Sunday, January 30, 2011

Resolving Four Causes of Spiritual Harm

Gratitude is known instinctually for times of spiritual ease. Put another way, with cognisance of dark times the brighter times beckon want of no return there. That pain we learned from—and we’re glad—but to revisit items of torment is, for us, unnecessary.

In an earlier article I posed four causes of spiritual harm:

1) Rushing the spiritual activities of life;

2) Entering and staying in frustration;

3) The influence of fatigue; and,

4) Common complacency—pride before the fall.

Rushing, frustration, fatigue and complacency are all key causes of spiritual harm.

1. Slowing to Tortoise Pace

Against the prevailing world’s concept for development and enhancement, we all know how the story of The Tortoise and the Hare (an Aesop fable) finished.

Rushing things of quality is a folly of cataclysmic proportions, though we’re unlikely to see it beforehand. The reason we don’t see it, is the journey into the Diluted Abyss happens at super-slow-mo speed. Wisdom it is that predicts the event and caters for it before it’s begun.

We should try not to rush what is underpinning our faith, joy, hope; the right approach to life. Quality is preciousness.

2. Problem-Solving Frustration

Sources of frustration, especially those caused by our spirituality, require a search.

Searching requires tenacity; the ability to keep foraging even when there are scant results for searching. The harder the search, the more frustrated we become. But know this: faith is enlarged via this very process—patience is weathered in the midst of the storm.

We daren’t go off the ancient path provided for by God to seek peace from the world. The world knows nothing of real solution to these frustrations of ours. It can only convolute what may already be patently scary.

3. Fatigue – Battling the Result

Fatigue is a common influencer of spiritual torpor. It’s hard to know what’s the cause and what’s the effect—fatigue can seem both.

Ironically, it’s the skimpy spiritual diet that doesn’t sate that’s responsible.

What’s screaming out to us is the need for spiritual refreshment, but that can seem a long way off in the status of exhaustion. Like all maladies it’s a good idea to chip away at life in any genuine way of rejuvenation, a moment at a time.

Sometimes it’s learning to rest; to surrender... to re-enter life gracefully. Other times it is modifying approaches of response so risks are better managed.

Whatever, the issue of fatigue is an important lesson; we’re brought to collapse so as to learn how to disentangle ourselves and in that not to become tangled again. The person burned-out is being equipped for a wiser life. What other purpose can be gleaned from it?

4. Complacency’s Charge – the Commonest Enemy

Human beings are by nature slovenly. It’s as if there’s want for the recipe of the good life and there we settle; or at least we don’t settle until we have it... and thus we’re never satisfied! Never is life fully good.

What a twisted paradox that is; greedily we forage for an easy life. At any time along the journey there’s temptation to stop swimming for or against the flow of the implicit river.

Complacency is lack of vision for the tidal rip taking us well off course, i.e. beyond our will or ability to see truthfully what’s coming.

The concept of the ‘fear of the Lord’ is the best thing to address complacency. That is to know how important humility is to our spiritual survival, growth and journey. We ought to pray each day for our humility—and practice it. Best is made a continual study of it.

Humility will save us from the scourge of complacency—the luxurious life that insults God.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Acknowledgement: to the SafeStart process founded by Larry Wilson and used widely throughout the world in the prevention of injury and illness. This fourfold structure is taken from it. Website:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Indebtedness – Cogent Elixir for Self-Pity

“Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress.

Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.”

~Maya Angelou.

It’s a sneaky thing, pity of the personal kind. Beyond the empathy expected of genuinely caring others it’s taken along the continuum of calamity and strains respect for common rapport. No sound-minded person enjoys a pity-party in full swing.

Indebtedness, on the other hand, is the heart heavy amid not concern but thankfulness.

It is a generous portion of life, full of hope and poise. Indebtedness is solemnity at the darkest hour and it is also ready to run fully braced with conviction in the race for moral unity. It has the sacrifice of others ineradicably front of mind.

Indebtedness is a mood beyond the insult that is self-pity.

Excused for Self-Pity

Of course, we’re all excused for motives and acts of self-pity. It will happen. We will fall for it. And, indeed, it will even be consciously undertaken.

Temptations to seek for ourselves are wired into the temperament of the human spirit.

It’s forgivable that normal persons are given to behave in ways that they feel. The brain, such as it is, is capable of so much more, but alas it’s most instinctively given to the ease of self-pity, to guilt, and to flash responses that are usually regretful.

Nobody is immune. All are imperfect and stand before God blemished if not for the love of a Saviour who imputes perfection over them. And still we will sin. The indebtedness we might strive for will constantly elude; but we must continue to chase hard after it, not becoming frustrated and overwhelmed, just accepting of our innate flaws and continuing to strive anyway.

Sowing into Indebtedness

The more we invest ourselves into the gravity of life, the more God will bless us with reflections warranted of truth, light, hope and maturity.

Never will we be healed of our selfish desires; they so creep up when we’re unconscious of them. This is why it is all the more important to be determined to do better—to not be perfect—just to do better.

Rather than spinning our wheels in frustrated impotence, jaded at instances where self-pity gets the better of us, it’s better to sow positively into a gentler indebtedness. That is, learning the depth of capability available to human thought and experience in a realm of existence created by God.

In indebtedness we have a word that will resound through space and time, to capture a flavour of capacity knowable to humankind. There are no depths that can be plumbed, but the deeper we go the farther consciousness of self-pity is.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Acknowledgement: This article was written as I watched the full inspired eulogy of President Obama at the Tucson Memorial Service, January 12, 2011.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Beyond ‘Passion’ to a Better Everyday

“You grow (and thrive!) by doing what excites you and what scares you everyday, not by trying to find your passion.”

~Derek Sivers.

Baby step dreams is what this is all about. Many people go through life thinking a great existence of achieved dreams has deserted them. Maybe we’re just overcomplicating things.

The song, I Dreamed a Dream, famed to Susan Boyle, captures this beautifully when she sings the last line, “My life has killed the dream I’ve dreamed.” Lost hopes characterise too many lives.

What goal is it that satisfies itself in frustration? There’s something wrong with finding the passion that we feel will break open the world for us. We see it in our heart’s eye, but it constantly eludes us. Are we defined by someone else’s dream?

More Meaningful Purpose

A big purpose in life can actually be small. That’s not to underrate it.

It’s all about how we’re willing to start, and then continue. We don’t need to be windswept by rapturous acclaim at the inception of our ‘grand’ plans. We just need to sow into the things that interest us—the exciting and scary (both pushing us healthily in courage).

What’s really sown is a life of faith; the trust of doing little things that tends toward hope for bigger things. Any ‘dream life’ is going to take years if not decades—or even an entire lifetime—to build. Faith to not give up is what’s required. And it’s never too late to start.

Only a truly meaningful purpose will see us enduring all the little and large challenges on our way there.

Life Lost to Itself

How often honestly does it occur that room is reclaimed for a secret life that allows the person living it to just enjoy the simplest of pleasures in achievement?

The world’s ideas of success have to be let go of. What would they know anyway regarding what’s important to us? There’s far too much comparison-breeding-envy going on. That’s the world for us. Immerse a human being in the world and envy will naturally result. Best is removing our clemency to envy and covetousness.

Lives lost to themselves are not perturbed by what others have. They see a unique standard that can be approached—maybe one that nobody else values—and they focus on that alone. Contentment is achievable. So are goals.

Starting small in our quiet corner can realise some incredible results.

Setting out to find ‘our passion’ can be a tormenting experience. Instead, keep it simple. Stay interested.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Great Way to Spend the Day

Finish the sentence: A great way to spend the day is...

Like most people I have my definite ideas on how to answer that prompt. A day alone to bask in God’s Presence, to whistle spiritually and have the Lord whisper gently though persistently. This is a day in nature, walking, sitting at the beach, sipping coffee at a serene café, the incessant trickle of a water feature; senses titillated by things of physical reality as they evidence their way into my spirituality.

Or it’s a date with my wife; time for some shopping, a movie; a meal. Dating a daughter is no close third—it’s as special as it gets—times for the ever-increasing bond to be enjoyed as their personhood is established in adulthood.

Special times them all...

A Bond Owed

The point is it is individual. There is bond we owe ourselves as we live this life. It’s finding those perfect things in the natural environment that get us hooked up with God.

This bond is sown deep in our hearts and it begs to be freed and made known.

Again, most people know what it is—they can have it materialise artificially... but the challenge is to be devoid of materialism. The pure bond—one that’s special to each person—is made known at experimentation with simplicity.

God does not owe us this bond; we owe it to ourselves—to discover it and exploit it.

In this is God known, and made known, more and more. Knowledge of God is worship. See how it’s owed to us by ourselves?

Voyage of Self-Discovery

There are two paths to the self—one good and the other not-so-good. The first is to the pure Spirit-led self, in keeping with the Presence of God. The second is a fabricated mirage—and we’ve all been to him or her many times and still do.

The voyage to self-discovery—as witnessed in “a great way to spend the day”—is revelatory. It helps us learn more about who we are and it’s a platform to who we’re becoming.

It’s no quick destination, no reaching of the sun.

How’d want to reach it anyway—the true happiness is enjoying the wondrous scenery on the way there.

A-great-way-to-spend-the-day is one way of confirming the rites of the journey.

A Platform for Helping Others

What are our lives if not for helping others, certainly in as much as others have helped us?

God always blesses the voyage of self-discovery more as it’s appended to the desire, out of it, to give to others.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Creating Better Circumstances Now

“People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”

~George Bernard Shaw.

Powerful in sight is this fact that stands eternally: individuals can design their perceptions of life, but the default is to complain about what’s not going right as opposed to capitalising on the ever-present possibilities.

It’d fair to say most people don’t like their day work. By custom and nature we loath work and love time off. Another generalisation is we see decisions going against us as attacks but when decisions go against others it’s just how life goes or we see how they ‘deserved’ it.

Yet, the circumstances conspire against no one. They lay idle and open to our attribution.

Skills of Momentary Reflection

The key is converting our frustrated anger, bubbling away just below the surface, into peace via patience. Emotional intelligence requires understanding how circumstances impinge on personal peace and compensating in the moment. This results in perspective and control.

Getting there to turn the frustration into peace is a skill.

A worthy interjection: most people are either blind to the need to address their frustrated attitudes or they’re defiant, demanding the world change for them. Of course, this is insane thinking. Still, that’s average humanity.

Instead of the default there’s a better, smarter option. It involves using the higher mind. That is, the ability to pause and think as the moments occur—a learned skill of sacrificial patience. Rather than reacting without thought (using the lower mind), engendering a seconds-later regret, it’s better to wait, and even to be perceived as being a little slow.

From Responding to Creating

As emotional room is freed up by the use of wise and constructive thought processes, through not seeing circumstances as offensive but just as they are, that positive energy can be translated into space for creative response.

This is equated to confidence because peace is witnessed as a personal benefit from conquering the situation.

Any negative that’s really well handled provides the springboard for a responsive positive.

The bad situation we found ourselves in—the one we faced and patiently overcame—is the very thing that drives our confidence for a better possibility. It is burgeoning confidence placed in a seminary—the open mind—brought to a fuller maturity.

This principle is biblical. To paraphrase Jesus, “Take heart, I have overcome your situations.” (John 16:33)

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.



Everyone finds it easy to stand until time comes to lift a foot and close the eyes. Suddenly, balance is required; as if standing on a precipice.

Life begins when things become difficult or exciting. If we’re not careful there are maladies that sweep us off axis in difficulty, excitement or boredom. What more is there to life?

Best it is to have a response fit for each of these three situations—difficulty, excitement and boredom. Our whole lives—our series of spacewalks—become exquisite ornaments to God that way.


Anger’s cost is too hard to bear. That is the definition of regret.

The only worthy form of anger (that of indignation) still falls for the trap of all forms; for the feeling person there’s the sense that we overstepped the mark in our fury, which set itself on the truth without love to calm the approach.

When truth is unfettered by the emotions it is quickly betrayed, king-hit.

The cost of anger is we have to come back and revisit the embarrassment of it all. Better to calm down in the moment of torment and brace for wisdom. That alone shall see us through. Pause, and button the lips, just one moment longer.


Adulation catches many of us out. Soapbox moments reap for the overexposed person a protracted spotlight and a growing quiet disdain from onlookers. The longer the time in the spotlight, the worse the folly becomes.

Let’s not exalt, nor call excess attention to, ourselves when we’re on show. Best to reveal snippets of skill and poise; let it be revealed at life’s pace, not our own.

Fleeting spotlights reveal our charm; a moment longer and it vanishes into thin air.


Giving just enough away without keeping secrets is a discerning taste interpersonally measured. It is neither elevated nor enigmatic. There is humility. It is an appropriate level of... well... poise. But poise can only ever be “appropriate.” So, therefore, is humility—appropriate.


Wonders today,

Wonders always,

Wonders never cease.

Prizing wonder,

Seen above all,

In that is always peace.


Dark night precedes the light,

Cherished glow it becomes,

Mystery dark becoming bright,

Spirit forward hums.


Gentleness will break bones and pierce hearts much before force. Power’s in the be-ing, not the telling.

Power’s known by what it leaves; its legacy. Gentleness just achieves far more, for it leaves attribution to others, not forcing them to feel what they don’t.


Day becomes night and night becomes day,

And so on and so forth thousands of times,

That’s what we’ll pray about night and day,

Longward it’s hoped life rhymes.

The living of life is a repetitive experience, the veritable “Groundhog Day” phenomenon (after the 1993 movie of the same name). Nobody takes much notice until the end approaches, and as the view changes—the beckoning of the tunnel’s end—there is a sudden urgency.

Why not live that urgency now?

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Positives and Negatives – Accepting Life’s Way

We cannot have the positives without the negatives. That would be like appeasing the sunshine whilst denying harsh rain. Still, some get more than their fair share of the negative. Faith can turn that around.


Positives and negatives all throughout life,

No matter where you go,

No fooling yourself or ordering strife,

Why send your heart low?

Every job known has its cruel tendency,

No matter where you reach,

Times for ascendency and redundancy,

Besides soul’s want to beseech.

Silver lining or thunder cloud,

Both as the fact remits,

Standing together as one – both allowed,

That is what God permits.

Accept or deny are beside the point,

Just as a fact that is,

Solemnly forward and premise to anoint,

Realities fine to kiss.

Balance is the matter of Spirit’s accord,

Tending through the way,

Better are we to find closeness with the Lord,

And there is better to stay.


Flexibility is blessed. It pays to view the ups and downs of life the same. This is not to say we shouldn’t be thankful for the good things that happen. We’re to be thankful despite what happens to us.

As a job hunter scans the jobs advertised they subconsciously see the advantages and disadvantages for each. Not one job has just advantages, and if it did, once the tenure had closed then it would be all uphill from there.

Life can never be a pure bed of roses for long. That’s a dreamland reality that scoops for itself the fire of eventual disdain into its lap.

Getting Used to the Flow of Both Positive and Negative

The longer a discussion like this goes the closer the issues of maturity and humility are to be raised. These are both equating to balance—the ability to take (still smiling) the hard rub with the shiny flow.

Enter the cauldron of practice.

A diary or journal is fantastic for this. As I look over my year’s journal around Christmas-time I note bad days with red flags (the ‘emotional’ colour) and good ones with yellow (the ‘positive’ colour). After I’ve finished, I look over the two inches of pages and find those pages littered with red and yellow fascinating. Out of the clusters of them, and the odd day red or yellow, no matter—I endured them all.

This helps me order perspective over my life. It’s not all good. It’s not all bad either. Perspective is good because it forces us to look squarely down the barrel of truth. The truth cannot hurt the mature. And it’s the mature that sow resilience for themselves and all those that rely on them.

Embrace your truth. Challenge your perspective. Reap peace at accord with acceptance.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Little Secrets We Have With Ourselves

Everybody has them despite personal pride,

Moments where want negates truth to deny,

When choice is deliberate – reality to hide,

Or the unconscious state within – one normal to rely.

Every now and then we seem to get away,

Streakiness problems emerge from self-trust,

Times when discipline somehow goes astray,

When sense of accountability might better be the thrust.

Nagging voice within challenges the prevailing way,

It’s up to the conscience how it’s going to end,

Self-honesty’s the position where our hopes will lay,

Wisdom comes to the fore with which now to commend.


It’s surprising how many times people justify themselves. It’s the greater part of wisdom to know ourselves. So, we have ways of succeeding at life but what’s required is humility—the skill of self-honesty. Then self-discipline is the key in following through what the conscience is saying.

First awareness, then action.

The Pathology of the Human Mind

Awareness Lapses – Secrets of Unawareness

Unconsciously the mind makes routine decisions. Some of these there’s not even referral to the conscious mind so the conscience has a chance to make an appropriate adjustment ordered by self-honesty. The brain goes from beta (conscious or focused) thinking to alpha (auto-pilot or dreamy) thinking with habitual eventuality. This is awareness that flattens for cognitive ignorance... when the lights are on but no one’s at home. It’s human nature.

Action Lapses – Secrets Against the Conscience

Add to the awareness problem the mind’s twisted venture of ‘sneaking’ home a secret; the giving way to temptation.

Ninety-five times in a hundred we get away with shortcuts the conscience first alerts us to, but it’s a risky habit to perpetuate. Most honest people are caught on the back foot—in some awkward situations. Once credibility (reputation) is lost on certain stages it can be impossible to make up—the trust betrayed takes an eternity (it seems) to restore.

So there are two problems.

To these two we use difference tactics, but rigour for both—mental for the former and moral for the latter. The fact is we do conjure, develop and keep secrets and these have the potential to wreak havoc in our lives and relationships, not to mention they’re wrong.

The accountable life is the reliable and right life. It looks out for self-deceit and won’t want a bar of it. Overall wisdom contends better than risk. That life will be the blessed existence.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Position “A” for Peace

The Why-How of Patience is pretty simple. Thankfulness provides the why; diligence the how. When patience is secured, so then is peace.

Then there was hope...

Hope provides intrinsic basis for thankfulness and beneath it can be the explanation for the patient way. It makes happy experience real; nothing manufactured and no pretence about it.

Hope is a hero. But life doesn’t begin at hope, necessarily. Faith can sow by taking a love-felt risk, perhaps aspirated with a sniff of hope. It generates reason for hope—the occurrence.

Faith – hope – love. That construct: the basis and explanation of all things good in the virtuous realm.

Patience’s Great Why – Thankfulness

When we’re thankful no effort is required to live. It’s a joy to be here. The best portions of patience are enjoyed in this space, for patience is easy when it’s not clamouring for things beyond it.

Reversing the image what’s found is the abject depressive episode and the resolve of patience is found impossible. Whilst it might be recognised it cannot be reconciled. There the ability for patience is strength that one does not have. Without thankfulness, patience—and therefore, peace—is doubly hard to achieve.

The other component is diligence—the ‘how’ to get there.

Patience’s Great How – Diligence

Times we’re not thankful—and there are many of those—there’s a back-up character ingredient to invest in. Secondary to thankfulness it requires a choice, and therefore discipline. Yes, responses to life that a manufactured. This is not easy for most people... possible, just not easy.

Diligence is a doddle when thankfulness feeds our mood. These two are like domino cause (thankfulness) and effect (diligence).

Getting back to our reverse image above—the depressive episode—there was a resolve for patience missing that would’ve been there because of thankfulness. With diligence is a second chance, even as it goes alone, but only with a strong mind knowing the will of God—despite the glum mood—to do what is deemed by the overall situation as patient.

Natural resolve for thankfulness—artificial resolve in diligence. One’s a gift, a blessing; the other’s empowered via a mind acclimatised to resolve—a trained thing.

The Web to Peace

There are many ways through the web to peace. Some are natural and occur without any work i.e. in the mood of thankfulness. Others are quite artificial, but besides the effort required equal can be the presence of peace found—adjudged to diligence.

Position “A” for Peace is the way of wholesome patience... and there are two ways there; one easy, the other harder but not impossible.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Three Critical Promises – Then Peace!

Much of the problematic nature of life can be solved by the application of three promises anyone can make themselves; by this a covenant-at-training is enacted. Then peace can be known, finally. Unfortunately, they’re framed negatively, but they have mighty powerful effects:

1. Stop Comparing with Others

Envy is quickly the end of our peace as the other side of the fence looks evergreen; ours brown and drab. Comparisons are the death of the spiritual life—one that’s set apart from the greater known world; hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). This principle is biblical. See particularly Galatians 6:1-10.

The moment we compare what we have or don’t have with what others have been blessed with we begin a game devoid of any good endpoint. This game involves no thought whatsoever for the poor ones who are worse off. Lost sight is the preponderance of suffering—the scope of every spiritual person’s blessing.

When comparisons are ceased gratitude enfolds and contentment grows. Peace is the common destiny. It’s as simply as that.

2. Stop Complaining about Matters of Life

Like the comparison there’s no limit to the number, variety and nuance of complaint. A person only seeing what there is to be complained about—and we all live there from time to time!—cannot see the enormous warrant of praise there is just to be here.

Think about it; for any moment where the sun is blocked by that fat cumulonimbus filthy dark brown cloud there is no sunlight broaching through. Hope is invisible and may as well be extinguished.

Complaint, like comparison, is a refusal to be thankful; a spiritual blindness. It’s choosing for the God-cursed space of life. Who’d want it, really?

3. Stop Compromising Standards

The former two are about a misdirected focus. This one’s about a lack of diligence. Too quickly do people give up in this life. Yes, we’re all prone. We give up on forging new habits for lack of resolve. We give up on other people for lack of tolerance. We even give up on God when times get too hard.

Compromise of standards can only come when there are competing priorities or temptation to the fleshy desires; when we’re misinformed. Travelling all the way to our goals is unjustifiable in a moment’s insanity. Yet, stop off at an inferior standard and the rotten egg smacks over the face moments later... been there before, but unlike something really new there’s the aggrieved sense of déjà vu.

It stinks to live the other side of compromise.

The Best Most Peaceful Life – Rolling All Three into One

It is best to learn this thing once and for all—yet our learning styles are predisposed to repeat our folly until we’ve really had enough.

Can peace come any more directly than via a thankfully diligent manner of approach to life?

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.