Jul 16, 2017 How we see things may be more important than what we see. Perspectives are paramount. Many times, what we think we see is shaped by powerful influences that win out in the end. Take, for example, studies conducted in an elementary school south of San Francisco by Harvard professor Robert Rosenthal. He used IQ tests on random students of average intelligence, and reported to teachers the findings suggested they were above average possessing potential to become high achievers. When Rosenthal returned in two years these average students had made substantial gains, having reshaped the teacher’s expectations about them. He changed how the teachers viewed those students, thus changing the way they treated them. Expectations are everything opening worlds of possibilities to those who otherwise never may be allowed to live up to their full God given potential. There’s a documentary called “Brooklyn Castle” about Public School 318, a struggling middle school in the New York borough which decided to enter a chess tournament. Now it’s the first middle school to win the United States Chess Federation National High School championship and its chess programs are the best in the nation. As documented by the film, 70 percent of students attending live below the poverty level and 90 percent are minority — Latino, black or Asian/Pacific. It’s not exactly a group expected to win chess championships. I guess chess at 318 is more than a game. It’s a means to a greater end. It changed how others see kids from Brooklyn, thus reshaping all expectations of everyone around them. These kids are escaping poverty, gaining chess scholarships and unlocking treasures of hidden potential, because 318 changed how it sees students. There’s this story about a butler who spent his life working for one billionaire, who was extraordinarily wealthy and many attempted to exploit and monopolize his wealth. They only could see him for his riches. His greatest desire was for others to love his son for who he was and not his wealth. But one thing stood in the son’s way. He was a very unattractive man, so people didn’t like to be around him because he was difficult to look at. After the father died, the butler cared for the son for the rest of his life and they became close friends. The son literally had no one else and spent his life in seclusion in a huge mansion isolated from everyone except the butler. After years passed, the butler saw past the way the son looked and began to really know him. It seemed he had so much to give besides his father’s wealth that the world would never know because of how they viewed him. But the butler was allowed the privilege to know the son for all the person he was. Then, tragically, the son died prematurely and the butler buried him in isolation. When the time came to auction the billionaire’s fortune people came by the droves. The crowds were so large you couldn’t number them. A giant curtain inside the mansion was pulled back revealing treasures beyond anything anyone, including the butler, believed the billionaire possessed. Starting the sale, the auctioneer revealed a painting inside the mansion. All the crowds looked away pleading to cover it back up. It was of the billionaire’s son. The auctioneer assured the crowds the billionaire insisted the painting of his son be auctioned first, then all the other treasures. When the auctioneer opened the bidding, silence fell over the mansion. Were there no bids for the painting? The auctioneer pleaded with the crowd, “Do I hear $20.00 for the painting? Does anyone have a bid for me?” The crowd turned away in silence. Just then a voice came from the back of the crowd. I bid $100 for the painting. The auctioneer declared, “$100 going once, $100 going twice, $100 going three times; sold to the butler for $100.” Then the auctioneer announced the auction was over. There was uproar from the crowd. The auctioneer explained it was stated clearly in the billionaire’s will if anyone bid on his son’s painting they received the entire fortune and the auction would be immediately closed. The butler had the privilege of really knowing the son and that’s why he bid on his painting, earning the right to inherit the family fortune. Sometimes there’s more to a person than meets the eye. If we would only change our expectations, it could open the world for someone’s son or daughter and open us up to a world of possibilities beyond our belief. Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clinical pastoral counselor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Promote healing by practicing hospitality
Column by T.J. Kimble
Sunday, November 20, 2016 at 10:53 pm (Updated: November 21, 2016)
Hurt is universal. Humanity has been born for troubles as sure as sparks fly upward. There is plenty of pain for everyone on the planet. Whether a sickness takes a child away, a tragedy ends a marriage, a surprise diagnosis forever changes a family, natural or manmade disasters turn whole communities into chaotic hubs of controlled mayhem. The point is families get shattered in the process of all these upward flying sparks. Who’s left to clean up the aftermath and help people heal and return to some sort of normal? After the dust of destruction settles, how are people supposed to start healing? The answer has to come in how we treat others, no matter how different from us they might be. But that’s where the rub comes in. Humans are homogenous by nature and that’s more than half the problem. We naturally surround ourselves with others who are just like us. And whether we’re aware of it or not, we alienate those who aren’t like us. Let’s be honest, we all do it to some degree and it disqualifies us from being part of the healing process. Sundays in the U.S. for example, is the most segregated day of the week. And it’s not just racially. It’s also the most doctrinally divided day of the week. People congregate around their beliefs and how they believe; more than who they believe and how that transforms the way they treat others when the sparks are flying in all their faces. Why is it important and how can anyone attempt such a tall order as helping hurting humanity heal? It really matters because healing is just as universal as hurt. We don’t always understand how healing works and we’re confused about the people and places it comes from. Healing can come through the most peculiar people, places and simply brilliant acts of life-saving hospitality. Hospitality is the generous and friendly treatment of visitors. When you drill down deeper into the meaning of the actual word, you find “hospital” at the root. Real hospitals are the order of the day in this world of universal hurt. And hospitals don’t have the power to heal people nearly as much as hurting people have the power to heal others who are hurting. That kind of hospital can take place anywhere imaginable. Contemplating this concept reminds me of a movie, “The Pianist.” A Polish pianist trapped in a World War II war zone faces many grueling life-depriving situations: separated from his family, forced into slave labor, participates in a failed prison camp takeover and faces sickness and starvation. Near the end of the war, he’s hiding in a bombed-out house and is discovered by a German officer. The officer learns the Polish Szpilman is a pianist and asks him to play on a grand piano in the house. The war-weary pianist manages to play Chopin’s “Ballade in G minor.” From this point on, the German officer allows him to hide in the house, often bringing him food and provisions keeping him from starving to death. He provides healing through hospitality right in the middle of all those troublesome sparks. Talk about a counter-cultural experience transcending the humanity of two entirely different people. Enemies become friends in a moment when the tapestry of the times is filled with hate. The German officer obviously was overcome by the pianist’s musical ability, but more so by the depth of his humanity and by his overwhelming needs. Although some people talk about having the courage to take the high road, this German officer goes against everything he believes and how he’s taught to practice it. No doubt, without the German officer’s acts of hospitality toward Szpilman, the pianist would have never lived to 88 and to see the year 2000. So what’s the answer to a traumatizing world regularly and indiscriminately bombarding the human family with shockwaves of hurt? It may be found, in part, in a German school teacher named Capt. Wilhelm Adalbert Hosenfeld. He crossed all cultural and doctrinal divides to help hide and rescue several Polish people, to include Jews, and also closely assisted Polish Jewish pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman to survive, hidden in a bombed-out house in Warsaw during the last months of the war. In June 2009, Hosenfeld officially was recognized by Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. It was all because he exercised the courage to cross the human divides showing hospitality to the wounded and hurting. It proves when the sparks are flying upward, the best hospitals are hospitable people willing to share in the depths of others hurts — no matter what day of the week it is. Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clinical pastoral counselor. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Have you ever found yourself holding onto something you thought was real, but in the end wasn’t real at all? Life’s funny. You think something’s true and based on that you build your whole world. What do you do when face to face with someone who exposes a giant, faulty belief, with nothing but the facts in hand? Thinking about this question reminds me of a story about a little girl named Jenny. She and her mom were at the store. Jenny saw a beautiful string of plastic pearls and asked if she could have them. Mom said, “Do extra chores and save allowances then you can buy them.” Jenny went straight to work. The next week came. She couldn’t wait to visit the store. She ran in darting straight to the precious set of play pearls. At the checkout, she pulled out the change to pay. She adored them only taking them off for bubble baths. Her dad tucked her in for a bedtime story each night; they always said I love you and kissed goodnight. One night Dad gently asked her, “Jenny give me your play pearls.” She rebutted, “Oh, Daddy not my pearls! Take one of my other toys or my favorite stuffed bear.” “That’s OK,” her father said, “just go to sleep and have a good night.” Every few nights Jenny’s dad asked her for her play set of pearls and she always tried to convince him to take one of her other toys. Until one night. her dad entered the room to find her lying in bed crying. “What’s wrong, Jenny?” he asked “Why are you crying?” Her little hand slowly appeared from beneath the covers and there was her precious set of pearls. Tears streaming down her face she said, “Daddy, you can have my pearls.” As quickly as he reached to take them away in one hand, from his other hand appeared a case containing a set of real pearls. With the warmest smile her dad exclaimed, “Sweetie, Daddy loves you so much. I’ve had this set of real pearls the whole time. I was just waiting for you to trust me to give up your set, so I could give you the real ones.” “Oh, Daddy,” she said, “There so beautiful! Thanks, I love you so much. I’m sorry I didn’t let go of my pearls and take your pearls sooner.” Maybe letting go of phony possessions, we hold onto for all kinds of reasons, allows us to take hold of real possessions? Thinking about Jenny’s story provokes my heart to ache over our human story. All of us who’ve lived very long have been there before. You know the place where we hold onto some nickel-dime, phony way of thinking far longer than we should and it causes us continual unnecessary pain. Think about a difficult time when you faced a giant faulty belief. Maybe lifelong conditioning or thinking about a belief based on preferences distorted your ability to accept something else as equally or even more true. What words describe your “letting go” experience? Maybe you haven’t released the plastic pearl preferences and never experienced the power in “letting go as holding on.” If you’re not careful how you hold your plastic preferences you could find yourself crying too, realizing you’re not holding your preferences nearly as much as they’re holding you. Plastic pearls provide an ironic paradox. On one hand, we create prison cells of all or nothing thinking based on mindsets that make no sense. We are convinced our underlying assumptions are right and refuse to let go of them to make space for outside the box thinking. On the other hand, we release faulty plastic preferences and are empowered to embrace the paradigm of parts. This allows us to know in part, see in part, understand in part and receive in part. But all-or-nothing thinkers are usually unwilling to accept the truth in parts. This requires measured risk, getting out of your comfort zone and removing veneers; allowing you to be vulnerable. To the degree we’re willing to act like Jenny, we discover the eternal great affections of a Father waiting to exchange our childish, phony-pearl deceptions for a single grown up pearl of genuine great price; placing you face to face with someone who has more than facts. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a single pearl of great value than a jewelry box full of fake pearls. What’s in your jewelry box? Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clincal pastoral counselor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acceptance is antidote for brokenness
Column by T.J. Kimble
Monday, February 15, 2016 at 6:06 am (Updated: February 15, 6:30 am
Have you ever broken anything? I’ve seen a lot of brokenness in my lifetime. Sometimes we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and we have a front row seat to disaster. Other times, we can bring the rain of brokenness upon ourselves. What about when something becomes broken beyond repair? Once when I was 6, I had this great idea. Mom was on the phone. With no end in sight to the conversation, I risked breaking a cardinal rule. I asked a question to an adult while talking to another adult. She said yes! I heard her say the precious Golden Word of all English words in my current vocabulary, Y-E-S! Wasting no time, I went to work locating a knife. Making what any 6-year- old would consider the neatest surgical incision, I cut both boots open down the middle. I was so proud of my invention. Now, I needed a little adult help making the holes and lacing up my boots with shoestrings. Unfortunately, when mom got off the phone, it was obvious, we didn’t share the same enthusiasm for my creation. The boots were ruined. She raved. I heard her say they were beyond repair and threw them away. What happen next was typical of what happened to all 6-year-olds, I knew living in the state of Texas in 1976. I received swift justice, a whoopin’ aka a spanking. Talk about bringing the rain upon your head. Ironically, today in almost any boot store you can find lace up cowboy boots. Broken boots are one thing but broken hearts are an eternally significant matter. Sometimes, we’re in the exact right place at the exact right time to stop a disastrous situation. What should you do when you find yourselves in the midst of a tragic situation? Consider embracing the healing process, hugging someone that’s deeply hurting; putting your arms around their brokenness. Listening, actually accepting, what a wounded heart’s really attempting to say. Deep listening is the healing process. Listening for the express purpose of perpetuating an atmosphere of acceptance creates cathartic lifelines for those drowning in an ocean of personal pain. Please think carefully about what follows. I don’t know if this story is true or not, but what if it happened to you? What would you say? Shortly after a war ended, a mother receives a call. The voice on the other end is familiar. It’s her son. She’s so elated to hear his voice and know he’s OK. “Where are you?” she asked and he told her he was at a nearby hotel. “Please come home,” she pleaded. He responds, “Sure mom, one question first. I have a friend with me I would like you to meet. Can he come home with me?” “Of course, just come home now,” she insists. “OK, Mom, one thing, my buddy’s very wounded.” “Oh! What do you mean?” she asked with a sigh. “Well, Mom he lost both legs, has severe burns and is wheelchair bound. He has nowhere to go and I’ll change his bandages.” His Mom rebuttal began, “Our place is small and there’s no wheelchair ramp, besides he would slow you down. Just check him into a V.A. Hospital and come home.” “You’re right. We could never take care of his needs,” says the son. “I’ll check him into the hospital first thing in the morning and come directly home.” “That’s my boy,” replies his mom. “I love you Mom,” says the soldier. This was the last conversation this mom would ever have with her son. Upon hanging up the phone, he rolled his wheelchair to the window and fell seven stories to his death. Maybe acceptance is a significant human felt need? What if when we accept others, without conditions, we communicate their life isn’t broken beyond repair? Maybe genuine acceptance creates affirmation. What if affirmations build bridges of belonging? Maybe belonging fosters healthy attachments. What if healthy attachments breed environments where connectedness can grow? Maybe connectedness is the catalyst to confidence. What if self-confidence is a direct by-product of the acceptance in the world around us? Maybe acceptance really is the antidote for brokenness. What if God gave family and friends as gatekeepers of that antidote? Maybe we really are our brother’s keeper. It may be acceptable to throw away boots as broken beyond repair, but it’s never acceptable to throw away God’s creation, in this case the wounded warrior, as broken beyond repair. Good gatekeepers don’t allow brokenness to distract them from listening with acceptance. They know deep down what the antidote is: Y-E-S, I’m safe and you can come to me. I will use acceptance to help you discover and create your own Y-E-S experiences; never treating you or your ideas as being broken beyond repair. Three little letters, powerful antidotes of acceptance and way less lives shattered beyond repair. Be a Y-E-S kind of gatekeeper and you’ll stay golden. Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clincal pastoral counselor. He can be reached at email@example.com.