Detective Bob Shilling: A Story of Tragedy and Character

This week, I read a local news story about Detective Bob Shilling.  After a long and remarkable career with the Seattle Police Department, he was recently invited by Interpol, the most prestigious crime fighting organization in the world, to lead their Crimes Against Children Group.  Now he is preparing to move to France after Thanksgiving to begin this new chapter in his life.

The interesting part of this story is that when Detective Shilling first began his career in the police department, he declared that he didn’t want to work sex crimes.  While he never told anyone, his adamant opposition to working child abuse cases was because he had been sexually abused by his grandfather as a young child.  His own mother witnessed the abuse happening and turned and walked out of the room, leaving him defenseless and alone as a young child.

The abuse of children is one of the most heinous crimes any of us can imagine.  A child subjected to sexual or physical abuse is clearly a powerless victim at the mercy of a predator.  Yet, for Detective Shilling the story does not end with the abuse.  Contrary to his stated wishes, his career did ultimately focus on bringing abusers to justice and making certain that victims knew the abuse was not their fault.  Today he is preparing to advocate for child victims internationally.

Reading about Detective Shilling  made me reflect on the nature of personal tragedy.  I was reminded of the many heroes, who have risen above trying circumstances, and then courageously face their fears to help others recover from similar hardships.  The stories of people living with disabilities, losing a job and becoming homeless, losing a child to drunk driving, losing a breast to cancer, victims of rape or incest, and even survivors of crimes against humanity, often become stories of transformation.  The survivors channel their pain and heartache into the very vehicle for serving others.

Although no rational being wants to experience tragedy or loss, being human means we will endure pain during our lifetime.  However, as Detective Shiller discovered, within the suffering lies the key to healing.  In the midst of our grief we are called to marshal personal strength and survive; and, as we move through the experience, the opportunity exists to discover a compelling compassion (or passion) for others along the way.  In a way, this is part of our social evolution as a culture.  As each person surviving a loss or hardship finds the wisdom and grace contained within the experience, we are able to help others to heal, too.  Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”  It appears, for Detective Shilling, success will mean greater responsibility and helping even more children than before.

Byron, Linda, October 24, 2012, http://www.king5.com/news/local/Seattle-Detective-Bob-Shilling-Interpol-fight-global-sex-predators-175710391.html#

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Embracing Change

10,000 Hours to Be Me is about embracing change; about moving toward the larger life many of us secretly long for.  Sounds good…even exhilarating!  Then there are the changes we didn’t anticipate or maybe even wish for:  such as the loss of a job or loved one; an injury or change in our health; even new responsibilities, like caring for an elderly family member.  One might feel overwhelmed, scared or even angry.

Some changes we expect; however, the reality of the experience is far more, or far different from what we expected, like moving to anew city, having a new baby or losing weight.  When this happens, change goes beyond the experience.  While we may have expected that a new home, having a new baby, or losing weight would be the change we experienced—in reality it was just the beginning.  The bigger change is the internal makeover that will continue to manifest slowly within us.

For example, living in anew city will demand that we find our way in unfamiliar territory and start over creating a home.  It is a fresh start in the truest sense.  Having a new baby will, day by day, encourage us to develop patience, force us to reorder our priorities, and increase our capacity to love.  Losing weight can change how we view ourselves and help us lose unhealthy inhibitions that keep our inner light hidden behind a false self.  Although these experiences are shifting our very world on the outside and visible to everyone around us, the bigger change is taking place on the inside.

When I had young teenagers, I often repeated the phrase, “Nothing stays the same, except for change.”  You will have new classmates in the fall, friends may move away, your body will seem unrecognizable, you’ll gain new responsibilities and greater independence.  I wanted them to understand that while the world is constantly shifting around them, change is a normal, human experience.  It is the dance of life.

It’s normal to resist change—regardless of whether we judge the circumstances to be desirable or not.  We long to feel comfortable in familiar terrain again.  The reality is change is continually occurring and how we respond will determine the quality of our lives.  We have the choice to suffer in frustration and bitterness; or we can see our personal evolution with a heart of gratitude.  The former keeps one locked in the past with no desirable future to look forward to.  While gratitude keeps us moving forward, open to the new opportunities and miracles that manifest before us.

We may have loved the way the old brand of shoes fit our feet, and wish we could find them again.  However, when we are ready to open our hearts to change—voila, will wonders never cease—those new shoes waiting for you just around the corner are lighter, come in more colors, and look great with your new clothes.

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