What It's About

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

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Circumambulation and the Acceptance of Life’s Perplexity

As many ways as there are of living life, there are also in the viewing of things. Everything is circular. From this viewpoint, we’re designed to come back to the same place. Never do we get ahead of life (God).
‘Progress’ is not really the point of life. Indeed, spiritual progress is not about movement but motivation. Those of us who expect movement could be quickly and cataclysmically disappointed.  But those who see that life is about growth in motivation — in character — are quickly able to thwart the enemy.
Our motivation is tested in what happens to us.
But what happens to us is not what God has in mind, as an end in itself. Whatever happens to us — assuming that it’s a negative thing — doesn’t really matter. It’s a test. That’s all it is; whatever happens. What really matters is our response.
Whatever happens to us can be viewed through the angles of 360 degrees. We’re wise to step around the object of our situation — and genuinely inflect all those varying angles of perspective and response. This is circumambulation.
Another circumambulation is the phenomenon that occurs when God continues to bring us back, again and again, to a certain problem, in order to prove to us that we cannot solve it. We can only endeavour to learn whatever lesson God has for us. Learning is the solution.
The solution rests in our motivation — how we approach our problems, not the solving of those problems. Solutions are immaterial. The solution is our attitude.
Explaining the ‘Wheels within Wheels’ Model
There are two circles in life; the life circle and the problem circle. The life circle depicts how we continue to go through circumambulation, coming back to the same problems. The problem circle depicted is a particular problem, unique to our person, based on our personality, and peculiar to our weaknesses.
As we revolve around the axis scribing our life circle, we meet a problem and then swing into the smaller problem circle, where life is piqued. This is a hard season where the pressure points are particularly poignant. Each pressure point brings a different view of pain to bear. This is why grief is so variegated. In each problem, there’s so much to encounter and learn.
There are good and bad angles of approach in both circles, and we experience the whole gamut, which explains our good days and our bad days. When we’re in a problem circle season of life, the good and the bad are more pronounced. More joy, but more pain, too.
A Present Example from My Own Life
Some of these principles won’t be clear unless we ground them in a life.
A new problem I’ve entered into in the present season represents an old learning in a different way. Circumambulation around my life circle brings me back to the same point. This pressure point is one of having to achieve significance.
It is a weakness that God has identified that I need to continue to overcome. As I’ve come around the life circle to this particular problem circle, again, I’ve found myself stuck in the problem circle, which inevitably happens. It’s frustrating and saddening, and the pressure points bring me through a range of emotion — from joy right through to rage. At times I’m painful to live with.
God is simply reminding me that I’m a being, not a doing, and that I must gain my achievement of significance from being. I’m a husband and a father first, not a pastor and counsellor. Being out of the latter (in a paid capacity) at present has magnified the problem — it’s a problem that’s salient and never goes away. But the opportunity presents daily; to take courage in walking into many undesirable situations that God, in His wisdom, has commended for me to enter. He is faithful when I take His courage.
Within the problem, I face many different emotional responses, which are dependent on my cognitions. Given the theory, and presuming the problem circle will be something I’ll continue to come back to, again and again, I just have to learn everything I can, including how to accept this quest for significance as a thorn in my side (to use a Paulism). This thorn in my side is something that prevents me from being conceited.
None of us is very happy that life is like this — that it’s a process of learning — but that is what life in reality is.
If you ever thought life were a cycle of coming back and revisiting situations, you’re right.
Life is less about mastering skills and making achievements and much more about mastery of our attitudinal response.
The key to life is how we live it, not so much how much we achieve.
Life is a wheel, and there are wheels within that wheel of life. What we see we’re likely to see again. If God can’t teach us one way, He will patiently bring us back to a similar situation soon. Life is circular. It’s not about getting ahead. Life is more about learning to master ourselves in community. Life is not about movement as much as it’s about motivation.
Where this matters most is in the area of purpose and meaning.
I genuinely pray that this article has helped you. It certainly has helped me in explaining it to myself.


  1. I thank you again Steve for continuing to write in the courage and Faith given you by our God. You make personal, what God teaches to many. Continue on Brother, in Him.

    1. Thank you, Lorraine, for such a rich word of encouragement.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.