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

Friday, January 31, 2014

When Two Have Become One

“To be married is to have found in a total stranger a near and long-lost relative; a true blood relative even closer to us than father and mother.”

— Mike Mason

As two become one,

Their love is found unique,

What they will become,

Is truly something complete.

Think of love as an unrefined perfection; what God can do for two imperfect people as they agree to submit to one another for the marriage’s sake. Love is willing sacrifice. Love is God’s answer: one human being to another.

Can there be a more salubrious event in the sight of God than two becoming one, whether by marital union or by teamwork or by reaching settlement? God is the God of reconciliation and where there are differences, the God-appointed destiny is to be reconciled, always – by one of many possible ways of being reconciled.

Marriage is perfect reconciliation.

Marriage is the epitome of God’s design for two persons of the opposite sex, who fit together, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and, as the culmination of these, sexually.

Marriage is union of trust and the upholding of respect. Where two persons come together, so differently arranged, but placed together by circumstances that God has brought about, it is a veritable miracle that they be such different persons who can attain to trust and respect for the other – to earnestly seek it, every day. There is no shame in being male or being female, though our bodies are different. There is no shame in being male or female, though we think differently.

Marriage is the opportunity to accept another person more, perhaps, than they may accept themselves. What a gift it is to one partner who has a low self-esteem to receive affirmation and confirmation from their partner, not that a partner is required to complete one’s identity in this fashion.

Such love in marriage completes us, as far as God’s will for completion is concerned. Unity has no higher mark in this life. Marriage is designed to be all this. But this doesn’t mean there won’t be a threat to such unity from time to time – or that unity may be destroyed and need to be rebuilt. It is to both parties to the arrangement of marriage that the responsibility for unity lays. Both are equally responsible for unity.

When two have become one, there must be celebrations in heaven. When two have become one there are certainly celebrations on earth.

When two have become one there is a note of willing sacrifice that is shared. They have transcended the barriers of their individual selfishness. They have attained something of God in their midst.


As two become one,

Their love is found complete,

What they will become,

Is something very truly unique.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Tragic Beauty In Communal Grief

When the community comes together,
In a graphic presence of grief,
Palpable, the communal tether,
As they grapple with what’s beyond belief.
A loved one taken from them,
A mentor and colleague,
This life’s now a requiem,
And now just feel the fatigue!
Tear-stained cheeks and puffy eyes,
Cannot hide the pain,
Why has this wrong occurred?
Our mate no longer to remain!
Brave faces and kind mumblings,
And a solemn silence to bear,
Together we bear these soul rumblings,
Together we will, for each other, care.
PRAYERS and pubs do not ordinarily mix, but recently I had the privilege of praying a pastoral prayer at a bar, where a throng gathered in respectful solemnity, in honour of the loss of a community figure of larger-than-life stature. I prayed with the drinkers, with children, with sports people, and coaches. And we all lamented together the loss of a great soul.
When we are grieving a loss it is true grief, because that person cannot be returned to us. We are forced to adjust to something we do not wish to adjust to. We are forced to make a choice as to whether we will adjust or resist, but we find out that resistance is inherently frustrating and ultimately futile. The message of life is that grief is the response to love, when love has done its work in the completed sense – when such love, as it was, is no more.
Grief, then, is the manifestation of losing what was loved. Grief is inherent in pain.
There are some losses that don’t involve communal grief, but many do, including the common familial grief. When a family loses a patriarch or matriarch, or a dear son or daughter, there is a family response; an outpouring that recognises the vastness of the loss. So it is a hard reality for someone who cannot grieve in a communal way; for someone who must go it alone. They will need external support.
Communal grief is both beautiful and tragic: beautiful because there is love and caring support and one may be there for the other when the other is suffering. But it is also tragic as one person’s grief reminds another of theirs. And it is the human response to shy away from public demonstrations of emotion that produce feelings of inadequacy, weakness, or shame.
When a community figure dies there is an outpouring of grief, and that outpouring can help people understand that the grief process is unique for everyone. Grief is what it is, and our emotional responses should never be judged, just accepted. Many things cannot be explained and do not need to be explained.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

4 Steps for Achieving Relational Intimacy

True friendship of various kinds
Is made where collective minds
Run toward loving things
Like mutual respect and the trust it brings.
Four steps can be taken
Where neither person’s forsaken:
To accept and to value and to belong,
Then feelings of intimacy cannot be wrong.
RELATIONSHIPS are made and are broken through an intertwining patchwork quilt of respect and trust, or a lack thereof. And the key to achieving a seamless sort of respect and trust is the achievement of intimacy between two, whether they be a married couple, an employee and an employer, or between friends.
Relationships cannot get to first base without a basic level of trust and respect earned. Without trust and respect conflict is inevitable and relational damage is bound to occur. With trust and respect, conflict, whilst it will still be inevitable, will be the vehicle for the enhancement of both trust and respect.
Now that we acknowledge what builds and sustains intimacy, let’s look at the building blocks of intimacy so far as relational investment is concerned.
The Base Importance of Acceptance
Acceptance and rejection are the most powerful voices for and against relationships. Where there is even a hint of a delay in accepting someone, that person may perceive it as rejection; that’s how powerful a force it is. But where we make a special effort to ensure the person we are in relationship with feels accepted – completely as they are, as we model God’s grace toward them – they will feel accepted. First base has been made safely.
The Secondary Importance of Valuing Another
When people feel accepted their eyes look for evidence that they are also valued. Being valued is about being recognised in small yet significant ways that are meaningful to the person who feels valued. Evidence of being valued is a confirmation of true acceptance. Second base has been made.
The Tertiary Importance of Creating Belonging
When people feel accepted and valued they feel like they belong. And where people feel they belong they earnestly seek to contribute meaningfully to the relationship and to the goals of the relationship. Where a person is accepted and valued, where they feel they belong, there is a rich vein of trust and respect that ebbs and flows, and a seminary of intimacy thrives, and both cohabit in relationship and grow together. Third base is taken, and the home run is but steps away.
Acceptance is first base, and being valued is making second. We slide into third when we feel we belong. And home base is making all three together, which manifests as intimacy – the place where respect is implicit and trust abounds.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.             

Monday, January 27, 2014

People Are People, Sinners, All Loved By God

“People are people and people will be people so when people do what people do they are just people and All people are loved by God!”
— James Rowdy
People are people
So why do we expect
Time and again
To always receive respect?
We know ourselves enough
How often we are wrong
So we can know every time
None of us is always strong.
FORGIVENESS, patience, compassion, empathy, warmth, understanding, and a plethora more of virtue owes its presence to the phenomenon of accepting that people are people; all of whom are loved by God, notwithstanding their works of relative madness.
Many varietals of conflict boil over because there isn’t the instinct of understanding that people are simply people – weak and inept, at times, individuals who are usually trying their best, or close enough to it.
When we consider the ongoing and intermittent conflicts we have, personally – and our minds fly to faces we see in an instant because we all find some that grate on us – we can consider that the face we see is a person, as we, ourselves, are a person. Neither they nor we are without fault or free of culpability regarding the tenuousness of the relationship we share. Sure, we put up with each other. It goes both ways. And yet, God loves us both equally, notwithstanding our ‘statuses’ with him (whether we consider ourselves saved or not).
Lowering Our Expectations
Why do we expect more from others than we might expect from ourselves? I’m not talking per situation – I’m talking generally. We are critical of people for failing us, yet we are shocked when we face the same critique. Why? It’s simple, such a critique, whether it’s warranted or not, stings. It stings possibly more than the sting we felt to be let down – to criticise in the first place.
Lowering our expectations is about giving the persons within our realm of influence the breathing space to be human beings; to forget from time to time, to disappoint us, to even betray us. It doesn’t really matter what the intent was when we understand that there are weaknesses in us all that cause us to compromise or miss the mark.
When we finally lower our expectations of others, and of life in general, we have a clearer passage way to joy and peace; and contentment is achievable.
Why can God love sinners? He lowered his expectations of us, by sending his only Son to be righteousness for us. Jesus died for the person we have a problem with. Does that mess with our thinking? It should.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.             

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Ways of Interpersonal Grace

There is a grace of kind listening, as well as a grace of kind speaking.

Frederick William Faber (1814–1863)

How we speak

And how we listen

To attain the relational peak

Or just be plain missin’.

Kind listening is grace

And kind speaking is space

As two relate

One with another.

The achievement of grace

Is the purpose of our race

To coexist in the state

Of sister and brother.

When grace is on show

Between any two

There they both grow

Into a togetherness so true.



Speaking and listening in respectful ways is not simply about treating others as we would like to be treated, though I do not begrudge The Golden Rule of “treat others as you would wish to be treated.” No, speaking and listening in respectful ways runs to the core of seeing the other person as they truly are. Sure, we don’t want them to go through anything we wouldn’t want to go through, but we are also trying to live – in our relating with them – as if we were them. This can be difficult to understand: living for another person. But interpersonal grace is so much more than living solely in our own beings. We must simply try this, but we cannot understand it, nor implement it, unless we have dealt with our own stuff – that information we know about ourselves that we find irrepressibly sad and unacceptable.

Dealing with Our Stuff

There is so much safety of self involved in dealing in ways of interpersonal grace. We cannot sustain being ‘nice’ if we don’t feel ‘nice’ within – eventually our own self-defined and self-perpetuated nastiness, having not dealt with our stuff, will boil out and into the arena of public life, where it is no longer secret.

Relational sustainability finds its limits more within us than in any other person we meet. Even if the other person is broken beyond healing, and there are not many of those, God is able to grace us with the interpersonal ability to be friends. It is up to us, and not the other person, but we must deal with our truth; those truths that hold us back from becoming a person more fully reconciled as to accept oneself.


Once we understand that the relational life is all about interpersonal grace, then we may be a friend with everyone we meet. God is God for all, and just the same we are to be people who are for all people. Such grace in tolerance and acceptance, available to all, unconditionally, is the true gospel.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Big Results From Small Beginnings

A big year
Full of wonder and joy
Starts from something
That might even annoy.
Small and humble starts
Invariably prepare our hearts
So don’t be put off
By an initial testing trough.
Big things that were built strong invariably had small, underwhelming beginnings. The key to life change and the achievement of goals is bearing any initial discouragement and distraction admirably.
Just about the start of every year, I have found, starts slowly. It’s almost as if January commences with a setback or two, as if God is testing the resolve of my faith to patiently bear with the anomalies of life I hadn’t predicted. Like the desire to get physically fit, and then there is an injury to deal with – like constant lower back spasms and misalignment of my spine.
The test is to patiently bear the slowness of January, to not give up on the targets I have set myself, and to loan from the experience of yesteryear. Past years have told me to not be discouraged, as I look back on them, because life gets cranking again, and normalcy returns, in February and March. Big years emerged from small, faithful beginnings in January.
Bearing Patiently to Slow Time
There are downtimes as well uptimes, and we are blessed to bear the boredom as well as the chaos of busyness.
Patiently bearing a time when progress on our goals is blocked is certainly a test of faith. When we don’t need to put pressure on ourselves, we shouldn’t. Why would we get frustrated with ourselves when the matters of blockage are out of our hands?
When you are out of step with continuity, or the continuity has slowed, there is no benefit to anyone in getting frustrated. The only sane option is to bear these things patiently, and we know we can.
When we focus on the vision ahead, and we don’t lose sight of what we believe we can achieve, and we bear the frustration patiently, we are doing everything we can do, and our goals will be achieved at the proper time. Not only do we achieve what we set out to achieve, we prove to ourselves that we have the fortitude of faith, to rely faithfully on God even when the chips are down.
Bearing our frustrations patiently is the engagement of faith within a testing life. And if we are able to see life as a series of tests, intermingled with various joys, we are no longer surprised and hamstrung when they come. In bearing tests patiently we take innocuous beginnings and give to them power for significant outcomes.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Man’s Covenant (With His Eyes)

“I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I look upon a virgin?”
— Job 31:1 (NRSV)
I’ve been a man long enough to understand most men think alike, especially about women. To have a look is to give way to a powerful temptation and we can therefore understand the source of Job’s covenant. He understood that this sort of falsehood took him in a direction farther from God, whilst at the same time it was a blasphemy of God because such sin occurred right before God’s eyes.
We, as men, struggle very much in this area. It seems we cannot help notice attractive women (acknowledging women have the same problem with attractive men) and our eyes can linger, which envelops our hearts toward shaming or guilty thoughts or, worse, no shame or guilt at all.
On a recent date with my teenage daughter I noticed as we walked past one particular man, that he had no issue with looking her up and down, knowing very well I knew what he was up to. There was no thought in him to avert his eyes. This is the sort of depravity we are capable of.
If we are to become men of godly standing before God’s sight – and let’s be honest, everything we do will be shown for what it is – then we must strive to attain a wholesome respect for women.
One of the ideas in Job 31, which Jesus also touches upon in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:27-30), is that the eyes, once corrupted, soon lead the heart to be corrupted. This is why Jesus suggested we gouge out the eye or cut off the hand if that body part will be the cause of our overall ruination.
When, as men, we make a covenant with our eyes we stop ourselves in the midst of being caught by that glance. We find ourselves noticing the pretty woman walking past and we are reminded of the agreement we have with God; to respect women because these are our wives, our sisters, our daughters, our mothers. There are not many men who would gladly give their kin over to an untrustworthy man.
Having made a covenant, and having executed that covenant several times, we quickly fall into the habit of not dwelling on those things that would otherwise get us into trouble and which disrespect women.
Every man has responsibility over his eyes, yet if we don’t avert our eyes our heart may quickly be corrupted. As Job did, we are wise to make a covenant with our eyes – to not look upon women lustfully.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Love Reality of Marriage Unity

Whether your marriage is just beginning or you and your spouse are veterans, the goal is the same: deep unity in all areas of life.”
— Dr. Gary Chapman
There is comfort in this idea that marital satisfaction occurs within deep unity, but there is also fear for not achieving it. Anyone who is married or has been married knows just how hard it is to attain and maintain and sustain such a concept of anything close to deep unity.
So while the vision is inviting and wonderfully salubrious, the idea of not meeting the standard can be deeply discouraging. And even as we consider our spouse’s ability or lack of ability to even want unity, that is, of itself, adequate reason to want to give up before we have started. Yet we must have hope. If we have gone this far with the person we chose we can go all the way, and we can have marriage satisfaction that far exceeds anything we have experienced previously. This is our hope: our marriage hope. It is our marriage hope with our present partner, or, if we are not married, the hope we have within a future partnership.
Deep unity in marriage is a Christ-like idea whereby each partner lives for the other, but not in a codependent sort of way. It is a selfless love that emerges. When we can trust the other to love us, as we love them in ways to outdo them and outdo our previous performances of love, as we passionately love them, we ourselves are blessed, and in that we are also encouraged to continue what we have started.
We cannot love ourselves as we can love our marriage partners. The idea of love is that it is something we give to another person. If we are continually seeking for ourselves in marriage, operating selfishly, and worse if it is both partners, then it is no true marriage at all: we are just living with someone. (But don’t be discouraged; many marriages experience such selfishness, if not routinely, then occasionally. Not all do, however.) Marriage is an ideal of two becoming one, and evidence of that is that one loves the other and reciprocation takes place, within an unconditional love frame.
Deep unity is not some fancy and unrealistic goal, but it is the vision worth striving for. Sure, we won’t always achieve it. We will fall short. It doesn’t stop us trying; trying for the sake of the other. When they ‘win’ so do we!
The idea of love is poised in giving ourselves away to another. When two do this in marriage, deep unity is created, because they have operated in a deeply unified way. Deep unity is the goal of such a partnership: marriage.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Defining a Life Well Lived

“The duration of a life whether long or short, measures it’s completeness by determining for whom and for what it was lived for!”
— Dr. Ike Reighard
Just how do we define a life well lived? There are a plethora of answers as numerous as the people that may hold a view. And it must be held that the vast majority of people don’t even consider such a question a priority for their lives as far as it being a daily focus. Most people might occasionally consider such a thought – “What is a life well lived?” – but there is not enough focus placed on the question to deliver enough impetus to answer the question with any cogency of effect toward actualising it.
The question is split in two, above: for whom and for what.
Many people might think it is a marriage partner who should fit the for whom, but an understanding of Christian ideology has us settling only for the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Only through a focus on what is otherworldly are we able to separate ourselves enough from this world that we may have a single focus on what is truly important, devoid of being swayed by any one thing or multiple things in this world, all of which pale into such an eternal understatement of insignificance in comparison with the Divine.
The for what question may seem a little harder, for there are general and specific answers that are all fitting and appropriate. We may live a purpose driven life, which is shaped a certain way, consistent with our passions, our gifting, and our experiences, but there is a broader answer to this question that begs, sitting up, for our attention.
For what have we lived? Again, in the Christian setting, there seems a broad answer: truth and love, or, differently put, truth and grace. If we have devoted ourselves to managing the tension between truth and grace we have been poised with wisdom in the discernment of our living situations. If we learned to observe and live for truth as much as we learned to appreciate and exemplify grace it has been a life well lived. If truth was an equal value with grace – above all values – then we strode a path with God.
A life well lived has been lived for the Lord Jesus Christ and it has been lived passionately for truth and for grace. It is a life lived for One and for truth and grace that is a life well lived.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, January 17, 2014

From Heartbreak to Healing

“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it...”
― Nicholas Sparks
THERE is a softening that occurs to a heart that has been burned by betrayal or lambasted by loss, if that heart can receive from God, divine empathy, and the right sort of support from our peers; those who may take the role of mentor. These two conditions help. And from heartbreak to healing we can traverse, in conjunction with time to adequately adjust to the grief in the loss.
Receiving Divine Empathy
This is primary. To receive from God is the greatest need. It seems mysterious for many people to connect with God. But when we are truly broken within, we can receive him who, within us, makes himself known as we may hear him – inaudibly, of course. The consciousness of our minds perceives God.
Truly, God operates so close to the action in our hearts we may miss him, thinking he is ignoring us in our pain. God never ignores, and is, indeed, fundamentally present.
When we can, by faith, acknowledge that God is with us in our pain, we can cry out and receive what we so sorely need. As we sob there is the faintest of reciprocation. God is feeling into us. It may even make us sob all the more. Tears are nothing to be afraid of. God is using them to heal us. This is a most intimate connection. We only have to experience it once and we are won to the idea of such a close connection with God. This is an eternal transformation. We will never be the same again.
Receiving Support
Support is vital, but not the sort of support that is sympathy – that takes only our side. Though it feels good for someone to take our side, it’s fundamentally wrong. What we need is someone who will hold a balance for us; a reliable guide; someone disposed to listening and holding us in the centre of their universe for the times we are in their presence.
Sometimes a guide will listen. At other times they speak. But the words are less important than their presence. Walking with them, doing things, and just having them pray for us – whether with them, or apart – is the essence of the support we need. We just need to know they have unconditional positive regard for us. We appreciate their sense for godly wisdom that judges not and operates gently in all contexts.
Heartbreak can be converted into healing by two things: to receive divine empathy – to experience the Presence and the healing touch of God – and to receive the empathic support of a guide. We need God and we need others who have our best in their minds.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Setting Sail On a Fresh Year Ahead

At the commencement of any new year we find ourselves suddenly back at the start of things, having not long finished things a few weeks previous. For what we gained in an end of year break we might have lost in the daunting reality that the grind not only continues, but the climb steepens. Not only was last year full of noteworthy achievements, this year the acceptable mark has been moved up a few notches. Or so it seems.
Setting sail on the New Year ahead is weighing these things in balance.
If we had a break, and we had the opportunity to reflect over the accomplishments of the previous year, and especially if we have some time before things recommence, we are positioned well to plan and execute a big year. If, on the other hand, we have had no sojourn or relief it can appear that we are to be swamped in even more work; an unrelenting reality.
A year seems a long time to endure when we look at it from the start, but as we look over the year’s accomplishments at the end of a year we are surprised as to how much we were actually able to do. The faithfulness of God has meant that we only have to deal with the day, agree to work diligently, be wise in the setting of our goals and the making of our promises, forgive ourselves our mistakes and errors, and we will have had what we may determine to be an achievable year.
We only have to go back to the faithfulness of God to get us through last year, and indeed previous years, and even to get us through the hellishness of any losses we may have experienced, and we can see how our general sense of obedience has worked with God’s desire to bless us.
If we are anxious in any measure regarding the fear of not coping or not accomplishing what is before us, we are commended to think about what we have already achieved, and what God seeks for us to achieve this very year.
One whole year that was last
An important time assumed
What at the time was dear
Has now been all but consumed.
What has been achieved is now in the past and as we look onward to the coming challenges it’s daunting. But at least we have the record of our past success and God’s faithfulness to draw upon. We will get through all these future challenges if we agree to be diligent, wise as we can, and forgiving of ourselves.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.