What It's About

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

Monday, October 30, 2017

What, ESP isn’t an ability I can expect my marriage partner to have?

Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash

EXTRASENSORY perception (ESP), I have learned the hard way, more times than I care to admit, is not a gift married couples receive when they wed.
One of the first times I discovered this was when I tripped over a beanbag on a loungeroom floor and accused my then-wife of having either put it there or of not removing it. Little did I realise she had no idea that I would even attempt to walk over it! How could she not see this? … that was over twenty-five years ago.
Then only recently, in helping load the car with shopping, I shinned the tow bar on the car. Writhing in pain I was so tempted to sound off at my wife for having put the trolley so close to it. Of course, she had no idea that I’d approach the task from that side. But shouldn’t she have read my mind? As I surveyed the day, this was the third of such events where I caught myself seriously wondering why her ESP was not only failing, but non-existent! Why was she deliberately trying to harm me like this?
ESP is like a sixth sense that would be really helpful in marriage where communication failures occur multiple times daily.
The fact is living with another person makes for efficiencies at times that can lead us to think we’re advantaged. Those very same dynamics conspire against us, however, when one or both assume something of the other, that something was communicated and wasn’t, or where expectations are just plain unrealistic.
It happens. In the common marriage it happens a lot. And it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
When we rediscover the folly in expecting our marriage partner to exercise ESP, we begin to own our own errors, and instead of seeking an apology, we begin to seek their forgiveness.
Marital success is due mostly to the nurtured ability to practice the overlooking of offenses.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Speaking the truth in humour

MY father-in-law has a spiritual gift that involves speaking the truth in humour. He’s been such a good exponent of it over the years that it’s proven instructive.
One thing I’ve heard him say frequently — one example of his speaking the truth in humour — at times when I’ve had an opinion that might be judgmental, is, “Yes, that agrees with my prejudices, too.” In other words, he communicates two important things: 1) that he agrees with me, but that 2) it isn’t all there is to account for. And the truth implicit in his communication has genius because humour is a foil that allows truth space without it appearing as a sneer.
Speaking the truth in humour isn’t a gift that can be used always, however; only sometimes. Not when people are suffering, for instance. At times like this, truth hardly has a place if it’s said in jest. The only time truth is prized in grief is when the truth is etched with, and said in the grain of, compassion. And humour often won’t work if there’s insufficient relationship between protagonists.
Speaking the truth in humour is a relational wisdom that communicates a strong message without being confrontational or brusque. It’s particularly useful if we know people will perceive the truth veiled enigmatically. And doubly purposeful if we know people will appreciate the creative way the truth comes across. Indeed, the creativity of speaking the truth in humour is its genius.
Speak the truth in humour so potential offense is turned into an absurd grace that paves the way to change.
Speak the truth in humour, but resolve to get it right. And we will only get it right when our hearts are right about why we wish to communicate truth.

Speaking the truth in humour can be one sure way of speaking the truth in love.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Every grief response to loss belongs

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

COMMUNITY is an integral word for the church. It gathers and makes space for the afflicted to grieve their losses, under the unction of healing in Christ’s name.
Community gets no better than when the grieving are simply allowed to grieve in a way that is pertinent and appropriate for them.
Every grief response to loss belongs.
Here are some model grief responses to loss:
·        For some, the pain of grief is all too near, all too imminent, all too large, all too sudden and shocking. There isnt the capacity to press in. Such a response for such a time is okay. What may seem to outsiders as denial can be a vital protection. These need space to process internally, with support available to them.
·        For others, there just has to be expression. They need people to listen; to withhold their well-intentioned advice. Gentle affirmation is more valuable than advice. These need space to let it all out.
·        For some others, acknowledgement is crucial; that the loss is real and ought to be named and recognised. These need space to present before others the embodiment of their reality.
·        Others furthermore feel nothing and ought not to feel guilty. Why, there might be a delay to grief. And if there isnt, isnt that good? Some are gifted with neither pain nor guilt. These need space to be allowed to move on with their lives without assertions that are designed to breed guilt.
And then, in most grief experiences, there are the myriad responses. Like colours of the rainbow and all shades between.
Wise is the person who does not condemn their own grief response. And wise are the people who are aware of their judging others, who quickly chide themselves and allow the grieving person the latitude of grace they need.
What were agreeing with here is the grieving person sets the rules for our engagement with them. We’re also affirmed for gently affirming them; making sure our response is adaptable to their state of being.
What is most important in our response to loss is being dignified in our response.
Only we know how we think and feel about and process our grief. Others are to be afforded the same dignity.
As all grief is real, all responses are appropriate, commensurate with the pain we experience. It only grieves the spirit in us more when we’re told were doing grief wrong.

Friday, October 20, 2017

These are a few of his favourite things

POSSESSIONS grip in life because we, as people, were made to possess things. The irony is we possess nothing when we die but our soul.
Certainly our penchant to possess can warp into idolatry when our grip tightens, and addiction and abuse are only two examples of binds that bury us and/or others in burden. Yet, not all possessions are so unhelpful.
I’ve been captivated to watch my four-year-old son with his belongings of late. Not the toys he’s received as gifts, but the things he’s made himself or accumulated. A keyring. A do-not-disturb sign. A biplane made from pop-sticks. A frisbee. A precious notepad and sharpened pencil. A Bible; one without pictures. A mobile we made together. A set of paper plates. He’s always been most captivated by the obscurest things. They’re so special to him.
He possesses these things. And whether he holds them for a day or two or months matters little to him. These accoutrements play a vital role in his play.
The life that small children bring to life is a perspective that invites wisdom. It’s not as if possessions that are important to others are important to them. There’s no comparison (apart from the unconscious modelling of their parents’ lives). There’s an intrinsic importance to these items that neither he can describe, nor we can explain. And the creative world of a pre-schooler continues to baffle the marketer.
What ‘toys’ make their way into his favourite things tomorrow is anyone’s guess. But I praise God that he chooses, through criterion unknown even to him, and certainly devoid of anyone else’s influence.
If only my creativity were so impervious to outside influence! If only my passions were so free of a consciousness beyond myself.
A small child’s creative play is beyond the comparison of envy. Ours can be, too. Imagine if only it were so. The freedom we could live as we reside in that creative space.
It’s important in life to possess the right things for the right reasons at the right time, and certainly not to be possessed by things.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A social truth that can set you socially free

Photo by Xavier Sotomayor on Unsplash

LOOKING into his eyes, I saw it. He is a confident, mature young man; a leader comfortable in himself. No real visible fear in him.
Yet, there was a glimpse into his very human heart that showed me we have the capacity to draw social confidence from this truth: every person, no matter how confident they appear, is vulnerable to rejection.
We know it as we understand ourselves. We all crave acceptance. We’ll all driven to comparison. We may falsely believe we’re alone in our disadvantage; that nobody else feels quite as vulnerable as we do. It’s a lie. Change anyone’s circumstances to the negative and their light darkens. They enter a turmoil any human being finds challenging. And it’s their character that determines their response.
As we encounter our fellow human being, male or female, old or young, advantaged or disadvantaged, we encounter someone like us. We’re more the same than we’re different.
As we look into another person’s eyes, curious to peer into the windows of their soul, inherently interested in them, we can gain confidence that we are in fact encountering a form of ourselves.
Because they’re human and we too, also, are human, we grasp how tenuous interaction is — we know we can upset them as they too might be able to upset us. See how all people are vulnerable? See how our fear for upsetting people is our acknowledgement that they’re vulnerable — that we’re not the only vulnerable ones.
We all have the capacity for fear because we all need to love and be loved. Understand this about the person we’re anxious with and suddenly we’re less anxious.
Social anxiety builds when we magnify our vulnerabilities and lessen another’s. But we are all vulnerable.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Loving my Somali neighbour

Photo by Alvin Engler on Unsplash

SCHOOL is a learning place. We know that. But a place where parents learn? Yes, I say, from my own experience.
One of the great things about our son’s school is his class is so diverse in its ethnicity. Only a few other Caucasian kids. There’s a blend of different cultures, including a few of Muslim faith. Now, in terms of other faiths, I’m a little sheltered. I’ve not previously had much exposure to the people of Islam, though I’ve learned a lot more about Islam in the past year or so. I remain curious in order to know my neighbour better.
My son and I arrived at school early on a recent sunny day and I met Abram (not his real name) whose son is in my son’s class. Being in Kindergarten they’re friends, of course. Four and five-year-olds have not yet come across the diversities of divisiveness in schoolyard politicking.
Well, off our sons run into the playground leaving that awkwardness that exists between fathers who’ve never encountered each other in such proximity. It’s not unusual for me to make the move, so I did. And, so we chatted for a solid five minutes. We learned about each other — what we both do for work, family structures, and the philosophies we’ve developed over our years.
It was only having encountered Abram that God showed me some new things about him, and therefore about me. Firstly, as we spent time face-to-face, I got to look at his face and into his eyes long enough to notice he was not as old as I’d first imagined him. (Getting to know people is a perception shifter.) Secondly, in his Somali accent I was reminded of the language barrier that exists between us — I just didn’t hear or understand all he was talking about, although, for continuity purposes I made out that I did understand, trusting in the overall thrust of the conversation. This was a reminder to me of my disability — my lack of linguistic and listening ability. Thirdly, it was clear to me that this man before me had insight I did not have. Before we met I had been forced to make assumptions about what kind of person he was. That’s an admission of my humanness. God was reminding me of my propensity for judging everything I perceive, including those made in His image.
I have deduced the following:
Genuine community is always about embracing diversity between different ones, beginning at root in the ‘two of us’.
Judgments are challenged and often overturned when we encounter reality, and that is always a healthy thing.
To look into another human being’s face is a reminder of our innate sameness, no matter how cultures separate us.
Community makes us better, for it’s only when we come together that our different gifts can merge into a stronger force for good.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

If you’re saying sorry make sure your apology is THIS good

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
APOLOGY is one of the most powerful ways of reconciling a struggling relationship.
Saying sorry is about one person taking the low ground for the benefit of the relationship. That person takes responsibility to love the other, given that love gives. Saying sorry is the gift of a second chance for the relationship.
Apology is about saying, I want more intimacy, trust or comfort with you, and I’m prepared to work for it.
Putting two allied concepts together, this short article should equip you to say your very best apology. These two concepts are the five languages of apology,[1] and the seven A’s of confession.[2]
This is a good model apology:
I am sorry for what I did. I understand it hurt you in [insert reasons] this particular way. I want to make it up to you by doing [a particular restorative action]. I promise not to do it again. Can you please forgive me?
This apology has elements to satisfy everyone’s ‘language’ of apology. Some need to simply hear the words, I’m sorry. Others need to know we understand what we did wrong. Some want some sort of restitution — are you going to make it right? Others again need to know there won’t be a repeat of the offense. Finally, some want the opportunity to forgive. By making an apology covering every language, we ensure the apology has its best chance of effect.
The seven A’s of confession are a way of demonstrating sincerity and thoroughness; the heart of apology. We need to address everyone affected by our wrong actions. Avoiding the words if, but and maybe ensure the apology is potently unconditional; no excuses. Admitting the specifics of what was done wrong is so important to demonstrate we understand the issue(s), and we have the courage to name it. Acknowledging the hurt we caused allows us to express sorrow for having caused it. Accepting the consequences means we understand and agree with the justice required; no excuses. Promising to alter our behaviour in future helps them to consider trusting us again. Asking for forgiveness grants the other person power to acquit us should they choose to.
This apology by former Olympian, Marion Jones, is a great example of a confession covering the seven A’s. As you watch it, notice how you feel? Jones is convincing, isn’t she? There’s power in her presence because her heart is behind it. She really is repentant.

[1] Chapman, G. & Thomas, J. Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships. Chicago: Northfield, 2006.
[2] See peacewise.org.au and Peacemaker Ministries, from Ken Sande’s book, The Peacemaker.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The impact she made on me with just four plain words

FOUR words my wife said when she thought I was being proactive in the housework: “Are you being amazing?”
She’s said it more than once. But recently I got to thinking there’s radical power in those words that always inspire me to do more housework. Now let’s get it straight. I’m no excellent-house-husband. As my wife will tell you, I am a ‘husband with potential.’ Big difference.
And, I am certainly a words-of-affirmation love-language guy, so I get it if you think, ‘what’s he on about?’
It’s the way she said what she said. The inflection, the humour in her mock surprise, the feeling in me (I’m winning), and her just being sweet. It was the way she used her eyes. All in four simple words that took mere seconds to communicate.
That’s what makes marriage isn’t it?
Such a moment of relational victory juxtaposes with the trying seasons where conflict reigns. It communicates the power of connection in intimacy.
Something one partner does to love the other without need of return. The other partner noticing something done for the right (loving) reason. The power of a simple, heartfelt complement, a hug, the giving of a meaningful gift, the spending of time, or simply a helping hand.
Four words as a soundbite; no matter how long it is till death parts us, we have moments like this to cherish. She got the thrill of having been funny, loving and inspiring at the same time. It inspired the day or two following for both of us. And it is immortalised in this short piece, for reflection in the future. It’s just part of what makes my wife the best wife for me!
Humour helps create intimacy in marriage when both partners are free to have fun together, especially within the mundane.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Human Encounters with Spiritual Beings

MUCH of life we’re so wrapped up in our own world of problems and dreams we barely recognise the same reality’s going on in every other person we encounter.
Yet the range and style of our intrapersonal realities is as diverse as the stars are.
Although we’re all incredibly different, there’s something intrinsically the same about us all.
We’re all spiritual beings. We have all been created by a Spiritual Being — the Creator God. This means each one of us is majestically diverse in our spiritual makeup, with potential for deep discovery about ourselves, God and the world. All-the-while we’re also created with capacities that are human in range and human by characterisation, and therefore we’re limited to the realms humanity encounters. This reminds us we’re never neither too far ahead of other humans, nor are we ever too far behind.
We share an incontrovertible equality with every other human being. But we’re amazingly and masterfully created.
As spiritual beings, relating with ourselves, God and our world, we also relate with other spiritual beings. We’re all having human encounters with spiritual beings. And there’s an incredible amount of dynamism in such a melting pot of experience.
All the time, we’re having shaky, fallen interactions with vulnerable persons, as they too have shaky, fallen interactions with us, also a vulnerable person. We have the capacity to reach the heights of bliss with each other or plummet to the depths, and such human encounters can easily overwhelm us in agony or ecstasy.
Human encounters are chock full of potential for disaster and delight. And then there are the majority of circumstances which are neither, when life is ho-hum; where life involves pain and pleasure within the realm of a plethora of existential varieties.
We’re all having human encounters with spiritual beings. The range of situations that can go wrong is infinite, yet myriads of glorious things can occur, too.
As we encounter people in a very human way, we’re blessed to remember limitations — ours and theirs.
We’re blessed because our expectations are enriched with remembrances of reality. We’re blessed because we carry an inherent understanding of them which they may interpret as empathy, and humility, expressed as a well-intended interest in them. We’re blessed because we don’t expect unrealistic performance out of us or them. We allow ourselves to enjoy a blessed human encounter with a spiritual being, and they, by association, enjoy us being free to be us, as we allow them to be free to be them.
A blessed human encounter is one, therefore, where we enjoy being free to be us, as we allow them to be free to be them.
A blessed human encounter occurs when all people enjoy the freedom to be individual spiritual beings together.