Quality friendships are relationships that are safe, not easily overwhelmed and encouraging. Join Terry and Travis as they encourage listeners on how to have those relationships in their lives. From loving, listening and talking without judgement to helping others find their source of pain, we hope you will be uplifted and encouraged by this podcast.

Transcription of the Podcast

Travis: They’re not just showing me the ugly side of their life. They’re also showing me some… If I just kind of root around in there, there’s a treasure in there that’s waiting to be found and every time I find it that person comes alive and is better than he ever was before.

Speaker 2: (singing)

Terry: Hi. Welcome back to the Journey Coaching Podcast where we care deeply about real and authentic relationships. This is Terry and I have sitting with me today, Travis Coulter. Travis, welcome.

Travis: Hey, thank you. Glad to be here.

Terry: Good. Glad to have you here. I was going to try to introduce you and say what you do, but I know you wear so many different hats. How about if you just kind of explain to the listeners what’s going on?

Travis: Yeah, sure. So first off, I work at a local credit union here in the area and I am a commercial loan officer there as well as kind of part-time. I do construction management for that side of things. So in addition to that, I have a wife, five biological children and adopted daughter who just had a baby. So technically I’m a grandpa.

Terry: Wow.

Travis: And I also serve a network of house churches that we helped start here in the area. And I’m on several boards. So there’s a lot going on at any given point.

Terry: You do wear a lot of hats.

Travis: Yeah. I’m trying to get rid of a few of them. None of the kids or the wife or anything like that.

Terry: I was going to say, now, wait a minute. You might want to be specific.

Travis: Right. Yeah, absolutely.

Terry: Well, one of the reasons that you… We talked about you coming in today and talking with our listeners, I think that the topic that we talked about doing today was coming alongside someone who’s hurting and has had tough circumstances. I guess you’ve had some experience with that.

Travis: Yeah, a little bit. There used to be a joke when we were in college that I had a sign that was hanging around my neck that would say, hi, my name is Travis. Please tell me about the traumatic events that happened in your life.

Terry: Oh my.

Travis: Because I literally be going to school at Kirkwood and I’d sit down and talk with somebody. And sooner or later they be telling me about something that was going on in their life that was not very good. And I’d be getting involved way deeper than I ever planned on being. And I used to not like that because you can get into some pretty deep conversations with people pretty quickly, but over time it’s kind of become a thing where apparently people tell me that I’m good at walking alongside people who have difficult things going on in their life and just kind of helping them through that. And so I just thought maybe we’d talk a little bit about what that looks like and how to do that.

And you know, one of the things just to kind of jump in, I have a good friend of mine who is fantastic. I mean he is what you would look for in a leader in any given situation. But when I first met him, he really had no place to live. He ended up living up in my attic when we first moved into our house and was living with me and just had a lot of different parts of his life that were just not quite as put together as maybe some of the rest of us would expect. And it was really cool over a season of years, just being his friend, talking through different things with him. How much growth kind of came in that relationship in his heart and even in mind to be quite honest with you, just by loving somebody who has things going on in their lives.

I think that sometimes when we talk about coming alongside people with difficult paths or difficult histories, one of the things that we think that we need to have some sort of like really in depth education, be trained for it. And I work at a credit union. I’m not trained in any sort of like counseling or therapy or anything. And I’m certainly not qualified to be a therapist, but I’ve seen a lot of growth in people just by loving people where they’re at, so.

Terry: Sure. How did that come to be? I know you said that when you were in school, people would come up to you. Is that where it started or what’s the history of that?

Travis: I think so. I think that when we were… There was a season in my life where I lived in Kansas City and that’s really how I also became involved in starting house churches, which is how our house church network kind of came to be. But we were involved with a group of people who spent a lot of time… Actually, I’ll tell you a funny story. Probably one of the most quality relationships I have in my life is a guy that I met before I moved down to Kansas City who lived in Kansas City. His name was John. And John has a lot of cool qualities to him. But one of the things that he would do when we moved down to Kansas City, he actually lived there. We met him before we moved down there and then got his contact information.

We moved down there and he lived across the street from me. And so we would go over to his house and every single time I would go over to his house, he would have this, I used to drink a lot of soda back in the day and he would have this glass of Coke poured for me. And I would come down and I would sit in his living room and I would tell him just about whatever was going on in my life. And there was nothing that you could tell John that wouldn’t shock him. There was no question that you could ask. There was literally, there was no rules, there was no boundaries. You could tell him whatever and he would just love you and talk to you about whatever it was you were going through.

And so that was a really transformative thing, and in the midst of that I fell in with this group of people who were starting churches, kind of like what we do now and they really emphasize this one-on-one relationship, getting to know people. And so I got a lot of experience in the process, just kind of having people do it to me, right? There’s this old saying that I learned from an… I’ve been in Africa a couple of times and the first time I was there, this old man in a village one time said to me, “You can’t,” how did he put it? “You can’t give away what you don’t have.” Right?

Terry: Right.

Travis: And so I think a lot of it started with just different people who came along and invested in my life and would listen and just love me in all the places where I was messed up and didn’t have my life together and needed some encouragement or some advice or whatever. And they would just kind of sit there, listen, help me through things that I would normally panic through. And when I realized that it wasn’t so bad to talk to them, it just kind of became easier to do that with other people.

Terry: Sure. You know, you use the term quality relationship.

Travis: Yeah.

Terry: For anybody who might be sitting out there on their couch listening to this, who doesn’t understand what that means, how do you define a quality relationship?

Travis: Oh wow. So number one, you want to make sure that the relationship is safe, right? You want to make sure that the people that you’re pouring your heart out to can hold a secret and keep it. And I think it’s kind of become a running joke. So now I tell everybody. Everybody, whenever they first start to tell me something, they’re like, “You can’t tell everybody this.” I’m like, “I’m going to take a lot of secrets to my grave. It’s okay.”

Terry: So safe in the sense, I mean obviously physically, but also emotional.

Travis: Yeah. And that it’s somebody that, especially if you don’t want that whatever it is that you’re going to be talking about to get out, that you can tell that person, you know it’s not going to get out to everybody that you know.

Terry: They’re going to hold your confidence.

Travis: Absolutely. Absolutely. I also, I will… That’s really the safety part is the main one that I’m looking for. And you only find that out by developing a track record with people. Right? And so you’re only going to know if you have a safe person by kind of giving them little bits of information and seeing how safe they’re going to be with it. And then as you kind of figure that out, then you can know whether you can trust them with a little bit more, a little bit more.

Terry: Right So looking at it from the perspective of the person who wants to help someone else, then that’s one of the first things they need to do is to consider how safe am I as a person? Can I keep confidences? Can I hear something that’s maybe tough and not share it with everybody?

Travis: Yep. Yep. Absolutely. Now one of the other skills that you’re looking for and you just got to look for is can I tell this person something and it’s not going to overwhelm them or shock them? You know what I mean? I wouldn’t want, if you’ve got somebody that struggles with a particular things similar to you or you’ve got somebody that, oh, I don’t know, that just would… You wouldn’t want to talk about your kleptomania where you’re stealing things from people with somebody who is horribly shocked that you could ever steal something and wouldn’t want to talk with you again. Right? I always recommend just because a lot of times when you get into the hearts that’s so sensitive, I recommend that guys talk with guys about things that guys deal with and that ladies talk with ladies about things that ladies deal with.

So in our churches, for example, we meet as churches, but then we get together one-on-one or sometimes two or three people will get together and they’re all groups of guys or all groups of ladies. And it’s not that ladies can’t help guys with things that they’re going through or that guys can’t help ladies. But we’ve found that just to protect marriages and you know, when you’re sharing things of the heart, it gets really sensitive really fast. And so I always recommend that. But then I look for somebody with wisdom, especially somebody who’s been down a road that I’m trying to go down and maybe can speak into that. And that’s really, that’s the hardest part.

Terry: Hardest how?

Travis: It’s really hard to… So I know from experience it’s really hard to receive feedback from somebody who’s further down the road. And then it’s also hard to give feedback to people and watch what they do with it. Because when you do come alongside somebody, say you are the person that is going to come alongside someone, I would say 50% of the time at least they’re not going to actually, they’ll nod their heads and say, “Oh yeah, that sounds great,” but they won’t actually necessarily do what you’re telling them to or take the advice that you give them. Even though you can see it really clearly, you’ve done it before.

So for somebody looking for someone to come alongside them, you need to ask yourself, are you willing? Some people just want to be heard. They just, they’re so lonely. I mean the statistics tell us that even health-wise people are dying mostly because they’re lonely in our culture. We think that social media and all the ways that we communicate are bringing us closer together. And the statistics will say to us all day long that we actually feel more lonely and that people are actually, we’re in a health crisis because people are dying from loneliness.

Terry: Well and I think it goes back to that building quality relationships.

Travis: Absolutely.

Terry: Because it’s the quality relationships, having people in your life that you can trust and that you can kind of, it goes both directions. I’m guessing you have some quality relationships where sometimes you feed into them and sometimes they feed into you.

Travis: Absolutely. And I guess one thing I would say is you, that’s another criteria that you look for in somebody to come alongside you or you come alongside them. I don’t believe in a mentoring or coaching relationship where the mentee or the person being coached doesn’t have the right to say, well what about you Travis? You’ve been challenging me about this, but you’re the pot calling the kettle black right now. You know? I just don’t find that healthy or realistic or the way our society actually really expects relationships to work. I think in general people are kind of done with people from on high giving advice and just being followed without also seeing them receive that same advice back and being able to take it

Terry: And we’ve been talking a lot in generalizations. I’d like to get a little bit more specific for someone who might be listening. Let’s just assume that in your house church or in your work, somebody comes to you and says, man, Travis, I just lost my job, or my husband just lost his job, or something like that. How would you then help that person?

Travis: Well, so, oh, it just depends on the person. Right. But so let me think back to the last person that did this. We had somebody call us just because they were struggling and we’ll change the names to protect the innocent. But Bob was just really dealing with a lot of tough issues in his life and we kind of knew it. We kind of had somebody else say, “Hey, Bob’s really struggling.” So the first thing we did was we just went to see him and we just sat there and listened. I think that that’s probably for those of you listening, I mean being willing to just sit and let someone talk and not stop them.

Terry: Hear their story.

Travis: Right, exactly. And I think that sometimes when we try and help, when we think about helping people, we forget that our advice is not what necessarily helps people. Our ability to hear them as so many people are struggling with just not even being heard. They don’t feel like their job has heard them. They don’t feel like their spouse or their family has heard them. They just feel unseen and unheard and it’s just so critical just to be able to listen to somebody and let them talk until they get everything out off their chest.

Terry: Yeah, I think that’s really great advice. In fact, when you give advice too quickly in a situation like that, you run the risk of having somebody feel like, Oh, okay, well they don’t really know the situation and here they’re offering advice or well, they don’t really care about what else I have to say. They’re just telling me I’m wrong.

Travis: Right. And I think that that’s the thing. People want to be well-meaning and give them advice. But so often people’s problems aren’t really their problems, right? There’s aches of the human heart that go deeper than just I need an answer for my job or whatever X problem is in my life. And so yeah, it’s just so critical. So then so we’d listen and we listen until they get everything off their chest and then we start digging in. Sometimes there’s a practical thing, right? Sometimes it’s how can we help this person find another job? But a lot of times it’s okay, there’s real issues here that have been building under the surface and it’s just the job ending that really is bringing all these other issues to the surface. So what I use, I use whatever the presenting problem is and then I start fishing for what’s really going on underneath the surface of this person’s heart that’s really causing the pain.

Because again, we could give them a bandaid to put over a bullet wound, but until we fish out the bullet, they’re not going to get any better. And so then we just see where that goes. And you know, again, not a therapist, not qualified, but I’ve lived a little bit of life. I know what makes a marriage work or not work. I know what keeps me healthy in any given day. And so I just start talking about what works for me. I, a lot of times try to involve other people in that process so they’re not just getting one person’s perspective, but a couple of other people’s perspective as well.

Terry: At what point would you refer somebody onto a professional?

Travis: So number one, anytime somebody is contemplating suicide, that’s a good indicator that they need to get ahold of a professional. I usually recommend people get ahold of a therapist, especially when it involves something that is really deep and needs some time and attention that I can’t give the energy towards, to dealing with. So if you’ve got somebody, and I’m just going to pick a random psychological element, but if you’ve got somebody with disassociative identity disorder, that is way beyond my skillset and it takes a lot of time.

Terry: It’s above your pay grade.

Travis: Right. Yes, absolutely. It takes time and energy and a lot someone very, very skilled in order to deal with it. And so that’s not to say, right, because that person, whoever that person in need is going to need the therapist. But they’re going to need people to still walk with them besides the therapist.

Terry: Right. They still need friends.

Travis: Yeah. And so that doesn’t mean I don’t still come alongside of them and encourage them. And the other time where I just, I know it’s time is if I feel like somebody is not really taking to heart my counsel and I’ve given it to them three or four times, I will say to them then, “Hey, I’ve given you the same advice three or four times. You don’t seem like you want to do it. Maybe you should check out a counselor.” And sometimes I know that it sounds kind of business and transaction like but sometimes people value their time and advice that they’re getting if they’re paying for it more than if they’re not.

Terry: Sure.

Travis: And so I’m not going to give somebody something for free that they’re not going to value. You know, obviously I’ve got some other hats that I’m wearing that I got-

Terry: You’ve got other things to do.

Travis: … yeah, that I got that I got to do. And so that might be another scenario where we say, Hey, you know what? There is some great counseling at places like He’s the Living and just send them to make a connection with them there and have them help them out, so.

Terry: We talk at Journey a lot about authentic relationships. You mentioned the word quality relationships. We find it important to do that. But for the person sitting out there, maybe the man or woman who’s sitting on their couch going, you know what? Relationships really can stink. Why is it important? What would you answer there?

Travis: Well, so number one, you weren’t designed to live alone. You just weren’t, you just absolutely weren’t. And relationships are hard. I’m not going to sit here and tell anybody that they’re not going to get bruised up and hurt in a relationship. But I find that when people find safe people to share their hearts with, that’s when the weight comes off. So do you want the weight to come off or don’t you? Because if you do, if you’ve got stuff that you’re struggling with, you got to find some way to help you take the load off.

And you know, it’s kind of like I have this unwritten rule that I follow with everybody is that if you’ve got something in your teeth or if you’ve got something hanging from your nose and I’m going to tell you because I can see it and you can’t, right? Well unknowingly, that’s what a lot of people are going through is they have something going on in their life that they can’t see. Right. And hiding it or not having other people in your life at a deep level. All that is, is that’s keeping people from seeing it, especially healthy people. That’s keeping people who are healthy from helping you take the stuff out of your teeth or take the booger out of your nose or however you want to. Can I say booger on the podcast? Is that allowed?

Terry: We’re good.

Travis: Okay, good. But that’s the reality is you don’t know what you don’t know. And when you say, I don’t need anybody else in my life to help me through the things I’m going through, what you’re really saying is I have conquered every area of my life and I don’t need any help. I think we can all say that that’s not true. The thing is, is getting to the place where we’re willing to open up our hearts and our lives to other people. And for that, I would say you don’t know what you’re missing. You’ve probably had bad relationships out there. You’ve probably been hurt by some people, but there is a world that is different than you would ever expect.

I saw this quote today and hopefully I’m not inserting a quote where it doesn’t belong, but it said, “The fact that there’s fake money out there does not mean that there’s not real money out there.” Right.

Terry: That’s an interesting quote.

Travis: The idea that all relationships are bad because I’ve been in some bad ones-

Terry: Good analysis.

Travis: … is kind of like saying, I’ve only seen fake money so there must not be real money out there. And that’s absolutely not the case. There’s fake money because real money exists, right? And so you may have been hurt by some relationships in the past, but the reality is there are good relationships out there. There’s just happens to be a bunch of counterfeit ones out there as well.

Terry: Well, and I think in my experience, I’ve seen that when people get something off their chest, something they’ve been maybe bottling up for a long time, there’s a fear in letting go and opening up and sharing that kind of thing. There’s a fear that as you do that it’s going to hurt even more or that the other person is going to take it the wrong way or they’re not going to be supportive. But if you are able to share something that’s been bothering you with a friend, somebody who really cares. What I hear people say is, oh man, that feels so much better.

Travis: Yep. Yep. Absolutely. And you know, I guess the one thing I’ll say too is for those of you who may be on listening, who are stronger, right? You’ve conquered some of the things that you overcome some things. There’s a story in the New Testament that I tell people a lot and actually Jesus told it and he talks about a guy who went and so he found a treasure in a field and when he found it, it wasn’t his field. So he hid it, he buried it back in the ground and he went and sold everything that he had to buy that field so that he could have the treasure. Okay. And so one of the things I’ve always operated on under is this idea that if we want to find the treasure in people, we’re going to have to buy the entire field, right?

So there are people out there, and this is why I’m actually really, really probably why I have so many of this, so much of this going on in my life is I’m convinced that every single time somebody opens up to me. They’re not just showing me the ugly side of their life. They’re also showing me some… If I just kind of root around in there, there’s a treasure in there that’s waiting to be found. And every time I find it, that person comes alive and is better than he ever was before.

Terry: That’s a great analogy. That’s a great way to look at it. When you talk about these, you know we’ve talked about authentic and quality relationships. Who can do this?

Travis: Literally everybody, I mean, it takes time. There are people who are better at it than others, and I’ve noticed that people who are, how do I say this? People who are more pedantic, people who are more intellectual. Sometimes they struggle with it more, but it really has nothing to do with whether you’re skilled at it or not. It has more to do with are you good at slowing down, listening and letting people talk and if you can develop the patience in order to let people talk and really love people, right? And we haven’t talked about that, but there’s a healing power in you having genuine love for the person sitting across from you. And it doesn’t need to be like, it’s not like a husband and a wife kind of love, but I legitimately care about you. If you can… And I think everybody, not everybody is great at that, but we can grow in that. That’s a skill. It’s not just a talent that I was given and nobody else was, right?

Terry: You’re kind of talking about like the agape love or the brotherly love kind of love.

Travis: Yeah. You’re able to just like appreciate how that person was made, who they are, what they are. And in doing that, if you can do that, if you can learn to do that and literally everybody can do that, you can do this and you can be an ear for somebody who’s struggling. If you have advice and if you have wisdom in that area, you can provide it. And when you don’t, you can say, you know I don’t, but I know somebody who would be great to help you. And I think it’s always helpful to have a couple of resources there in your back pocket for when it happens. But everybody can do this.

Terry: Well, and that’s a really great segue into my last question, which is how can Journey help? You know, Journey Coaching is a peer-to-peer coaching process. You’ve gone through it. How would you suggest to people if they want to get plugged in, they want to start building some authentic relationships? How can Journey help?

Travis: So Journey is a great place for this. And I’ll give you a story from my life that’s going on right now is I have a friend who’s going through kind of a hard time in his life and he’s literally at a place where he just kind of needs to reevaluate his way forward in what he’s going through. And so I said, “Well, hey, I’ve got this book that kind of talks about strengths and weaknesses. It kind of helps identify your story and what has been the good things that have been going on in your life.” And we’re literally just using it as a guide map for us to have a conversation about his life and where he’s going from here.

Terry: That’s perfect. Well, thank you Travis for being on this podcast. This has been a conversation with Travis Coulter on the topic of coming alongside someone who’s hurting or has tough circumstances. And we’ve also been talking a lot about how to build and how to maintain authentic quality relationships. At Journey, we’re really interested in that. We’re interested in the conversations that matter to you and to your relationships. You want to grow. We want to help. Not only with podcasts, but we encourage you to get into one-on-one coaching relationships. A good place to start is with the Journey Seven Session Coaching process. You can find out more about that at journeycoaching.org.

Speaker 3: Thank you for listening. Tune in next time and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.

Speaker 2: (singing)