During August and September we’ve invited several people to give you a look back
at the history of The Barnabas Center. We hope these stories will be encouraging
and that you’ll resonate with the needs and hopes that are being shared.
In mid-September we’ll be back online with our usual thematic blog posts.
It was 1991. My marriage was on the rocks and I was desperate to find help. For the first time in my life, I had no idea what to do, but I didn’t want my marriage to end. I wanted someone to fix things and tell me what to do so that I could go on with my life. Little did I know, that’s not how things would go with this counselor named Palmer Trice.
I can still remember walking in the front door of the small little brick house beside Westminster Church. It was dark, the furniture was all really old and there was no one there to greet us. All the doors to the rooms inside were closed. There was a small sitting area that we sat in while waiting patiently for one of the doors to open.
I was feeling very anxious and fearful, but hopeful that this Palmer Trice guy could fix things. My wife had gotten his name from Larry Crabb’s ministry, the Biblical Institute of Counseling. We had been reading some of Crabb’s books (especially The Marriage Builder) and really liked his approach to the Gospel. Looking at our struggles in marriage and life as a way to find God in the midst of them all was new to us, but really resonated with our hearts, souls and spirits.
Finally one of the doors opened. A couple walked out followed by this tall, thin guy with a really big, warm smile. He greeted us, asked us to come in and sit down. So the journey began. His first question: “How can I help you?” was hard to answer. I just wanted him to make the struggle go away. My wife on the other hand wanted much more. She wanted my heart, and I had no idea how to give it to her. I had learned early in life to just stay busy, functioning at a high level, just doing the next thing to avoid the disappointment and loneliness that came when I stopped long enough to feel it. My heart had grown hard. I had learned to run from it all in order to cope with not being able fix the craziness and chaos in my home and between my parents.
As Palmer counseled us, I grew angrier and angrier. He wasn’t fixing things at all. In fact, things seemed to be getting worse. I did not like this Palmer Trice guy. All we talked about was what Betsy wanted and how Betsy was doing, and it felt like I was being reminded of all that I was not. Finally, about the 4th session I looked at him and said “When do we get to talk about me and what I want?” He smiled that smile of his and responded simply, “When you ask to talk about you and what you want.” Later in our counseling, I was going on and on telling him all the things I did for Betsy that made me such a “good” husband and that I “knew” other men weren’t doing for their wives. He let me go on and on and then looked at me again with the smile of his and said “You’re a really good guy aren’t you?” I responded “You bet I am!” He got really quiet, still smiling, just looking at me to see where I would go next. I was caught!!! For the first time, the spirit of God truly convicted me of how arrogant and sinful and selfish I really was. As I write, I have tears in my eyes, because it still can be true and I still remember how it felt that first time I saw my dark, dark heart.
God has continued to use Palmer and the Barnabas Center to change me, Betsy and my marriage. My heart can still grow hard, and I can still live selfishly, but it is never OK now. Now married for 33 years, I am so grateful to God for Palmer and the Barnabas Center. I like this Palmer Trice guy. In fact, I love this Palmer Trice guy. He has become a soul mate, brother, and confidant. He has showed me how deep friendship and love can be and continues to point me to God in the midst of my struggles in life.
We are hosting a 25th birthday celebration this September, and we’d love to have you
join us! It will be an evening of stories and sharing as we look back at where
Barnabas has been and look ahead to where we’re going.
Friday, September 12, 2014 from 7:30pm – 9:30pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Refreshments and dessert will be served.
For more information and to register please visit:
Dr. Todd Hamilton, DDS, has been providing orthodontic care since 1986. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology and his dental degree and completed his residency in Orthodontics at UNC. Dr. Hamilton and his wife Betsy have been married since 1981 and have three children, Matthew, Megan and Phillip, and one grand-daughter, Kyleigh Alyssa. In his leisure time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family as well as running, golfing, skiing, biking, yard work and traveling.