What It's About

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Learning to Shine Our Lights

“When we have our ‘armour’ up and are conscious of our ‘injuries’, then we cannot ‘shine our light’ easily or readily. So, lower your armour, heal your wounds and shine your light!” ~David Deane-Spread.

There are two essential gates to proceed through before we can grasp our pragmatic mental, emotional and spiritual freedom.

Opening the first gate goes against the grain of our human nature—to be vulnerable enough to drop the armour of our self-protectiveness. In a condition exposed to the elements of a critical world, there’s little wonder we’ve developed the armour in the first place.

But, before we go further we must seek to understand what it is that we’re protecting.

The Truth of the Wounded Self

Each of us, if we strip away the protective armour, is deeply wounded. The gate to the true self is closed fast and armoured. No matter how wonderful our parents were, they—in their humanity—failed. This was added to our birth-brokenness. Likewise, despite the quality of our education and care, we weren’t protected from the hurts that occasionally slashed the sinews of our hearts.

Each of us has unresolved hurts and disappointments due to our pasts.

Over the true self that’s whole, complete and entirely confident of faith, is this wounded self that turns fun into harsh seriousness and ease into hardship. This effect is the armoured self protecting us.

But the armoured self is not always an ally. It often acts against our best good, because fear fuels it.

Addressing Our Woundedness

To become more of the person we are deep inside—the one alive and free of spirit—we must deal with our woundedness, or at least be honest about it.

This cannot be done with our armour up, so we must drop it. But it’s got to be said, that without the right preparations, that can prove even more damaging as our wounded self is exposed to pummelling attacks.

Given this, we’re blessed to buoy and build up stocks of courage-on-loan to assist.

A Vision of Our True Selves

Imagining an eagle flying high in the sky, totally enabled in its flight, without the faintest fetter and certainly no fright, we see ourselves—yes, each one—at our best.

We know the glimpses of ourselves that we get from time to time; confidence is high and the world laps at our bowls. We’re the person of the moment in our little demographic; ‘world-beaters’ are we.

Yet, so often we’re not like this. Too many times we’re far less.

Shining Our Lights

Each of us is a spiritual being with the potential of light within that could captivate the entire world. But our armoured self and wounded self gates must first be opened.

It’s not until we prepare the wounded self in courage, and then drop the armour to truth, that we reveal our truer selves to the development opportunities that prevail every day.

We have a need of healing, and of a Healer—apportioned to the need we have of the Spirit of God. This facilitates the lowering of our armour, of being real, and bravely acknowledging our woundedness, and that invites irrefutable light to beacon through, flaring away the darkness of fear.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Acknowledgement: to David Deane-Spread’s, Master the Power of Your Attitudes (eBook), p. 7. Website: http://www.daviddeane-spread.com/.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Forgiven Misunderstandings

The longer relationships go, in trust, the more they grow; the confidence of rapport. There will be misunderstandings. This is the point; how else is trust to be forged? Good relationships are characterised by the forgiveness of misunderstandings.

First, let’s look at the nature of misunderstanding.

In the mix of some great interactions there are pieces (literally bits) of messages that are misunderstood, whether not communicated, heard or replied well (or a combination of these). This highlights the mystery of communication, and the limits of the conscious human mind, together with the individual motives and reason that shift focus from where it’s meant to be.

Good Friends – Good Humour

Isn’t it a feature of strong friendships that parties to them can laugh off ‘senior’ and forgettable moments? This is feature of the high trust that’s been earned both ways over time. It’s grace for sure and certain. Grace understands that communication errors will happen.

But there’s more... let’s not forget the forgettable blunders.

Somehow there’s also a generous allowance for mistakes of intention to be made — those due to moral failures, like a lack of loyalty. Everyone should know that to be disloyal, a vice in example, is to be human.

Child Psychology – Applications to Friendship

The difference between good friends and those with fractured relations is summed up in the typical child’s response. In reaction to relationship situations, according to the Transactional Analysis model, children are either fun-loving or hurt.

It’s easy to take that child analogy into adult communication, for no matter how mature we become we’re only an instant away from reacting like children again. It’s the higher mind — the higher thinking processes — that, of course, protects us from going there.

The Recipe for Success

It is easy to envy people who have maintained their ‘best friends forever’ relationships all their lives. These have occurred through no mistake. Forgiveness must necessarily have played its part.

When there is conflict in any relationship — and it will occur (always does) — both parties have their choice of response. Will it be the practice of humour to issue grace (so long as that grace is not taken advantage of) or will it be hurt feelings that characterises the mood? The former is sustaining the relationship; the latter straining it.

It depends on each person to determine how important the relationship is.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Physiology of Resentment

Primary to resolving the issues that anger us is the identification, assessment of source, and control of, resentment. We all have them simmering away under the surface of our thoughts and emotions; lurking for opportunity to rear an ugly head.

In explaining how resentment works we need to go back to our innermost values first.

Values Systems

We all have a values system, and anything that doesn’t match our values is susceptible for judging, and judgments can lead to resentments if they’re not addressed.

It’s important to know this, because our values and underlying beliefs (not spiritual beliefs) underpin, at the most basic level, our thoughts.

Discontented Thoughts

From our values, in conjunction with how our lives are turning out, are our thoughts. Many levels below even conscious thought, thinking takes place. It often lays dormant; but reinforcing, constantly, the values divide.

We are sometimes only aware of this thinking after the event of our caustic actions — those spilling over into resentment.

Emotion-Producing Action

Thinking leads to the way we feel (and vice versa). But in this way, thoughts are placed through a fresh sieve to determine if the initial judgment was right or not.

Ninety-nine percent of the time we will verify our initial conclusions — because we’re using the same values kit. We’re hardly able to think differently unless externalities — for instance, God’s revelation — break through into our thinking and challenge these values.

So, if we’re to verify what we always thought is still correct, and we muse on this long enough, the emotion will spill over into action... it has to.

The other way of thinking is guilt for knowing the mounting resentment is wrong — that too will eventually anger us.

Using This Physiology to Counter Resentment

Baying in truth is always the golden key to crush resentment. Things are not always as they seem; when truth has a look-in we can be surprised just how deluded we’ve become in regard to our resentments.

To shift our values set — to align them to truth, and therefore God’s portion of view — we incorporate some manual retraining of the mind, in order to think differently.

This is not an easy process, but it’s necessary. We all harbour non-truths that shelter deep in the ‘fleshy’ heart that’s home to thoughts against God.

Affirmations are important, and so too is what we read, and who we spend our time with. The more we reinforce where our thinking needs to change, the better our minds are retrained.

Values sets can be difficult, if not impossible, to move; hence it makes a lot of sense to have a ‘thinking’ contingency. That, at truth, is simply to understand that our view of the world will always be in conflict with others’ views — even to our spouses (explaining why marital ‘bliss’ is not achievable one hundred percent of the time).


Let’s not forget that thinking is the gateway to action, and that the emotions generate such action. What we think a lot of forces its way through our heart, then into action.

Understanding how resentments become known via our actions is important in understanding where they came from — in their dormancy — and why they’re there, and how to address them the best we can; which is done two ways:

1. Retrain the mind to think differently; and, when all else fails,

2. Accept that our personal values will not be shared — they’re unique. Conflict over values is natural in this world and the temptation to harbour resentment — for us and them — is ever-present. Honesty will, however, always shatter resentment.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Oh, My Meekness!

As we meet people we can’t help but awe, or those from different racial and cultural backgrounds, we can be forgiven for feelings of submissive bashfulness. We want our meetings to go so well we become highly self-conscious. Nerves get the better of us as we find ourselves trying too hard.

Let’s not be put off or embarrassed.

After all, we’re actually trying to love them. Even though things have come off awkwardly we’ve not treated them aggressively or with disdain, or with any other negative intent. Our hearts were pure.

And as it occurs to us we ought not to feel offended at the distance of intimacy. This form of meekness is borne out of love and wonder. One person is being elevated. This is so very much like Christian love; all that’s desired to improve it is the confidence of assertiveness, and intimacy is very quickly the product.

With our personal meekness in these difficult situations, it’s best to remember that it’s God that blesses us with both the ability to experience wonder and resist timidity (2 Timothy 1:7).

Better to awe someone than to deplore them.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: caseresources.org.uk.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Five Facets of Fatherhood

When a young man or not-so-young man learns he’s going to be a father for the first time, a transition commences, the product of which comes to some point of completion the moment his firstborn baby gasps its virgin breath.

Suddenly things begin to change; the concept of responsibility is borne on the mind, and the heart feels tremulous in anticipation of the difficult and wonderful days ahead. A courageous smile is worn on the sleeve, yet the candid man inside cannot help but feel out of his depth.

With the passage of days and years, as they combine and accumulate, learning creates wisdom and, therefore, confidence; this man, born in the Father’s image, was born for fatherhood after all.

But just what goes into building the character of the father charged with the generational responsibility of carrying forward the genome?

There are at least five facets of fatherhood to explore:

1) Eternal Father as model;

2) Father as guide and teacher;

3) Father as a person and leader;

4) Father as lover of his family; and,

5) Father as custodian of the generational genome.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How Important Is It?

Olympus Mons, at over 15 miles (25,000 metres or 82,000 feet) high, is easily the Solar System’s largest mountain. This volcano on Mars is striking as we consider what a mount that dwarfs Everest would look like. Yet, the red planet’s bold feature is overwhelmingly small in comparison with things beyond Mars.

And so does sight of things universal do to our major worries.

One of the wisest pieces of advice I ever got was from a 12-Step program sponsor.

He would often ask me, ever so gently; regarding my worries, “How important is it?” It wasn’t a flippant rejection of my concerns; he’d explore my worries with me. Time and again he was able to show me the power in not getting too far ahead of myself.

Since then I’ve always tried to plan my day, and the foreseeable future, and then try and divert from any preoccupation with the plan back onto the moment’s needs.

Many things we worry about never happen. If they do occur, they rarely transpire like we think they will.

Given the size of things universal, do we really need to elevate our issues to the size of Olympus Mons?

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Re-Adjusting the Lows That Follow Highs

Family times which are long thought-of and planned-for, much-vaunted and highly anticipated times, pass as quickly as they approached. It’s understandable that afterward we’re left empty and reflective. What was surreal at the time is now gone, but for the memory.

Perhaps we hadn’t expected such a low cloud to form over our hearts.

Never mind, we’ve had our time and now life’s to return to ‘normal’. It pays to remember that normal life is (and was) an acceptable reality and those feelings remind us how important good family times are.

Processes of Re-Adjusting

Wanting to rewind the clock and relive those cherished moments is normal. What we face now is the grieving process in typical swing; just on a micro scale compared with the death of a loved one or divorce, and the like.

Adjusting to life as it was — an oft-resented reality in reflective mode — just takes time. A day or a week and all will be as it was. Perhaps we wanted to be ‘more’ for people we care for than we were. This too is normal. (Isn’t it peculiar that we don’t think of these sorts of things at the time?)

Re-adjusting can be a sorrowful process that highlights — in undesirable ways — how things might’ve been if the high time had never occurred in the first place. We seek to protect ourselves. Hopefully this temptation is resisted, for in life where there’s no risk there’s no return. What we hope to gain we stand to lose. It’s inevitable.

Hope – The Portent to Be Re-Built

There’s always an answer in hope. This one thing gets us beyond the pain of emptiness and looking to heaven for more; the future begins to command a hearing, not just the past.

Hope allows enjoyment of thought regarding the good times had — in the relative safety of conscience. With hope, we wade through recent memory and just appreciate.

Abiding truths persist through life. One of them is low times follow high times. It’s better to weigh consideration of this before and during the high time rather than simply let it blindside us afterwards.

Expectations meet hope in rationality. It’s only when expectations have reached inflation point that the truth bursts our bubble of hope. Balances must be restored.

Keeping expectations in check, and enjoying what simply ‘is’, is the key.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How Can I Let Go of Guilt and Forgive Myself?

This is a perennial question for some and a poignant obstacle for others. Others still have no idea where to begin. Feelings of guilt and thoughts of condemnation can be lodged so solidly within both heart and mind. But there is always hope for healing!

Jim Diamond’s pleading voice resounds in the 1982 hit, I Won’t Let You Down. “PhD,” the band, was a one-hit-wonder. But never mind because the song gives us a good clue regarding our approaches to guilt and its opposite: the achievement of self-forgiveness.

Before we get started it must be said that processes for healing pertaining to guilt are usually gradual and they often involve a journey. This is because guilt feelings come from guilty thinking patterns quite tightly wired into us, and these come from our beliefs about ourselves — many, if not all, of which were founded in our childhoods.

Predisposed to Condemnation?

The sentiment of the PhD song is riveting. From our childhoods we’ll have a given propensity (or not) to come under others’ or our own condemnation. If we were treated as guilty for ‘transgressions’ when we were too young to actually know better it’ll most likely be an ongoing scourge for us. We’re dogged, perhaps, by a generational curse.

A parent who’s inflicted condemnation on one of their children has more than likely had their very own condemnation issues to deal with. It’s a vicious cycle.

If we can genuinely see ourselves predisposed to condemnation and otherwise given to feeling the sting of others’ wrath — like it crushes us — or we often people-please — there is good news ahead.

Two Issues – Acute and Chronic

In health terms we have two conditions, the acute and the chronic.

So far as guilt is concerned we have two types. Firstly, there is guilt for an action we did or didn’t do — the ‘acute’. We feel remorseful for what we should have done. The second type is about a more general rendition of guilt — the ‘chronic’; perhaps as a result of the way we treated someone over a longer period. This second type of forgiveness is obviously more pathological in nature. All that means is we’ve got more work to do.

But work is not something we should shirk.

This is because every effort we put in at this end of things will be blessed mightily, and we’ll be the direct beneficiary, with others close to us blessed indirectly also.

Getting to Know and Accept Ourselves

Our world is either full of problems or it’s full of opportunities — it depends on our outlook and perspective. It does us no good at all to only see problems.

If we choose to see life from the funnel of opportunity we can readily see that mollifying guilt is an exercise in the mastery of self-knowledge and acceptance.

Let us acknowledge this: you are a lovely person. You are a good person, despite your brokenness, which is a thing we all share. You are just as loved by God as the President, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, your pastor and Bill Gates is.

If it is our most earnest objective to achieve this sense of mastery of self-knowledge and acceptance, and we pray to God for it, we will surely achieve it, eventually. This is our way to getting rid of guilt once and for all.

Letting go, however it’s achieved, is our golden ticket to healing. As we accept ourselves, which includes copious portions of honesty, in the midst of all things we’ve done, including considering today as a ‘new slate’, we’re renewed for the moment.

Developing a habit of that is the fun part. The only way out is up. Let’s glory in that.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Love Long – Long Life

“The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by.” ~Mrs. O’Brien (played by Jessica Chastain), The Tree of Life (2011).

“Long life is in wisdom’s right hand.

In wisdom’s left hand are riches and honor.”

~Proverbs 3:16 (GW).

A long life is a scary existence to the fearful. Their experience of life might better resemble death than life. But there’s always hope in everyone’s life; that light might achieve receptivity within the hearts and minds of those estranged to God and, therefore, love.

Love’s a thing won away from selfishness, self-pity, sedition, and pride, and won to relational surrender, selflessness, and perseverance.

It’s a thing that’s highly idealistic yet intensely practical.

Love is a full life because it’s given to overflow; not via the form of activity but through the engagement of the senses and intuition in the realm of reality, and therefore meaning.

A life sold to love has given itself away so it can become itself. This is where life truly begins; not beforehand.

Wisdom and Love

When we approach matters of life and love and wisdom, we see that wisdom is above love, but only by the way it can explain the truth of love — why love is the only sensible choice to live life by.

Wisdom knows it; love achieves it. Love perpetuates this wisdom: that a long life is possible only by giving ourselves away.

Long life, by manner of the meaning packed into life’s years, is the logical result of hating what can be stolen in life and loving what can be given.

Love: the Gospel Message

Three times in Mark’s gospel we find Jesus teaching on love being the way of losing its life so it can be saved, desiring to be least, and being last and servant of all; to be slave of all, destined to serve and not be served (Mark 8:35; 9:35; 10:44-45).

Life in the eternal realm makes no sense until we understand this principle and begin to apply it.

When others are blessed in the smallest of kindnesses, then we know love. We’ve exhibited it and we’ve experienced it; firstly, by the exhibition of loving our neighbours as ourselves, and secondly, by the experience of God’s infilling of love.

That’s the Gospel message. That’s how we love God; by loving others in almost self-secretive ways.

Where desires are lost reverently to God, God gives us more blessing than we can even absorb. This makes for a full life; full days enlivened with meaning make for long life.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Playing a Vital Role Well

Nervousness when public speaking, feeling overwhelmed by a workload, and having to negotiate with difficult people... all these tough situations have something wonderful in common — our role.

We’re actors in the overall scheme of things. That’s it. Life’s not much more complicated than that. How convincingly a role we play depends on many factors.

But, first and foremost, we’re gifted to afford ourselves an extrinsic base for doing many things. This certainly helps us detach enough to be able to laugh at ourselves. So often our fatal flaw is we take life too seriously.

Acting in Front of the Audience of One

Given this mindset, that we’re acting our roles in this serious game of life, we can afford to fabricate who it is we’re acting for.

It’s God we seek to impress.

No matter what we’re called to do, we’ll have the tools and the wherewithal to actually do the things we set out to do. All that’s required then is to perform — to make those minute decisions of judgment weighed to the perceived need of the situation.

If we screen out the awe and apprehension of nerves, all that stands before us is the performance of the task. We know that we can do it.

Though we should be awed by performing in front of the King of kings and Lord of lords it never feels that way; we’re comforted, mainly because God is as much in us and feeling what we feel, and helping, as he’s omniscient and omnipresent elsewhere.

Cherishing the Role

Whatever role we have, disregarding how difficult or laborious it might be, we’re privileged to have it. There are many who are not alive in order to play this type of role. Many others may never, or will never, be in our position.

On the day set for our performance of the role — which is possibly today — we can draw comfort from the fact that we’re not the only actors in this pantomime of life, that our performances will soon be history, and that God will love us despite our level of performance.

This day of the auspicious performance maybe much vaunted — it will assist, however, to step out of ourselves for a moment, to enjoy a view of life fresh without the pressure to perform.

Imagine breathing easy, or easier, in contemplation of the broader world concern — gaining relief through the God-expanded perspective — in order that the bright bulbs of the pressuring personal spotlight might be, for a moment, dimmed.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bequeathing Our Time

Is there a more precious gift to give a loved one than our time? And better, to actually do something they’d want to be helped with, without their suggestion. It costs us little, but it reaps much favour.

Time is one of the best gifts of love; a language of quality, help and affirmation for the relationship.

All it takes is some ingenuity of imagination knowing what pleases them. We won’t get it right all the time, but that shouldn’t discourage us.

Imagine one or two good deeds done daily to help our spouses or our children.

Imagine the affectation this would create.

Imagine it as a habit established and the wow factor we’d experience each time another is blessed by these gifts from heaven.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wiping the Slate Clean

Anger is no excuse for attempting to expunge a wrong. Life and love don’t work the way. As we blow our stacks, however ‘calmly’ we do it, we set up relational complications that can only be set right through the appropriate language of comprehensive apology.

People on the receiving end of angry reactions feel cornered; optionless.

We do well to reverse these prospects for them.

Wiping the slate clean by the angry protagonist is, however, as easy as it is humbling — every bad word and action, plus the reason for the outburst, rescinded.

Wiping the slate clean, for the person angered, is about relinquishing the point of annoyance — then the weight of the apology can be felt by the person offended.

Wiping the slate clean is nothing if not full situational remorse; the surrender of the will for any upper hand.

When the slate’s wiped clean, it’s swift and easy — clean as a paring knife through warmed butter. And healing is at once initiated.

It’s the only genuine answer to anger; as a reaction post-event. Angry reactions are usually regretful and hardly worth the investment of emotion. In fact, they get us to backwards-land so quickly we’d otherwise reckon ourselves in a spin.

Only once all advantage is rescinded can life — in the context of the relationship — begin again. Without it, relational confidence is questionable and progress, halted.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Four Marks of a Healthy Personality

It’s such a treasure to read and learn about life. There are books to read, stories we hear, movies we see, and life to observe. This search uncovers many things in life that we either know but need reminders about, or things we didn’t know, and can yet apply if we so choose.

One such gem was the reading of Selwyn Hughes’ re-telling of a valedictory message, on “the four marks of a healthy personality,” held at Harvard University “several years ago.”[1]

It was a professor of psychiatry who delivered the original message. The four elements of a healthy personality are:

1. A clear sense of identity and being comfortable with that

When we have a sense of belonging and of being unconditionally loved, a high sense self-worth, and a sense of meaning and purpose about our lives we have a clear sense of identity.

It’s not enough to have a clear sense of identity; it must be something we’re comfortable with. Our public (external) lives must match our private (internal) lives. We need to like the person we are, both for who we see ‘us’ as, and as others see us (and what we think of that).

2. A loving spirit that reaches out to others

“We learn from the Trinity (Father-Son-Holy Spirit) that relationship is the essence of reality.”[2] We learn from the Trinity (Godhead three-in-one) that the central energy that pulsates within the Godhead is other-centred.

The “dark little dungeon of the ego,” as Malcolm Muggeridge coined it, is self-centeredness that compromises every relationship.

The tragic irony of self-centredness is this: “the punishment is that something will die within us, our creativity will dry up, our zest for life will be eroded and our ability to withstand stress will be reduced.”[3]

We are thus severely compromised in our potential as fruitful human beings. We must therefore live, love and learn creatively and expansively.

3. A sensitive conscience that knows right from wrong

A casual but nonetheless consistent observation of Hughes’ is something I’ve also read from Os Guinness, A.W. Tozer and many other respected commentators: that is, the post-modern age has blurred truth.

Truth has all of a sudden become abstract and difficult to discern — if we’ll believe the gag of post-modernism.

Whilst there’s a sense of truth here that’s bigger than any one person’s grasp, the real issue is the compromise with truth that affects values. ‘Compromise’ is the key paradigm, not truth.

We want a truth these days that suits us; that, paradoxically, is a lie!

If we are purveyors of truth, we could take an example from Jesus in promoting truth creatively — we see untruth and we challenge it by “confront[ing] things that are wrong in a spirit of humility, not by preaching thundering sermons at people.”[4]

4. A healthy attitude towards one’s death

Perhaps one of the most important crossroads we all must negotiate in coming to truly know ourselves is that of our approach to eternity.

George Bernard Shaw once said rather amusingly but nonetheless poignantly, “The statistics concerning death are very impressive.” Think about it… the day approaches.

We are all destined to die just once.[5] How well adjusted are we to this thought, that life on this earth, for us, will soon be over? What we’ll have said and done will be our legacy; but, now (then), a time to be with God if we consider ourselves saved, for all eternity.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

[1] Selwyn Hughes, Spoken from the Heart: Powerful talks and addresses that have blessed and inspired audiences around the world (Surrey, England: Crusade for World Revival, 2005), pp. 93-104.

[2] Hughes, Ibid, p. 98. Hughes quotes D. Broughton Knox, The Everlasting God (Evangelical Press, 1982).

[3] Hughes, Ibid, p. 99.

[4] Hughes, Ibid, p. 102. Hughes cites Jesus washing the disciples’ feet as a way of challenging their perceptions of a leader’s role to serve. This is notwithstanding some of the things Jesus said to the Pharisees and religious leaders of his time.

[5] See Hebrews 9:27.