s not legit beef”. There are times when anger comes because of “legit beef”. And in some of those situations, anger is the appropriate emotion. So don’t talk yourself out of your “legit beef”, but instead allow yourself to be curious about that.

“Bless Their Hearts”

Jane tells a story about walking down the road and a truck coming by really fast and close to her. Jane shares that her first reaction was to yell and curse at the guy driving the truck. And then almost instinctively, when she recognized her own anger, was to say “bless his heart” (it’s a southern saying…). And the challenge then becomes, can we truly mean “bless their heart” as an act of compassion. That whatever the other person is experiencing, we can have compassion for them. The key to showing kindness and compassion when faced with anger is to be able to continue to see the other person as a child of God worthy of our love and kindness. We slow things down and take a minute to acknowledge the other’s humanity.

Acknowledge and Embrace Your Anger

Jane reminds us that when dealing with anger we shouldn’t try to always get rid of the anger, but to acknowledge it and learn to slow things down enough to get curious with what is happening. Then be able to say what we need in that moment and be able to connect to the other person’s humanity.

Jane shares that we don’t always succeed in dealing with our anger well, but the key again is being able to acknowledge the anger and slow things down.

Another key to dealing with anger is recognizing the dichotomy of being angry with someone and still being engaged with them. Again, it is possible to have a mixture of emotions, in other words, “both and” instead of just “either or”. The key to being able to do this well is in treating people with kindness and the work of reconciliation. We might not always see things in the same way, but we can stay engaged and be willing to listen and hear the other person’s point of view.

“Rage shames, but anger is a tool of connection”

We can share our anger with another and this has the potential of creating emotional intimacy. To share how we have been hurt or feel afraid is an act of vulnerability. And this is what creates connection and intimacy.

Jane reminds us too, that we shouldn’t turn our anger inward or try to shut it down. That is a form of inward rage and is self serving. Jane said, “that some of the kindest moments from friends has been when they have been willing to confront me”. It was an invitation to intimacy and closeness for them to be able to share what was bothering them.

“Inward rage is people pleasing. Outer rage is people shaming.”

In many ways being able to share our anger with others is an act of kindness that requires a lot of courage. When we share our anger in healthy ways it gives us the ability to connect at a much deeper level. It also is healing and reconciling.

However, in situations where it is really not safe to share your anger, it can be useful to hold back. People that have grown up in traumatic situations, such as abusive relationships, turning anger inward becomes a survival tool. But this is not sustainable and a person really should work through this with the help of a professional.

Being Polite Isn’t Always Kind

Being polite is not always the kind thing to do. There are times when we need to call things out and speak truth to things that are not right. In many ways, this was what Jesus taught and was the point of his ministry.

“Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”
Jane speaks of her ongoing work of reconciliation around racism. Jane reminds us that being polite has been used by white people to maintain oppression. In that we need to speak truth to injustice and that is not always pretty. And when we are willing to disrupt things, that is an act of tough love. It is an invitation to compassion.

Moral Injury

When we dehumanize others, we not only hurt them, but we hurt ourselves. We have learned this from veterans who have been in war situations where they have had to harm others. Their harm to others creates a moral injury to themselves. It goes against their core values of seeing others as human beings.

Boundaries

Jane talks about Brene Brown’s work and the importance of boundaries. Jane says that when we have good boundaries with ourselves and others, it is an act of compassion. It takes away the fear and allows us to have more freedom and autonomy. “I can have the space to have more compassion because I can say no”.

Conclusion

As counterintuitive as it sounds, the emotion of anger can be a tool for showing kindness and compassion. Anger is a signal within ourselves that something is amiss. When we are hurt or afraid we experience anger. But anger can also be a prompt for us to call out things that are not right. In that when boundaries are crossed, anger can help us to confront what is wrong. And when we handle and express our anger in healthy ways, it is a way to connect and reconcile with others. It is an act of kindness and compassion to be vulnerable enough to name what is wrong and allow people to come close.

Gordon (00:00):
Well, hello everyone. And welcome again to the podcast. And I'm so glad and thrilled for you all to get to hear from my good friend and colleague Jane Carter. Jane, welcome to the podcast.
Jane (00:14):
Thank you. I'm so happy to be here, Gordon.
Gordon (00:16):
Yes. Uh, Jane and I have known each other for a good, good bit of time now. And we've had all these divergent, uh, our, our paths have crossed in many interesting ways. First, I guess, kind of per professionally, just, uh, we had got Jane had hosted a conference in Asheville, North Carolina, the brew, your practice, uh, conference or workshop or whatever we, we, we call that thing. Uh, but also I, we found out through our conversations that we are, are both Episcopalian and, um, have a lot of church crossover as well. So Jane, I'm gonna stop talking about you and let you tell a little bit more about yourself and of your work as a therapist and a coach and all of that sort of thing.
Jane (01:05):
Yeah. Okay. Um, gosh, where to start. I'll, I'll try to be brief cuz I'm a rambler, but um, I, I love living in the mountains. Um, I love where I am. I love that you're nearby mm-hmm and that've gotten to intersect in all of these ways. Um, okay. A little bit about myself. Um, I'm a therapist in private practice. I've been doing therapy for 20 years, almost 21 years. Um, but I've been also a first of private practice coach and then I expanded to other solopreneurs, um, to work with in my coaching business. Um, gosh, six or seven years ago. It was not long before I met you. Mm-hmm and in my counseling practice, I always said that I specialized in working with stressed out people pleasers, uh, probably because I am, I have been one I'm one in recovery and our ideal client tends to be some version of ourselves. Um, but it's funny. I find that the same thing often happens in my coaching practice. Um, I have have a lot of coaching clients who are starting their small business or they're in their small business and they're also needing to learn how to do boundaries really well, um, and find the fun in things and, and they might be working on their own people pleasing. So it's, it's been really fascinating to see how much overlap there is between my two practices. Um, right. I joke that I make my coaching clients cry too.
Gordon (02:39):
Yes. Yes. Well, yeah. And, and I, Jane and I are of the same mold. I'm a, I'm the quintessential people pleaser I'm uh, you know, I'm curious, I, I think we talked about this before Jane, but I'm an engram two. Is that where you are?
Jane (02:58):
Are you, I'm a nine
Gordon (02:59):
You're a nine. Interesting. You're interesting. So I'll probably have to do a whole episode on the engram because that'll make, make, make more sense to people, us talking about that. But yeah. So one, one of the things that I know E even I struggle with at times is, um, which is, is I, I think something that we is is, is a struggle probably for a lot of people, is that when we're feeling angry or just downright pissed off about something, but we don't show it externally and we put on this nice face mm-hmm something happens. You wanna say more about that?
Jane (03:40):
Uh, it comes sideways, huh? Anger always goes somewhere
Gordon (03:47):
Mm-hmm .
Jane (03:48):
And, and anything that I'm saying here, I'm saying it to myself as much as to anyone who's listening, by the way, , these are all things that, you know, first I learned in therapy, and then I've continued to talk about it. Um, you know, you and I both grew up Southern and Christian mm-hmm and, you know, I think part of just learning and growing is just even understanding my own context that, oh, culturally I was raised to be really polite and to sh that sh that anger not okay. And that it wasn't feminine, but also it wasn't Christian mm-hmm . Um, so a lot of my development and I think probably for a lot of us has been learning, oh, wait a second. What does it mean to be able to name anger and own it and have it be healthy and not turn into a jerk, you know, mean like, that doesn't mean that the pendulum has to swing in the other direction. Yeah. Um, and, and what does that even look like? So, I mean, if I were gonna sum up everything, I wanna say, even it would just be, you know, anger is healthy and there there's a difference between anger and rage
Gordon (05:01):
Mm-hmm
Jane (05:01):
, but anger itself, it's just a feeling and it's often there to help. It's often there to, to, you know, I, I talk about it as a tool that God has given us. Mm-hmm to tell us, Hey, something's not right here.
Gordon (05:15):
Right, right. Yeah. When I, and I just thinking about the work that I do with my clients, um, know anger comes up a lot, you know, um, mm-hmm, , you know, so many, uh, you know, for those of us that are in kind of therapy practices, you know, the whole, whole term anger management comes into play mm-hmm , which I've never liked that term really, but I think of anger as, um, kind of a superficial emotion in that it it's what we see on the surface, but the thing about anger is that it it's there to protect us. Right. Um, yeah. And so, you know, an animal or the cave man got backed into the corner by the saber tooth tire, in order for them to survive that situation, they had to get angry. And so in that sense, anger, anger serves to protect us. But I think about anger as being driven by hurt and fear underneath mm-hmm . And so when we get hurt, we get angry agree when we get fearful, we get angry. And so, yeah. So curious what your thoughts on that as well? Just thinking about it.
Jane (06:26):
Yeah. So yes, I agree that sometimes anger really is hurt or fear coming, coming out in a certain way. And there are a lot of people, I think, especially, um, like in toxic rescue or in certain households where the only acceptable emotion is anger. So everything get filtered through that.
Gordon (06:46):
Mm-hmm
Jane (06:47):
Um, but I, I really appreciate it. I went to a, an anger workshop, um, by John Harold Lee, who's just fantastic. He wrote a great book called the anger solution and he said, and sometimes anger is anger and that's okay, too. Mm-hmm
Gordon (07:00):

Jane (07:01):
Mm-hmm and it really, uh, it, it takes kind of checking in with ourselves of like, okay, well, what, yeah. I'm feeling this. So can I slow down the process sort of when you were talking to Brian Cole, who's a mutual friend of ours. Mm-hmm um, and he was talking about slowing it down so that we aren't reactive, you know, when we slow it down, it gives us the chance to go, okay, I'm noticing that I'm feeling anger. Where is this coming from? Is this fear, is this sadness, is this pure anger? And sometimes anger is anger. Um, because it's teach it's, it's kind of indicating to us, it's like a little check, like saying either something needs to change or there's a boundary being violated here. Mm-hmm . And one of the gifts of anger is that it tells us where our boundaries are. Cause we may not know until we go, wait a second, this isn't okay.
Gordon (08:00):
Yes. Yeah.
Jane (08:01):
You know, and, and in that sense, our boundaries are what help kind of define us and define, okay, where do I end? And where does the other person begin? And so anger is a gift and that it tells me, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. My boundary is being violated. And this is part of me. My anger is part of me. Mm-hmm
Gordon (08:19):
Mm-hmm
Jane (08:20):
and can I listen to it without getting reactive?
Gordon (08:24):
Right, right. Yes. I, you know, I want, you know, one of the things that I think a lot of us have experienced over the last few years with, with COVID with, uh, the black lives matter movement mm-hmm , um, you know, and, and hear more recently that war in Ukraine. Yeah. Those are all, um, potential, well, anger, anger, inducing kinds of, of events, you know, with, with the COVID, you know, what, regardless of how you, what you think about vaccines and all of that sort of thing, and people wearing mask and not wearing mask and all of that brings up a lot of anger for folks. And then, then when, when confronted with, at least for me confronted with some racial justice that we've, we've, we've really kind of called out, it's been there all along mm-hmm , mm-hmm, , there's this, this underlying racism.
Gordon (09:23):
Sure. Particularly for, for those of us in the south, I say, and, and it's, it's universal throughout the country in the United States, but I think for, for almost there's this underlying anger, and then more recently with the, the war in Ukraine and what we see the, uh, Russian leaders, Putin, and all of them doing to innocent people, all of that is anger producing. And so what do we do with that? I mean, how do we, how do we respond? And I'm wondering this too, and I'm just kind of thinking out loud here. Sure. Jane, is that, um, are there times when it's not appropriate to be kind and compassionate and are there times when we need to be angry? Yeah, yeah.
Jane (10:14):
Yeah. Oh, that's a great question. And I, I think it depends on how you define kindness. Um, I think it's really important that we delineate between being nice or polite versus being kind mm-hmm
Gordon (10:31):

Jane (10:32):
And sometimes kindness is not polite. Sometimes kindness isn't even nice. Um, some you, I was listening, speaking of, you know, racial injustice, I was, I was listening to an interview that John Lewis did with Krista Tippet on, on being, um, this was maybe a couple years before he died. Um, and you know, , he was talking about during the civil rights movement, which by the way, the, the whole civil rights movement started because of anger. Mm-hmm,
Gordon (11:05):

Jane (11:06):
Righteous, anger saying something needs to change. So again, Mo anger can be a really good motivator. It can, it can be a good thing, but they didn't succumb to hatred or rage mm-hmm . And again, rage is a very different thing. Rage is the, the behaviors we do to avoid having to feel our anger, um, and, and rage. This is a little side note, rage can come out and, and this is all, um, what I learned from John Lee, who is wonderful. It can be that explosive thing, but it can also be inward rage where stuff, everything mm-hmm , or it can be passive aggression, or, you know, in the south, we love to do the kinda, well, I wouldn't do that, but when you do whatever you wanna do, like it can come across.
Jane (11:53):
So John Lewis was talking about how they worked so hard to connect with love and kindness for these people who were just, I mean, trying to kill them mm-hmm or attack them and, and kindness. It, what I thought as I was listening to him is that kindness is not passivity. Kindness does not have the, a nature of being passive mm-hmm kindness is active. They had to train for months, EV you know, with people, with white people, pretending to be the people that were gonna beat them up later, they had to train and dis you know, how am I gonna respond with love, even when this person hates me, when they're beating me up, when they're dragging me along the street. Um, and, and that, that was such an active
Gordon (12:46):
Mm-hmm
Jane (12:47):
Stance where they said, okay, yeah, of course they felt angry. And of course you can be angry at someone who is perpetrating injustice against you. And yet, if can you have the active discipline to practice going, okay. And this person was a baby once mm-hmm they were taught this, or, you know, maybe they were made to feel unimportant and this makes them feel important. Or, you know, what's the larger context of this. And can I connect with, I love for them as a human, even as I am furious at them and rightfully so.
Gordon (13:21):
Yeah. Yeah. And we see that all the time's,
Jane (13:24):
I'm not angry. I'm not angry. It's fine. That's not, it's not that passivity.
Gordon (13:29):
Right. Right. Yeah. And, and it's a, you know, I, I know in my work with couples, um, , you know, it's, it's very possible to be totally angry with someone mm-hmm , but at the same time, still committed to the relationship and committed to, to loving the person. And, uh, and, and that, that sort of thing. Yeah. Yeah.
Jane (13:51):
In fact, if you were, uh, emotionally detached and, uh, was the word I'm looking for, um, and, uh, oh gosh. It's, it's just evading me. Um, yeah. Indifferent indifference is not love mm-hmm
Gordon (14:07):
Right.
Jane (14:07):
You know, like sometimes people feel angry because they love the, I mean, oh gosh, that could go into bad territory. Mm-hmm they feel strongly about what's happening because they love the other person. I don't mean to say, oh, he, you know, there's, this is not like a justifying abuse type thing, you know? Oh, he's angry. Cause he loves me. Um, not okay. You know, kindness is not codependency.
Gordon (14:29):
right. To be clear, right. Yes, yes. Right. That makes sense. Yeah. Yeah.
Jane (14:34):
Again, you know, if I'm, if I'm in a couple and, or I'm working with a couple and, and someone's having a strong response again, can we slow it down enough to bring curiosity to that and say, you know, okay, well, what, what is this about? Where is it coming from? Um, is this legit anger or is this tied to something else? Um, this is
Gordon (14:56):
Mm-hmm
Jane (14:57):
You're gonna think I'm so weird. Gordon. I was, I was in the car with a friend and we were listening to her fatal favorite satellite radio show where people would call in and the, the, the radio guy would, what your beef is.
Gordon (15:12):
People say,
Jane (15:14):
My friend did da da, and then she, no, no, no. They would say whatever they were angry about Uhhuh and he, and his cohost would either say that is legit beef, or that's not legit beef
Gordon (15:24):
yeah. It
Jane (15:25):
Was the funniest show. I don't even know what it was called. Yeah. But I, I have this shorthand with some of my clients well, where I'll be like, that's legit beef. Like, don't talk yourself outta your anger quite yet. and doesn't say that I'm like, I'm the whitest person in the world. I'm like quoting this person, But you know, but where I'm like, this is legit beef. Yeah. And don't talk yourself outta your legit beef again. Can you bring curiosity to that and say, okay, well, what was the wrong? And mm-hmm can I, first of all, can I just take the time to kind of, if I need to cool off, if I need to just be in that anger state and just feel what I'm feeling mm-hmm , you know, maybe discharge some of that energy first. So that then I don't just get rid to the anger by raging.
Gordon (16:14):
Yes. That make sense. Yes. Uhhuh. Yes. So, yeah. So I I'm thinking that this might bring up, can
Jane (16:20):
I, can I take the time to connect with their humanity?
Gordon (16:23):
Yes. Yes. I I'm. I'm thinking that as you're saying this, there might be some people that are thinking, okay, what, how can I be kind with my anger? Um, yeah. And what would that look like? Yeah. Yeah.
Jane (16:39):
Um, so it's funny. I, I'm gonna tell you a little story of, as I was preparing or, you know, just thinking about this conversation. Mm-hmm I was taking some, uh, some audio notes and in my phone and, and walking along the street and this huge truck, like room, movie, it was a 25 mile per hour zone. And they just flew by me really closely. And I yelled out, I was like, slow the ass down you. I was just so mad. I was raging, but I was terrified, you know, and I was just really annoyed cause on this one stretch of road that always happens, especially with the guys in the big trucks. So I'm, I'm re-listing to my audio notes about kindness and compassion
Gordon (17:22):

Jane (17:25):
And I'm like, like yelling cuss words to this guy who couldn't hear me obviously. And then, and I started laughing and then I was like, well, bless his heart. And cause you know, in the south we have a saying, you can say anything about anyone, as long as you say, bless her heart or bless
Gordon (17:42):
Her heart. Right, right.
Jane (17:45):
And, and I thought about it though, even in that moment, I was like, I kind of chuckled that. I, I instinctively like, it doesn't even cross my mind. I instinctively go bless his heart and it's almost become passive aggressive thing. Like I'll, you know, I'll just say that. So I don't have to say a bad thing. Um, but then I thought, you know, okay, along the lines of John Lewis, like that's kind of what they were doing. Could I sincerely say, bless his heart. I'm really angry at this person who almost ran over me and can I bless him? Can I say a little prayer that whatever he's dealing with gets healed or whatever makes him need to do that
Gordon (18:24):
Right. Is
Jane (18:25):
Healed, you know, can I take a minute to acknowledge his humanity? Know that if he walked into my counseling office tomorrow, I would immediately feel compassion for him and, and have a totally different stance. Like how can I help you? How can I be here for you? Like you are a human being. And, and so I think what helped, you know, in terms of like feeling the anger, I think again, don't just get rid of the anger or say that it's unacceptable. Can we acknowledge our anger and slow it down enough to go, okay, mm-hmm what do I need to be able to then connect to that? Person's humanity. Yes.
Gordon (19:02):
You
Jane (19:02):
Know, even this is so hard, but like, am I praying for Putin?
Gordon (19:09):
Mm-hmm
Jane (19:09):
not really, I'm pissed at him. I'm angry right now. Right, right. Um, and can I get curious about what kind of childhood did he have mm-hmm right. And that, that doesn't mean that it's an excuse, but it means everyone has humanity. Everyone is a child of God. Mm-hmm Can I even just a little bit connect with that? Some days I may not be able to
Gordon (19:35):
Mm-hmm
Jane (19:35):
but I'm, I'm at least supposed to have a practice of trying to do that.
Gordon (19:39):
Right, right. Yeah. You know, one, one of the things that I think, um, some people struggle with is, um, this dichotomy of emotions that comes out for us and that we think of, okay, if I'm, if I'm angry at someone or I'm angry at something, then I can't, I can't also embrace that. Or I can't also, um, you know, still stay engaged with that person or that right. That thing. And the, and the truth of the matter is the, we are capable of doing not either or, but both. And absolutely. Yeah. And so, and I think part of the thing is, is that, um, where kindness comes in, I think is when we are angry at someone that we also stay engaged with them, even though we're, we're expressing our anger. Yes. And, and, and, and we do that in a kind way where we're not belittling them as a person, but really yeah. You know, that, that, that old cliche, I, you know, I don't, I hate the sin, not the center kind of thing. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That,
Jane (20:50):
Yeah. But it's true. I mean, cliches are cliches for a reason. Right.
Gordon (20:54):
Mm-hmm right.
Jane (20:55):
So, I mean, I love the, um, I love the nonviolent communication model. Mm-hmm because it's basically a, a really good formula for practicing. How do I acknowledge anger or any other emotion or offense or whatever, and, and offer the opportunity for reconciliation without shaming, the other person, or indicating that they are less than worthy mm-hmm of love and belonging, which is shame, right? Like shame, rage, shame. Anger is actually a tool of connection. Mm-hmm , mm-hmm, says, Hey, I'm, I'm gonna let you, like, if I decide to share my anger, I'm actually inviting intimacy with that person. I'm saying, I'm letting you know, this affected me and that we need to repair.
Gordon (21:41):
Yeah.
Jane (21:42):
If I do inward rage, which is the people pleasing, I'm just gonna shove my feelings down and be really polite. Um, I am now I'm serving myself, first of all, I'm serving my own fear and self protection. Mm-hmm , I'm not serving the other person in that case. Right, right. Um, but I'm also robbing them of the chance to be disrupted in a way that we could be closer or that they can. I mean, the, some of the kindest moments from friends have been when they've been willing to confront me about ways that I haven't been a good friend. Yes. And I appreciated it so much more that they were willing to let me feel that pain than just disengaging.
Gordon (22:27):
Right,
Jane (22:27):
Right,
Gordon (22:28):
Right. Oh, I,
Jane (22:29):
Yeah. But outer rage, you know, inward rage is people pleasing. Right. Outer rage. If I blast that person to smithereens and shame them, that's not helping anyone.
Gordon (22:43):
Right.
Jane (22:43):
Certainly not creating intimacy.
Gordon (22:45):
Right. Right. Oh, I love that. I, I, I you've really helped kinda re you frame something in that. Yeah. I hadn't really thought about, um, being angry with someone in a, in a healthy way really is an act of intimacy and vulnerability and that you're, yeah. You're opening yourself up and sharing with them. Um, you're, you're internal world and, and that's a scary thing. And I think that's one reason. So many people do tend to be people pleasers is that they, yeah. They, they don't want to get that vulnerable with others.
Jane (23:23):
Sure. And, and, you know, I, I really recognize that people pleasing is often a, a survival, excuse me, for survival tools from trauma mm-hmm because if you grow up in a setting where that's not safe, where you really do need to hide away the anger, because you will get hurt in a big way or rejected or traumatized, um, you know, a lot of people develop it, develop it as a survival skill, and it's harder to unlearn later. It's really scary to set that down. And yet we need that for intimacy mm-hmm
Gordon (23:58):
.
Jane (23:59):
And, and even, you know, when I think about, you know, we've had a lot of very, very interesting political situations in my family,
Gordon (24:08):
Uhhuh.
Jane (24:09):
It's funny, my mom, and, uh, we've had a couple of moments where we were just outright kinda lost our minds and were yelling about stuff. I'm, uh, I'll say I actually am like, mom, it's actually great that we can yell at each other cuz growing up, I was such a people pleaser that I didn't. And I'm like, aren't you glad I can do anger? You can do anger. Now we can do
Gordon (24:31):
Anger together for, for
Jane (24:33):
Recovering Southern Christian women.
Gordon (24:35):
and she's
Jane (24:36):
Like, yes, it's wonderful.
Gordon (24:37):

Jane (24:38):
But you know, five minutes later we'll be like snuggling on the couch with each other. It's like, you know, I love you. I know. And I love you love me, you know that it's like, isn't it great that we love each other enough that we know we can have a political fight and not hate each other or lose respect for each other. Yes. And I, I really see that as a gift. Yes. Um, but all that to say, like if I, so, so back to like on an individual level, there's a intimacy on a, on a general level when things are happening in the world that truly are wrong or unjust
Gordon (25:13):
Mm-hmm
Jane (25:14):
it is so hard to discern or let me, lemme rephrase. It's hard for me not to be polite. Mm-hmm and I might be in a room full of people who are all on the same page where I'm like, no, no, no, what you're saying is wrong, this is not okay.
Gordon (25:30):
Mm-hmm
Jane (25:31):
and if I, especially as someone who claims to be a follower of Christ, like am I, they think they might think I'm being kinder by being quiet mm-hmm right. But kindness might actually be me being willing to disrupt and say, no, no, no, that's wrong. That's not okay. And I'm angry. And I might not get invited to as many cocktail parties in the south, but mm-hmm
Gordon (25:59):
Yes.
Jane (25:59):
But I I'm okay. Being Debbie downer and saying that's, that's not okay. And, and I'm, I would say maybe 50% of the time I'm that brave. I'm still working on it, but mm-hmm I don't, I don't know who said it, but they, um, I love the quote. Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflicted and
Gordon (26:22):
Say that again, Jane. Cause we say that again, Jane, we froze,
Jane (26:26):
Froze up. So I don't know who said it, but it was it's the idea. Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Gordon (26:33):
Mm.
Jane (26:34):
And Jesus, wasn't always polite. And, and I think sometimes, but, and yet, and yet Jesus was very loving
Gordon (26:43):
Mm-hmm mm-hmm
Jane (26:45):
right. I mean, to the core. So, And, and you know, part of my own journey of trying to learn more about racial injustice and I still have such a far way to go, but is even realizing that politeness often a tool of oppression. Right. And that I've been really polite and sometimes I'm still too polite.
Gordon (27:10):
Mm-hmm
Jane (27:10):
because I'd rather be self-protective than speak up and, and speaking up is actually, you know, to the only way to fight oppression is to speak it and just say, no, this is wrong.
Gordon (27:25):
Right.
Jane (27:26):
And so politeness can really preserve, you know, we white people really don't like to be uncomfortable.
Gordon (27:33):
No, that's right. That's right.
Jane (27:36):
Yeah. You know, there are people trying to outlaw that in schools right now, like don't, you dare make white people uncomfortable, but this is a, that's a whole rabbit trail I could go down. But, but all that to say, right, right. Is that, that being disrupted is often a sign of love. It's it's creating space for others to be loved who have been treated unjustly mm-hmm
Gordon (27:55):
.
Jane (27:56):
Um, and when others are willing to disrupt us, it's actually love, it's tough love, but it's
Gordon (28:00):
Love. Yeah. Yes. It's really a it's it's a, you, you know, as I think about it in that context, it's really an invitation to begin to, to show some compassion for others.
Jane (28:14):
Yeah,
Gordon (28:14):
Yeah. Yeah. And if
Jane (28:17):
I love, I love how you put that Gordon. And when we invite others, to be more compassionate, that in itself is an act of kind. I mm-hmm because there there's a, um, I wanna say the phrase is moral injury. I could be getting that wrong.
Gordon (28:33):
Yes. Uhhuh mm-hmm
Jane (28:34):
that when we are not being compassionate, when we are not seeing others as worthy of love and belonging or, or if we're dehumanizing people, not only are they, they harmed, but we are harmed, we are killing a part of our souls.
Gordon (28:48):
Yes, yes, absolutely.
Jane (28:50):
And so if someone is willing to call me out for not being compassionate or for being degrading to humanity, the humanity of someone else, they're actually helping me too. Yes. But of course, with the other person.
Gordon (29:04):
Right. And my, of just, uh, having worked with, um, with some veterans and that sort of thing yet, just that, that moral injury phenomenon is something you see with, with veterans that where they've been their in war and they're having to harm other people when it just goes against their, you know, with they, what they feel and believe totally internally. So, I mean, that's just, again, that's a whole rabbit trail. We could go down. Sure. We're just talking about that time. Well,
Jane (29:36):
You know, bring it, I mean, Episcopalians gotta keep, bring it back. And if, you know, I've been taught that if I, even if I hate someone, if I see them as less than human mm-hmm, I might as well have killed them. Like, it's that that's the as murder, right. Uhhuh mm-hmm We it's the same. I mean, you know yeah. In the same way a veterans cert I'm not in the same way, but you know, a veteran is harmed if they have had to kill someone, even if they're doing it to try to protect others. Right. Um, we are also injured when we are hardening our hearts in that way. Yes. And, uh, it is hard. This is difficult.
Gordon (30:16):
Yes. This is. And I, again,
Jane (30:17):
I don't wanna claim to have solved it. Like this is a lifelong,
Gordon (30:21):
Right.
Jane (30:23):
But can I, again, can I kind of okay. Bless your heart. yeah. Drew a sense of the word.
Gordon (30:28):
Yeah.
Jane (30:29):
Can I be really angry at someone? And even if I hate them sometimes can I reconnect with, and this is a human being.
Gordon (30:37):
Yes. Yes. And to me that's the, when we can do that and we might not do it well, we might, might be really messy and not, might not be a hundred percent when we do that. But I think when we do that, that is when we, we practice kindness and compassion towards others.
Jane (30:56):
And I I'll bring it back too, to the idea of boundaries. Mm-hmm cause something that I loved, I, I think I'm capable of being on a podcast and not talking about bene brown, but , it's just built up, but I loved, she pointed out that boundaries are the best way to have compassion that the most boundary people are the most compassionate people Uhhuh . So when we have clear boundaries, when we know where do I end and where do you begin? Or when do I speak up about something being wrong or hurtful? Um, it's kind of like, like if you take a, a dog to the dog park, you know, if there wasn't a fence, if there was just a field next to a road, people would either be so tense that their dog was gonna run into the road, you know, and, and, and hold the dog really close, or they'd be, you know, maybe accidentally letting the dog get hit by a car in the road.
Jane (31:54):
Once you have a fence, which is a boundary, the dogs can run free and be happy and playful and be themselves mm-hmm and be, be doggy, you know, and right. And so when we have really clear boundaries, when we really pay attention to what's my anger telling me about where my boundaries need to be, again, it, it allows us the freedom to be able to have room for compassion. You know, I'm not afraid that you're gonna run over me now, um, or that you're gonna cling to me or, or that you're gonna run, run, run away way away, away. Right. Like,
Gordon (32:28):
Right, right.
Jane (32:30):
I, I can have the space to be more compassionate because I know I can say no to someone.
Gordon (32:35):
Right, right. Oh man. I love this stuff. I love this stuff. And you know, I, I've gotta be respectful of your time. Uh, Jim, but, uh, yes, I know. I know, but we, this, this will end up being a really, really long episode, but , but, but that's that's okay. So tell folks how they can get in touch with you and if they wanna have more. And, and, and I promise folks, Jane will be back on this podcast because she's the, oh, thank you. Exactly. The kind of, she she's my people. And so she's gonna be back here. So, um, Jane tell folks how they can get in touch with you and connect with you if they'd like to,
Jane (33:17):
Um, the easiest way to reach me is, uh, you can email me at Jane Jane Carter, coaching.com, or my website is Jane Carter, coaching.com. I'm on Instagram at Jane Carter coaching. Uh, it's mostly business related stuff. Mm-hmm , but I love to hear from people. And obviously I love good conversations.
Gordon (33:34):
Yes, yes. And, and Jane, uh, we we'll have all this in the show notes and the show, so summary for people so they can connect and find you. Um, so yeah, so we'll do this again.
Jane (33:47):
Awesome. This is Gordon. You.

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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.

 

Jody & Gracie Davis | Growing Kindness & Compassion Through Shared Camp Experiences | K&C 7

Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash

In this episode Gordon talks with Jody and Gracie Davis about the influence of camp experiences for children and youth along with meeting challenging situations in life. Summer camp experiences have, and continue to be, extremely important to helping young people form meaningful relationships. These camp experiences model what it means to live in community and gives space for vulnerability. And when young people get outside their comfort zone and are treated with kindness and compassion, it is truly a life changing experience.

Meet Jody and Gracie

Gracie and Jody Davis met while working at summer camp in college. Their love for the outdoors and the camp community inspired their work together. After working for the Episcopal church in varying capacities, Gracie and Jody were honored to accept the job of Directors at Duncan Park, Colorado. Now, they spread the spirit of kindness and compassion through hospitality, adventure and community. Gracie and Jody split their time between the Texas Hill Country at Camp Capers, and the Colorado Rockies at Duncan Park. They love road trips, diner food, hiking, and their two dogs Lincoln and Moose.

Lincoln
Moose

Visit Duncan Park on Facebook

How Camp Impacts Young People’s Lives

For anyone that has had a positive summer camp experience, needless to say it is life changing. There have been numerous developmental studies around camp experiences for children and youth. The research is clear that camp experiences have the ability to increase self-esteem, autonomy, social skills, and positive spiritual values in children and youth with the right camp experience.

Getting Outside The Comfort Zone

The impact of camp experiences comes through vulnerability. When youth are put in situations where they experience activities and interactions that they would not normally have, it creates a great opportunity for growth. The supportive atmosphere of camp allows them experience new things they would have never even dreamed of doing before.

Jody tells of an experience with a camper that had never been backpacking and the impact it made for him. He talks about the encouragement and challenge that this camper from the inner city had and the courage he had to show in doing something totally new and different.

Gracie talks about taking some of the campers rock climbing and how intimidating it is for many of them. And it is through this experience that they are given the opportunity to demonstrate courage which is totally life changing for most of them.

Building Relationships

Although camp experiences teach young people a lot about courage and self-confidence, the biggest impact comes through building relationships with the other campers and with the camp staff. There is something transformative that occurs for people when met with encouragement and unconditional positive regard. Camp experiences provide this. When young people spend a week or two with people that simply love them and give them a way to try new things without any fear of rejection, it makes an impact.

Getting Outside Their Comfort Zone in Africa

Jody and Gracie tell about the trips they have both made to Tanzania at different times. Jody said they were not there to help or change the people in any way. The whole purpose of the trips was to build relationships. It was about interacting with people that were of a totally different in their life experiences and culture.

Through this experience they not only learned so very much about other people and another culture, but also learned so very much about themselves. Being in a foreign country and away from the normal comforts of home made a big impact on both Jody and Gracie. They gained a greater appreciation and gratitude for the life they have.

Conclusion

As we grow and develop in life (and yes it’s a lifelong pursuit), it requires getting outside our comfort zones. As Jody and Gracie have learned in their work with young people, the most life changing and transformational experiences come out of a place of kindness and compassion. Particularly when there is support given for new experiences and challenges, people can develop self-confidence and feel a sense of pride in themselves.

Gordon (00:20):
Well, hello folks. And what welcome again to the kindness and compassion podcast. And I'm so excited to have these two people, husband and wife team Jody and Gracie Dover, who I have known a long time. Um, and I was so excited that they agreed to be on the podcast. So welcome Jody and Gracie.
Jody (00:42):
Thank you.
Gracie (00:43):
Thank you so much.
Gordon (00:44):
Yes, it's uh, they are two of my, I'll have to, uh, little disclaimer here. They are two of my daughter's best friends and so they probably know more about my daughter than I do so, um, and, and, and they're sworn to secrecy, but that's okay. That's okay. That I can and treat that with kindness. So, uh, Jody Gracie, why don't you tell folks a little bit about yourself and where you are and how you've landed, where you've landed?
Jody (01:15):
Sure. We'd love to. Um, so right now, we're we service as the directors at Duncan park, uh, which is an Episcopal can and conference center, um, just outside of Boulder, Colorado, uh, but it is owned and operated by the diocese of west Texas, which is a very, very interesting concept. The di of the west Texas has three very unique camping sites under one camping ministry. Um, so they have camp capers in the hill country of, of Texas just outside of Santa Antonio, Mustang island down on the coast. Um, and, and then our site Duncan park up, up in the mountains. Um,
Gracie (01:51):
Yeah, so Jody serves as the director of Duncan park and I'm the food service director. And I also kind of am responsible for general hospitality retreat kind of stuff. So we kind of tag team the camp and retreat side of things. Um, we split our time evenly between San Antonio and Colorado. So right now we're right outside of San Antonio and wearing Texas. Um, and we just travel a lot and head back and forth. Um, we spend summer and fall in Colorado and winter spring here in Texas.
Gordon (02:24):
Yes, yes. Live in the dream. I, in my, in my, in my opinion, so, I mean, it's awesome. But one, one of the things I know that we wanted to talk about today on the podcast is, um, just about the influence of kind of camp experiences and that sort of thing for, for kids growing up. I know for you all, and also my daughter, Rebecca she's probably will be on here at some point if I can talk her into it. But one of the things I know is that being part of just camp life in general has been a huge influence in just kinda shaping who you are and, and just kind of your whole world view. And I know that it's a, it's a world view that is very much tied to kindness and combat, particularly for the, for the kids you serve and that sort of thing. So, yeah. So talk about that. I think that that's just really what I'm interested in hearing about, and I know the audience would be interested in hearing about that too.
Gracie (03:32):
Oh, for sure. Um, so we met working at grace point in east Tennessee, which is the Episcopal camp of the ISIS of east Tennessee. And we were on summer stock there for like four summers. And after we left camp, we continued to work for the diocese of east Tennessee and just kind of kept in that vein. Um, but really, you know, the thing that stuck out to us the most is when we got married, it was like everyone that was at the wedding was somehow connected to us through camp. And you know, that community just always lifted up our relationship and supported us, um, and you know, really encouraged us to communicate with one another and really grow alongside one another. And so there's this, like, I guess this facet of working at camp where you're like hyper aware of relationships and how you can deepen them and how to like meet people where they are. Um, so it makes for, you know, lifelong friendships like us with Rebecca and obviously, you know, we ended up getting married. So that was really helpful and the development of our relationship and yeah, it's just a place where you can really meet people where they are based on the fact that everyone has kind of let their guard down.
Gordon (04:47):
Mm. Yeah.
Jody (04:49):
And for me, um, everything that Gracie said, it rings true for me as well. But, uh, for our young people that we serve something that's, that's kind of our main consistent, um, is it really gives young people, especially in the Christian community, their first example of what it looks like to be part of the wider body of Christ. Um, they, they they've been a part of their parish. They've been a part of maybe their youth group and that small community that they're very, very comfortable with. Um, but, but for a lot of the kids that we serve, this is their first experience with that larger community and, and, and learning how to live intentionally, um, in, in a way where we model how, what it means to love each other, what it means to lift each other up and encourage one another. Um, and that, that's something that is, that rang true for me as a, as a young person, as a camper. But it's something that, that I think so special. Um, we can do all the activities and have all the fun we want, but really when it boils down to, to what it means to, to truly live in to camp ministry, um, it it's the bond that, that is formed between the campers within a, a, a four or five day period. It's an incredible thing to watch.
Gordon (06:03):
Right. Right. Well, one, one of the things that I know, I, you know, kind of a little bit of my history with that is that one of the things that I did, uh, few summers was to serve as kind of a two Caplan for the camp. And one, one of the things that I noticed is, is that it gave by, you know, taking, taking gig young people, people, and putting 'em in a situation that was totally kind of new to a lot of 'em. They had never really, I, I remember one of the camps that we had, it was really kinda some of the inner city kids that had never really been outside their neighborhoods or where they lived and, and bringing them into a situation where it was totally foreign. And they had to be totally vulnerable to the situation. And when it was met with kindness and compassion, and really just acknowledging the uncomfortableness of it, of it all, um, it really changed the way that they saw themselves and ch saw each other, um, in that they, it, it was a safe place for people for kids to be,
Gracie (07:15):
Oh, for sure. And we deal with a lot of that kind stuff at Duncan park, because we're primarily an outdoor adventure camp. So we get kids from, you know, all walks of life that are coming out and sleeping in a tent for the first time and going on a hike for the first time and putting these, putting themselves in these very vulnerable positions. But, you know, with the support of the camp community, they end up really enjoying it and like really coming out of their box. And they have a great time, man, who wouldn't we're in Colorado, but like, yeah, yeah. It, it's really interesting to see that transformation happen throughout the course of the week. They just totally let their guard down and, you know, feel comfortable with us and the staff and their fellow.
Gordon (08:00):
Yes. Yes. So, um, to put you on the spot a little bit, um, can either of you maybe think of a story of a particular kid or whatever that was just that you saw being totally changed by their camp experience? I mean, just an, a big, the pack that it made for them.
Gracie (08:22):
You do more with the campers one.
Jody (08:24):
Yeah, yeah, sure. Um, there's one, I mean, honestly, there are, there are lots of, of, of examples of that, um, working in camp history for, for a long time, or even a short time, you see it, uh, weekend and week out, but there's one example in particular, um, from this past summer, we, we were hosting a, a group that was specifically a backpacking group and they, they came up to, to Duncan park and we, we host a, a lot of sessions that have, have a variety of activities, but this in particular, we were going to be on trail for four nights, uh, or four days, three nights. Um, and, and so it was an intensive, uh, back country trip. And it was a, it was a group of 12. Uh, and, and when they arrived, we, we provide all of their gear. We provide everything for them.
Jody (09:12):
Um, so we were pull out the gear, getting everything ready to go. And I hand one of the youth a backpack, and he says, what's this, what's this, this, this is a backpack. This is what we'll use. Uh, as we work through our week, this week, he said, where are we going? We're not staying here. Um, he had no idea. He had no idea that he was going on a back country trip. He was told that he was going on a trip to Colorado. Um, and that, that he, and he didn't realize that, that, that it entailed, uh, actually going into the woods and living in the woods. Um, and, and there was, he, he took it somewhat well, but, but you could tell that there was this sense of, of panic, this sense of, of unknown. Um, and, and he didn't really, he, he wasn't used to anything like that.
Jody (10:04):
Um, and, and it was very interesting because the first couple of days, it, it wasn't that he didn't wanna be there, but you could tell that he was unsure. You could tell that he wasn't comfortable. Um, and, and as we continued on the up, uh, the staff and the campers alike, uh, J just kept trying to support him and kept trying to encourage him, um, to, to live into it. We're, we're here. Uh, let's be present, let's be together. Let let's really make this, make this the best situation that it can be. And he came out of that week, um, really enjoying and, and, and really he pushed himself way, way out of what he ever imagined his comfort zone be. Um, and, and, and when I talked to him at the end of the week, he not only let me know that he, he was so happy to make friends, but he, that he was so joyful that he was able to have that experience.
Jody (10:57):
Um, and, and that, that it was something that he'd remember through us, his life. Um, wow. And, and I may never see that camper again, I may see him year after year. Um, but, but for him in particular, it was this, it was this moment of realization that he was able to do something that he never even thought that could accomplish. Um, he did it well. So that, just that, that sense of transformation of, of not only being able to physically do something that you didn't think you could do, but also spiritually and emotionally, um, being able to, to put yourself out there to make new friends, uh, people that you, you, you've never really spent time with, you get on a plane and travel a thousand miles and then go into the back country with them. Um, that that's an intimidating thing. Yeah. Um, especially for our young. And so just, just to be able to kind of take it by the horns and, and, and really make it the best trip that he possibly could of. I was, I was just so proud of him, uh, to, to do that.
Gordon (12:01):
Yes, yes.
Gracie (12:03):
Sorry, what were you saying, Gordon?
Gordon (12:04):
No, I said I was, uh, I was just thinking, uh, as you were telling that Jody, I was reminded of, uh, of Bernie NA brown, who you guys might be familiar with. Who's done a lot of writing on courage and on vulnerability and that sort of thing. And one of the things about that is that I think that, um, she, she says essentially that you cannot have courage without vulnerable. In other words, you, you courage doesn't even occur without vulnerability. And I think when we can create the space for people to be vulnerable, they experience courage for the first time. And the, and, and when we do that, it's it's life changing.
Gracie (12:54):
Oh yeah. And prime example of that at Duncan park is like, so we do a different activity each day. And the last full day of camp Thursday is rock climbing day. And we'll go rock climbing in Boulder canyon, which is, you know, very popular rock climbing spot. And it's always like, everyone is terrified on the outset because it looks like this very big, crazy daunting thing. Um, but you know, our guys are awesome. They work with them. They're very honest with them. And it's always the kids that are the most afraid they wait until like the last probably 30 or 45 minutes. And they're like, okay, I'm gonna get up on the wall. I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna do it. And then they're the ones that get all the way up to the top. So it's like what? And given the opportunity to be really courageous, they're like, all right, going in, I'm doing this. Yes. And it's so cool. Watch that happen. They just totally, yeah. Take it by the horns and like go with it. It's great.
Gordon (13:48):
Yes. Yes. I love it. I love it. So, yeah. So to, to change gears a little bit, um, um, I know one of the things I know about, um, Gracie and Jody is, is that they had a pretty life changing event a few years ago when they went to Africa. So you wanna say some, something about that and just, uh, what, what impact that made for you in your lives and how that, how that changed you?
Jody (14:20):
Absolutely. Um, so the first time that I went with the diocese east, Tennessee, um, I was 19 years old. And, uh, it was, it was an experience that on the front end, I thought, well, I didn't know, know what to think. First of all, um, I'd been out of the country, but obviously Africa is, is a totally different animal. And, um, I, I kind of blindly trusted, uh, some people that, that I really, um, really respected, um, and, and, and really looked up to, and they said, I, I really think that this is something that, that would be beneficial to you. Um, and so I went and not knowing what to expect, not knowing what we were going to do. Um, and, and what I realized was that we were just there to build relationships. We were there to trust one another. We were there to listen to the people, um, and, and we weren't there to change anything.
Jody (15:19):
We were, we weren't there to, to be any kind of savior. We weren't there to, to really do any, any tangible, physical work. Um, but, but the work that we did, um, what was more letting, letting us know that we have brothers and sisters in, in Christ all across the world, um, letting, letting our, our friends in Tanzania know that, that they have brothers and sisters and friends all across the world and, and being able to be a part of, um, a part of something even bigger than anything that I could do myself, uh, was huge. It, it, it really kind of resembled part of the camp community, but on a much bigger level, um, it, it's still an intentional community and it's still, uh, kind of what I mentioned earlier. It, it exemplified what it means part of the wider body of Christ, not just your home community, um, and, and camp kind of gives you a taste of that, but going to Tanzania and, and being a part of the Anglican communion there really solidified that this is, this is much bigger than me. Um, and, and, and I'm so happy to be a part of it. It, um, but there is good work being done all over the globe. Um, it's, we're, we're just a small piece
Gracie (16:40):
For sure. And, well, my experience in Tanzania was more, cuz we both went separately. Jodi went twice and then I went once by myself and, um, my experience was more about letting go and not, cause I love to be in charge. I love a plan. I love to know what's going on. Um, and that is the opposite of the experience that you have in Sannia. So for me, it's like, I guess the best way to describe it is every day you get in this Rover and everyone's just kind of piled in there and then you drive on these roads for like hours, these roads that are like, obviously not super well maintained cuz you're in the middle of Africa and you know, you're just kind of like bouncing along things are bumpy and the guides Pascal and Steven will be like, Hey, listen, you know, just don't fight it.
Gracie (17:27):
Like let your body just kind of move with the Rover. And like you won't have a sore back at the end of the day. And so I think that's the best way to describe it is if you just kind of, you know, roll with it and exp let it, let the experience happen, you know, you're gonna get the most out of it. Um, but the second you try to control and try to micromanage that's where you're gonna run into problems. So that was the biggest takeaway for me was just like, you know, listen, like you can just ride in the Rover, you don't have to be driving like it's okay. You don't have to know what's going on at all times.
Gordon (18:00):
Right, right. Oh, I love that. I love, I love that story because I think that just has so many implications just across, you know, just thinking about mindfulness and thinking about, uh, being able to, um, to let go of things, forgive all of that kind of stuff. Ties, ties into that. And I think the thing that, um, I think for, for one thing that I would guess that you both got out of going place like Tanzania is that you really did have to kinda let your guard down and, and you also, it, it takes away a lot of judgment that people tend to have about other cultures and other way people's, people's way of living or, and, and that sort of thing that when you understand the backstory of someone, um, it, it gives you room to have more compassion for what they're going through and what their, what their life is about. So I love that and I love that. I love that metaphor. It, that just a writing in the, in the, the land Rover and trying to fight all the bumps and all of that sort of thing and just going with it. I love that.
Gracie (19:16):
Oh yeah. And I mean, thinking back on it, I think going to Tanzania really prepared us for our experience at Duncan park because, you know, there's a lot of just like going with it, making and do, um, figuring things out as you go again, meeting people where they are understanding people for who they are as people and not for like you have, and, you know, at Duncan park, it's so similar because you know, you're up in the wilderness, you're like an hour from any kind of like definitive care. You're just kind of like isolated and you know, so many things happen and people have to trust you like that. And being able to be on the receiving end of that helps you be the agent for that so much more, I think.
Gordon (19:59):
Awesome. For sure. Yeah. Yeah. Well, uh, guys, I know we could probably talk all day and I wish we were in person because I'd love to give you both a hug, but I just, uh, we're in two different places, but, um, tell folks how they can get in touch with you all, if they want to find out more about Duncan park and also maybe connect with you guys.
Jody (20:23):
Sure. Yeah. So, um, like I said, Duncan park is, is owned and operated by the diocese of west Texas. Um, so, uh, if, if anybody's interested in Duncan park or any of the other camps here, uh, D wtx.org is, is where you would find us. Um, and like ay said earlier, you know, this is something that, that we truly have a passion for that, that we love to do. Um, so if anybody ever has any questions, that's not necessarily Duncan park related, but just camp related. Um, it it's something that, that we, we love to talk about. Um, so if anybody's thinking about pursuing something like that, or even just youth ministry in general, um, we'd love to talk about it.
Gracie (21:03):
Yeah. You can reach out to us via email Duncan dot park. That's D U N C a N dot park D wtx.org. Um, Duncan park is also on Instagram at Duncan. Um, so you can see kind of, you know, the natural surroundings that we're in and all that kind of stuff. Um, but yeah, if you're interested in youth ministry or camp ministry, or like just, you wanna have a deep combo about whatever, shoot us an email and we'll chat with you, we love that kind of stuff.
Gordon (21:31):
Awesome. Awesome. And we'll have, we'll have links in the show notes and the show summary for people to access that easily. So well, Jody and Gracie, I'm so glad to see your faces and, um, um, good to see you. Yes. Um, for, for, I was listening to the podcast, we do this by zoom, so that's what I meant. So, um, anyway, I hope to be able to get out there. I was close to coming out there last October, but I think you guys have probably already left, but I didn't get to Colorado after all, but anyway, gonna hopefully get out there and get to hang out with you guys.
Gracie (22:07):
Oh, please do. Yeah, we would love to have you we'd love visitors. We'll show you around. Take you hiking, all that good
Gordon (22:12):
Stuff. I'd love to go on that three night backpacking trip. That sounds like my thing.
Gracie (22:18):
Oh yeah. It's awesome.
Gordon (22:20):
Awesome. All right guys, take care.
Jody (22:23):
Thank you.
Gracie (22:23):
Thank you, Gordon. Say Hey to Sister and the Kitties for us.
Gordon (22:26):
Okay. You sure? Thanks.

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About Gordon

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.

 

Brian Cole | The Work of Reconciliation | Episode 6


In this episode, Gordon talks with The Right Rev. Brian Cole, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee, about reconciliation and how we can mend broken relationships. We explore what it takes to be able to use the act of reconciliation to create greater kindness and compassion through our interactions with each other in our world.

What is reconciliation?

Reconciliation is the ability to take a deep breath and recognize that we have differences and that we might not always see things in the same way. There is an acknowledgement of our differences and at the same time a willingness to be able to make things right with each other.

Meet Brian Cole

A southeast Missouri native, The Right Rev. Brian Cole graduated from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1989. In 1992, he earned a Master of Divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with additional studies in Anglican Church History at The University of the South School of Theology, Sewanee, in 2001. He also pursued studies in Art and Prayer at General Theological Seminary (GTS), New York City, in 2006, and studied liturgics In Asheville, N.C., from 2002 to 2005.

Brian was ordained and consecrated fifth bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee on December 2, 2017. He is married to Susan Weatherford, a poet, musician, avid gardener, and graduate of Berea College and University of Kentucky. They have one son, Jess. Brian and Susan live in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Ordained a priest in 2002, Brian served as vicar at Church of the Advocate, a worshiping community of the Diocese of Western North Carolina for homeless in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. From 2005 to 2012, Cole was sub-dean at The Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville. He served as rector at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Lexington, Kentucky, from 2012 until his election as bishop of East Tennessee.

Brian has also served as an instructor in Appalachian Religion, Faith and Practices, and Appalachian Religion and Culture, at Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa. N.C.; Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. Prior to his ordination as a priest, he served for seven years on the staff of the Appalachian Ministries Education Resource Center (AMERC) in Berea, Kentucky. Much of his work then involved teaching seminarians, listening to Appalachian leaders, both in and out of the Church, and learning how to read and appreciate the culture of the region.

Brian has five times been a featured preacher on the Day 1 weekly radio broadcast/podcast. His articles, sermons and other writings have appeared in The Gospel and Our Culture; Natural Saints: How People of Faith are Working to Save God’s Earth; Sacred Acts: How Churches are Working to Protect Earth’s Climate; Green Pulpit Journal; Appalachian Heritage; Heartstone; Aging and Spirituality; Lutheran Seminary Review; Iron Mountain Review, and Creation Care. His reflections were included in Lent 2017 Living Compass Series, and an essay was included in Merton and the Protestants.

Find out more and/or contact Brian at the Diocese of East Tennessee, dioet.org

Reconciling vs. Tolerating

In the context of kindness and compassion it is important to draw the distinction between reconciling with someone vs. just tolerating them. After all, there are times when we can show kindness by being tolerant and polite with people. In other words, as Brian put it, “just holding our breath through the interactions”.

The other thing is that reconciliation requires a commitment to a continued relationship with the other person. Whereas, toleration only requires interaction in the moment with no commitment to continue a relationship afterwards. Reconciliation is a commitment to engage and continue deeper conversations.

Reconciliation is Reparative Work

When we engage in reconciliation, it is the work of making amends and making our relationships right. Gordon mentions that in his work with couples, one of the key ingredients of having a healthy relationship involves the ability of a couple to repair things when there has been a hurt. It is about staying engaged and commitment to continue the relationship. It means taking things in a new direction.

Reconciliation Requires Imagination

Brian mentions an article in Harper’s Magazine by Garret Keizer, a writer and Episcopal priest, that describes a situation where we might think or say, “I can’t imagine how you could think that…”. When we think in this way, we are really showing a lack of imagination. Because if we were to fully understand the other person’s life experiences and back-story, then we are able to understand how and why they see things differently. Their point of view becomes abundantly clear.

Brian goes on to say, in this whole practice of “loving your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-44) means trying to fully understand the other person’s story and background. You might not fully agree with their point of view, but you can at least understand why and how they see the world as they see it. This in turn opens the door for the other to begin to understand your point of view and perspective.

Deeper Work of Reconciliation

The work of reconciliation is ultimately a willingness to engage in deeper conversations and understanding other people’s life experiences. Kindness and compassion begins with showing a reverence for other people’s trauma, wounds and life experiences. So many times we do not know what other people are carrying. But by allowing them the space to share that without judgment or disdain, gives room for healing. It is deep work.

This deep work only can happen if people can feel safe and know that they are seen as human beings that are loved despite their flaws. It means being present with people in a non-judgmental way.

The deeper work of reconciliation is also an ongoing process. It is not a “one and done” proposition. It requires ongoing conversations and dealing with our own internal struggles. We also need to know and understand ourselves well.

Reconciliation Means Responding vs. Reacting

Brain tells of a conversation with his son about a disagreement his son was having with a friend. Brain was impressed by his son’s wisdom in being able to “turn down the temperature” of the disagreement. In that he slowed things down enough to respond vs. just react.

In our interactions with others, it is important to learn how to give thoughtful responses to things rather than simply go on the defensive. It requires being curious about the other person rather than simply reacting.

Reconciliation also requires emotional maturity. We need to engage in the work of learning to be in control of our own emotions and inner worlds. It is the ability of a person to know when they are emotionally flooded and then take control of that for themselves. It is the key to emotional intelligence.

Conclusion

As was said, the work of reconciliation is an ongoing process for us as individuals but also in our various communities across the world. It means having a willingness to have deep conversations and listening. Reconciliation is an intentional act of kindness and compassion. At least in my view, it is the path forward in ending all the polarization and dissension in the world. We need to understand at a deeper level the people that we disagree with the most.

 

Brian (00:00):
A part of a part of how we get to a place of deeper reconciliation is to appreciate how it is people are made and shaped over time, either the trauma or the blessing, the nurture, or the neglect, you know, that, that those things together, um, end up making us who we are. And then, then you put us in relationship. Uh, and so we bump up against each other. And I think, you know, the, the saying about kindness and compassionate being kind and compassionate, you know, that so often we don't know what people are going through. You know, while at times that might feel like kind of an old cliche, it is so true.
Gordon (00:42):
Welcome to the kindness and compassion podcast, where we will explore the intersection of psychology science and spirituality. My name is Gordon brewer and I'm a licensed psychotherapist and mental health provider. I have spent my career helping people learn how to better manage their emotions and find more meaning in their lives and connection in their relationships. Join me as we think and talk about the ways we can find happiness and be content in our lives, through the practices of kindness and compassion. We will talk with other experts in the fields of psychology, science and religion. I'm so glad you're with me on this journey as we learn how to be at peace with ourselves and others.

Gordon(01:39):
Hello Everyone. I'm Gordon brewer and welcome again to the kindness and compass podcast. And this is episode number six and glad you're joining me glad you're with me on this journey. You know, when I was, uh, first conceptualizing, uh, starting this podcast, uh, which has been couple of years in the making, at least in my mind, or at least in my head, one of the people, but I knew I wanted to have as a guest was the person you're gonna hear from today. And that is Bishop Brian Cole. And Brian is my Bishop, uh, have shared in other, I think in earlier episodes. Part of my, one of the many hats that I wear in addition to being a psychotherapist is that I'm a, a deacon in the EPIs church, which is a, a clergy clergy person. Uh, one of the three orders of clergy in the Episcopal church, Bishop's priests and deacons.
Gordon (02:34):
I'm a deacon and a deacon's role in the Episcopal church has really ministry in the world. So in, in many ways, this podcast has become part of my, a ministry and just trying to reach people and, uh, communicate maybe a new way of thinking about the world and how we interact with each other. So Brian is the Bishop of east Tennessee, and he's gonna tell you a little more about himself, but I, I feel so privileged to have him in my life and it being in relationship with him and my role in the church. And, um, I think when you hear from him, you're gonna really, uh, understand why he is so liked and so loved by so many people in our area and just really what an intelligent and thoughtful person that he is. And, um, he is certainly the kind of person that at least for me, um, really demonstrates a lot of kindness and compassion and in all of my interactions with him, that is how he has approached things.
Gordon (03:37):
So, um, looking forward to you, hearing from, uh, Bishop Brian Cole, um, but before we get to him, one of the things I'd like for you to do is first invite you to check out the website, kindness and compassion.com. And if you haven't done so already sign up for email list, I'm gonna be putting out some emails in just a newsletter type format to give you more resources and ways to think about kindness and compassion. Um, and so invite you to do that by just going to the website, kindness and compassion.com, and you'll see some forms to sign up, to start receiving our newsletter. Um, also I'm putting together a guide called the kindness and practices of kindness, compassion guide. And so when you sign up for the email list, you'll be able to get that PDF of just a way to begin to think about different ways you can practice kindness and compassion in your life.
Gordon (04:34):
Um, the other thing too is if you are enjoying what you're, you're hearing here on the podcast, um, and you would like to support it in some way, we do have a Patreon page set up and you can find out more about that by going to kindness and compassion.com/patreon. And it's just a way for people to support the podcast. And when you become a sponsor or a patron of the cast, you can get some little perks there's, uh, some stickers and coffee mugs and t-shirts, and that kind of thing for the different levels of, of Patreons or patrons for the, for the podcast. So I wanna invite you to check that out. So, um, so, um, having said all that without further ado, here's my conversation with the right Reverend Brian Cole, AKA Bishop Cole, AKA Bishop Brian, Hello, everyone. And welcome again to the podcast. And I'm so glad and been looking forward to you all, getting to hear from a person that's near and dear to my heart and that's Bishop Brian Cole. And as I shared in the other episodes, I'm part of, one of the hats that I wear, not only as a, as a psychotherapist, but I'm also a clergy person in the Episcopal church. And so I belong to Brian. And so, Brian, welcome. I'm glad you're here
Brian (06:14):
Important. It is good to be with you and it's good to, well, I think that we belong to each other. So, uh, it's good to be a part of, uh, your work, uh, knowing both your important work as a psychotherapist and also as a deacon in the Episcopal church.
Gordon (06:28):
Yes, yes. And so Brian, as I start with most everyone, why don't you tell folks a little bit about you and kind of how you've landed, where you've land?
Brian (06:38):
Yeah, so I grew up, uh, in Southeast Missouri and, um, church has always been a big part of my life, but I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition and, um, and it's, it's wild for me to think about that little Baptist kid who now serve as an Episcopal Bishop in east Tennessee. Um, I didn't leave the central time zone until I was 19 years old. So my world was pretty small, uh, geographically, but, um, it's a world where I felt loved by all kinds of folk and, um, and a part of, you know, it would take, uh, several podcasts to get me from, Hey time, Missouri to Knoxville, Tennessee. I think the main thing I would say is just, uh, again, to think about your topic, um, lots of folks have been really compassionate and kind to me as I've kind of continued to make sense of my spiritual journey.
Brian (07:39):
And it's a thread from that boyhood to who I am now, that makes a lot of sense to me. And, uh, so, you know, a part of me being an Episcopal Bishop is not somehow a rejection of those people who loved me in that little Baptist church in Missouri, as much as, um, the story they first told me has continued to unfold in my life and has brought me here. I'm married to Susan Weatherford and we have a son Jess who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, he's in his mid twenties and we have a dog named Jerry Lee. Who's the world's luckiest rescue. Uh, he's a Sue. And, um, he, he brings a lot of delight and love, uh, into our world.
Gordon (08:23):
Yes, yes. The, the canine of the ordinary, which I'll, uh, maybe explain that later, but that's, uh, yeah, that's, that's, that's great. So, uh, you know, the topic we had just kinda landed on, which to me is just very befiting of bro Ryan, because when he became Bishop of the diocese of east Tennessee, this theme came out about reconciling and, and being able to reconcile. And I think for some folks, when they think of the word reconcile, they think, okay, that's something I do to my checkbook, but you wanna, you wanna talk about what that means and maybe how that ties into kindness and compassion?
Brian (09:07):
Yeah. So, um, you know, I had been a parish priest in Asheville, North Carolina, a parish priest in Lexington, Kentucky. And when I was elected Bishop of east Tennessee and was moving to Knoxville, um, I was really mindful that I wanted my ministry as a Bishop, which is sort of an overseer and an encourager of parish, clergy and parish ministry. I wanted to make sure whatever I offered to the diocese is what help us all pull in the same direction. And that as a Bishop, I never sort of offered some idea or program that was a distraction or got people off course. And, um, in the book of common prayer in the catechism, which is sort of a, a place of teaching, uh, there's a question about what is the mission of the church. And the answer given is the mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ, and also in the letters of Paul.
Brian (10:07):
At some point, he talks about this ministry of reconciliation to which we've all been called. I remember thinking reconciliation then is, is to be a core value in the Christian tradition and in the Episcopal church. And, you know, I, I grew up in a, what is now a very red part of America, and I have served in a place like Asheville, North Carolina, which, you know, if a place could be any more, uh, bluer than that, I don't know. Uh, and I am Ken to people across the political divide and theological divide. And, you know, if in Christ, there is no Eastern or west, uh, if in Christ there's no neither Greek nor Jew slave nor free male, nor female, all are one in Christ. You know, somehow the idea that in this place of the Christ, we can all be who we are and somehow all belong to each other, uh, in a time that feels so deeply polarizing and deeply fractured.
Brian (11:10):
Um, I thought if I offer anything, it would be to invite people to say, this is gonna be our work, knowing that at, uh, once you say that people have a whole lot of questions about, well, so how do we do that? Do we do that by simply avoiding any topic that we might disagree on, which is not helpful? Cause I think at some point that becomes a really thin sort of just, we're all gonna be nice to each other, but knowing that, that sort of deep reconciliation work, um, only comes with trust, right? And so part of the work is there's a whole lot of work you have to do before you get to the place of the real breakthrough of some reconciled people, uh, knowing this is a long answer to your good, good question, knowing that for us, you know, that that act of reconciliation is really something God has done, uh, with Jesus on the cross.
Brian (12:03):
If you think about how radical it is for Jesus to forgive his perpetrators while he is being killed, I mean, that sets high bar for what it means to be able to forgive. So really all that we're doing, you know, if you and I have a real falling out with each other Gordon, if you, and I find a way to somehow say, we need to, we need to admit this wrong that we have between each other and what would it take to make it right in order to be reconciled? All, all that we're doing is really in many ways, echo in response to what we've experienced, uh, with Jesus on the cross. So, um, you know, I think, I think you, and I can never say, you know, we could never be reconciled if we have that example of just a radical global and cosmic, uh, work that the Christ did on the cross.
Gordon (12:52):
Right. Right. Yeah. The 1, 1, 1 thought that occurs to me and this maybe is another, another question here, you know, what, what do you, what do you see as maybe the difference between reconciling versus just tolerating? Mm. Um, you know, uh, because I think we all run into, we're all gonna run into people that we don't necessarily see, see things as they see them. And we, we, by virtue of our values and our background and how we're raised and all that sort of thing, we're gonna have different kind of viewpoints of things. But what would you say about that?
Brian (13:34):
That's a great question. Um, when I think of tolerating, I think of holding my breath and you and I are like, okay, we're about to have lunch with this really difficult person. And we know they're gonna say, you know, outlandish things or offensive things, but we're all, we're just gonna tolerate old Joe. So we're just gonna go in there and hold our breath and hold our tongue and know that we can run out the clock and get back in the car and, and say, man, I'm glad that's over. I think true reconciliation is the ability to, to take a deep breath and really say, I, I am you and I are different. You and I have had some hurt in the past, but there's been the real work of trust, building of truth, telling of how do we make this right. And then that covenant to say, now in going forward, there's a place of reconciliation with us.
Brian (14:37):
So I think, I think also toleration is, again, just in the moment I'm gonna hold my breath and get through this with you. True. Reconciliation is both an acknowledgement that you and I have a past where there's been a brokenness. We had some moment in the present where we made, made it right with each other, and then you and I have some future relationship going forward. Right. Where I think toleration is just, let's just get through this. And once we get through it, we'll have nothing else to do with this particular person or issue. Right. So it, it really is a sort of, um, yeah, it's, it's a different, different level of connection in a sense of, can we get through this as opposed to, can we grow deeper together?
Gordon (15:22):
Right. Right. I'm reminded of, you know, in my work as a, as a therapist in working with couples, one of, one of the keys to a healthy relationship is being able to do, um, reparative work in, in previous episode. I know that that was one of the things I talked with our friend and colleague, the Reverend Claire brown, how do we do that? Repair work? Where we not just, okay, we're gonna agree to disagree and just move on, but actually begin to repair things. And I think part of the work of that is really taking the time to get to know people, get to know their backstory of truly understanding who they are and why they are like, they are kinda thing.
Brian (16:15):
Well, cause you know, yeah. I think sometimes, you know, you'll hear someone say about someone else, you know, I can't imagine how you could ever think that. And a friend of mine wrote an article in Harper's, his name is Garrett Kaiser. He's an Episcopal priest in Vermont. And he said, you know, when you say, I, you know, I can't imagine how Gordon brewer could ever possibly believe X or Y or Z. He says, and you say that in some ways you're expressing a real lack of imagination because if you really put yourself in Gordon Brewer's shoes and you maybe had experiences that Gordon brewer had, you would understand why Gordon believes that. And, and so I think a part of loving the enemy or praying for the enemy is at some point, being able to appreciate if I was that person, I might understand why he or she holds this opinion or holds this, uh, um, uh, approach are, uh, has this take on that.
Brian (17:18):
And I would understand that I might not agree with it, but I'd at least I, I understand how Gordon got there, which if, if I can do that, then maybe as I speak my truth, my piece say my history, maybe then Gordon will be able to appreciate eight. Oh yeah. If I was, if I was from there and I'd had these experiences, then I could UN I could also imagine how you got there. And I think for me, when I hear people and it's, it's funny, cuz it's so often meaning Episcopalians, who I think of themselves as being open, open people. But when they say this sort of, I can't imagine how you could ever think that it sort of immediately limits their vision or their imagination. And so I think a part of a part of how we get to a place, a deeper reconciliation is to appreciate how it is people are made and shaped over time, either the trauma or the blessing, the nurture or the neglect, you know, that, that those things together, um, end up making us who we are.
Brian (18:22):
And then, then you put us in relationship. Uh, and so we bump up against each other. And I think, you know, the, the, the saying about kindness and compassionate being kind and compassionate, you know that so often we don't know what people are going through, you know, while at times that might feel like kind of an old cliche, it is so true. Right. So true. I know you probably, you, you obviously have had this experience as a therapist. I've had this experience as Turkey person, you know, people tell us their stories. People give us insights on their stories that we, you know, we can't go around and share. And so it's a, it's a, it's a important Revent thing we hold for them. And what's interesting is then when you see them in the community or see them functioning, realizing yeah. A lot of people don't know what they're caring, but you maybe know as a therapist or I know as a clergy person and, and to, and to watch people sometimes with quiet dignity or quiet confidence, navigate the world where we will, we know, man, there's a burden in them or there's a wound in them.
Brian (19:29):
And yet they're able to somehow out carry on. Yeah. That I think to be able to see people with compassion and kindness, uh, it's only when you create that sort of environment, that's in the deeper work of reconciliation of truth telling of so, so how do we make this right. And, and how much time will that take that only happens if people, I think, feel the safety, um, that they're being seen as, as real genuine people.
Gordon (19:58):
Right, right. Yeah. To, to, to me, one of the things that, um, has, has really been kind of a, kind of a guiding thing for me in my own ministry, as a deacon in, and a therapist and that sort of thing is the importance of just being present with people and being present in a nonjudgmental way of just you, you know, I think about the times in my life when I've gone through struggles and had down times and that sort of thing, what has always meant the most to me is just somebody being present. It wasn't that they had any magic words or anything that it was just that they were there. And, um, yeah. So I think that that is so key, uh, coming around full circle to this whole idea of kindness and compassion is just to be able to, to be present, just be genuine with people and, and do our best, not to judge what's going on with them.
Brian (21:07):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And yeah. And I think also too, the, the it's I, you said earlier about toleration versus reconciliation, um, I think the awareness of that in so many settings, we do get to choose, right? That, that, um, you know, the invitation to be a truly re saw people that does take work right. And it's not done quickly and it's not done and, and it's not done and then done forever. I mean, it's an ongoing work. And you know, to me, a part of the joy and the, and the grace of being in a, in a community, how of worship and intentional Christian community, part of the joy and the grace of that is also connected to and its work. Right? Cause over time you are gonna, you are gonna fail that person over time. No matter how much you think, no matter how great a person you think I am or how helpful I am to you, if you and I are in real relationship, at some point someone's gonna disappoint someone or there's gonna be some sort of falling out, right.
Brian (22:14):
And, and only then do we get to make the choice of, is this worth continuing to work together? Or is this why I'm gonna now leave that church or leave that community? Or I don't do that anymore. You know, there's the old, the old Joe about they've they find this person he's been stranded on this desert island and he's been there for years and they say, you know, how did you get through, how did you, how did you survive? And, and so they're talking to him about how he did that. And they noticed there's three dwellings that he had built. They said, so tell us about these three dwellings. He said, this first dwelling, this is where I live. He said, and the second dwelling that second dwelling is where I go to church and said, well, what, what about the third dwelling? And he said, well, that's where I used to go to church.
Brian (23:03):
And, um, you know, so even by himself, you know, there's the inner conflict that he faces. And so to me, you know, to be a reconciled, people is not one and done, it's an ongoing work and it, and to me, the gift and the grace and the reason to do it is the belief over time, the more, the more you and I really work out our work together, we ultimately end up going to a deeper place. You talked earlier about working with couples, you know, to me, I have experienced divorce. Um, but I've also experienced remarriage and marriage. And, you know, a part of the gift of that marriage that endures over time is there's just hopefully more that I know about what the person I'm married to, but also more about myself, right? That over time, that kind of ongoing relationship hopefully reflects a deeper maturity, deeper capacity for love and for forgiveness. Uh, and if I, you know, if I end that marriage, you know, I might end some sort of pain or in some sort of hurt, but I'm also gonna end some kind of wisdom that, that hopefully grows in us with that ongoing, true deep, um, vulnerable relationship.
Gordon (24:15):
Right, right. Yeah. This is great stuff. Um, and I know that we could spend hours talking about this 1, 1, 1 final kind of question for you. Brian is, you know, we've been kind of talking about this in the context of just kind of church kinda stuff. What, what do you think we can do outside just in society in general, to be more reconciling with each other?
Brian (24:46):
I learned a lot of good things from my son and Jesse's a wise person and we were together several months ago now where he got a text from a buddy and Jesse read the text to me. And he said, you know, this friend of mine, he's, he's asking me about something that isn't true. I think it was like, Jesse owed him some money on a rent or there, there was something. And Jesse realized there was a misunderstanding in the text and Jesse sort of fought out loud in front of me and he to the young man's text and sort of lowered the temperature. Right. And so he responded, he didn't react. And I said to Jesse, that day, I said, I'm so like, I'm impressed with you because I think a lot of people would've gotten to X like that and would've, you know, flamed them back with some sort of reactive statement, you know, and, and would've, would've increased the temperature and increased the potential conflict and then created some hurt simply because the way in which you re responded and reacted to each other.
Brian (26:08):
And, and it was, it was great to watch Jess sort of experience the misunderstanding and realize there's a way to, to, there's a way to make this right now, as opposed to a, and so I think what I notice in political discourse or discourse in a community or in a neighborhood is how much we react to each other, you know? Yes, you put up, you put up a political sign that I don't like. And instead of thinking, you know what, that's your right to put up that political sign. I don't agree with it, but you know, I'm not gonna lose sleep over it. Um, somehow I take great delight and I'm gonna put up a, a reactive sign that says, you know, I think you're not only wrong, but I think somehow you are, you know, not human or, and so, so how quickly it goes from what might be mature conversation to at best kind of elementary school, if not junior high behavior.
Brian (27:07):
Yes. So I think, I think if people breathed more, I think if we, if we counted to 10 before we responded, um, and, and again, to think about a response, not a reaction, uh, I think there are all kinds of ways we could turn down the tempera, you, in order to say, what does it mean to really belong to each other? Because you said earlier, you know, that you as a deacon, you belong to me. I mean, I think I would say people who wanna live in a civil society at some point we belong to each other. And if I think I belong to you that I'm gonna make decisions, not only do they impact, but also hopefully impact you and, or be aware that my decisions do impact you. And I think when we think, you know what, it's my land, it's my decision. It's my salary. It's my whatever. And I don't care what Gordon thinks. I think when we, when we, when we, when we limit ourselves and limit the impact of what we decide, we begin to be reactive people, not responsive people.
Gordon (28:08):
Yes, yes. Yeah. That, that, that is some truth. That is absolutely some truth. I know that, um, again, not to go too far down the, the therapy trail, but that is one of the things, again, in just working with people in relationship hips, when we can, when we can teach ourselves to be mindful enough, not to go on the defensive with others and oppose to going on the defensive, just become curious about what's going on with them. It like, it does exactly what you say. It turns the volume down, and it's a, it's also a, it's also a, a good practice of emotional intelligence when we do that, of being able to be mindful of, okay, they're doing something I don't agree with, but let me just get curious about that and not react, but just respond. And hopefully we can respond in a, in a kind, in a compassionate way, uh, which is not always easy, but I think that's, that's the start.
Brian (29:13):
Well, yeah. And there's also, you know, there's, there's this new word that people have started using about adulting. I'm gonna do adulting a, a U L T I N G. Yes, we think, oh, that, you know, if I buy a house and I have a mortgage that's adulting, or if I, if I open a retirement account, that's adulting. I think the main thing I would encourage folks to think about is, again, mature behavior, responsive care of each other, deep listening, compassionate kindness for, for, you know, for that to be adulting. Yes. Yes. You know, that, I think a part of a part of what allows us to, to work well together is to all grow up, you know, and to be mature for people and, you know, St. Paul, St. Paul, I think it's in the letter to the Ephesians sort of says, you know, I need y'all to grow up.
Brian (30:08):
You know, don't just keep eating baby food forever at some point, grow up and, and, and allow things to change, allow things to grow, allow your mind to be open your heart, to be open, grow up. And I think, I think a part of what would also help us as a society is if we were a society of grownups and, and some self-discipline and some self-restraint and the compassionate heart and the kind heart and the openness to change, and, you know, all those things that, that are in many ways, um, quite elementary and obvious. But for so many people, you would say it's a, it's a impossible task. And I think the more we can adult, the more we have hope for a, yeah.
Gordon (30:51):
I love that. I love that. I, I immediately think of my daughter, Rebecca, that we both, uh, and that's, that's how I describe her as adulting now she's adulting now, so yeah. That's great. Well, Brian, I wanna be respectful of your time. Um, tell folks how they might get in touch with you if they have more, wanna somehow another connect with you.
Brian (31:14):
Yeah. So our do and website, um, D I O E t.org is where you will find more about me and the work I do, uh, in the Episcopal diocese of east Tennessee. Uh, I tell people, I also like to call it the, the diocese of best Tennessee. Uh, I just love, uh, you know, Susan and I were in Asheville, North Carolina before going to Lexton Kentucky. So living in east Tennessee, we live in the heart of a region that we really care about. So to reach out to me, D I O et.org is our website. And you'll find ways to contact me directly or folks on my staff and learn more about what we do in our work of reconciliation, uh, in east Tennessee.
Gordon (31:55):
That's awesome. And we'll have links in the show notes and show summary, so people can find us. So Bishop Brian, thanks for being on the podcast. And I'm sure, I, I know I'll be seeing you here soon.
Brian (32:08):
Yeah. And Gordon, thank you for your, uh, not just a podcast, but the way you live out, a kind compassionate, uh, ministry and vocation and heart. Thank you. Good to
Gordon (32:18):
See.
Gordon (32:32):
Well, I really love that whole thought of being able to respond rather than to react and, uh, absolutely agree with Brian that it, the more we can learn to be responsive to people rather than to reacting to people. I think that is gonna, as he put it, turn the volume down on kind of the, the discourse that we're in right now around polarization and really being so adverse, sir, with people and, and too is I, I said in that is just being able to get curious with people about what's going on with them, I think is a, is a place to start in in being able to practice kindness and compassion. So again, big, thanks to my good, my dear friend and, uh, Bishop Brian Cole for on the podcast. And you can find out more about him by just going to D D I O E t.org.
Gordon (33:28):
Or you can look here in the show notes and find out more about the diocese of east Tennessee. And, and if you're curious about the Episcopal church, you can just go to Episcopal church.org and, um, L love for you to learn out more about this tradition, this faith tradition that we're in, and, um, find out more about that because it's, it's part of our core values. At least we try to, we try to live into that. So anyway, I'm glad you were with me on the podcast. Do take time to visit us@kindnessandcompassion.com and be sure to follow us or to subscribe to the podcast wherever you might listen to it and leave us a review. I'd love to get some honest feedback and, uh, get a response from you on, on, on things that you might have heard and, uh, be sure and share with your friends. And also if you're interested in supporting the work that we're doing, we set up a Patreon page and you can find out more about that by going to kindness and compassion.com/patreon. And that's a way for you to support us financially if you choose to do so or listen and listening to the podcast. So take care of folks, got lots of great guests, us lined up for future episodes. And we'll talk to you in the next one.
Gordon (34:49):
You have been listening to the kindness and compassion podcast with Gordon brewer, part of the psych craft network of podcast. Please visit us@kindnessandcompassion.com, more information, resources, and tools to help you in your journey. Be sure to follow us wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you haven't done so already be sure to sign up, to get the free kindness and compassion practices guide. Again, you can find that@kindnessandcompassion.com, the information in this podcast is intended to be accurate and authoritative concerning the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the hosts guests or producers are rendering clinical medical, mental health, or legal advice. If you need a professional, you should find the right person for that.

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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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