Change Helped Me Become More Whole

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Four years ago, around this time in December, I was packing up my house getting ready to move to Nashville. After being in Atlanta for over 20 years (most of my adult life), I had never imagined leaving. I especially didn’t imagine uprooting my family of five and leaving all our immediate family in the area. But it felt right. It felt right because I was in a season of learning to really care for myself, and that included real and deep personal growth. It felt like a season of becoming physically healthier, being more present with my young kids, and growing deeper in my marriage. Up to this point, I had achieved quite a bit in my career, but that was only one piece of the puzzle. What about the rest of who I am?

The move was difficult. It was difficult because I had to develop new friendships and community. It was difficult because of the limited cultural diversity, especially compared to Atlanta. It was difficult because our family had to basically start over in many ways.

But it was the right move.

It was the right move because now my marriage is stronger. My wife and I have the opportunity and, more importantly, the time to focus on our marriage. My family is stronger because we have the choice to rethink how we want to go about activities and prioritize spending time together. I’m physically healthier, my friendships are deeper, and I have the space to focus on my mental health through counseling. The move proved to be right because it made me more whole.

The culture and the dominant worldview today in the U.S. is divisive. It’s a culture that celebrates keeping things separate. From faith to individualism, the dominant perspectives in the media cause division among people and ultimately within ourselves. We are often forced to live one way in public and another way in private. There are certain beliefs that we feel we need to be reserved about and beliefs that would immediately provoke judgement. I believe our culture is constantly at work to force us into living disintegrated lives where faith, work and family are forced to be disconnected.

But my experience over the last four years has been the opposite.

Again, I owe a significant part of becoming more whole to my time at Ramsey. The last two years at Ramsey have been particularly difficult. Every organization has their share of problems, but that’s not why the years were difficult. They were difficult because of the change I had to go through myself.

Now, change is something I’ve seen a lot from a second-hand standpoint. Growing up on a ginseng farm, I watched my dad dig up roots the size of your hand and clean them up. At first, he hand-washed all of these roots. But after washing thousands of pounds of roots, my dad invented a machine that would tumble the roots down a mesh drum—much like a cement truck. I watched dozens of pounds of dirty roots go into one end, tumble around under spraying water, and come out clean on the other end! I imagined myself as these roots getting tossed and tumbled around and thought it would be fun. But if it really were people getting tossed in, it would be a violent process. But that’s reality, isn’t it? I’m not saying change is physically violent—but for anyone going through deep change, “violent” feels like the right way to describe it.

That’s what the last couple of years have felt like for me. But I’m better for it.

It’s been emotionally and mentally difficult. But I’m better for it.

I’m not out of this season of significant change. But I’m better for it.

I’m better for it because all the parts of my life—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual—are working better together. Being at Ramsey has been a big part of this wholeness I’m experiencing.

Here are three ways Ramsey helped me become whole.

1. Learning to Be Better Together

The “magic” of my dad’s root cleaning machine wasn’t the water sprayers or the tumbling. It was the diverse collection of roots all working together. There were roots of all different sizes and shapes that allowed the right kind of friction needed to wash away dirt. I think the same is true with people. Ramsey has given me the right environment and a better understanding that I need other people if I’m going to have a real shot at becoming a better version of myself.

Diversity isn’t only representation of ethnicities and tolerance for different views. It is also about bringing them together in a way that advances the greater mission. Real diversity is the ability to bring together differing experiences and points of view in a way that produces something valuable together. And as a natural outcome, individuals experience personal growth. Sure, I’d love to see more people who look like me or have similar cultural experiences, but that’s not what’s most important. What’s most important is serving people who are in need. The culture at Ramsey keeps this focus at the forefront with sayings that are constantly repeated, like, “We are blessed to be a blessing” and “We exist for the people outside these walls.” This is what brings us together. We need teams of people with different perspectives and life experiences to better help those outside our walls. This is how I came to understand more fully that we are better together.

2. Being Around Admirable People

It’s one thing to work around people you respect, but it’s an entirely different experience to work around people you admire. I’m talking about working around people who you want to be like. There are countless stories of generosity, parenthood, sacrifice, grit, leadership, love and faith that cause you to reflect on your own life. I’m surrounded by people who live out the things that I value, and this drives me to be better. It’s not out of a sense of peer pressure or shame—it’s that the people around you are a source of encouragement.

And then there’s a kind of leadership that is modeled and expected. My favorite part about the highest levels of our leadership is their transparency in sharing their own challenges to grow in all aspects of their lives. These leaders lead by example and often share their experiences in how they are having to change—which gives me great encouragement.

And finally, there’s the team I’m on. I’m proud to be able to call all of them my friends. They aren’t people like me, but they are the kind of people who make me better. I often find myself hoping that my kids will grow up to be the kind of people I get to work with.

3. Focus on Relationships

Ramsey is a place that holds relationships at the core of everything we do. We live and die by the quality of our relationships. My faith talks about how people will be known by their unity, and this is certainly true of Ramsey. We’re not all sitting around singing campfire songs or disillusioned by our flaws as people. We lean into these people problems. Heck, people problems seem to be a love language to show we care about each other.

We know where there are people there are problems, but we also know where there are people there are possibilities. We’re there for each other when disaster or tragedy strikes. We pray for one another. We notice the little things that happen to each other. We eat (a lot) together. We have fun together. We sure like to have fun together! We seem to be friends who happen to work together.

Our relational focus births trust. And this isn’t a superficial trust. It’s a deep trust characterized by assuming the best in each other, rather than the worst. When expectations aren’t met, we’re not quick to judge another person’s character. Instead, we ask questions and seek to understand. You can’t help but to be changed by this kind of environment. You can’t help but let these relationships impact all aspects of your life. You can’t help but become more whole.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked in interviews is “What do you like most about Ramsey?” My answer is that I have grown in my faith, health, family, friendships, and as a teammate. In other words, I am a better person than I was four years ago, and I have a lot of gratitude to Ramsey for helping me along. The change was worth the effort.