Tom was one of those children who always knew he wanted to be a doctor. In fact, he remembers praying to God as a young child asking for the opportunity to attend medical school.
After graduating from Williams College, his lifelong dream was realized when he entered Wayne State University School of Medicine.
In 1989, Dr. Graves founded Bay Area Family Physicians in New Baltimore, Michigan. He and his co-founders wanted an “old fashioned” family doctor’s office. They wanted to create an office environment where people’s spiritual life is as important as their medical health. Bay Area has thrived and now consists of eight physicians.
Tom feels incredibly blessed to be a family doctor saying that it is so fun “it’s like getting paid to play baseball.”
While Tom loves being a doctor, he loves his wife, Anne, and their children Tommy, and Sarah even more.
Tom counts his family as his greatest treasure on earth.
Tom’s strong faith is part of everything he does. He seeks to bring the message of Jesus Christ to everyone he meets. As a Co-Founder of HART (The Haiti and Africa Relief Team) he seeks to bring Jesus to Haiti through medical and dental services, as well as food, clothes, and most importantly, love.
Tom is a member of Unbound-Michigan and serves with the Grosse Pointe Area Team. You can hear his Unbound testimony on the website of Saint Anastasia church, with the rest of the July 2017 conference talks.
Once when our son was playing baseball, a huge pitcher hurled a blazing fastball which missed the mark and struck him in the chest. Of course I leaped up from my seat to see if he was OK. It looked like he was...but as he returned to his feet, his team started chanting, "Don't rub it!"
Being a doctor, I naturally thought this was some new method for decreasing pain.
Generally, rubbing an injured part of our body decreases pain by distracting nerve endings with "touch" so the brain perceives fewer "pain" signals. I couldn't make sense of it, so I asked the kid next to me,
"Do you know why they are chanting, 'Don't rub it?'"
He answered, "Because you don't want to give the pitcher the satisfaction of knowing he was strong enough to hurt you."
At the time I laughed....but thinking about this today, this deception makes me sad.
At a conference recently, I was part of a prayer team asked to pray with people individually (2 of us prayed over one person at a time).
The conference topic was "forgiveness." The presenter shared openly about his own life, and ways he had been deeply hurt by people he trusted and loved...and the pain he experienced through their actions.
Then, he shared Bible verses where Jesus said if we don't forgive, Our Father will not forgive our sins...and how he had prayed with others for the grace to forgive those who harmed him and his family.
He had to change his mind and heart from hating them, to pitying them...and then inviting God in to help him forgive them.
After his talk, 10 prayer teams prayed for the grace to forgive people who had injured them. Two people prayed over one person who shared their story.
Their stories were heart breaking.
Stories of parents who withheld love, friends who betrayed them, parents who abandoned their families while kids were babies, spouses who were unfaithful, addicted loved ones, and all sorts of abuse...
But the one thing which was most common?
Most of these people said, "This is just a little thing," as they shared their pain.
They buried their injuries (often for years). They tried to ignore it, forget it, or simply tried to believe it didn't really matter....it didn't really hurt.
"Don't rub it."
We have hidden our pains, our tragedies, and our wounds deep inside our hearts....and they remain just as tender as they day we were hit...even though we try to ignore the ache, and hide it from others.
For those of us seeking to be men and women after God's own heart, I look to David for advice (the man God said was a man after His own heart):
David tried "Don't rub it," and this is how he said it worked:
"I kept quiet, not saying a word, not even about anything good! But my suffering only grew worse, and I was overcome with anxiety."
David's silence only made it worse!
The truth of blessings in sharing our pain is found in the 12 Steps of AA. As you may know, prior to AA recovery from addiction was almost unheard of.
When Bill W. and Dr. Bob met in Akron, Ohio in 1935, they made the strange but wonderful discovery that openly sharing the truth of their drinking, sharing their pain and their resentments, and inviting God into their powerlessness over alcohol could grant them the gift of sobriety.
For some odd reason, being honest and sharing what hurts helps us.
Ben Franklin knew this!
In his, "Poor Richard's Almanac" Franklin wrote,
"A problem shared is a problem cut in half."
Don't rub it? That is insane - when we hurt, we need to share our pain with God, and with our friends!
I can't tell you how many people I know who held long standing heartaches who confessed all to a priest or to a trusted friend whose life changed.
Just talking about it does what Franklin said, the problem is "cut in half.'
Here are two suggestions which have worked for many people I have shared them with.
Please try them:
One, write a letter to God.
Rick Warren makes this suggestion. He has witnessed that admitting we do have pain is our first step for healing.
"Today, you may need to write a letter to God and tell him your feelings. God understands your hurt and pain, and he’s waiting for you to talk to him about it. Putting your feelings on paper will help you express your heart to God."
Your letter might look something like this,
Dear God, I need Your help. I’m hurting and I need You to help me. My problem is ________. Please set me on a path to healing. And if there other things in my past which affect this problem, please show me so you and I can heal these too. Please help me forgive all who have hurt me. I know you love me and that you know what I am going through. Please send me help through Your Word or through someone you send to me. Also, please help me be patient as I wait for You to answer my prayers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The second thing is pick a person, or a small group who you trust with your vulnerable truth.
You need at least one person you can spill your guts to and who will love you unconditionally. Hopefully, someone who will pray with you through your hurts.
As the Bible states, Light always defeats darkness. Prayer is powerful and effective.
Mostly, don't suffer alone.
Ecclesiastes passionately states,
"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
I am not a Bible scholar....but I have always loved thinking that "A cord of three" means you, me, and Jesus.
When we are connected to Jesus, and connected to each other, we are safe....and in a place where it's OK to share our wounds, whether or not the Inflicter knows he hurt us.
I love you, and I am praying for you, and cheering for you as you, and I, move from the darkness of silence into the Light of Truth.