By Jim Killebrew
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[June 19, 2014]
loneliness, hatred, retribution, anger or even rage are emotions
that infect and break down the character into such a shattering,
destructive way, that people who experience such emotions often
reach a point of breaking. It is at that point that they begin their
wrestle with God.
Joni Eareckson Tada is a lady who is internationally known for her devotion
to God. At a young age she dove into a lake where she suffered an injury
that left her confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic that has prevented
her from walking or moving her arms for most of her life. Her condition has
not prevented her from excelling in almost everything she has ventured. For
years she has hosted a radio show called Joni and Friends, she has achieved
honors and celebrity through her paintings. Yet there was a time when she
experienced bitterness and anger toward God.
This is interesting that Joni experienced this type of bitterness. Her
experience where she voiced her confrontation with God reminded me of
something in my own studies. She said, “It was as if God were holding my
anger up before my face and saying lovingly but firmly, ‘Stop turning your
head and looking the other way. This bitterness has got to go. What are you
going to do about it?’"
A psychologist named John McGee has developed the procedure of Gentle
Teaching. It was very popular during the 1980’s and can be very powerful.
Gentle Teaching does not focus on compliance or obedience, but focuses on
teaching Individuals to feel safe with others. In order for this to happen,
we must look at ourselves as caregivers. Looking at ourselves is assessing
how we use our Tools (our hands, eyes, words and presence) to facilitate an
understanding of safety with those we work with. We learn best when we feel
safe. If the Individuals we work with do not feel safe, the learning
environment is non-existent.
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Gentle Teaching uses the relationship between the Individual and the
Caregiver as the foundation for teaching. This relationship requires a
feeling of companionship. But some Individuals with cognitive impairments or
challenging behaviors such as what Joni was experiencing do not develop
effective strategies to experience a feeling of companionship. As a result,
they may not feel safe. By trying to teach and provide a feeling of safety,
we improve their quality of life.
It seems amazing to me that people like John McGee can stumble on a method
of helping people by having the Therapist take the role of strength with
gentleness with the person. It seems like just the thing Joni said that God
did with her.
We need to understand that God is the author of all gentleness. His Grace is
sufficient not only to lift us from ourselves, but to provide the true gift
of relationship with Him. As good as all man-discovered "self-help" methods
can be to console the grieving heart, it can never touch the reality of the
loving God who loved us so much that He sent His only Son to offer Himself a
sacrifice so that we may be lifted to Him and experience His wonderful
Don’t you know that God smiles at us as we “discover” things that He has
already created and just placed here for us to find?
[By JIM KILLEBREW]
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