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

Saturday, August 28, 2021

No matter how bad life gets we’re still one with another


I was reminded just now how important a soul is.  And as I remembered, I was reminded how important my soul is.  We’re precious, you and me.

Yet, as we go through life and are occasionally chewed up and spat out—by systems, people, organisations, relationships—we quickly forget that we’re priceless masterpieces made in the image of a Creator.

No matter how bad life gets we’re still one with another, and so long as we don’t neglect this fact, we’ll be okay, even if we aren’t okay.

In remembering the value of the sister, the brother, the fellow human being, we’re quickly reminded of our own value.  And even if we feel slighted, hard-done-by, exhausted and underappreciated, at least we don’t self-destruct.

In remembering our innate value to ourselves, our families, our world, our Creator—in facing our value and in our acknowledging it—we’re humbled and restored at the same time.

No matter how bad life gets, if we know our value, we’re safer than if we dismissed our value outright.

You are valuable, as valuable as anyone else who’s ever lived or will live, no matter who you are.  I don’t know what you think of Jesus, but the facts of Jesus’ life and death prove that you matter as much as anyone else, ever.

Even as I read those words of the previous paragraph, I also often need reminding.  It’s why I write this.  We all need reminding.  Occasionally we may fall for the lie that we don’t matter.  We do.

If you’re in a place of being where you’re seriously doubting your worth—and you’re not alone, because there are many of us who doubt occasionally or more often—I pray you’ll use this opportunity to be reminded.

There is nobody like you and the world needs you at this time that you’re alive.

It’s the care and the connection with another human being that will remind us of our value.

Photo by Catia Dombaxe on Unsplash

Monday, August 23, 2021

The whisper of death awakens life


Devastating phone calls and texts come when we least expect them.  Today, while I was operating as a field safety officer at an emergency exercise, I was alerted to a friend being in palliative care with only days to live.  The last time I saw him was for a pub lunch last year, and he was in fine fettle.

As I digested the news, especially being a pastor, you know what you must do.  I wanted to visit.  Because the exercise was two hours out of the city, it was going to be a late visit.

In the room with him, he was unresponsive as I’d expected.  I called another friend who is at work on site and put him on speaker—we both spoke to our friend about some of our memories.

Before this, I’d called my friend’s wife and we’d had two relatively long chats on the phone.

In my work, as I go around checking people’s safety, I often end up in what I call chaplaincy conversations.  Today was no different even in the flurry of a simulated emergency, because there are always some downtimes.

One of these chats we talked about army padres and how important they are—because I’m called ‘padre’ by this ex-army officer co-worker.  Next thing, after having discussed some of the death he’s seen, he says, “It’s scary to think what might happen after we die... I know it probably doesn’t worry you.”

We chatted about it.  I just said it’s my belief that after this life there’s a glorious Kingdom to enter, but that that Kingdom is accessed in the here and now—on earth as in heaven (remember the line from the Lord’s Prayer?).

I didn’t push it.  It was merely a short part of the conversation, and it led to even deeper revelations as I listened, and he shared.

Death rouses us.  The whisper of death awakens us to life.

My friend who’s in palliative care, who is unresponsive, was told nine months ago they couldn’t do anything more for him.  His body was dying.  But his mind and his heart were not ready to let go.  He’s a fighter, always has been.

When it comes to life, none of us want to give up the fight.  None of us want to die, because even those who do give up the fight do so only because life seemed harder to them than death.

Not only does the whisper of death remind us to fight for life, the whisper of death also connects us to the lives we’d otherwise continue to be disconnected from.

I wonder if you’ve pondered death and whether you fear it and why.  I think it’s understandable to fear death if it’s because you leave loved ones behind who will mourn your absence, or because it wrecks you that you’ll have to say goodbye.

The truth is though, the more we carry about the death of Jesus in ourselves, the more we’re alive for the life that stands to be lived in the here and now.  The fact we’re alive inspires gratitude, simply for the air we breathe and the hopes that propel us forward each day.

The presence of death can remind us that today is our opportunity to do what tomorrow has no assurance of.  The least we can do is tell our family and friends that we love them.

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

Monday, August 16, 2021

The strength it takes to endure in your weakness


Reaching out when you’re feeling weak is not weakness but strength.  Even if you feel weak, you’re not weak when you take the risk to reach out and get help.  Yes, it can be exhausting, even debilitating, and that’s why you know it takes strength to do.  You’re strong to reach out.

But... you’re not weak if you’re too weak to reach out.  You’re not weak for being weak, you’re forgiven for needing to rest a while, garner what little strength you have, to prepare for the next effort.

Your courage in looking high and low for a way through your recovery is inspiring, even if you don’t think it’s anything special.  If I were to ask you, “How hard have you worked to get through this?” your heart would say, “As hard as I can, always.”

You’re doing the best you can with what you have at present.  I know because I’ve been there, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s mine or somebody else’s turn.  Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate.  Nor does loss, and grief takes us into myriad form of emotion and thought patterns we can’t always control.

When you’re weak you feel exposed and vulnerable, and it never feels good, but try and acknowledge that it takes a great deal of strength to endure as you’re enduring right now.

Take heart.  What you’re learning now will have a purpose, especially as you’ll probably want to pay the support forward that you’re receiving right now.

Only as we look back from an utter collapse do we see just what we got through.

With 20/20 hindsight it’s often as if you recognise just how strong you were when you were feeling most weak.

Take heart, take it easy, don’t give up.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The antithesis of anxiety


It doesn’t always work, and some mornings you wake, and you just can’t do it, but other mornings start out horrid, yet you harness your poise, agree to risk courageously, as you say, “Nothing’s holding me back today; I’m facing the world and all my problems.”

You know, today it worked, and I heard the echo of the Spirit say, “Write about it.”

With the ambient stressors of life compelling you to believe that everything’s about to go wrong, or the unanticipated thing that will shock you in grief, or even the disequilibrium of feeling estranged to peace, it’s easy to lose sight of what might just go right.

I’m sure we’ve all had days where we’ve been blown away by the fact the sky’s not fallen in.

As I drove to work today:

§     I resolved to myself to be brave, to slow down, to relax instead of running around, to smile beyond my propensity to worry; to make the most of the opportunity for good-natured humour.

§     I bought oil, and I found an innovative way of putting it (drop free) into my car’s engine (because I didn’t have the tooling on hand to help me).  I did this calmly and methodically, ensuring I had plenty of time to do it.

§     I agreed with myself for the umpteenth time, there are so many things I cannot change, that these are the situations I need to let go of.

§     I became mindful with the wind and rain and the elements beating against my car.

§     I did my strategizing on the way to work, ensuring the complexities of my day would go smoother if I determined my steps.

§     I rewarded myself for mental mindfulness with a treat of mental mindfulness once I achieved a task, completed a meeting, and had a good interaction.

§     I decided that because I didn’t have a late meeting to attend that I’d relieve my wife of the need of picking our son up – he loves it when I collect him (a reward for him AND I).

§     The work didn’t stop so I went with it, enjoying the opportunity to achieve while I could.  Without anxiety, it is a pleasure to serve people and willingly do the work with joy that needs doing.  To under-promise and over-deliver is good for one’s soul.

There’s probably more but I’ll leave it at that.

There’s something encouraging about overcoming anxiety on the days we can.  I acknowledge not every day’s this controllable, but a lot of the time we can ward against distress by gritting the teeth a little and forcing a smile, especially if we can laugh.

Worth a try?

Photo by Kamal Bilal on Unsplash

Friday, August 6, 2021

When you’re life changes in an instant


I’ve had three significant moments where my life changed in an instant: the end of my first marriage, the death of a child to stillbirth, the end of a career I dearly loved.  Each event was a king hit that saw me spiral into a grief-laden season punctuated by anxiety and depression.

Truth be known, in EACH of these events, there’s a plethora of moments where life changes in an instant.

When life changes in an instant, it’s a cavalcade of worse news after bad.  It’s like the initiating event brings possibly the most shock, but in reality, it’s just the first one.  There are developments that continue to wreak havoc over our psyches and then there’s our own mental and emotional process—sometimes we’re resilient to the shock waves, at other times we’re absolutely incapable of response and left numb.

The odds of life are such that everybody will suffer the incredulous reality of life changing in an instant.  At some point.  Then life changes.  To the degree you never really thought it could, should or would.

When life changes in an instant, you enter a journey, and the moment the journey commences you’re innately aware you don’t want to be on it.  That’s the resounding echo of loss.

But such a journey is blessed if you don’t insist on changing what cannot be changed.

Yet grief sends a person on a quest of denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance, and the randomness of such an expedition exhausts the most resilient soul.

A depth of person is learned through the agonising sojourn.  Not that we need to find something positive to over-spiritualise for a purpose for the malaise.

But the truth is, all of us dredged deeply in loss.  It humbles us.  It breaks us.  Yet it transforms us if we’ll only patiently endure the harder days and save any commitment to give up to the following day, even though we’re destined to give up only to pick up again.

When life changes in an instant, you fall off a precipice and instantly you find you’re in the climb of your life simply to survive.  You reach out for comfort and for strength from others who would come alongside.  You’re at the mercy of many elements, but somehow what comes out of it all, so often, is gold for the newer frontier—it just takes a few years.

You may read this and think, “What on earth is this all about?”  You’re forgiven for not relating.  You’re also forgiven for never wanting this reality to wash up on your shore.

It just pays to be ready for such a polarising war.

When you’ve been there, once you’ve survived, you’re somehow ready for the one coming through—you’re a wounded healer.

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash