Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Life IS What It HAS Become


Our lives have become what they were destined to become—that is the position we find ourselves in when we have truly found acceptance regarding what has become of us.


Finding such an acceptance is a state achieved in the realisation that, despite the pain of the past, including the regrets, which will have eternal validity, we are as happily contented as we can be given the circumstances of our pasts. This, obviously, is no easy destination to reach for the majority of us.


Destiny – A Fascinating Concept And One To Accept


The trigger word, destiny, has a plethora of usable detail about it. In the present context, we look back at the past from the results of our lives: our destiny to this point. We cannot argue that pain wasn’t our destiny any more than we can argue the triumphs weren’t also. Life encompasses the good and the bad.


Not accepting the outworking of our destinies—to this point in our lives—is synonymous to denial-of-self; an all-too-common state of refusing to be reconciled, in practice, to God. We might have accepted Christ, doctrinally, but we have not yet surrendered to him to the extent of allowing the Spirit to transform our lives in truth through courageous humility on our part.


This point of destiny, as it has occurred to us, is either welcomed or shunned.


There is every positive reason in welcoming destiny as it has unfolded, to all its fascinating options for the future, but there’s no logical reason in shunning it; what might provide short-term comfort provides no long-term solution. Denial-of-self can only harm us.


Accepting Life Right Here, Right Now


Life is what it has become. There is no point in wrangling with why. The ‘what’ is more relevant to the past, more worthy for the future, and a purposeful platform for now.


Accepting life as it is, right here and right now, is still not easy in many circumstances, but so long as it is our goal—that we keep repetitively coming back to it—there is fervent reason for peace to abide within us and, therefore, hope.


To all intents and purposes, we all require a certain quantity of healing with regard to our pasts, with acceptance as our goal.


The moments of truly being at peace with life as it has become us are the snapshots of salvation that are bequeathed to us as the result of our grappling with awkward truths in courage, which acquiescence in humility. Real peace comes when we accept honest truth.


***


Truly the most blessed life has come to peace about itself. Salvation, in the practical sense, has been realised when one life has seen a vision of what it can become, from a platform of where it currently is. Peace, hope, and joy envelop the soul at home in itself.


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Finding Emotional Rest


“Figure out what rests your emotions and do it without judgment.”


~Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross & David Kessler


Particularly pertaining to experiences of grief and adjustment, the need to escape the heightened rollercoaster emotions every now and again is real. Grief, being a process with no certain path or endpoint, needs such a relief valve—to take a necessary rest from the unsustainable burden.


But such a rest cannot take place unless we are prepared to leave the status quo as it is—even for a short time.


Times When Life Needs Stability


When we are most prone to the weakness of our emotions, perhaps because of grief or adjustment, however small or insignificant these may be, life is best taken in simplicity. Stability and constancy work best.


Times like commencing new jobs or establishing new relationships put extra emotional strain on us and this can lead to more overall duress.


Finding emotional rest can be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other; just continuing life as it is and changing as little as possible. Sometimes endurance is just simply that—to keep on keeping on. A stable-as-possible platform helps.


Postponing Important Decisions


An extension to finding stability is the key task of reducing stress by postponing important decisions, and even delaying some decisions we would like to make that would be burdensome.


There should be no pressure to deal in pros and cons during arduous times; we do so only if it’s absolutely necessary. Few things in life are really that important, but if they are we should attend to them as decisively as possible, without thought for regret later.


Forgiving Irrational Behaviour


This is the most difficult thing for a lot of people: to protect themselves against their own self-judgments.


When our emotions hold sway over our rational minds, causing quick shifts in mood and awkward imbalances in our equilibrium, life is disconcerting. We quickly hop into ourselves, castigating behaviour for the benefit of hindsight. There is a mix of regret, guilt, or even shame to deal with.


Difficult times like these we need to be extra gentle with ourselves, as The Desiderata recommends.


Where logic escapes, and we fight the inevitable urge to amend our emotions, the internal struggle between head and heart abounds in us at large. It is a cesspool that only complicates our already heightened stress levels.


When we don’t know where to turn, we are trapped into turning however we can—that, itself, is a trap. Making decisions without the aid of a calm and ordered mind is a recipe for even more distress.


Engaging In Enjoyable Activities


Whatever the stressors are is less important than what we might engage in for a moment’s relief. As the quote at top suggests, we should make the effort to relax—as ironic as that sounds—so we can enjoy it.


We are sure to want to back out of enjoyable activities when we are susceptible emotionally and, therefore, we ought to push gently through temptations of guilt, judgment, and apathy, etc. We need to act ourselves into thinking: I can enjoy this.


***


Finding emotional rest is about a moment’s self-designed space, taken when our emotions have drained us. It’s agreeing to be gentle with ourselves.


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Living the ‘This Is Me’ Dream


“The greatest insult to ourselves: Is when we hide from this world. Let go. Say, ‘Hello everybody, this is me, how are you?’”


~Paul Hewson (a.k.a. Bono)


There are portions of living and portions of dying—and all between—in this life. Living an abundant life at all times, on the other hand, is a lie, for we all shrink from the world at some point or other, due to self-consciousness, unexplained anxiety, or a sensible grief-induced depression, etc.


In darkness and in the light, we are blessed most when we exhibit our current selves, truly, to our world—if that makes us comfortable. Still, there are closeted times.


We may still want to be safe and secure, more comfortable, in our own skin.


Presenting The Real ‘Us


It’s a basic thing, but we all find some level of stodginess in the matter of our minds and hesitancy within the matter of our hearts—states of self-doubt.


If there is a Creator God, and there is, and this Divine Being has constructed us this actual way, there is good reason to present that person to the world. Who would we be to reject the work of an Intelligence beyond ours?


This is a realistic question.


We have many rights over ourselves, many we haven’t fully vindicated in defence of ourselves, yet we have no right over the rejection of God’s work to the ends of seeing ourselves as incapably lowly (with the important exception of humility—but humility isn’t characterised by the struggle for self-acceptance).


Just Saying “Hello Everybody”


Getting to the point of standing before a crowd in order to say, “Hello, everyone, this is me,” is boldness beyond many people’s realistic hopes. Yet, it’s only a risk; for embarrassment; for failure; for humiliation. What is there, really, to lose?


Being abundantly comfortable in our own skin, owning our thoughts and being happy enough in our feelings, may not be an easy destination to reach; but it cannot be reached without a search; without risks taken; without throwing caution to the wind in calculated courage; without negotiating the way.


Introducing ourselves to our world and overcoming our fears is only possible if we give it a go and continue doing so.


World, Accept Me! – Too Bad If You Don’t, Because I Do


When all of what is said is done, and all thinking must be submitted and judged, none of the thinking and judging, it has to be said, means much at all.


Cutting to the chase regarding self-acceptance, there is the crucial task; an order to the world: “Take me as you find me, for I will not change.”


Given the facts of our unconditional love for others, and our enthusiasm to let them live freely, we grant ourselves the same right—we will live and let live.


***


When we accept ourselves, and offer our world the same deal, accepting all their responses with unreserved grace, we are living the dream. If God accepts us, and unconditionally so, who is the person to us that doesn’t?


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.



Friday, January 27, 2012

Cosmically Alone With God


“... the Lord alone guided him;


no foreign god was with him.”


~Deuteronomy 32:12 (NRSV)


One thing that stands between us, as persons, and the truth regarding life is we are cosmically alone in this world and in eternity—alone with God. We came into this world alone and alone we shall leave it—from our Maker we came and to our Maker we will go; into Divine possession again, yet, strangely, we never really left.


This is a thing atheists don’t understand; we are never apart from God.


We may kick and scream as much as we decide—non-believers and believers alike—hitherto, there’s no changing these simple, still never more powerful, facts.


There is no escaping our relationships with ourselves and, in that, our relationships with the Giver of Life as our lives contend with thought for the Irrevocable Clause: death.


That we pass from a physical, breathing life into the embers of the eternal, spiritual age, and alone we go, must surely be proof of our cosmic aloneness.


This is nothing to be afraid of; nothing we will be subject to is peculiar beyond what every human being will experience.


This is an ethereal subject. Some might think it too morbid; what is morbid about the truth—the inescapable truth? It pays for us to take courage; to be strong and courageous about this. Burying our heads in the sand will do us no good.


If we have the courage, we can dig deeper into spiritual truths almost too marvellous for contemplation.


Our Existence Is Just Us And God


There is good reason to get to know God—it’s our destiny; to meet God.


To spend what amounts to a few short years—100 at the most—in denying our identity as alone-in-God has to be the most short-sighted thing anyone can do. What good is there in denying what is so plainly visible within the precious vestiges of our spirits? To bar God access to that which he designed and created is to reject all intrinsic sense.


Given the aforementioned, what true and logical basis do we have in rejecting the concept of our cosmic aloneness?


Accountable To God


The further we dig the more we get into the basis of our lives and the fact we, alone, are accountable to God.


This means we can be called to account at any time. The fact that our lives will end indicates this calling to account is soon to occur—indeed, it has already commenced, in many ways, by the way we have responded here on earth to the ends of the many consequences for our actions.


That we are accountable to God, and nobody or nothing else, in our cosmic aloneness, is inescapable. There is no sense in disputation. No correspondence will be entered into.


The Very Best Form Of Aloneness


Even though many introverts truly appreciate being left alone, all humanity needs fellowship. The best thing about cosmic aloneness is that it is utterly opposite to the experience of human aloneness; a sound identity in our cosmic aloneness unveils intimacy with ourselves through God.


***


Consider that, truly, God is the only consistent, eternal companion we have before birth, during life, and post death. Being cosmically alone with God appreciates the Lord can never leave us, nor forsake us. The unshakeable Presence of God is the indelible eternal truth.


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.


Graphic Credit: Ashley B. Chapman.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winning Our Wellbeing

Positioned and poised however to be,

The state entranced, one of glee,

Intention’s fixed to remain right here,

Let’s get that abundantly clear.

Present and near future, visions of bliss,

The sky’s blue lure, one to kiss,

No thought to miss, what’s apparently due,

Forgotten or dismissed, thoughts that are blue.

Wellbeing’s been won, heartened and glad,

Life’s all sun, beyond vision of bad,

No longer mad, when life made no sense,

No longer sad, sparing no expense.

***

A State Of Mind – A Condition Of Heart

First and foremost, winning our wellbeing is an experience fondly remembered and, for the fortunate, something easily retrieved. Then we can see our ideas of winning our wellbeing are only as good as what we’ve known. God may even have better wellbeing in mind for us—to be experienced sometime in the future.

However we reflect on the state of mind and condition of heart resplendent in wellbeing, it’s limited to our experience; our perception; our personality.

Such a state and condition of pure wellbeing is realms beyond worldly happiness; it is peace.

Experienced for a moment—however long it’s to last—there’s the serenity of our most preferred poise; such a thing most personally defined. We intend on staying here, yet the best of wellbeing allows immersion to any circumstance—it surpasses the entrapment of conditions we place on God regarding our lives: what we’ll put up with and what we won’t. Of course, that’s folly.

Yes, the greatest achievement of wellbeing is joy in plenty and in want, when sated or hungry, and satisfied whether jaded and stimulated. This is the peace of the Lord; the tranquil place beyond the wrangling world.

Desiring Wellbeing

It’s perfectly natural to desire wellbeing. Yet everyone defines wellbeing somehow differently within the commonality of the concept grounded in the fundament of God (whether people attribute God as its source or not).

Desire is most important. Where there is desire, the will to imagine a better place where the soul finds better quality rest, wellbeing must surely be available for the grasping.

Desire is what takes our minds through essential thinking processes—those that interrogate the heart beneath, in discovering the path, the milestones, and even the internal monitoring systems giving us feedback as to how we’re going and what needs to be done.

Desire helps us to become convicted about a change in direction, so that something rarely felt can, indeed, be felt all the more.

***

Winning our wellbeing is securing peace, joy, and grace, simultaneously. We may have had it. It can be won, again. That state of mind and condition of heart centres on our desire—will we work for it?

© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Letting Go As Hurdles Emerge


Standing back to admire the view is a choice to let go, when to hold on — ever tighter — might be the temptation. Yet, it’s difficult to stand back, happily so, when we’ve been rejected for something that’s important to us, or when something just won’t work out.


These hurdles are synonymous for self-imposed barriers that are placed there by us alone, and against only ourselves.


We create our own dungeons of the spirit because our ideas get stuck before road blocks created from dastardly inner complexity.


The fix?


Before the hurdle — indeed, as it approaches — we let go of the issue. Go and grab a cup of tea. With it, and the elixir of time, we ‘magically’ regain our perspective.


The good life exists in detaching from those things controlling us.


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Maximising Your Next 15 Minutes


The key to achieving any goal is splitting time into usable, manageable portions and doing what needs to be done in the present moment to support longer-term objectives.


The achievement of goals centres on that—doing what needs to be done—over time; in many cases, indefinitely.


To stop smoking it’s a matter of not smoking during every 15-minute period and refocusing on positives that breathe life into our mindsets. Quitting smoking is a compelling example how powerful one 15-minute period is—get through one such period of craving, perhaps by refocusing, and ensuing 15-minute periods are easier.


The more of those 15-minute blocks we tuck into our victory belts, the more confidence we acquire, and the more assured we become.


Breaking Down The Outlook Into Divisible Chunks


It’s a most powerful technique for life when we break our outlook down to each 15-minute moment or segment of time.


This is because we obey God to the extent of agreeing to live within the available present—as behind is the memory and ahead is anticipation; neither is necessary, nor are they relevant to what we can do now.


As far as living capacities are concerned, the past and future are eternally unavailable for our practical use. Sure, they may help or hinder, as providores of faith or fear, but they still stand at an inevitable distance—out of our reach.


Getting into the discipline of breaking down our outlook into smaller chunks of time could be the most basic way of redeeming useable power—the sense of achievement we feel is its own evidence. How good do we feel having obeyed God’s will for that small portion of time?


Developing The Discipline


Maybe the only thing dissuading us towards such a noble goal is our lack of focused mental discipline to think so mindfully all the time. The truth is we do need times when we don’t think so avidly. But we also need times, many of them, when we do.


Developing the discipline could be as simple as setting very easy-to-reach goals that are achieved within our 15 minutes.


Think of the positive energy we draw having completed one, two, or three small tasks in that 15 minutes.


A Further Advantage – The Role Of Positivity


One of the advantages of such an intentioned focus is the fact that positivity floods out the possibility of negativity; when light shines into the darkness, the darkness fades away.


Negativity cannot cohabit in a positive seedbed environment. This alone is reason to invest in the motivation of purpose to the 15-minute end.


***


Distilling life down into the next 15-minute chunk of existence is the power to achieve something small yet significant, or it goes toward the achievement of something larger. It creates focus, enthusiasm, passion; we redeem encouragement.


As the mode for living life, one word describes it: Power—to achieve.


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.



Monday, January 23, 2012

Achieving Simplicity of Flow



People employing decisive mindfulness are clearer, happier, and better to be around. Their purpose is to achieve simplicity of flow. Importantly, there are at least three facets involved.


Simplicity of flow is the targeted mind set on truth, peace, and purpose.


This is how it might look:


The decisive mind is captive to nothing besides the intentioned flow of thought that diverges not; but if it will diverge it does so promptly and effectually—leaving that new path of stones marked, every single one, with enquiry suited to the interrogator.


Passion for truth is its character.


Achieving simplicity of flow is investing in the following:


1. Search For Truth


Flow is found through the path of truth—truly, the shortest right path, overall.


Whilst many take shortcuts, and we all do from time to time, flow is found in the right way—discerned and navigated.


This way is found skilfully sidestepping deceit and temptation in many varying degrees of folly—it sees waste, turns, and walks. If it is seduced it’s only by the truth because lies and falsity are discerned as personally libellous.


When the mind is set on truth, because the heart has convinced and convicted it, there is the solemnity of focus—again, little room is provided that wolf called Indecision.


2. Find commonality with peace


Peace is home to the absence of chaos as it is to anything. It is the mind at residence within itself—able to calmly consider all that is true about life. It’s not weighed down by splinters of deference for many other things all at once. It sees the lie that sustained multitasking is.


For simple pleasures, peace sustains. Peace enjoys.


But with greed to manage many things—to covet them all—peace vanishes away.


Peace is the by-product of flow and it motivates the ongoing maintenance of flow.


3. Truth And Peace Inform Purpose


If we don’t have purpose in life there is little gain in living it. We can argue that purpose fuels life itself. But purpose without truth is a missing-of-the-mark and a lot of effort for no result, whilst it also redeems us precious little peace.


Without peace how can we have vital affirmations of our purpose? We would be tormented by a flurry of confusion; typically, the hurried life.


Once we achieve the simplicity of flow—from the capture and retention of truth, and the winning of peace—we’re close to our purpose. And the opposite is true: where we align with our purpose we almost magically find ourselves in the groove that is the simplicity of flow.


***


Everybody wants peace—true, vibrant, reassuring, inner peace. There are few better ways there than through the achievement of simplicity of flow: true, confident decisiveness based firmly in faith that life is being lived on purpose. Peace is our reward.


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Listing the Let Goes


The Lord, through Isaiah:


“From this time forward I make you hear new things,


hidden things that you have not known.”


~Isaiah 48:6b-c (NRSV)


As a form of recent reminder, the portion of a message and a good word in any season, there is a necessity to let go of the things that continue, or presently, hold us.


Upon this our salvation rests—the experience of salvation; the knowledge of it and the skill of retrieval. Letting go is the practice of passing to the Lord all manner of things that have kept us captive ‘til, and including, the present moment. Unreconciled, they may menace our future.


Only we, within the scope of decent introspection, can know what these things are to let go of. Letting go may even be the testimony of redemption rather than the implored declaration of ongoing suffering.


Now To Get Motivated


What we may need, however perplexing, is reason to get started—we may know within our intellects that letting go is the best thing, but getting to work is another thing entirely.


We human beings hold onto a lot of things—habits, attitudes, experiences, resentments, pride, dead memories, comforts, paralysing fears, guilt and shame, to name but a few—and these things will corrode away at our spirits if we, alone, let them. They will make us worse off. Held almost to ransom, at any time they take us plummeting into an abyss-of-thought and further from God.


At the bequest of honesty, a plain pattern of thinking that draws us to account, we reel off these ‘let goes’, and just putting them down on paper is a salvific, cathartic experience. How much better to make it a daily practice through prayer?


These things are a dirge of burden we can no longer bear if we have our own best interests at heart... and why wouldn’t we? Why is it that we go off at a spark of notice to help someone else with their stuff and neglect our own?


No, today is a day—like any other—where honesty and courage and hope for release can prevail; and tomorrow, too.


All we will ask ourselves to do is make a simple list and reflect over it; God will guide the rest.


Getting To Work


The fact of the list is letters and words and sentences before the eyes.


These letters and words and sentences in bullet points form for us, meaning, and meaning holds gentle sway in our hearts—and it is at that level that change might slowly be borne. Such change may not actually be difficult; we are letting go after all; letting go of the tension, weighing anchor and setting sail from those injudicious calamities that have imprisoned us, however little or large they are or have been.


Getting to work begins with a promise to ourselves: to enter into a voyage with faith at the helm. Rough seas there may be, but the destined land we shall eventually reach if we continue charting our course.


***


Our biggest problems are the things we hold onto. We can let go of these anytime; God has promised to help us. Letting go is a universal and constant human need. There is no shame in it; only liberation of spirit. Claim freedom: let go.


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Intensity Trumps Brilliance Any Day


“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”


~Tim Notke


The eternal wisdom inherent in life itself, indwelt of God, is testimony why the tortoise beat the hare, and will do ever more wherever the proverbial hare is morally sluggish.


This is a great and worthy encouragement for all humankind; for the person, particularly, with a healthy innate desire but is short on so-called talent. And we have all derided the person, who, having their talent, squandered their opportunities that come precious rarely to others.


It is why, moreover, we have come to admire those with both talent and diligence—true champions in any field.


The Abilities Of Hard Work


Diligence is one of the two great virtues of personal mastery (the other is prudence).


As a guiding virtue, it manufactures circumstances implicit of fortune—that some might call “luck”—ensuring that matters of achievement, even in the realm of the talented, will be secured. Diligence, unique to many other virtues, exemplifies both tenacity and resilience; worthy guides for life.


The abilities of hard work—namely, diligence—are a talent all their own.


And the person who masters such an informed and wise ability to harness faith, hope, patience and resolve—forming diligence—has mastered the king of brilliance, for such a glittering thing as brilliance is otherwise short-sighted without a method to assure its success.


College and university degrees are perhaps a most poignant example where hard work, not nous of fabulous intellect, most often gets people over the line—even to the establishment of distinctive performance.


Having Faith In Diligence


This may be where faith strikes at its glorious and most miraculous best; and is only later explained by the investment of hard work.


Hard work, when it comes to dreams, requires having faith for an unseen objective as it prevails over the life we presently know.


The dream will require faith beyond every single other person who might dispel such dreams as folly, yet it only takes one person to believe a goal can be achieved: the person who works hard at their goal. It is theirs and nobody else’s.


Having faith in diligence is the key to the achievement of any goal, for hard work beyond giving up and the creativity of navigation is the only way there.


***


Show me a champion and I will show you not their talent but their hard work that got them there. Anything achievable can be achieved not simply for talent but because of our intensity.


Those with diligent intensity will overtake those with talent.


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.


Graphic Credit: Cedric Sacilotto.



Friday, January 20, 2012

The Gospel Imperative of Overcoming Difficulty


“Real life isn’t always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgement of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties.”


~Sarah Ban Breathnach (emphasis in original)


There are so many temptations to take a snippet of life and resent that snippet instead of recoiling in an instant from the hurt by choosing to see the dim brightness that presents in any and every situation—even in the darkest.


This has to be the way of countering our difficulties. If we don’t counter these difficulties we remain captive in suspense of circumstances—an ever-present potential that could sweep us away on a floodtide of disenchantment any moment; when things get tough we are good for nobody, lest even ourselves.


Choosing Death Or Life


We call these things pessimism and optimism. The view of life is of a cup half full or one half empty; it’s the same cup; it’s the same circumstance—just viewed differently.


Both have power: seeing our difficulties as challenges besieging us is the power with the potential to destroy our lives and those of our loved ones; seeing our difficulties as challenges presenting as opportunities—actually where we might gain—is a beautiful power that has the actualisation of destiny in view. It is power to change our entire worlds.


And we can have either one. Such is the love of God we have been provided with choice to choose our outlook, to choose our decisions, to choose the direction we run in, and to choose the consequences of many of our decisions.


We cannot blame others for most, if not all, the things that occur to and for us; we are active actors in our lives. And the more we choose to see life this way the more we will see it truthfully—appearing as suggested here as a choice for how we see it.


Death or life, in the living of our lives, is not much of a choice; yet, by default many people choose the former when there is little effort, but genuine foresight, in the latter.


So, What Is Working?


The Sarah Ban Breathnach quote is tantalisingly poignant—we can see what is working in our trials when we choose to sincerely ask the question.


When we see what is working in the midst of what is not, we see what we have to work with; what can be further honed. Our focus is acute and directed properly. We have filtered out all the destructive elements and our vision is forwardly situated.


This is how it works, having asked just one question, sincerely. When we receive the answer there is more work involved—and this is the key: if we meet that foreseen workload with enthusiasm, nothing can beat us. Then all we need to do is string the meeting of all our challenges together this way.


Suddenly we are unbeatable because we have adhered to the Gospel truth—Jesus’ words: “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33b NRSV) When we choose to live in Jesus’ name we side with the fact that the power behind difficulty has been conquered, so we now have the capacity for plain perspective—that light may be seen in the darkness; that any difficulty is surmountable.


No persecution (read difficulty or trial) will push us down unless we allow it to.


***


And so what is this secret of life? It is choosing how we see it. When we know difficulties are part of life (and we know they are), yet we take courage despite them, we are positioned for strength and opportunity, not weakness and threat.


© 2012 S. J. Wickham.