What It's About

TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Not Giving Up When You Think You Must

There comes a time in all our lives when the pace of life overwhelms us to a point where we either consider or decide upon giving up.
Whether life is structured in such a way as to be chaotic or not is, in some ways, beside the point. We can decide to restructure our lives where we have control, but where we don’t, we need to make the best of a poor situation. And poor prospects diminish and trash our hope.
Apart from being assertive enough to say no to things that we are committed to but we don’t need to do, we need encouragement to not give up when we think we must. Such a challenge is the material of faith.
Drawing upon Wisdom and Courage
Just as it takes wisdom to discern what we are purposed to do and what we aren’t, it takes courage to say no, on the one hand, and to keep stepping forward on the other.
Once our decisions are made all we need is the courage to act and continue acting.
If we are committed to the things we are troubled by, our commitment will convict our courage, and we will have the strength, somehow, to continue on. Others may see this strength and marvel.
Drawing upon wisdom and courage is always inspirational to others, but we ourselves may not notice because we are too close to stressful matters.
If we can pray, asking God for the courage to act and continue acting, God will give us the faith to do just that. By praying we have the opportunity of surrender; to give ourselves over, in a fresh way, to God. Indeed, the very act of praying is an act of surrender, because we are communing and in communing we admit we cannot do this thing on our own.
That can be an enormous relief.
Drawing upon wisdom and courage is sharing our plight with God and trusted others, with the intent of listening for the later mode of application.
We seek help so we can act, and in acting we derive empowerment.
The Moment God Comes Through for Us
About the time we are to break, and perhaps then some, the Lord comes through for us, often in the most surprising of ways.
It is a biblical truth (Psalm 30:5) that we may be so forlorn that we might weep ourselves to sleep, and then be surprised to experience a spiritual relief upon awakening.
When we hold out for God in our faith, we give the Lord of our lives ample opportunity to intervene. We don’t hold God to ransom, and God will not rescue us before time. But we are to be encouraged that God comes to deliver us just in time. We know this as we look back and consider his faithfulness.
When things get to the point of overwhelming us there is nothing better than faith. Faith takes us just one more step, and then one more, and so on. With faith we can keep going, but wisdom inevitably tells us when to stop. We need the right balance of faith and wisdom.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Recovering from Irrecoverable Losses

WRITTEN OFF to ruin and sanctified to glory beyond our touch – many losses we experience come without any warning and the loss is, well, a loss. Such a thing – a thing we loved and loved dearly – has come and gone, now, in a flash.
How are we to cope with the stinging burden of grief? Until it occurs in bellowing volumes of pain, we never understand it: grief. And when it occurs, we cannot comprehend how and why life has to be so hard.
Attempting to Get Something Tangible From Grief
Losses tend with us over life’s full journey,
For to have lost was to have loved never more,
Whilst losses have the requiem of a living touch from God,
Losses have pain with which we cannot ignore!
God reminds us of who is really in control when we understand those things that happened we cannot turn around. They are done. This is not to make such horrible truths sting even more than they need to – as if anything can truly sting more than an irrecoverable loss. But it is about acknowledging the truth: this life, this loss, and love of all kinds; these are all about God.
Now we can commence an important knowledge.
Having reconciled that what we deal with is irreconcilable, and knowing God is a good God in that (and this is something we must know or our hopes of recovery are gone!), we are fast-tracked into an acceptance of peace we cannot understand. God does grant such a passage into such a peace.
Losses involve a journey into torment,
Harrowing is the burden of grief,
But what holds us, holds us and keeps us,
What keeps us is the hope of relief.
The hope of relief does hold us and keep us. Such a hope is invisible, yet it’s ever worthy, for it’s our only hope. Then this hope transforms into something real. Suddenly we are being made bigger somehow. We are being connected to something inherent in God. We become woven into and sown into life.
We are more at one with God.
Recovering from an irrecoverable loss is about acknowledging the truth: this life, this loss, this love; these are all about God. God is the central premise. When we start with God in all our pain, knowing that only God can help, we demand fewer answers and begin the journey toward acceptance.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

BOTH-AND: A Better Way to Think

HOW, in the simplest of terms, are we to cooperate with what can be discerned as God’s will?
One way is how we think. We are to think inclusively.
We think in ways that are BOTH-AND, not EITHER-OR.
Examples of this thinking are: Can we let people just be? Can we accept them for who they are, as they are right now? Can two opposite ideas live (and thrive) in tension? Can we foresee growth in difficult circumstances? Do we believe it’s possible – worthy of working for and believing in? Can big things and little things cohabit? Can we speak truth, the whole truth, yet gracefully?
When we hold all of life lightly, and we are not compelled by any force to coerce or manipulate, we find we can accommodate the broader field of thought: BOTH-AND.
The Demonstration of this Thinking as Power
We live very partially – we are side-taking beings.
We don’t want to hear both views and continue to weigh them indefinitely. We are uncomfortable unless we have made a decision. We take sides.
Sometimes life forces us to take sides; we need to make a decision and commit to one way versus another or one way of many ways. That is not only allowable, but necessary.
But to a vast extent life doesn’t require of us these sorts of value judgments – but we still make them.
We choose one person over another – one view over another – instead of going beyond the people or views represented.
The power represented in BOTH-AND thinking, versus EITHER-OR side-taking thinking, is the power of love, universally inspired, and bound for impartiality.
This is not about fence-sitting, people-pleasing, or peace-making... though some are incensed enough to think it. It’s about holding tensions that can be held; in patience; in deliberation; without the need to judge or condemn one party or issue because we have taken the side of another party or issue.
BOTH-AND thinking is the belief that two or more things can be mutually exclusive, yet true and valid at the same time; that there is space enough for many things to coexist simultaneously.
BOTH-AND thinking requires a studious mind, an impartial heart, and a wise sense of soul, in order to weigh things.
The BOTH-AND thinker can be many things to many people without betraying their integrity. They are genuinely free-spirited with regard to their thinking. They are safe people with which to share a controversial view, or even a secret, with.
The better life is saved for the bigger thinker: the person who can hold two dichotomous ideas in tension and not be forced into making an unnecessary judgment. Their mind is bigger and their experience of life is fuller. And they are relational persons because they can hold real friendships with all sorts.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

When Family Issues Swarm, Prowl and Condemn

IT IS THE BIGGEST issue of our lives: family dynamics – those that tend southwards: conflict, both seemingly reconcilable and irreconcilable.
We all sense the truth in this. When things go well within our families, things are good, and life runs swimmingly. But when things go poorly at a family level it becomes a crisis for everyone concerned, especially those least in control: children, youth, grandparents, wives, husbands, others (probably in that order).
When family issues swarm, prowl and condemn many, if not all, in the family set-up feel a varying burden of strain. It’s not just those who are responsible or those in control who feel it; everyone does.
So, what can we do?
Practical Considerations with Family Issues
-         Space is always important in conflict situations – distance apart and time apart, to consider matters in the reasonability of one’s own mind.
-         Getting into the other person’s moccasins. Yes, trying to stand from their position can be a great help. If the conflict occurs that is unevenly yoked – for instance, a child or a youth against a parent or grandparent – it’s good to consider the uneven power differential. Sometimes the most aggrieved party will need to talk with a non-family member (in a counselling role) to gain the perspective and receive the empathy required.
-         The simple acknowledgement that everyone is trying their best is important. It may not seem as if the other party is trying, but it is rare that family members go against each for sport. It is a great thing to be aware of that not everyone has the skills to cope with family conflict. Indeed, most of us flounder at some point.
-         Making ceremonies out of opportunities for forgiveness and restoration is a thing most families won’t instinctively think of. But the adults in control can organise a celebration – a meal out, a picnic, prizes for those who sorted the conflict out, etc. It might sound corny, but this sort of thing can be done very well and adds immensely to the healing process. It also creates a sense of unity and tradition. When asked, “How did your family cope with conflict?” we could say, “We struggled, but we would always do something to acknowledge and recognise those who forgave and restored relationships in our family.”
All families endure conflict, and some conflicts are so embarrassing we may cover them up. But conflict is astoundingly normal in family dynamics, and don’t they occur one on top of another, or three at a time!
Providing space for reflection, the giving of empathy, acknowledgement of the other person’s situation, and the celebration of resolutions all help.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Patience – The Most Necessary Virtue

Patience is a virtue,
That’s what they verily say,
Don’t be surprised what it costs you,
Just be willing to pay.
For by patience alone,
There is trust and peace and joy,
In patience alone,
Many things won’t annoy.
Like courage, which adds so much to so many qualities of virtue, patience augments a quiet trust born of humility, peace that transcends our understanding, an abounding sense of joy, and an overcoming hope that cannot be destroyed. The moment we put the purposes and the will of God first, that very moment patience is ours! There is no better choice.
No better choice.
That there is no better choice we can be certain: patience is faith; it is the formation of trust in our very beings; it takes us from uncertainty to certainty, because we have agreed to know what we don’t know – to leave ‘knowledge’ at the door and walk right in on our daunting realities.
What is more important – love or patience?
Wouldn’t Love Be a More Necessary Virtue?
As we read, we may be thinking that love is a more fundamental – a more far reaching – virtue. But patience is the relational expression of love. Patience says something about how well we are relating with ourselves, the grace we have for others, and our centrality with God.
Now, love is beyond qualification as a virtue. And although virtues point to love, love sits supreme over all of them. Love embodies all virtue. So, we might safely say that patience points us to love – it is an emissary of love; a meek combatant in the name of love; a worthy use of time, effort, resource and everything else we have to invest.
If we have patience we are exemplars of love.
If we honour life, others around us, and our God, by patience, we are esteemed – not for ourselves – but for God’s sake; for God’s glory.
Patience will have us transcending words as we ply our words by action. Patience is a very real manifestation of love. People cannot help but notice the kindness and compassion effused in patience extended toward them in what we Christians term, grace. It is the way we show we love people.
Tolerance, serenity, fortitude, persistence, endurance, diligence – these are the siblings of patience; a love that transcends words and meets the intent of words in action.
Patience is the love of both action and inaction.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Forgiving the Transference of Anger In Others

“Honesty in Our Sin” – the Poem
Anger that burns from deep within,
A sign of our unreconciled burden of sin,
We and they – we’re just the same,
Our humanness just wants to shift the blame.
The anger in transference is sullenly spent,
Most of us have no idea that’s how we’re bent,
But God can reveal just how we miss the mark,
When he shows us, most certainly, our mood is dark.
Where's our soul, and our mind?
What's our role, and how are we defined?
Now's the time to reflect on 'being',
Our hope is now to begin the seeing.
Where's our soul, and our mind?
What's our role, and how are we defined?
Now's the time to reflect on 'being',
Our hope is now to begin the seeing.
Where's our soul, and our mind?
What's our role, and how are we defined?
Now's the time to reflect on 'being',
Our hope is now to begin the seeing.
Face tF
Face-to-face with our sin – we feel the shame,
The only shame that brings good pain,
For this pain we feel is for a reconciliatory cause,
Remorse and amends opens God’s doors.
Anger is good – for in it we’re shown,
Just how good God can be known,
For God shows us our own sinful part,
Honesty in our sin is a very good start.
Forgiving another’s transference of anger against us – often as it’s caged in passive aggressiveness – is about acknowledging just how far we are all are compared with the standards of holiness God assumes by his nature.
In our brokenness we are similar with each other, if not the same.
We would like to be honest with people, but because we often cannot be, we communicate in ways that inflict anger on them. Of course, others do it to us all the time. We notice it when it’s in full swing against us, but we’re not as liable to see it when we are the propagators.
The more we can see our own sin, the more compassionate we are regarding others’ sin. The more we can see how pure and holy God is – and wholly set apart – the more we are contrite in our own failures of unrighteousness, injustice and unfairness.
These are important reckonings! We suddenly see that the grace in God is as perfect as it is untouchable – it is far too holy for us. Yet, it is given to us. How utterly good is God to have determined we are worthy of forgiveness because of Jesus Christ!
Forgiving others’ transference of anger onto us is easier – and abundantly easy – when we see how similar we are. When God gives us this sight for our own sinfulness unforgiveness is suddenly much less a problem. God’s grace is perfect, as God is perfect. Our gracelessness is addressed when we acknowledge the truth: it is wonderful to know I am a sinner, because judgment against others is shown for what it truly is – an attack against God.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Brief Theology On Divorce and Remarriage

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Scripture passages on divorce can appear to be a ‘lucky dip’ (or a mine field) for the uninitiated – or even the veteran expositor – because of the ethical dimensions involved. That is, to mention the various vagaries of application – for there are so many cases for a single theology to fit.
Firstly, there are the commonly accepted four schools on the continuum of acceptability of divorce and remarriage: from strictest (no divorce, no remarriage) to the most lenient (both divorce and remarriage acceptable in a variety of circumstances).
What is God’s will, though?
It’s clearly that there is no divorce. But, considering that both the circumstances that lead to divorce, and divorce itself, are sin, it meets with our humanity that we will see cases where there is a falling short of God’s perfect standard. Indeed, no marriage measures up to God’s perfect standard in any event; but at least intact marriages model something of the covenant nature of our relationship with God.
When Is It Right To Divorce?
It is foreseeable that a jilted party might divorce, for it may be the only option for a fresh beginning when there was never any controlling say regarding reconciliation. There is the precondition that there has been a sufficient allowance made for both forgiveness of the aggrieving party and reconciliation. But the jilted party may have been the perpetrator of marital dissatisfaction, for instance, domestic or family violence or neglect. Surely the victim of violence has grounds to be the jilted party. And why should they suffer more by being shunned upon for happiness within a loving second marriage?
It appears clear, from Matthew 19:9, that a jilted party can divorce who has experienced the indignity of their mate being unfaithful. The olive branch of forgiveness is still, however, to be extended, and hope for reconciliation.
There are times when couples have tried everything and one or both enter despair; perhaps they are this way for years. Should misery become them indefinitely to the detriment of their children, family, neighbours and others? Sure, we can sprout “mutual submission” and laud the blessings of committing to the end, but some couples cannot last the distance; they are rent and broken from within.
If a person who has divorced, or becomes divorced, doesn’t have the gift of celibacy (and so many will consider that no ‘gift’ at all) what is to become of them if the church takes a hard line? Do they not deserve grace – a second chance? Upon their sincere and marriage-worthy recovery, including a full portion of repentance, shouldn’t they have that chance at love (again)?
A good theology on divorce and remarriage is difficult to develop. Ethical considerations are so vast. But a compassionate approach, where there is acknowledgement of sin, and the recognition of truth, works best. Nobody is beyond God’s grace: forgiveness and the bequeathal of a second chance.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How Someone Experiences A Living Hell

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)
THIS IS NO eschatological (end times) article. No, what we are dealing with is the sense of everyday heaven and everyday hell – the sense of experiential heaven and experiential hell. It’s about the life choices we make – those for life and those for death.
If we had the inability to love – which would mean we wouldn’t experience compassion and gentleness and patience toward others in any fervent amount or to any significant effect – then we would live without the pulse of God’s Spirit throbbing through the veins to our hearts. That would be a travesty. We wouldn’t simply miss the meaning of life, but we’d miss the treasures of heaven, altogether. That is to say, we would miss God and have no link, no experience, and no clue as to the Divine. We would our joy come from? Or, for that matter, our hope?
If we were to get angry with those who have an apparent lack in their grasp on love, we might miss our opportunity to see what they are truly lacking – a grasp on God, on life, on a real and living experience of heaven.
Loving Those In Their Chosen Reality of Hell
Why would we not quietly pity these instead of secretly berating them? They, though they make life a misery for their contemporaries, cannot receive what Christ came to give them. Their staunch stubbornness is a grating nemesis against their very selves. It’s so silly, but we must wonder how terribly shocking it must be to live their lives. Having empathy for the dispassionate one protects our sense of compassion – that we might viably be compassionate, patient and tolerant with the very persons who seem to have none of such virtue.
Then we know the aspect of God’s grace that has grown from seed to a fuller maturity in us: when we might pity the person who hurts us, yes truly pity them, and in no sense of pride, either. It is love that compels us to want more for them than they would receive for themselves.
Love pushes us to nurture compassion and warmth and space for them.
We should pray for those in our lives who cannot seem to love – who lack compassion, patience, kindness, tolerance, etc. Those who have not been touched by love exist in life as if it were a living hell. Our role is to keep loving; to keep nurturing hope that God would soften their hearts into heaven.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Naming and Shaming Our Pride for God’s Glory

Egos about, everywhere,
One is mine, I need to care,
God’s opportunity’s to own who we are,
Our fallen nature’s never away too far.
TOO often we see it in others, but not enough in ourselves. Our egos are the ending of us (and our relationships) so far as loving progress is concerned. When we allow God to intervene in us, we become so focused on repentance we have neither the time nor the inclination to judge.
Lord, highlight my ego in my relationships, and give me the courage to deal with it as only I can – please. AMEN.
Let’s go deeper...
Naming and shaming our pride – to pour contempt all over it – is the very opportunity, the space, God needs to take our relationships to another level.
We can only ever get the fullness of the other person before us when we give them the contrite fullness of us, ourselves.
If we won’t risk our egos – tossing them into the fire of hell where they belong – they won’t risk their egos. We must be willing and courageous to go with the leading of God and risk ‘our stuff’ in faith, and in the hope, that they will.
Stripping Back to God
Stripping back our pride – smashing the ego on the rocks of change – is getting us back to God. We do it in an instant. With no self-protection availed to ourselves, we obliterate that which is, has been, and always will be the relational barrier.
Stripping back to God is about being spiritually naked in the safest of hands – in the full assurance of confidence (as we tell ourselves – ‘I am safe’) – that this risk will be worth it. If it won’t work out right now, we must not get disheartened; we keep doing it in faith – God always rewards us, eventually, for striding in faith. And such a reward is abundantly and eternally worthwhile.
Stripping back to God is about getting away from the shadow mission – the centralising of part of our lives on what is unworthy, selfish or dark – and going into the cleansed territory of our purpose for God.
Our purpose – in broad terms – is to love our neighbours. We cannot do such a thing with egos enabled and operational. We must not just park our egos, but name them and shame them.
When we allow God to intervene in us, forgetting what is ‘wrong’ with them, we become so focused on repentance we have neither the time nor the inclination to judge. Then there is a relationship breakthrough; then there is the space needed to heal that which has been broken.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Respecting, Not Fearing, the Emotions

“Emotional life can be influenced, but it cannot be commanded.”
AS WE sit in the space of our logic and reason, without threat of emotion, we find a certain scholarly safety is available. It’s a place where we may gather with a friend or two and enjoy a quiet beverage and some rather stimulating (or boring) intellectual dialogue.
Conversely, when we are rained on by that other side of human experience – where thoughts are run roughshod because of the rampancy of our feelings – we are quickly out of control.
Rather than controlling what we will think about, our feelings are more prone to taking on a discretion of their own. What we put into our characters is likely to affect the experience of our feelings as we have them, but there are also those feelings deeper below that seem ingrained in our more visceral responses.
To Trust Feelings or Not Trust Them
Many people are scared – or may think it’s foolish – to trust feelings. For some there is the feeling that we’ll be overwhelmed beyond hope, or that they may not be able to trust their feelings or even themselves in the midst of such a feeling.
But those deeper down core and instinctive feelings need to always be taken seriously. Few people, if any, ‘cry wolf’ in order to get attention regarding the deeper down feelings – like anguish. It can seek like embarrassing work. But there are those who do, and they dare to be different. It’s good that we work through these deeper down feelings.
Trusting our feelings is a vital first step individually in a corporate setting, let alone as something to forge intimacy, but we have not done this well.
Sitting in the raw situation of one’s own anguish is a special opportunity to grow through these deeper feelings by some sense of confident engagement with them. We all want to engage good people who can sit in their own moment of pain. Bearing feelings is what we can know by theory. We may want to be someone who can bear our own feelings.
Respecting our fear, but, at the same time, not getting away from the need to influence our emotions and behaviour, we find that the respect we experience is helping us.
But it is about sitting in the period of pain, and, by this method, maximum learning potential exists.
Feeling our feelings is only good, however, when we can trust them. We learn not to judge ourselves or judge our feelings.
Feeling our feelings is only good when we can trust them – the deeper bodily feelings are very trustworthy. God has given us the opportunity to respect our feelings so that life has purpose and meaning; and this is good.
Feelings have a purpose – many of them. Sitting through our feelings, being with them, and respecting them, not fearing them, is our aim. Then we can influence them.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Blessing of Unconditional Acceptance

It seems strange to us that we are weak,
When love from others we do solemnly seek,
But the powers of acceptance and rejection are so,
That they make us, definitely, our own distant foe.
We hate it when we can’t find our way,
Into their hearts – and there to stay,
So best are we when we bear their wrong,
When we bear our weakness, then we’re strong!
It’s unfair that we seem to be affected by the partiality of people. As people, we accept some and yet we reject others – even as if we cannot help it. Yet we whistle at the dark far too much when we are actually destined for higher things; not for ourselves, but for others.
We are, at once, asked and even required, by God, to accept all persons, notwithstanding their state or status or even their infractions against us, or any we may love.
What seems a ridiculously tall order is the privilege of life in the Kingdom of the King of Kings. Once we recognise that God gives us the capacity to own our love for every single next person, and we see that such unconditional acceptance is a gift and not a hardship, we have no bitterness about needing to forgive. It is our fundamental pleasure to forgive, for what God is already giving back to us.
Casting Off Need for Acceptance Brings Tolerance for Rejection
What a fabulously paradoxical life: that, in God, we are given not simply the ability to not need to be accepted, but also the tolerance of understanding and forgiveness to grapple with rejection. Not one but both tools are given to us.
The heights of divine irony are reached when we determine it to be an honour to be lambasted again the poles of partiality, because we have God, and with God, we have all we need.
This is the blessing of unconditional acceptance. No further effort, nor burden, is experienced. None whatsoever – at least as it is possible.
When we have God, and we have understood without complaint that God – alone – is everything, we need nothing of human partiality: that ‘precious’ if not flattering sense of being favoured without ever knowing why.
Only with God have we the reason to forgive a person, so their wrong against us won’t affect our acceptance of them. When we bear our weakness, being truthful about its whereabouts, then we may be strengthened. Such a strength is required to be able to forgive.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.