What It's About

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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Being Real About Disguises for Sadness

Sadness isn’t always readily apparent, but frustration, annoyance and anger or pretending to be happy when we’re not may often be. Sadness, potentially, underlies the negative emotions of life. These are times when we cannot control life, and, beyond the logical mind that knows that control isn’t the point, we still want to control it. These are times when we’re devoid of protection to deny; when we’re stripped bare; when we take things honestly but painfully. Yes, when we take pretence away, the soul unembellished, there is sadness. And we can grow to welcome it.
This, we don’t need to run from.
This, we don’t need to fear.
Touching this is part of our healing — an ongoing process with no ultimate destination this side of eternity. We can only hope we remain open enough when negativity strikes, because sadness will often underpin it. Sadness seeks consolation. We can console ourselves and seek the consolation of others.
Digging Deeper Down To Our Sadness
There’s plenty of theory suggesting we have repressed selves where experiences too dark were tidily shelved away, because we had no way to cope with them, or because we were told they were too dirty — causing us to shamefully forget them.
Deep within our unconscious minds, no matter how well-adjusted our upbringings were, resides a meaningful sadness that invites us to touch it. Doing such a thing, however, requires a rudimentary, tenacious sort of courage. Things buried so deep were put there because of the pain involved. But having the courage to go down there — something all of us are capable of — is to be richly rewarded.
Digging deeply down to our sadness, reliving the darkest areas of our lives, redeems a feature of life we can acknowledge if we choose to. Nothing there is rightfully shameful or guilt-inflicting, though we may feel these very emotions. Logically, we spend time accepting those parts of ourselves we’re most sad about.
Other Things Revealing Sadness
Many of our most negative emotions are a cover for deeper sadness; anger, anxiety, even pretentious happiness.
These negative emotions are a trigger for deeper exploration.
When we’re in a mood, instead of allowing it to continue, we can enquire of our state of mind and heart beneath; just to see if the mood reveals a deeper lack, for they often do.
There are times when genuine sadness strikes at a very conscious level; again, we must honour such sadness, allowing ourselves time out — to be gentle with ourselves.
Negative emotions like anger, much everyday anxiety, and even showy happiness are often a cover for sadness at a deeper level. Everyone has sadness and it’s okay. Enquiring of our negative emotions to check for sadness, and to be there for ourselves, validates such sadness. We don’t feel so lonely or helpless.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Overcoming the Soul Frustration In Depression

The consummation of a soul is a meeting with God – face to face, as it were – where, for one split second, we gain the spiritual wherewithal to know God is (or was) with us.
We know God’s presence has licked the innermost corner of our souls in this:
“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.”
— EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809–1849)
But there is also something that takes us away from this enjoyment of God by the manifestation of us, individuals, greeting our souls. When we enjoy such supremely developed beauty – like Pachelbel Canon in D – we have the very vehicle that takes us into the Holy of Holies, by the agency of our human-seeking-divine spirituality.
We must endure many levels of frustration in this life – some frustrations enter and reside at the level of our souls. If we cannot address these frustrations – making them better, or even acceptable – we find we sink further into the nebulous world of our soul’s frustration. Honesty is the key, and the courage to be honest; to be bold.
Frustrations they rise,
When our souls are scowled,
There our weakness lies,
Where our integrity’s fouled.
When we must lie,
And betray ourselves from within,
Our inner selves die,
And we find ourselves in sin.
Soul frustrations are those things within life that we lie about – that which, deep down, we know are true. What happens if we tell people we’re happy when we’re really actually very sad, confused, angry, or hurt is we lie only to ourselves, and we cause our souls distress.
When our souls are frustrated, we’ve gotten into habits of lying about how we really feel to the outside world. It’s like we’re one person in the world (our outer persona) and another person (with unacknowledged issues) within ourselves.
This is about being at one with ourselves.
When we betray ourselves then we’re in line for depressive illnesses – this is why during grief we may be thrust into depression; it’s because our identities have been torn, and our operating integrity is broken.
Depression can be thought of as a misfiring of our inner selves. Whenever we lose our operating integrity due to grief – when our identities are torn – it causes soul frustration. The inner fabric of our being is challenged and it flounders. What we must do to reduce soul frustration is simply be truer to ourselves. That takes courage.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Power-Violation-Resistance Dynamic

“Where there is power, there is resistance.”
― Michel Foucault
This is a great truth that leaders everywhere should be aware of. Truly inspiring leadership caters for perceptions around power, acknowledging that resistance isn’t something to resist; that it’s an opportunity to be harmonised. When we respect the expression of resistance, seeking to understand its oppositional power base, we may reduce the resistance through cooperation. The power of two is greater than the power of one.
Where There is a Violation...
... then there will be resistance.
Nothing is surer in the relational setting. And conflict, as it is, is a relational construct of two sides at odds with one another – whether it’s conflict within one person, between two or more people, or between two groups (or more).
If we understand the dynamics between people – and the inner forces of psychology that drive us all – we can subsume much of the passive aggressiveness and overt hostility in a sense of mutual productiveness. This we do by creating a relational relationship. They say that it pays to keep our enemies closer than our friends; there is a great advantage in having the interest and the pluck to maintain a troubled relationship.
Surely good leadership – and wise partnership (for that’s what true leadership is about) – is about knowing the influence of resistance. When we can lead in such ways as to meet the resistance through understanding, we gradually dissolve the resistance, for there is less to fear in those resisting.
But leadership voices that do not cater for resistance very well will increase the presence of resistance – unless they smash it altogether, creating a dictatorship. But there will always be tacit resistance in any case of a violation of power; the disjunct of relationship.
Relationships were always designed as vestibules of teamwork, and more-or-less the institution of power was always meant to operate as a dance. After all, who really is in control? It can only be God.
Our ever-present challenge is to come back to the solemn truth that one who insists upon being a friend to all is the one committed to forgiveness, because the relationship – and hence any project – lays contingent on our willingness and capacity to forgive. Forgiveness transforms power into something palatable and it’s a spiritual destination where resistance can’t stand.
“One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend.”
— Proverbs 17:9 (NRSV)
If we have power or influence let’s know,
We’re positioned to stifle or to grow,
This is about the people we lead,
So let’s resolve now to sow good seed.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

What You Need Most In Your Counsellor

“... the best guides are willing to be silent yet present, and are comfortable with unknowing.”
— HENRI NOUWEN (1932–1996)
EVERY HEALTHY PERSON comes around eventually to this fundamental truth: we all need a counsellor, whether paid or unpaid. We all need wise guides who have the role of quietly speaking the truth into our lives – and the best of those work in the paradoxical fashion of dealing in the silence and in the unanswerable. They hold the moment and they show us that silence is friend. They are dutiful and dependable, trustworthy to the ends (by whatever means necessary) of their work with us. They are our cheer squad and our accountability partner, but neither overtly. We always have that sense of safety when we are with them.
Journeying into the Unknown, Willingly & Without Hesitation
What we all need more of is the capacity to venture into the unknown. This is why faith is a necessity to live a life that is full of mystery.
People may ask, “Why is it so necessary to venture into the unknown?” What is a fair enough question should be blatantly obvious. There are so many things in this life we have no answer for – and will never, in this life, have an answer for. If that answers the question, and I hope it does, let us move on:
Journeying into the unknown is an unsavoury prospect. We don’t want to go there. So we are best trained in seeing the benefits and being shown the process so we can do it for ourselves, willingly, enthusiastically, without hesitation. Such a thing has to be experienced firsthand. We have to journey into the awkwardness; to go volitionally into the pain or discomfort that such a commitment requires. Venturing into a place of nothingness – or what seems a void of anything meaningful – by faith – brings us to a surprising reality. We meet ourselves there. We are closer to God there. We are proximal to the truth, there. Being there is the centrepiece of life. Once we have been there, going back there is not so hard.
What we need most in our counsellors and spiritual guides is a fellow venturer. We need someone who will go with us, through training us, and who will accompany us, into the vast unknown that is the wilderness of our hearts. They, too, will share, by example, their own sense of vulnerability. They are safely vulnerable people.
He or she is there for you,
There’s no doubt about it,
They help us to hold to what is true,
And in that they help us sit.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Accessing and Engaging Hope in Lostness

I DISCOVERED today, when meeting with someone in a counselling setting, that there is the possibility that we can feel lost in the midst of what is otherwise a very positive life. Feeling lost is not exclusive to those who live without hope. On the contrary, for some, feeling lost means there is a lack of purpose or direction, though everything otherwise is perfectly okay.
Accessing and engaging hope in our lostness is an attractive option, which is also an understatement. Of all things we can do to invest in, it is hope that secures us that sustaining confidence we need in plunging through the lostness of our current experience. Feeling lost may even be a crucial indicator of the soul’s inner desire and burgeoning passion to provide the energy and wherewithal to negotiate the next frontier.
This process of examination – where we have the opportunity to reflect and plan – is the soul’s enquiry into itself; us, into ourselves.
Fuelled with hope, sustained by passion to find our way, we push ever gently forward on that unique and critical pathway our Lord has paved for us. How do we know what this pathway looks like? It looks exactly like the steps we take. It looks precisely like the decisions we make. It looks just like our future looks as it unfolds. And whilst we discern the Lord, God is with us by our efforts of obedience.
Using the Past to Direct the Future
There is a vast beauty in the being of the person who has, relatively advanced in years, found their purpose in wanting the best of life to come.
Would God ever limit us in our desire to live the best of life? No! God desires that we live the abundant life, because God’s nature is to multiply blessing.
Whatever past we have, we amend it toward healing, or we appreciate the things we have to be thankful for. With life experience in tow, we are incredibly grateful for the things we have learned, and with this sort of attitude, we relegate our regrets to the kind of reflection that helps us let go.
Hope will spur us on, even when we feel lost, because it gives us confidence on loan. And such a confidence never disappoints. Hope will see us through, eventually, if we do not give up. With hope nothing can conquer us. Hope sustains our search for purpose, direction, and meaning.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mayhem, Calamity, Insanity... God’s Peace

In the busyness of life,
Racked with anxiousness and strife,
Temptation’s swarm to fixate.
Instead of feeling small,
We may stand erect and tall,
Just stay positive and don’t be late.
We can choose to flounder or flourish; to be anguished or to accept. We can achieve much in one 24-hour period if we work on being on time; for our appointments, deadlines and commitments. We can do most things well, but few things perfectly. Good enough is good enough.
Surviving for One More Day is Thriving or Nothing
We can choose to remain in this race of life by moping through it, or by choosing a confidence on loan – which is a confidence that is free – which is also a confidence that is real, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We can afford the price of this confidence as we joyously do the one thing before us; only one thing we can do and that thing we can do. Only then is there the next thing. It doesn’t matter if this one thing before us is ten things. We do them if it’s possible.
When we add to our attitude of confidence, the willingness to stretch forward and diligently undertake what is for us alone to do, and we see the results for our patient work, we allow God’s Spirit to inspire ourselves.
Surviving one more day, and then one more, is a thriving life. Either that, or we are putting ourselves down and it’s a nothing life. We make that choice as to how we see and manage our lives. Nobody can do it for us.
But as we bend forward toward the realities that God has put before us, and we manage one, then the next, and the next, and so on, God shows us our faith to simply present as faithful – and God is faithful in giving us the reward of confidence to shine from within our beings.
A lot of life’s challenges can be contained and met simply in not being late. By planning ahead – and by diligently doing what we can do – by getting over our procrastination (which is fear) – we gain the reward of a relief from stress, and we gain confidence that we can succeed by our own courageous efforts.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How Hurts Help Healing and Wholeness

Whenever we have the raw courage to be honest, especially in the realm of our emotions, God’s Spirit is able to do a healing work. And this helps so much in the midst of our relationships, for we are able to genuinely deal with people graciously having been touched by the healing ministry of the Spirit.
This is important, because our hurts emanate from people; those people and situations we find particularly ungracious. But there is always life beyond those things we find ungracious. We have to be open and deal with our pride; every barrier to arrogant ignorance is a stumbling block for the unknowing.
The Reason for Hurt Is Hope for Healing
We shouldn’t be surprised when we are hurt, because we are thinking, feeling beings capable of knowing love and fear, acceptance and rejection.
So when we are hurt, even if we feel confused and frustrated, we can understand there is a logic in feeling this way.
We can know that in the basis of hurt there is the opportunity – the hope – for healing, and greater portion of wholeness. All we need is the authenticity of honesty, being truthful about our thoughts and feelings, so as to make them accessible to an as yet untapped genre of spiritual experience.
There is a resource of great power that is accessed when we advocate for ourselves in the form of validating our feelings. Such a thing is helped as we afford for ourselves the fair and reasonable portion of God’s grace – which we may even give to others, yet sparingly to ourselves.
If we can see that our hurts have propagated the possibility for healing, because we are prompted to deal in the truth, we don’t go the way of anger toward retribution. We execute the movement of grace in the moment to instead rally in the truth rather than respond by anger, denial, bargaining, or by depressed thought.
Our hurts are opportunities to help us toward the healing of wholeness. Hurts make us open emotionally and when humility is elevated – because we have given up on our pride – and truth is revealed and able to be seen, the agency to healing is made manifest.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Givers, Takers, and Other Kinds of People

FOR MY WAY of thinking, there are four kinds of people in this world: of two forms, the giver and the taker, there are two forms of each: the emotionally healthy and the emotionally hurt. So, that means, broadly speaking there are these four kinds of people:
1.       the Emotionally Healthy Giver
2.      the Emotionally Healthy Taker
3.      the Emotionally Hurt Giver
4.      the Emotionally Hurt Taker
Giver: someone who is characterised by a natural desire to give their time, effort, and resources.
Taker: someone who is characterised by a natural desire to receive from others in favour of giving.
Let’s contrast these four kinds of people to determine what’s most desirable.
1.      the Emotionally Healthy Giver
It’s obvious that this is the most desirable person to be, as well as being the best (safest) person to interact with. They give with absolutely no strings attached. They don’t need kudos, but they see where it’s due and ensure they give plenty of feedback and praise; they encourage others. Their giving is done with proper motive, imaginatively, and without hesitation or regret. To be characterised as an emotionally healthy giver is probably the greatest relational compliment. A designation from attachment theory would suggest this person is securely adjusted to his/her world.
2.     the Emotionally Healthy Taker
These people are fun to be around when it’s all smooth sailing, but when the winds of adversity beat on bow of the boat – and there’s something unsavoury to deal with – they may quickly go off in search for something more positive. They sow into relationships, but only to a point, because there’s a selfish motive underpinning their method. Of all people who should be wary of the emotionally healthy taker it’s the next category of person – the emotionally hurt giver. The attachment pattern represented, here, is avoidant.
3.     the Emotionally Hurt Giver
The emotionally hurt giver is hurt, again, when their giving is not appreciated – and the taker is the past-master of taking without gratitude or even taking whilst criticising. These two are on a collision course and conflict is only a stretch of time away. If they get too damaged, emotionally hurt givers can become emotionally hurt takers, having given up on the worth and use of giving when they continually stand to be hurt. But this person wants to give; they just also need to be appreciated for their giving. They fit suitably in the mould ambivalent/resistant or have an anxious pattern of attachment.
4.     the Emotionally Hurt Taker
This person is so easily maligned. They are damaged goods. They may love you one minute, despise you the next. So far as attachment theory is concerned, this person behaves consistently with the disorganised pattern. If we are an emotionally hurt taker, we have learned that hardly anyone can be trusted; the world is a dark and dangerous place. It seems obvious that those who have been abused and neglected as children may battle to overcome this pattern, for those they had to trust continually violated them.
Giving is better than taking and emotional health is better than emotional hurt. So the emotionally healthy giver – who gives without hesitation or regret – and keeps on giving – is blessed. It’s best that people who are natural givers learn that there are many takers – yes, even in the Christian world – and, in resetting their expectations, they will simply understand it’s just more blessed to give than receive.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Enduring the Hour, Enduring the Day

There are days we want to be thankful, but, just the same, we can’t feel it.
Just knowing we ought to be thankful helps, but it also hinders. We feel apart from ourselves; hardly on the same page — if that’s even possible.
Some hours are troublesome mentally and, therefore, emotionally and spiritually. Some entire days have us vanquished beyond reasonable sense for what we think we should feel. Sometimes what we feel is incomprehensible. It defies analysis.
Hope That Spreads Beyond Feeling
What does it take to endure such a struggling hour; such tumultuous a day?
We know what it takes: patience, humility, courage, faithfulness, gentleness with ourselves, persisting endurance, even a convenient forgetfulness.
Within all the abovementioned virtue is the unspeakable and incoherent sense that we must just be; like when we pray to God in silence beyond words—in utterances surpassing language.
Hope that spreads beyond feeling is the encounter we have with God in those moments that are uncomfortable; those moments in those hours and days before we are revived again. The hour or day we are revived is usually never too far away – as we look back. Hope has the role of helping us persevere when it’s all we have – and it’s all we need.
Endurance Is the Much Practiced Art
Why do we not give ourselves more credit for our endurance?
The fact that we remain, today and every day, and even on the days we give up, we remain. Remaining alive, living and breathing in this broken world, is a testament to the grace of God and to the tenacity of the human will to subsist on grace alone.
Endurance is something we have had plenty of practise mastering.
So why would we get down on ourselves? Disparaging ourselves has become an art form for too many of us. It would be better to disparage the devil.
Enduring the hour, and enduring the day, is the consistent application of enduring how we have already endured. We could have always done better, I suppose. But perfection is a pretty poor yardstick in life.
Surely the best we can do is to be still within ourselves and know the Presence of God.
Making it through an unsavoury hour, and putting each shaky hour upon each previous hour—in making it through a trial of a day—is the project of hopefulness ventured forth in faith.
Time ticks forward. It always has and always will. When we abide with time things eventually improve. An honest hopefulness is the better way.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Living Right In An Upside-Down World

— Steven Furtick
We most certainly live in an upside-down world. The moment we understand that our happiness lies in giving it away, and we do this same thing as a matter of routine, is a moment we begin to truly live. We see here what God calls us to – to live in such a way as to recognise we are not here alone – there are people with needs all about. God is calling us to get involved in the work of his creation to the extension of blessing within the realm of relationships.
Convenience, on the other hand, or for some, comfort, and for others, pleasure, seem to be the way we can fast track our way to blessing – we take what is ours for the taking. But we miss the point. Blessing is God-ordained, not of us at all. When we understand this, and accept it, realising living concepts have to be this way, we grow exponentially in wisdom. All of a sudden life makes sense. What a travesty it is that many people go to their graves having never understood.
Whatever we place our efforts in, whatever we love, becomes intrinsically part of us – it adheres to us in the form of our identity.
If we will choose for our convenience or our comfort or our pleasure, we choose for a selfish identity. But if we will choose to seek God, all ways, God will most certainly inspire a calling from within us; a venture of kingdom majesty where we can be used to good effect to the extension of blessing to others, for the glory of God.
This is the chance of our lives; after we are dead the opportunity to live in this world is forever gone. And although we are eternal beings – our spirits – we may have no more opportunity to create and inspire and transform. Our opportunity to impact life and lives stands in the present tense. If we will take God seriously enough to earnestly seek him – the knowledge of his desires for our lives – we will most certainly have our minds and hearts furnished by words and visions and dreams that will grace our identities.
It’s a secret revealed by the Lord Jesus: we live in an upside-down world. If we wish to be happy we will understand we need to make others happy. If we wish to be loved we will understand we need to love others. If we desire peace we will understand we need to live peaceably.
Convenience, comfort and pleasure God wants for us, but it’s not for us to take them; God gives generously and we are blessed to trust him. Living right is about putting God first.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.