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


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

Meet Dawn Gabriel

Dawn Gabriel, LPC

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

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

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

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

Dawn’s Divorce and A Story of Redemption

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

How You Can Connect and Communicate With God

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

Ways To Find Faith In Your Daily Life

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

Creating A Sense of Purpose To Give Us Deeper Meaning

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

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About

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

 

Whitney Owens | The Challenge of Caring | K&C 13


In this episode, Gordon has a conversation with Whitney Owens about being a caregiver and living into kindness and compassion through those challenges.  Whitney opens the show by talking about the book, Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life by Henri J. M. Nouwen. Whitney reveals the most significant lesson she learned from that book and how it has informed her life as a mother. Then, Whitney dives straight into the importance of self-care and how it’s an essential piece of kindness and compassion. Tune in as we chat about savoring the moment, mindfulness, and creating consistent daily habits around self-care.

Meet Whitney Owens

Whitney Owens, LPC

Whitney Owens is a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and faith-based private practice consultant. She is located in Savannah, Georgia, where she manages a private pay group practice with 10 plus clinicians. Along with running her practice, she consults practice owners around the country on how to start and grow a successful faith-based practice. She has spoken at numerous events such as both the Georgia and Maryland annual professional counselors conference as well as trainings for Florida’s Counseling Association.

In addition to practice consulting, Whitney is an Enneagram enthusiast and offers workshops to business owners on using the Enneagram to help run their practice. In her free time, Whitney enjoys spending time with her husband and two girls, running, reading, and relaxing in the backyard.

To find out more about Whitney, visit her website: whitneyowens.com.  Or you can visit Whitney’s practice website:  https://watersedgecounseling.com/

How You Will Learn More About Who You Really Are

Whitney recommends reading the book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life. Spiritual leader and counselor Henri J. M. Nouwen wrote about the essential question asked by every Christian and seeker: What should I do with my life? Nouwen was a successful professor and writer. He left it all behind to care for people who have nothing; that’s where he learned everything about himself. This is the definition of kindness and compassion. Unfortunately, this is where Whitney struggles. Whitney can accomplish all these things professionally and personally. However, what is she doing if she can’t be available to her daughter?

The Importance of Support When It Comes To Self-Care

It’s really easy to get down on yourself. You will make mistakes and do the best you can; that’s all you can give. Whitney says it’s essential to reach out to other people and ask for help. For instance, Whitney was reluctant to accept help from others when it came to taking care of her child. You have to learn how to trust other people, or you’re going to wear yourself out. It takes a village to raise a child, so remember to find other people and asking for help. Support is the most significant self-care gift that you can receive. To maintain self-care, you have to be able to take a step back when you need to.

Savor The Moment As Part of Your Mindfulness Routine

Another thing that helps Whitney on her journey is mindfulness. We need to be mindful of the moment we have with our loved ones. Whitney’s little girl loves to snuggle. Find special moments with your loved ones; it’s imperative. Love is when we take moments, sit in them, and enjoy them. For instance, sometimes, Whitney has to be up in the middle of the night to get her daughter back to sleep. Instead of feeling irritated that she’s awake in the middle of the night, Whitney will savor the moment; she knows these precious times will not last forever.

Create Daily Habits Around Self-Care & Be Consistent

Find things you can do for yourself, like hobbies or exercise. It should be something that you’re excited and happy to do. For example, Whitney loves to run, so she sets aside time each day to get out and run. Find small things that you can be consistent about. It should be something that you do for yourself. We all need to create daily rituals for ourselves to keep ourselves grounded. Movement is a way to clear your head, meditate, and pray. Sometimes you’ll get your best ideas through movement. Overall, ensure you are consistent when it comes to your self-care habits.

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About

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

 

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


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

Meet Katelyn Printz

Katelyn Printz
Katelyn Printz

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

Rethinking Conservative Christian Views

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

Permitting Yourself To Be Patient When It Comes To Faith

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

There Are Many Ways To Love and Worship God

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

Working on Kindness and Compassion With Yourself and With Others 

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

Conclusion

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

 

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

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

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

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

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About

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

 

Jenn Fredette | Showing Kindness & Compassion When We Don’t Understand | K&C 8

In this episode Gordon talks with Jenn Fredette, LPC, MA, MDiv, about being vulnerable, being human and coping with people we just don’t agree with.  Jenn shares her experience of having come from a very conservative religious background (“cult”) and the ways in which she has grown and healed since then.  Jenn and Gordon also talk about how being present with and for people is an act of kindness and compassion.

Meet Jenn Fredette

Jenn Fredette, LPC, MA, MDiv

Jenn’s journey with others is to develop a deep understanding of themselves and the world around them.  She is passionate about connecting the curious and brave with therapeutic guides who can lead the way into the wild adventure of self-knowledge.

As a former minister, practicing psychotherapist, adjunct graduate professor, and host of “A Thinker’s Guide to…Podcast”, Jenn brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in translating the profound into everyday language. Learn more at therapyforthinkers.com or follow her on Instagram at @athinkersguide.

Growing Up With Limits

Jenn shares some of her experience in growing up in what she refers to as a religious cult.  She talks about how she was taught in very subtle ways how to think.  In particular, that the outside world was evil and that her community was the only conclave of “the good ones”.

Also in growing up, Jenn was taught that showing “kindness” was in convincing  others to see things the way that her community did. “If you will just come and agree with me, then your life will be better”.  In other words, converting them.  It was a viewpoint of getting people to think in a certain way without allowing them to have their own viewpoint.

Seeing Things From the Other’s Perspective

In many ways it is tough to be able to see things from another’s perspective, especially if we don’t agree with them.  Jenn shares some of her experience when she was working in community mental health and was a new counselor.  Her supervisor at the time said, “Jenn always treat people with kindness and compassion, and at the same time, don’t take anyone’s ‘shit’”.  In other words, it is important to set clear and healthy boundaries with people.

Jenn and Gordon reflect on the current war happening in Ukraine and how difficult it is to understand why Putin and Russia are doing what they are doing.  Jenn reminds us that even though we need to stand up to the abuse and bad behavior of others, we need to be mindful of the opposition’s humanity. We don’t need to demonize the other.

Our Internal Struggles

Jenn also calls into question some of her own internal struggle with how we show compassion for people that are much different from ourselves.  She is very honest about the fact that it is easy for her to show compassion for the refugees from Ukraine since they look so much like her.  And at the same time she struggles with the fact that when similar things were happening in Syria, a few years back, the level of compassion was not quite as intense. And this was because it was a different culture with different looking people.  She finds this internal struggle troubling. The important thing though is to simply acknowledge this internal struggle and continue to work on it.

Jenn brings up the metaphor of David and Goliath story and how we want to identify with the David of the story; the underdog.  But what is sometimes difficult is to recognize when we are actually in the role of Goliath.  When we are in fact the giant that is oppressing those that are less powerful, we need to be aware.  In order to live into kindness and compassion we need to be mindful of these times and situations.

Story of Kindness

Jenn shares a story that happened recently for her, when her husband got sick and had to go to the hospital. Jenn was stuck at home with their newborn baby and was feeling very much isolated and concerned.  Even though they had recently moved to a new home and new community, she found out that she did have some support.

A friend offered to come and stay with the baby while she went to the hospital.  And what was so kind for Jenn was the fact that the friend recognized Jenn’s nervousness about leaving her baby with a new person.  The friend called on the way to her house to find out what she needed to know about their baby, so that Jenn could leave for the hospital right away.  And even though this was a small thing, Jenn experienced it as incredibly kind.  Her friend anticipates what it might have been like for Jenn.

Getting Curious With Others

Ultimately, one of the best ways to show kindness and compassion with others is to simply get curious about how others see the world and what their lens of the world is like.  It is also important to try and anticipate the needs of others and respond based on those needs.

Being Present With People

Gordon tells the story of what it means to simply be present with people.  It was a story about a college professor who was visiting at the death of a friend and going to the funeral home.  The professor talked about simply sitting with the widow of the person who had died without really saying anything. Then when he left, he simply said, “When you need me you know where I am”.  The widow said that of all that was said during her husband’s funeral, that was the most helpful.

Again, simply being with and present with others is one of the best ways to show kindness and compassion.

Conclusion

Throughout the ups and downs of life we will all encounter people and situations that we find difficult to understand or agree with.  The key though to overcoming and dealing with these times is to do our best to put ourselves in the other’s shoes.  And at the same time, it is okay to set boundaries and limits to bad behavior; “not take any shit”.  We can still always show kindness do our best to be present with others.

Gordon (00:17):
Well, hello folks, and welcome again to the kindness and compassion podcast. And I'm so thrilled for you all to get to know Jen Fredette and Jen is somebody I've known for a little while now, and she connected with me through my other podcast, uh, the practice of therapy podcast, which is geared more towards clinicians, but welcome Jen.
Jenn (00:38):
Thanks Gordon. I'm so delighted to feedback sitting here with you.
Gordon (00:42):
Yes. And, and when I was said, when I was conceptualizing this, this podcast, the kindness and compassion podcast, Jen was exactly the kind of person I had in mind as having a guest, uh, for this podcast. Jen is, um, is a wonderful, wonderful storyteller. And, um, she has a podcast asked a thinker's guide too. That's the name of her podcast and I, I, I've probably benched to listen to it twice now, Jen.
Jenn (01:14):
Oh, good. Thank you.
Gordon (01:16):
So it's just, yeah, so it's just so, um, so vulnerable and just really, uh, I love what she did with that, but Jen is a star with everyone. Why don't you tell folks a little bit more about yourself and how you kinda landed where you've landed in life?
Jenn (01:32):
That's such a complicated question, Gordon. Um, so I think at least where I live now in the DC Metro area. So often we identify ourselves by what we do, like pre COVID. You can go to a party, people like, so what do you do? What do you do? What do you do? Um, and so I'm a psychotherapist and in some ways it's what I do, but in a lot of ways, it's who I am too, that I love having this job and this life that allows me to be very curious to ask the questions that are in polite in most settings, and to really try to get down deeper to what it means to be human. What does it mean to be alive? And, and what does it just mean to like, go about to this world that has gotten, I don't know if it's actually gotten more chaotic or we're just more conscious of how chaotic it is to be alive? Um, yeah, it's kind of a rambling question, but I think I got here cuz I'm curious.
Gordon (02:34):
Yeah. Yeah. That's uh, that's good. So yeah. Um, what, one of the things I know that Jen and I were talking about, um, uh, before we started recording and just, you know, know which I do with most folks is just think about, okay, what do we want to talk about on the podcast today? And Jen, you hit on just to think a topic that is so important for all of us is how, how do you show kindness and compassion to people that you just do not agree with? And so love to hear your thoughts on that.
Jenn (03:09):
Yeah. So, so interesting. You asked me this question, like where do I come from? It's like, oh, okay. Like, this is a good leadway to add to my answer are there. So I grew up very, very, very conservatively, um, in what I think really does meet the criteria for religious cult. As I often joke, maybe defend, like it wasn't a cool, sexy cult. Like there was no Kool-Aid there weren't like lots of, um, weird outfits to where, but it certainly was really focused on in subtle and non subtle ways, controlling what you thought about the world and really pictured the world as enemy and us as sort of like an enclave of like the good ones. And so when I think about, oh, what does it mean to, um, show kindness to others in a lot of ways growing up, what was modeled for me is you show kindness for those of you.
Jenn (04:09):
Listen, I'm like doing quotation marks. You show kindness by trying to convince people to think the way that you think that there's a sense, like if we would just agree and if you just come and realize that I'm right, therefore like that's a way for me to like, educate you, enlighten you and what I, I don't live in that very conservative mindset anymore. But what has been interesting to me as I've gone through life is that comes up again. And again, like there is a sense of I'm being, if I help you think just the way I'm thinking, as opposed to, Hey, let me share my viewpoint and we can disagree. And actually there can be something really lovely about that. And also perhaps you might find ways I might find ways to try to live in your shoes and I'll never feel it as deeply as maybe you do. And can I, can I try it out? I don't, it's kind of a rambling answer. Does that make sense?
Gordon (05:09):
Yeah, it does. And I think, um, you know, I know in other episodes of this podcast, we've talked about being able to take the time to be able to see, see things from another's perspective. And, and that's hard to do a lot of times, um, you know, we were talking about, um, you know, as we're recording this episode where in the throws of this war going on in the Ukraine and just thinking about Putin and how he's treating this and that sort of thing, it's very hard to see it the way he sees it. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And so those are, those are tough, tough things that I think we have to, to deal with internally. And how do we treat that with kindness and compassion?
Jenn (06:02):
Yeah. Well, and it's good. And I don't know if we swear on this podcast, so I'll modify a little
Gordon (06:09):
Bit, you use, use, use whatever language is appropriate for you. Okay.
Jenn (06:14):
Um, so what I word community mental health. Um, I had an amazing supervisor Elise in one of my very first supervision. She said, Jen, here is the goal. You don't have to do this perfectly. You're still new. You're still learning. This is like the core thing I want you to focus on. I want you to treat everyone kindly, but take no one to shit. I was like, oh, OK. Like I don't like, how do I do that? And watching like this piece play out with Ukraine and the way Putin and his government, like, I don't know if it's all of the Russian people really, but how Putin's playing this out, that there is a sense of treating somebody with kindness, um, trying to step into where they might be coming from doesn't mean that you allow them, uh, in this case to commit war crimes against you, but to, to be abusive, to be malicious, to be violent, to be, um, inhumane.
Jenn (07:20):
Like that's not, I think what being kind, at least to me means being kind is perhaps reminding yourself of their humanity, even in the midst of all of this. And it can be very easy to demonize the other. Um, and the fact is Putin is a human, um, he's making decisions that are really hard for me to comprehend. And one of the things I was sharing with you before we started recording that, one of the things that I keep noticing within myself is my own visceral compassion, pain heartbreak, as I watch what is happening with the refugees from the Ukraine and something I've been asking myself a lot is like, okay, like, yes, of course this is an appropriate thing to have compassion and kindness for. And do I feel this way? Have I felt this way, watching the Syrian refugees look for a place to live, uh, what happens with Palestine and Israel, uh, with Palestine particularly, and how Israel is, um, often an aggressor, like, do I pay attention to this and show up with kindness and compassion when people don't look like me when I can't not necessarily have that same, um, instinctual, like, but those are my people.
Jenn (08:47):
Um, and that's also, what's hard about Putin a little bit is Putin also in some ways, looks like a lot of people, uh, who, who I can, I don't know that I can identify with, but, um, feel familiar when we talk about like American politics and sort of the elite. Yeah. Is that this is a very like geopolitical, but yeah.
Gordon (09:11):
Yeah. Well, I think it's a, it it's um,
Gordon (09:16):
Yeah, I think you're exactly right, is that, and, and I'm reminded of being, and as you, as you are learning, being a parent now, um, particularly as our kids grow up, there are times when you have to absolutely be firm inside a boundary and, and hold accountable, um, their actions. And as you said, not take any shit over over stuff. Um, but it can be done with kindness and compassion. Um, you know, um, and that's a, I think a hard, I think maybe a dichotomy, um, that is hard to maybe get our, our heads around sometimes.
Jenn (10:01):
Yeah. Yeah. It's hard because I think it's easier, at least for me, it's easier to go to the black and white of like, this is clearly the bad guy. These are clearly, um, the good guys and in a lot of cases, the David and Goliath, um, I think what I've been trying to pay attention to in myself is like, all right. Yeah. I'm rooting for the David in this story right now, but what about the times when I might more clearly identify with the Goliath and do I still find space in myself to root for the David and to, I mean, a lot of, I think what I'm talking about I think is, oh, like where's my own racism showing up. Yeah. Like where are those places that my unconscious biases sometimes conscious biases prevent me from really being able to feel into what the other is feeling. Yeah. And on top of that also, that is not always the healthiest thing to do to be consistently feeling and like having such a permeable, um, kind of take in other people's stuff. Like then where's that line too.
Gordon (11:15):
Right. Right. Yeah. And that's, uh, that, that's where the whole practice of mindfulness comes in and being able to be, um, learning how to self-regulate if you, if you will. So, so Jen with, I know that you're a very good storyteller and I'm gonna put you on the spot a little bit. Can you tell us a story of this and compassion?
Jenn (11:42):
Oh, you know, I can, um, I was telling you before we got on, um, that we've done a podcast before and I'm normally more prepared and try to plan for things and it just didn't get to do that in part, because the stomach flu has like raged through our household. Um, and so the baby got the stomach flu first, um, and was like shocked and like, didn't understand what was going on. And I had the experience of getting and vomited on and like, so it's not minding, like, it was not like, I, I don't necessarily wanna repeat it anytime soon. Uh, but that was just an interesting, like, oh, this is what parents mean when they're like, yeah. When it's your kid, it's just not as gross. So the baby got it. And we're like, okay, like, that's scary. We took her to the pediatrician.
Jenn (12:31):
Pediatrician was really like kind and, um, comforting. But two days later, my husband got very, very, very ill like ill enough that he ended up going to the hospital. Cause we weren't sure if it was a really bad case of food poisoning. And we live in an area where we don't have family nearby. We actually moved to our current house like six months before the, a pandemic. So we haven't like established a lot of like close, like neighborly connections. Um, cuz we've all been afraid of giving each other a deadly virus. And so my husband was in the hospital. I was so like, I don't know what I'm gonna do. I have this young child, who's not vaccinated, but I wanna go see him. But the hospital, probably not the place to be bringing a young child and potentially exposed to all of this stuff.
Jenn (13:20):
And I realized, I was like, oh, but we actually do kind of have the community. And so I was able to call on some of my husband's work colleagues. Some of my friends and people really showed up and like we was able to hand off the baby and, and just go to the hospital so I could sit and be with my husband. And so all of that, like maybe sounds like that's kindness and it certainly is. But the kindest thing that happened in the midst of all of that was our friend Trudy came over and she called me 15 minutes before she got to the house. She said, Jen, I know that you're probably gonna wanna leave right when I get there. So tell me what I need to know about the baby. Tell me what, like where all the things I want you to be able, just to leave as soon as I get there.
Jenn (14:13):
Wow. And her being able to hold to that in mind and to think, and actually put herself in my place. Not just that she was showing up and doing an extremely nice, like, um, like thing that I really needed and like meant a lot. But that call in the midst of it was like, oh, okay. Like, yeah, I really can just leave. This is, is putting herself in my shoes. Yeah. Um, and she arrived, she handed me a Le Croix. I handed her the baby. I was able to leave in just a few minutes and having that little bit of extra space was so meaningful.
Gordon (14:53):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that's, uh, yeah, that, and I think you, you hit on kind of a theme here that I think is, is worth it's worth worthwhile for us to kind of bullet point it or draw a circle around it or put a star next to it. And that is the importance of being able to think about others through the lens that they might see the world, you know, the words being able to just be able to, okay. I wonder how they see things or just getting curious, uh, um, with folks is, um, I think I, one of the, one of the best ways to show kindness and compassion, I mean yeah. As you, as you experienced, I mean, she really had thought about, okay, what's it like for Jen and what does she, what would she need at this point? Yeah. Yeah.
Jenn (15:51):
And like tried it out and I might have been like, no, it's fine. Like when you come, like I'll go over it. And I think that would've been fine for her. Um, but it, I think that's where sometimes people get tripped up, especially like in moments of crisis. Like people want to show up and do the thing, but they don't NEC like, what do you do? Like, what do you say? Um, I hear this a lot. Actually, when I sit with clients who have someone in their life, who's going through some sort of loss, a job loss, the loss of somebody close to them, who's actively dying. Things like that. Like, well, what am I supposed to do? It's like, well, there's probably some concrete things you can do, but let's think about what you imagine the other person might need. And are there ways for you to meet some of that need?
Jenn (16:39):
And sometimes where people go is like, well, they need for their husband not to be dying or they need to have a brand new job or they need to have like the solution. And that's often actually not what I think people need, people need somebody who can show up and, and really see what's happening and be present like that. I think almost always matters at least on an individual level. And when you have that community, who's gonna show up and see where you are and be present some of those other bigger piece of like, how do you find a new job? Or how do you grieve the loss of somebody you deeply love like that unfolds over time.
Gordon (17:22):
Yes. Um, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I'm reminded of, uh, uh, a story that I heard when I was an undergraduate at Mars hill. Um, and I had a psychology, uh, professor that also happened to be a clergy person. Um, he was, uh, he was a Baptist minister, but he had a, his PhD in psychology and he told, and I was taking a, a, an introduction to counseling course. Hmm. Uh, as an undergraduate. And I remember a story that he told about that, um, about having a, a parishioner or church member who had had a husband to die. And it was, it was a, it was an unexpected death. And he was talking about going to the funeral home to visit with the family and getting to the funeral home and everybody saying all the usual stuff. And he just went over and he said, I just sat down next to the widow.
Gordon (18:23):
And I just put my arm around her and just sat there with her, didn't say anything. And then, and just got up when it was time for me to leave. And I just said, you know, where I am when you, when you need me, you know, where I am and then left. And he, he came back later and said, you know, she mentioned to him that, of all the things that people said and did during that moment, that was the one that meant the most to her. He was just simply present with her and, and didn't necessarily try to fix anything or try to tell, say the exact right words or any of that sort of thing, but just be present. Yeah. You know? Yeah.
Jenn (19:03):
That's hard. I think we often feel better when we can do. And, and I, I think that is a component. Like it's not just always presence, but I think most people tend to, um, fall more heavily on like, let me do all of the things for you, as opposed to let me slow down. I'll just come and sit. And also what's beautiful in that story is like, he sat with her for a time. But when it was time to give space, he was like, I'm here. Like when you need me, like, I'm here for you. Yeah. There was a, almost like a continuing presence even when he left.
Gordon (19:47):
Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So I know we've got probably tons of stories we could tell. And, uh, I really, um, folks that, that are listening really encourage you to go over and, and listen to Jen's podcast. I was telling her before we started, um, I, I've probably B listened to it at least twice. Now, just as you can tell, just listening to Jen, she's just a very calming soul. And so Jen, I tell folks how they can get in touch with you and if they wanna somehow or another connect.
Jenn (20:22):
Yeah. So if you're interested in the podcast, I'd suggest you go over to my private practice website therapy for thinkers. You can tell, I get out there. I think it's linked there and it's on like apple podcasts and all of that. Um, you can also check me out on Instagram. Um, most of my Instagram is focusing on helping psychotherapists market, their practice with depth, with compassion. Um, so some of you might be interested in that some of you may not be. Yeah. Um, but my handle is outta thinker guide, um, on Instagram.
Gordon (20:56):
Yes. Yes. She's got some great stuff. So, well, Jen, uh, ho hopefully we'll have you back on this podcast and, and, uh, uh, I in, she's a great person to get to know. So thanks Jen for being here.
Jenn (21:10):
Thanks for having me.

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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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