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

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Gratitude for a yesteryear’s strength in weakness

Experience has taught me it only takes one adult to be seriously and consistently devoted to a child’s development and they prosper.

It’s no credit to me that I was blessed with two.


As I looked at this report from December 1973 it struck me what was going on at the time in my family.  My parents had lost my sister only about 11 weeks beforehand—stillbirth by sudden cord prolapse.  They would still have been in such shocking grief.

As a young child, I was always a “daydreamer” and yet I wonder if some of the “extremely short concentration span” was part of my inner world as I would have no doubt been grieving along with my younger brother as Mum and Dad grieved.  I was “very shy” in this report and the fact that I didn’t like to participate may shed some light into what was going on in my young mind and heart in that season of life.

At this point, 49 years on, I would love to step back and pat the boy, his brother, and his Mum and Dad on the back for simply getting on with life despite their tragic loss.

When we endure loss, we don’t have any other choice.

If only I could step back in my adult body and mind and spend just five minutes there, I’d thank that mother and father for doing their best.  I’d hug that little boy and his even littler brother.  I’d empathise for their isolation—1,500 kilometres from nearest family.  I’d say to the mother and father that what they’re doing right now with their two boys is a faithfulness beyond human compare.  I’d urge them on, to endure the darker days the best they can and to enjoy sweeter times.  I’d thank them, promising them that all of what they’re presently doing is working out and will work out—that it’s enough.  I’d tell them that they will have their rainbow baby—my littlest brother, who will be born exactly 53 weeks after this report was written/issued.  I’d implore the mother and father to continue to have faith, and I sense that that was what they were doing for their family.


We don’t spend enough time going back and thanking younger versions of ourselves and others for hanging in there during the tougher times we endured.  But we can do that today.

Nostalgia is a good exercise for gratitude.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

When your boundaries are weaponised as “unkindness” against you

In the frame of domestic violence, or violence in the workplace for that matter, it is common for abusers to resist the strength of boundaries as unkindness against them.

Try these out:

“How could you be so unkind?”

The unkindness they speak of is you saying no to their abuse of power and their exploitation of opportunities to attain or maintain that power that they feel quite entitled to.  It is an affront to them when you suggest anything that might equalise the power differential.  For them, it is only fair when they have an unfair advantage; they see that as fair.

You are not being unkind when you maturely stand and speak your boundaries, for the safety of yourself and others. What is unfair, however, is how you are brought to this place of having to stand on these issues, because it involves significant courage and in many situations it’s a risk.

Know that your boundaries are a necessary resistance, and that his resistance to your boundaries is further evidence of his insistence that he maintains the power.  Being called “unkind” is direct evidence of this.  In the balance of justice in the relationship, it would be difficult for your “unkindness” (best put as boundaries) to match his manipulation and misuse of power.

“After all I’ve done for you.”  

In other words, you owe them.  In their mind, they have given you more than you have given them, and that is justified in their minds, simply in the fact that you are lucky to have them.  All they can see is what they give you, and they see their abuse of power as their right and duty.

The fact is, they have been allowed to abuse for too long, which is all too common, because as victims of abuse we have no answer for it.  The only answer that works is the hardest answer of all, and that is to withdraw from them and the toxic situation, which brings significant extra pressure; not on them, but on you.

All relationships ought to be accorded the justice of peace because it’s a human right to feel safe.

When someone suggests they’ve done more for you than you’ve done for them, and you don’t feel safe in the relationship, you can readily see that this is further evidence of abuse.

“I don’t treat YOU this way.”

This is probably the most hypocritical statement of all.  The mere suggestion that they don’t treat you and others you care about and love in a harmful way is an abhorrent lie.

What can you say to counter this lie?  Well, know that your words will have no effect, and that the power is in knowing it’s a lie and not bothering to contend with words.  Abusers love the war of words.  It’s their home ground.  There’s more power for you in inaction than there is in arguing the point—knowing, again, that it’s important to reinforce within yourself that what he’s saying is evidence of his abuse.


It’s the abuser who will gaslight what this article is saying by contending, “This is encouraging division and relationship separations and that’s not good.”

Unequally yoked relationships (see linked article for more) are not based on love or fairness and there needs to be accountability.  If there’s no desire or evidence of change where there needs to be change, it means the relationship must change.

** Use of “he” in this article is generic.

Friday, May 27, 2022

The misconstruing of empathy for what wasn’t intended

When a person misinterprets kindness for an interest that’s not intended, boundaries are needed, yet unfortunately these are often misconstrued as manipulations.

It can come as quite a shock in both situations: having your kindness and care misinterpreted for a more substantial love and having your love blunted, leaving you confused and unwanted.

Empathy plays such an important part in response to the hurt felt by the other, but if that empathy is also misinterpreted or manipulated, there’s not much chance of a shared understanding being achieved.

Empathy is a crucial building block skill for investing in and for maintaining any relationship.  Those who have no capacity for empathy — those who care only for themselves — have no capacity (or desire) to give or receive love in the way the average person would accord as safe.

The misconstruing of empathy for what was never intended speaks more for the receiver’s desires and needs of the relationship than anything else.

It speaks to the possibilities of personality disorders when people seek to entrap people who are simply being kind; of manipulating a person because needs weren’t met, needs which can’t be safely met.

Few people would want to meet the needs of love where there’s coercive control at play.

And that’s just the thing, there are people out there, people in our lives, who seem to look to exploit every opportunity that might even look like an opening.  Behind every response it seems is manipulation, and it’s so normal to feel completely exposed in that situation.  Some people seem completely incapable of giving and receiving love in the way that is safe and acceptable.

Some of the signs of this are the smoke and mirrors we deal with in our interactions with them.  They never provide clarity, everything is murky, and they will put it on us if we challenge them on it.  A classic tactic of abusers is to use ambiguity for their own advantage — “Oh, I never meant it that way!”

In other words, it can only ever be the other person’s fault.  Where there’s no capacity to accept individual responsibility in one, it leaves a pretty lopsided relationship.

In the ideal world, we should be able to give our empathy and be empathetic without feeling being exploited for it.  But the reality is, a lot of the time people will exploit our empathy, and a common example of this is when a person exploits the opportunity to consume time in conversation about themselves.  All we wanted to do was to demonstrate that we care.

At the worst end of demonstrating our empathy for others, we are coerced into agreeing on things and doing things against our will, which only serves to force us into a war against ourselves.  We either implement boundaries and suffer the wrath of a person who manipulates that situation for “betrayal,” or we submit and go along in the wrong direction.  See how doing the right thing in these situations turns out to work against us with a vexatious individual?

For some people, there is no way of relating with them, because they cannot respect our boundaries, those boundaries which would make of the relationship something workable.

For people like this, who exist for their own gratification, those who see that others exist for precisely the same purpose, there is no relatable arrangement.  We are wise to remove ourselves from the situations as much as possible, but this is very hard when they are family, or they are people we cannot easily remove ourselves from.

Fortunately, situations like this equip us to notice the red flags in future, but this doesn’t necessarily help us when we are challenged by a present situation.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Why do you still not understand? / Why do you still not believe me?

One of the languages of apology is accepting responsibility—or a person demonstrating that they understand the depth and breadth of the hurt they caused.  And importantly, demonstrating (the operative word) this to the satisfaction of the party who was hurt.

This is where a lot of couples and others in conflict get stuck—one begs the other that they DO understand, while the other finds still more reasons why they don’t yet demonstrate that they do.

There are several problems that parties encounter along the path of understanding.

The more a person endeavours to convince another person that they do understand, and the more those attempts fail, the more tension is created.  This can be both a good thing and a bad thing.  It’s good that both parties are tenacious enough to continue to try.  But it is also a negative.  The more those grooves of contempt are furrowed out of the ground in conflict, the more toxic the relationship dynamic is likely to become.

Sometimes, however, the hurt party just wants to move on, because they have the firm belief that the person that hurt them is the way they are, and they won’t change.  Only a changed heart could convince them, and that always and only comes out in unconditionally humble behaviour.

When we have the “why do you still not understand?” / “why do you still not believe me?” dichotomy operating, there needs to be a circuit breaker.

One or both parties need to be able to see the other side and move across temporarily.

I always advise people in the “why do you still not believe me?” camp to make the first move.  And STAY there.

Commitment toward understanding is only achieved in taking a consistent position.  Flip-flop and the other person has every reason to see it as manipulation.

If only a person who is seeking to be understood can understand the other person’s reticence, they endeavour to set out on a new path.  The old way hasn’t worked.  They plough in that field no longer.

Sometimes a person can feel as if they can’t possibly understand, and this is valid especially when they themselves accept that the hurts they caused are reprehensible.

But it’s still necessary to convey understanding, and this can only be achieved by going deep into the other person’s story.  This is about living for a time through the other person’s eyes, ears, head, and heart.  This is a deliberate move to depart from one’s own consciousness, to enter what it is possibly like for the other—and do that for as long as it takes.

The only way a person is going to convey that they genuinely understand is if they so own their own behaviour and attitudes that there is no room for defence or self-protection.  Put another way, this is about staying in the hurt of the other person and being able to stay in that place where all that matters, for this time and on this issue, is that they are vindicated.

I can tell you that this is a most powerful and resolute worldview to arrive at.  We never have more power for good than when we advocate for the person we hurt with absolute sincerity.


If this is done and it still doesn’t work, there is the issue potentially of the hurt person being so hurt that there is no coming back.  Or that the hurt person cannot trust the person that hurt them even to the point of relinquishing acceptance that they may understand.

This is a pity for both, because extending forgiveness and being forgiven are crucial principles for life.  And yet, not all is lost, because we all have stories in our lives where we have not been able to forgive, and where we have not been forgiven, and yet we live on, hopefully having learned something.


For each side of every story there is only one side of the truth.  Rarely, however, are there matters a conflict where two or more don’t play a part.  And I’m not talking about blatant abuse here, we are one side bears the responsibility.  I’m talking about two parties who could both turn toward the other.

For the person not being believed, the best thing they can do is step into the person’s shoes who is saying, “why do you still not understand?”  The only way peace is brought to bear is in the commencing of an honest search that demonstrates understanding.  It’s all anyone can do.

I’ve said it many times, that hopes for reconciliation rest on two positively and equally motivated parties who truly want that outcome and are so desperate to achieve it that they will move toward the other with consistent determination.  It takes two.

It takes two.  BUT, it’s the person who looks to the other side for what they’re not doing who reduces a potential two to one.  When another sees this behaviour, they lose heart.

We always must, for the hope of the relationship, STAY in our own stuff.

NOTE: all of this is posited from a place of discussing conflict in terms of two or more individuals/parties who are reasonable to deal with.  Situations of abuse are characterised by one party doing harm and this being compounded by never owning it which adds significant harm and trauma.  Also, above all, there is no place for couples counselling therapy where there is abuse within the relationship.  Individualised therapy can be targeted for abusers and for victims of abuse, but these are both highly specialised modalities—NEVER go to just ‘any’ counsellor where issues like this are present.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The imperative of forgiveness for hurting hearts

Life is toughest when conflicts abound, and hurts are compounded amid loss and grief.  Relationship breakdowns combine these nemeses, where we may quickly find the person we were closest to is now our mortal enemy.

If we don’t watch out, this person we once lived to die for becomes someone that consumes our thought-life for all the wrong reasons.  We may wish them away from our preoccupied minds all we want, but we just can’t get rid of the thought that they are there, from what they’ve done, and what they’re doing and may continue doing, and that they’ve got the temerity to prosper in life.

It takes honesty to admit that we wish the worst for our enemy; that person or people who has/have done us harm.  We can’t stop thinking about the justice we want visited against them.  Anyone who has not felt this way has never truly felt betrayed.

It’s about this time, especially as a Christian, where we seriously ask how can we forgive this person?  We understand others may not be interested in forgiveness, but as Christians we can’t get over the need to wrestle with our hurts and come to forgiveness.  Times like these we can genuinely loathe every verse in the Bible that preaches forgiveness—for instance, those that highlight the gospel imperative of God forgiving us which gives us power to forgive others as we’ve been forgiven.  We can highlight all those verses that speak about justice, but inevitably we can’t erase those verses to talk about forgiveness.  So, we keep wrestling.

It’s so hard to forgive people who have betrayed us.  It’s feels impossible to forgive when we can’t even wish them well.  When any sign that they are happy or succeeding in life is an affront.  When they refuse point-blank to acknowledge the hurt they’ve caused, the damage they’ve done, and the trauma they’ve left in us.  Especially as they seem to get away with it, day in, day out.

But we must forgive for our own sake, and 
for the sake of all those we care about.

If we don’t forgive, we don’t give ourselves permission to move on with the rest of our lives, it’s just about a simple as that.  When we remain stuck in a place in the past, we consign others we care about to that place without hope, too.

When it’s divorce, what about the kids?  What about brothers and sisters in law, parents, friends, others?  The truth is the wheels of justice don’t turn on a wish.  There are many injustices in life that continue to be unjust.  So we need to find a way beyond what is a comprehensive unfairness.  If not for the person who betrayed us, it’s for all the others who hurt when we hurt.

Another thing we need to think about is when we pathologise someone, we see evil in them, and when we treat them as evil, we give them license to identify the evil in us.  Whenever we speak wrongly about others or ostracise them, we become part of the problem.

When we treat someone with grace, they may not reciprocate, but we have a much better chance of a cooperative relationship when we behave respectfully.  And cooperative relationships with people who have betrayed us are not only possible, but they’re also vital in our own growth.  We’re not talking about trusting relationships, but relationships where we work cooperatively for the sake of others who are dependent on a cooperative rapport—again, children.

Forgiveness helps us get to that place 
where we’ve overcome our anger.

When we forgive someone, we don’t necessarily let them off the consequences of their actions.  When we forgive, we don’t say what they did was just and okay and right.  When we forgive, all we are saying is, there is more to life and more to the future than the hurts of the past.

When we don’t forgive, we ultimately become bitter.  How do I know?  I’ve been there!

It’s okay to grieve bitterly, and to remain there for a very long time, but as we look back, it can seem such a waste of our time.  Yet, having said that, having prayed for years that the burden of bitterness would be lifted off our hearts, every day thereafter that we find mercy in our hearts for another sinner is a miracle.  It’s okay to take a long time to get there.  It’s not a race.

We endeavour to wrestle the hurt of bitterness to the floor called forgiveness.

NOTE: I literally know dozens if not a hundred or more people whose stories involve harms and traumas done to them that would if not for the possibilities of forgiveness be unforgivable.  I’ve ridden that journey of anger and pain with others just as others have ridden that journey of anger and pain with me.  None of this is easy.

BUT: it is doable.  The anger and cries for justice are only half the story.  It’s crucial that we experience our anger and honour our pain, but we can’t stay there.  Though it’s the truth, it’s not where the healing power is.  We must trek onward to the mount of mercy resident in God.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Don’t suffer in silence – because we always do

It’s one of the most prevailing truths of this life: people suffer in silence, never wanting to be a burden to others, always feeling like they’re alone in their suffering.  Of course, at any given time there are myriads upon myriads of people doing that same thing in silence—suffering.

There are so many reasons why we suffer in silence.

We feel weak and ashamed when we suffer.
Feeling weak we often don’t have the strength to reach out.
It’s often a bridge too far to be strong enough to be vulnerable.
We don’t see the strength there is in being honest in our weakness.
We don’t want to be a burden to others.
We don’t want to risk being rejected if and when we do reach out.
Reaching out involves risk and strength when it’s easier to withdraw.
In our suffering, we feel nobody could possibly understand.
There is often a warm safe feeling of aloneness in doing it alone.
Once bitten, twice shy—it takes only one negative experience to shut up shop.

I’ve only scratched the surface.

If we know that those who suffer will inevitably suffer in silence, it’s incumbent on any of us who have the emotional range for it to reach in when those who could be suffering cannot reach out.

This is not a complicated message.  It takes a little faith to quarantine a little time to reach in to a life that could be struggling. 

Then what do we do?

We establish some rapport first by ensuring they know that we’re interested.
We open space for sharing and caring.
This means fewer words from us when they do begin to open up.
The words we offer are words of encouragement for their courage.
The words we offer are NOT advice related.
We look for and notice examples of their strength and their courage.
We call attention to that strength and courage when we see it.
We continue to listen and to be available.
We’re reminded that our empathy was nurtured in times like these. 
We don’t forget it’s better to have strength to offer than to suffer.

For those times when we suffer in silence—because, let’s face it, we’re all in that place at some stage or other—this is a reminder to take the risk to reach out if we can OR it could be to allow others to reach in.

We always do suffer in silence, so maybe this is the opportunity to break out beyond that bubble that seems safe but doesn’t reward us with the support we need.

Friday, May 20, 2022

When a consistently demanding person is toxic

Have you noticed in a family or team or other environment that if you’ve got a toxic person in your midst, they require and even demand accommodations are made for them that aren’t extended to others?

The demands might not always be verbal, and indeed almost always aren’t, but the demands are there all the same.  

Sometimes those demands are that they get the floor when they choose, or they get to insist how things run, or they attempt to veto important decisions, failing to acknowledge the limits of their role and power, or the need to collaborate.  Decisions to be made are best done collaboratively or with respect for position and all stakeholders.

It’s how they use, misuse, or abuse their influence, always prepared to ride roughshod over others.

A key sign of a toxic person is they cannot or will not negotiate; they can’t be reasoned with.

They play by a completely different game, and it’s a game designed to deceive and conquer.

Key to negotiating is empathy; to put a foot into the other person’s camp.  A demanding person won’t empathise because they can’t or they can’t because they won’t—either way, it’s immaterial.

They cannot or will not swap out of their camp temporarily to see from others’ viewpoints.  It’s not how they operate.

And if it seems that there’s no choice for them than to show that they NEED to swap out of their camp into another person’s for a time—and that’s because the spotlight is on them in that particular way—there’s always consequences afterwards, in that others will pay for it when that scrutiny fades.

What’s required for the toxic person who clearly demands to be accommodated is assertiveness from others in being given the opportunity to conform.  But that’s not easy.  And this is the sign of who we’re dealing with, if they won’t conform and respect boundaries.  This is the clearest sign of whether a relationship is tenable or not.

This is why, especially in relationships, it’s best to say our no’s early so we establish as early on as possible if the word ‘no’ is going to present an issue.  Everyone should be on probation relationally until they prove they’re humble enough to transact with situations that don’t work their way.

Watch how toxic people may put on a front of humility but will always slide back into being demanding.

How people deal with disappointment is important in the landscape of relationships.  It’s not good and it’s a genuine concern if a person receives a reminder to respect a boundary and considers such a situation a betrayal—as if there’s an entitlement to behave as they choose.  It leaves the person merely setting their safe boundaries in a vulnerable position.

Consistent demand-making in relationships ought to be a genuine red flag.

I know from my peacemaking days that desires that become demands end up as attitudes of judgement and hence behaviours of punishment.  Themes like this make it very hard for relationships to function with fairness.

When a person demands their desires be accommodated, it leaves others in the shade, significantly disempowered, abused, and traumatised.

When people present these non-negotiable demands, it signals an important transition.  Such a ‘relationship’ is ultimately unworkable.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Gratitude for that tremendous heart for volunteering

In my time in the emergency services and in the church and parachurch organisations, I’ve seen countless examples of volunteering that have blown me away.  People who gave consistently over the decades, and those who gave tirelessly for an extended season of a few years, and those who gave exceptionally and bravely for days or weeks on end, especially without thought of getting anything back.

That’s the heart behind a lot of volunteering where volunteers provide services professionally deserving of being paid if only society could afford to pay.

But the point is, the heart that gives for the love of serving a community, of connecting people with services, for making society more cohesive—just because they can—is the heart that helps a person grow because they see others overcome.  And there is great life and hope in seeing others helped and supported to overcome.

The best volunteers I’ve seen include stories of two particular women that stand out in my memory; both of whom gave their time, their money, their wisdom, their expertise, everything they had to offer, to serve their communities.

What these two women gave was nothing short of inspiring, and oftentimes I’d think, “What more can they give... they’ve already outgiven everything I thought could be offered.”

I’ve watched volunteers give alongside those like me who are paid, and they’ve served as if there were no difference between us—and truly with the work they do there is no difference.  And pleasingly, the culture I’ve seen in emergency services, church and parachurch treats volunteers as just as professional as the paid workers, commensurate with the skills and experience they possess.  As basically the volunteer associate minister at my church who supports our paid senior minister, having had the same training as they’ve had, it’s always affirming to me to be considered just the pastoral professional as they are.

The tremendous giving heart that motivates volunteers, that inspires onlookers for their service, is the lifeblood of all our communities.  Honestly, we all live for stories of heroism that inspire us and our volunteers are at the top of that revered list, bringing all their skill and experience to bear without thought of what’s-in-it-for-me.

It has heartened me to see many paid people in emergency services join volunteer brigades, groups, and units and I hear they often do so to learn.  Many of our top paid professionals came from volunteer ranks, and what’s great about that is many of them retain that volunteering heart for service because they never forget that that’s what it’s about.  They stay grounded and in touch with their roots.  These are our very best leaders.

The old adage of “love what you do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” holds in these situations, and volunteering teaches people through their own experience that the opportunities and challenges of service are immense.  Indeed, if only we take that volunteering heart into our paid jobs, we not only serve in exceptional ways, that sense of goodwill comes back like a boomerang and honours us too.  This is how living as a community was always meant to be.

For many in the world of volunteering, the cause you serve becomes a driving purpose for life, and the team you serve with become like family, and in many cases ARE family.  Deep life experiences are shared with others and great bonds develop that build strength within us as individuals.

Volunteering makes us all better.  Volunteers are a living reminder of lives transformed through a heart for service through performing critical functions as teams.  They’re a beacon of inspiration rousing others, truly the hands and feet, ears and eyes, hearts and minds of sacrifice, doing those things that must be done very often without reward, other than the “thanks” that might come for phenomenal work done.

Today, and all days, is a day to thank a volunteer.

Photo credit to Wanneroo-Joondalup State Emergency Service Unit website.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

A depression in adjusting to unrealistic expectations

15 years ago this week, my wife and I married.  Days before we were married were vastly different to days after we married.  I had no idea that I was so idealistic leading into the wedding, and soon after we arrived home from the honeymoon, I nosedived into a significant depression for two months where I lost my sense of self.

A big part of the issue was I’d spent three years recovering from the loss of my first marriage, and I was determined to upend every part of me to ensure I was really ready for married life.

I’d spent all that time and effort on becoming all I needed to be only to realise that the journey of being a married man had only just begun.

The biggest gap left was my expectations of marriage—I felt like I was fully prepared and that I’d really know my wife, and on both counts, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

To say I was stunned would be an understatement.  I was so shocked with this realisation that it not only led to a sharp depression, but it made me wonder who I’d married.  Little did I know it at the time, but my wife was thinking exactly the same thing.  I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t share every facet of her life with me, only to realise I’d actually married a person who cherished her privacy.  I also thought I’d have to share my wife with friends and family—as I really desired all of her time at the time (yes, I know, really unhealthy!).  The fact is those fears were completely unfounded—she was, in fact, VERY adept at living independently.

Those two months of June and July 2007 were the strangest time of arriving in a land I’d always planned to live in, only to detest what it was that I’d solemnly sought for those three years.  The bigger part of the deep depression I’d sunk into was the utter paradox of my circumstances; I’d arrived at blessing, and it was NOTHING that I thought it would be.

During this period, I was also staring down the barrel of career change and I was also on the cusp of turning 40.  I spiralled into that nosedive as I was entered a period of change and loss of multidimensional proportions.  My whole life was in flux, and it caused fear to overwhelm me.

Turning 40, fortunately, was probably the threshold that I needed to reach as I clawed my way out of the depression through a devotional intentionality that propelled me into writing blog articles—which I’ve done ever since.

For me, entering a period of massive change that heralded some beautiful expectations worked against me because I’d become unconsciously idealistic—believing married life would suddenly be utterly blissful and beautiful.

It took us some time before we could say our marriage was anything like “utterly blissful and beautiful” and my unrealistic expectations were a significant part of that, especially early on.

This experience has been very worthwhile as a pre-marriage counsellor these days.  When I provide pre-marriage education and counselling, I spend some time working on expectations, idealism and being realistic.  Marriage is not what it seems to be.  It’s hard work once the honeymoon period wears off.

I’m thankful that I experienced this particular depression because it gave me insight to the power of expectations and how much they can lead us to hazardous terrain.  Had I continued how I set out our marriage either would not have survived or we would have been the most unhappy of couples.

Expectations are huge in relationships.  If we expect too much of our partner or we expect too much from our relationship, we’ll end up making it harder for the both of us.  And many times, sad to say, those unrealistic expectations end up burying the relationship.

Realistic expectations are easier to satisfy.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Nothing says “sorry” like making amends

There’s little wonder that everything in conflict swings on justice.  If there’s one way we either feel at peace or betrayed or anything in between these two, it’s that we’re affected greatly in the way we treat others and by how others treat us.

One thing that people never realise about the “sorry” of making amends is the power in it.  It’s not until we experience the power in the life that consistently makes amends that we’re convinced it’s the only way to live.

Think about it from this viewpoint:

Someone says sorry to you but it’s not clear to you that they understand how they hurt you or the impact for you.  Or they’re sorry but they’re not prepared to wear the outflowing consequences for their actions.  Or their “sorry” sees no need to make the wrong they did right again in some meaningful way.  Or perhaps their lack of sincerity, and their ifs, buts, and maybes, leave you more incensed than ever.

When these things occur, it’s so obvious that the person doesn’t have the intent of making amends.

In a world that increasingly expects the word “sorry” to be evidenced in changed behaviour, making amends is proof the person really understands what they did, how it affected you, and what’s required to remediate the situation.

This is because making amends is about the other person; it’s about the person who has been wronged, and their right to have a say in what justice looks like.

When someone makes amends, the justice we feel is immense, and it goes some way to restoring our faith in a humanity that can otherwise send us into disillusionment.  What occurs is the reverse of the “baggage” we tend to pick up along life’s way when unresolved conflicts, stresses, losses, and situations we can’t change pile up one on top of the others.

The person who makes amends can access a power that others cannot and will not know unless they’ve been there.  A life of making amends is truly the authentic Christian journey, but not all people of faith live this way nor do all people of faith experience the power and peace that amends provides.

Being an instrument of justice and peace is an incredible gift not only for oneself, but especially for others too.

Nothing says “sorry” like making amends because it’s so action oriented.  We can see the results.  We can see the courage and humility it takes for someone to take the risk to cross the room.  They didn’t need to do it.  Nobody could force them.  But they did it anyway.  It tells us where their hearts are at.

It’s the heart of a person that causes them to seek to make amends, just as it’s in the heart of a person to be sorry... or not!

It makes all the difference in the world for a person who’s been betrayed to hear “sorry” through the making of amends from the person who did the hurt.  What’s communicated is, “I’m sorry enough to make this right for you, and my commitment to making amends means I’ll not do it again.”

The biggest problem with “initial relationship success”

How many relationships—whether they’re romantic, professional, friendship, or otherwise—start out on such a great footing, both enamoured of the other, compliments and gushing of praise left, right, everywhere, but end up in the sewer?

They ended up either crashing because reality descended and one or both were seen for who they actually are—flawed human beings (as we all are)—or the power and the passion slowly withers and dies in irrelevancy for both.

Why is this?  Why does this come about?

We don’t enter relationships trusting the other person with WHO we actually are, typically.  Part of our worth is wrapped up in our image, and no matter how much integrity we have, we still put on some show, we all do.

But there are some who are ALL show.  They show none of what they truly are because they’re masters at masquerading.  They leave those of the rest of the population who masquerade 10 or 20 percent of the time in the shade.

The golden clue for those at the opposite end 
of the continuum is how charming they are.

The more charismatic someone is by personality, the more we ought to suspect something could be wrong.  And yet there are nuances in these times around a vulnerability that is strikingly charismatic—it’s been coined “fauxnerability” by Chuck DeGroat.  Yes, that most cherished part of a trustworthy personality—humility—has been weaponised in the grandest swindle known to humanity.

With basically 100 percent success, we enter relationships with people who are charismatic to their core and such a relationship will not be sustainable long term.  The masquerade has a use-by date.

Sooner or later, as we get closer and more intimate with a person, we get to see their foibles and that lack of authenticity with the original image is jarring to the perception.  They aren’t anything like they presented, and it disgusts us.

If someone presents to us an image of fauxnerability and we trust this as authentic vulnerability, we’ll feel all the more betrayed when the real intentions of their actions come to the fore.

This is the biggest challenge to us to NOT be like this.

Though we will find that true masquerading is a personality default in some; they have it mastered because it’s who they are.


If we’re going to be charismatic in any way, let that charisma be merged with humble authenticity of 1) WYSIWYG or what-you-see-is-what-you-get, MERGED with 2) a character of trustworthiness and the fruit of the Spirit, which is loving, peaceable, gentle, kind, patient, faithful, and very much self-controlled.

The downside to focussing on NOT masquerading a false charisma is we’ll probably be more likely swooned by someone who is.  This is where boundaries come in.

Whether it’s romance, business, employment, friendship, family, or in any other realm of the relational sphere, be observant about how true and comfortable in their truth others are.  Some just aren’t and they present as not to be trusted for long-term meaningful relationship/partnership.  It’s fine if someone presents truly as someone who cares only for themselves—they’re easier to see and know.  But most people who care only for themselves know that people will reject them quickly if they’re authentic, so they masquerade with some charisma at least initially.

One of the key marks of a relationship success that endures is the capacity of both parties to apologise to the point of true humility in honouring the truth of what they personally did wrong.  This is the single biggest issue with relationship trust that fractures—a person cannot apologise.

We ought to be looking out for what’s becoming known as “decent but dull” people to do relationship with; that’s someone who has:

1.              the integrity of authenticity to trust who they really are with others

2.              the character exemplified by the fruit of the Spirit (loving, peaceable, gentle, kind, patient, faithful, and very much self-controlled)

There are those people out there, but they often present as “decent but dull” and they don’t stand out as attractive for relationship—if that’s what we’re looking for.

Being of good and trustworthy character is the best investment WE can make in our relationships.  Then we need to be shrewd and discerning when it comes to the business and personal relationships we enter into.  Charisma as I’ve pointed out can be an amber flag.