Julie Chang 00:04
You’re listening to the Created For podcast. We believe that everyone is created to make a unique impact in the world. Join us as we explore everyday lives and how they find their place in God’s story through calling and design. I’m your host, Julie Chang. Dr. Kelly Mark is a licensed clinical psychologist in Bellevue, Washington. Dr. Mark is passionate about the integration of faith and psychology, and believes that the process of being restored to God and one another is best done in relationship. Through her private practice, Restoration Christian Counseling, Dr. Mark provides therapy to adolescents and adults, as well as education and training to nonprofits and the broader Christian community. Outside of work, Dr. Mark enjoys connecting with loved ones, listening to music, spending time by the water, being active. In this episode, Dr. Kelly Mark and I have a conversation about how she is still becoming, as she recognizes her own brokenness, and the value of finding a place of rest and home. Welcome back, everybody. I’m your host, Julie Chang. So glad we made it a second week. Today, I have a fantastic guest. Her name is Kelly. Kelly, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself. I’m so happy that you’re here.
Kelly Mark 01:29
Hi, everyone. Thanks for having me, Julie. My name is Kelly Mark. I am a clinical psychologist. I have a private practice in Washington. I see primarily adolescents as well as adults. And my specialties are in providing therapy to people who are trying to manage anxiety, depression, histories of trauma, relational issues, life transitions, grief and loss. I guess my special interest is in being able to integrate faith with science as I’m working with clients. In addition to doing therapy with clients, I also provide educational support and training to people in the community who are interested in mental health and wellness. And so I work with nonprofits and faith communities. And then I just recently joined the leadership team for Unity Collective Counseling, which is a new nonprofit that focuses on the intersection of faith, race and mental health.
Julie Chang 02:32
Wow. Thank you for what you do. It sounds like you do many things that are needed in our society, especially today, in this day and age. Well, Kelly, tell tell me about your story and your journey. Like, you know, the theme of our podcast is finding your place in God’s story. And all of us end up finding our place by walking on a different dirt journey, different paths and discovering different things. So I’m just curious, would you be willing to share a little bit about your story?
Kelly Mark 03:04
Yes, of course. Um, well, so when I think about finding my place in God’s story, I actually think that that is something that is still becoming. It’s something in the last several years that I’ve thought about more. And so at a pretty young age, I was interested in doing what I would end up doing as a profession. And I think part of that part of that was shaped by my own experiences in my family, with friends. I think it was also shaped by just naturally the personality that God has given me. And so when people ask me about, like, calling in life, I defined calling as being actually, yeah, I love the definition that you guys are using, like calling as being like a place in God’s story and finding that. And for me, I think it’s come from, like, my own brokenness, as well as my personality and just kind of naturally who God has created me to be. The place where I’m at right now is realizing that my job as a psychologist, as well as what my desire is, outside of work, is to help people to find a place of home and a place of rest. And that’s really, you know, only come from me, I think, seeking that out in my own personal life. So I can talk more about that if you want me to, but that’s like the gist of where I’m at right now.
Julie Chang 04:41
Yeah. Which yeah, I would love to, could you, yeah, just go ahead and double click down on that the whole concept of rest and home. Yeah, I’d love to hear more.
Kelly Mark 04:52
Um, so maybe I’ll talk a little bit about just my own brokenness and my own story, and what made me interested in going into the field of psychology because that sort of leads up to me, I think, seeking a sense of like home and rest. So I grew up in a Christian home, um my dad is a pastor. And he, knowing God is kind of like all that I’ve ever known. And, you know, I think that at the same time, knowing God, and finding out who he is, for me, and finding a sense of home with him, has really actually not happened until the last like handful of years of my life. And I’m still discovering more of what home like, finding a home like with the Lord means. But growing up, you know, living in a Christian home, very, like, loving, well intentioned, like nurturing parents, but despite like how loving and nurturing they were, there were still times where I felt very missed emotionally, by them, missed meaning, just like not seen. And within my own family, the role that I ended up sort of taking on, and maybe it was maybe like later elementary school, maybe middle school was that of like a mediator, and like a caretaker, in my family. Caretaker and mediator, in an emotional sense, not so much like a physical kind of caretaker. But I, I like learned how to be like, keenly aware of people’s emotions and, and like their tone, their like nonverbals, all things that were necessary in like, helping me to be able to mediate tension. And that tension was something that I was sensing between various different like family members. And, and as a kid, or as a teenager, when you sense like tension in your home, you it’s pretty unsettling. And you do whatever you can to try and create a sense of safety within your own home. And so my way of doing that was trying to kind of like get in there, into the tension and try and like, mediate whatever I could. And, and so I think that when I think back on, like those years of my life, I was wanting a sense of like safety and a sense of like rest. And, and it was something I was trying to, you know, create for myself, where there was a lack, for a time.
Julie Chang 07:47
You know, on some level that resonates with me and my own story. In fact, I think I still feel unseen, sometimes with my own family. So how was all that setting you up for the next step in you’re calling and studying psychology?
Kelly Mark 08:04
I guess my, my desire to be seen, and my my parents failures to see me and totally in ways that I needed to be seen growing up is part of what made me interested in psychology, and in going into the field. And it was actually once I got into the field, that I experienced, just like more healing myself over my own story. As I’m like, going through grad school, I’m learning how to sit with other people, as a therapist, I’m being therapized myself, I’m participating in therapy. I think I said, I started to, I think I started to build some additional confidence in just who I am as a person. I think as we heal, and as we, as we are seen, in ways that we need to, I think that we feel more confident just like being in ourselves and presenting ourselves to others. And so then, you know, from from that point, like I, you know, I continue to train, I continue to, to learn like how to be a therapist to other people and, and through that, through my training, I meet like a diversity of like clientele. And the my clients, I would say were, let’s see, majority were adults. Some of them had just been released from jail. In LA, when when you get released from jail, they like give you a little bit of money and they just let you out on the street. And, and where I was was like downtown LA. And so people, in order to like survive when they’re right out of jail, usually what they do is they end up going into the shelters that are in downtown LA and are, and the health care center where I was training was right by some of those like shelters. I started to realize that, you know, regardless of your socioeconomic status, regardless of your nationality, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender, that people are just wanting similar things in life, which is, in my opinion, to be loved, to be accepted, and to have a sense of belonging, and a sense of home. And, as I sat with those clients, I started to also see my story converging with them. I started to see that, oh, gosh, like the the personality that I have even like, the interest that I have, my identity as an Asian American, that all of that helps me to, like build a bridge between myself and these clients who are actually living in circumstances or who have experienced very different things than I have in my own life.
Julie Chang 11:07
I love how you talk about discovering your identity and building a bridge between that and people who are very have very different backgrounds from you. How was this instrumental in your calling?
Kelly Mark 11:20
I guess, mid 20s, maybe at that point, starting to see that, gosh, like the way that God has, you know, created me, which, for me, is, you know, I’m an Asian American female, who tends to be a little bit more outspoken than this stereotype for what an Asian woman is. And I had to felt insecure about that growing up. But I think that that honestly has helped me to be able to work with clients. Um, I think as I sit in my what I believe is my calling to be a psychologist, that feels like my calling for now, I don’t know, like 10 years from now, 50 years from now. But I think what I define as my calling is just being like sitting in the pocket of like belonging with the Lord. And like being able to, like fully bring myself to whatever profession I feel interested in. And right now, that profession is that of a psychologist.
Julie Chang 12:29
I love that you talk about your journey of, just for now. This is where I am today. This is where I am now, this is how much information I’ve gathered by how I was designed, things that I’m attracted to, things I’m interested in, things, patterns in my life that I’ve experienced in order for me to get to where I am today. And when I’m 75, it might change.
Kelly Mark 12:54
Julie Chang 12:56
Well, I wanna circle back on something you said earlier, in this episode. You talked about how you, you know, sometimes you’re even still trying to learn how to be comfortable with your own uncomfortable feeling.
Kelly Mark 13:09
Julie Chang 13:10
So I’m just curious, what kinds of things do you do? What would you recommend to somebody who might feel a disconnect with their own uncomfortability of negative feelings, or uncomfortable feelings, and etc.
Kelly Mark 13:27
Mm hmm. Yeah, um, well, something that I do to intentionally take care of myself and kind of practice feeling is to continue to be in therapy myself. So I see a therapist weekly. And it’s, for me, it’s an it, it’s my way of intentionally setting aside time to be with myself. And when I say be with myself, I mean, fully be with myself, which includes like my emotional experiencing. So I encourage everybody to seek out therapy, I think anybody can benefit. So that’s one thing and and then really like being in relationship with people who accept and who also encourage me to be able to share my emotional experience with them.
Julie Chang 14:23
Kelly, I think it’s so admirable that as a therapist, that you seek out therapy yourself. And you seek out mental and emotional health yourself in order to be someone who could help others. You yourself. We all need help, you know? I also think there’s something significant about vulnerability in community. Sometimes it’s really hard. I was thinking the other day how it can be hard to find spaces in community where you can be vulnerable. But when you find those spaces, it is the life transforming and life changing. So, what, tell me what are other ways that you’re pursuing health and wholeness?
Kelly Mark 15:06
You know, for me, I tend to be someone who’s busy and can use busyness, or distraction to avoid feeling. And my mind is always busy. And I’m always thinking about something. And so I have to intentionally quiet myself in order to feel. I like to think of emotions as being like just messengers or notifications of how you’re doing and what needs you have. So for example, when people are sad, the need attached to that is for comfort and for connection. Sometimes, though, we have a hard time identifying even how we’re feeling. But when we tune into our body, and start to get familiar with how our body physically feels, when we’re experiencing certain emotions, we can actually use our body to give us clues about how we’re feeling. So yeah, accessing your body just with like, movement, whether that’s like just stretching, doing like yoga, which would be a more mindful kind of movement, or just being active in general, I think can be helpful, in sort of like, unlocking away like emotion that we experience. We don’t need to talk about this now, but there’s a book called, The Body Keeps the Score, which is by Bessel, van der Kolk, Bessel van der Kolk, (Kolk), and he’s a trauma researcher. And I think we’ve talked about this book before together.
Julie Chang 16:46
Yeah, I read the book last summer, or this this last winter, actually, it’s all a blur. The summer, winter, but yeah.
Kelly Mark 16:53
The gist of that book is that, you know, the body remembers, remembers trauma, even when cognitively you don’t have an awareness of it. So implicit memory is our the first kind of memory that develops over like conscious memory or before conscious memory. And so that means that we can be like experiencing trauma or difficult situations before we can even consciously remember it. And so one of the ways that we like treat trauma is by actually treating the body and going to places that only like the body can remember versus like the mind can consciously remember. So again, like your body is connected to your thoughts and your feelings. And so being in touch with your body, and giving it ways to express itself into move can actually help, like, unlock emotions, but also like heal trauma, too.
Julie Chang 18:02
That’s so good. I was in a trauma workshop in January.
Kelly Mark 18:07
Julie Chang 18:09
Yeah, it was good. And before I joined the workshop, I sat there going, I don’t think I have, I don’t know if my story, was racial trauma. I don’t know if my story is devastating enough for me to identify that I have trauma or that whatever I’ve experienced is traumatic enough for counseling or whatever. And as the stories had unfolded, I realized, oh, it could, it could be a totally different aspect. I didn’t have to be sexually assaulted or physically abused for me to experience a trauma or whatnot, it can be something else would you be willing to tell our audience what, what is trauma?
Kelly Mark 18:54
Julie Chang 18:55
Like what would that be?
Kelly Mark 18:56
Julie Chang 18:57
It doesn’t have to be extreme. But what? How would you define something like that?
Kelly Mark 19:01
Yeah. So okay. Even in the field of psychology, there is I think, a lack of maybe a consistent and clear definition definition of what trauma is. There’s like, not total agreement, I think on it. But, but the way that I define it is an experience can be considered traumatic when it has a lasting effect on your nervous system. So people can experience the same event differently. So for example, say you’re in like a car accident. You and your friend are riding in the car together, you get in this big accident, it totals your car, you could experience that car accident as being traumatic, and your friend, who was in the very same car with you, could not. And, as a therapist, the way that I would, the way that I would determine whether or not you experienced that car accident as a trauma or not, is if you’re experiencing, like, lasting and like lasting impacts on some part of like your functioning, whether that be like your mood, your like cognitions, your relationships, or even like your body. So, um, let’s say that you’re in that car accident, your friend is totally fine seems to be like, let’s say she even like broke her arm in the accident, but she seems to be like, unfazed by it. She may not have experienced that car accident as being like traumatic. But let’s say for you, you’re the one who was driving, you had no broken bones, but it just jostled you enough that like weeks after the event, you still feel on edge. And every time you hear like a car like screech past you, like you tense up. Or whenever you go through that intersection where you had that car crash, you start to like get a panic attack. So when your body is reacting, and and you’re having kind of like lasting effects, and your body is kind of stuck in survival mode. That’s one of the way there’s those are some of the ways that I would be able to tell, okay, like Julie experienced that accident as being traumatic. And, and that’s probably something that we could benefit from addressing.
Julie Chang 21:44
Kelly Mark 21:44
Does that make sense?
Julie Chang 21:46
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it just makes me think about trauma is not as extreme as people think it needs to be. It’s our body. Like you said, it’s our body that responds or reacts to certain life events that makes it or turns it into something where it could be traumatic. I mean, I just keep on thinking about that, I mean, yeah, just anything, just areas where you even have to hold your breath at times. You know, you’re not even realizing you’re holding your breath. That could be a traumatic response, a response to trauma.
Kelly Mark 22:21
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Julie Chang 22:24
It’s good. So I also wanted to circle back on, you know, you talk about when we talk about finding our place in God’s story, you talked a lot about also helping people find a place of rest and home. Would you like to expand on that just a little bit more about what is,what is home? What is rest? Well, how would you describe those things?
Kelly Mark 22:48
Yeah, so like, home and rest is something that I’ve thought about a lot in the last like, few years. Um, I think maybe I’ve been thinking about it more because I, you know, after being in grad school and living outside of the, living outside of this state where my family is. Yeah, I have just experienced other places and after graduating, I came back to Washington where my family is, and and honestly, like, there are times where it doesn’t feel like home to me. Where I don’t feel like it totally fits who I am, or I don’t fit. I don’t feel like I’m a typical like North, Pacific Northwest-erner. Um, like I have grown to, for those of you who don’t know what a Pacific Northwest-erner would be, it’s someone who like stereotypically likes hiking and like rock climbing, and kombucha, and might be vegan or vegetarian. We care about the environment. And to be honest, I actually like vibe with like, resonate with a lot of things except like, I also find myself wanting to escape to the beach, and the sun, and I grew up in Southern California and, um, so even when I think about like a location or place, I’m actually not quite sure what feels like home anymore. And I know that there are people that I feel comfortable with and I think sometimes people define home as being like wherever your loved ones are. And, and I agree with that to an extent but I have I have landed on home as being like, home is when you feel like delighted in and loved for your being rather than you’re doing. And I think that, you know, growing up I think that that is something that I craved as well, was just wanting to be delighted in and wanting to be enjoyed for my very being, versus like my doing. So not for being a caretaker, or for being somebody who could, you know, mediate for anyone, or keep the peace, or be cheerful, or be fun to friends, and things like that, like I just wanted to be loved and enjoyed for just my presence. And I think when when we are with people or in places where we are loved and enjoyed for being versus are doing, like, that is what true rest is. And that is what true home is. I think about like the experience that Jesus has, where he’s like going to Mary and Martha’s house for a meal or something. And and you know, Martha is busy readying the meal or whatever it is, like for Jesus and Mary’s just like chillin with Jesus. Just I don’t know, I imagine them just like chatting, just like enjoying each other’s presence. And Mary, Martha starts get salty, because like, Mary isn’t like helping her out getting things ready. And Jesus is like, like Martha, Martha, like, basically, like girl chill, like, I like Mary has chosen the better thing, which is just to be with me. And and I think that like, what Jesus is inviting Martha to, is to be enjoyed and to be loved, just for her very presence. And I think that that’s what Jesus invites us to as well. Places cannot be like home, people cannot feel like home, or we can even feel lonely with people that you know, know and love us. But ultimately, I think the greatest sense of home and rest comes from being delighted in by the Lord.
Julie Chang 27:09
Yeah, I love that. It’s like as if we are able to experience and not just know it, but receive delight from the Lord, we’re able to receive delight and offer it to others too. It just becomes this cycle of acceptance, no agenda and delight and just knowing a person versus using a person or it being a transactional experience. Love that. Are you experiencing delight in your being versus doing? How does your design and life experience speak into your current calling? Created For is hosted and produced by Cru. If you enjoyed this episode, then subscribe, rate, or review us wherever you’re listening. For more resources to explore your calling and find your place in God’s story, check out the show notes on our website at Cru.org/createdfor and follow us on Instagram at _Createdfor. Tune in next time as I have a conversation with Amanda Best about her calling and serving her local community. Created For is hosted and produced by Cru. If you enjoyed this episode, then subscribe, rate, or review us wherever you’re listening. For more resources to explore your calling and find your place in God’s story, check out the show notes on our website Cru.org/createdfor and follow us on Instagram at @_Createdfor.