Saturday, June 29, 2013

Healing Hurt Hearts and Troubled Minds

Tussles occur within each of us when things don’t go right.  When we’re hurt, the heart attends and the mind is convoluted in pathological spirals. Better still is the destination we get to where the mind knows that all’s okay – at the logical level – and it can gently placate the aberrant heart.      
When things don’t go well for us we’re often thinking of the people enrolled in those circumstances—about what they might have ‘against us’.  Most of the time, however, these people are not against us at all—or not the way it appears to us at least.
There is a coarse interaction between the heart and mind as we deal with hurtful and troubling circumstances.
The Roles of the Heart and Mind
The heart’s role is to feel.  It is there as our instinct.  We intuit and perceive things with it.  And often we respond from the heart.
The mind’s role is to think.  It is there as our way of sensing situations; with it we decide and therefore judge.
Because neither the heart nor the mind is exclusive to the risk of the other they work in unison to form our sense of wellbeing.
Common Traps in Feeling and Thinking
Merry-go-round thinking is what happens when the heart is constantly informing the mind of its hurt feelings and the mind’s not doing anything but complying or agreeing with that input.  As a result we have a situation where erroneously caustic thinking erodes at our concepts of these and other living situations, and ultimately on our self-esteem.
Therefore a sinkhole syndrome manifests and it can continue to form into something quite dangerous to us.  This situation sees us not responding to the self-propagated negativity in positive, countering ways.  The lower we go, the closer we get to mental, emotional, and spiritual ill health.
A Proposed Solution
Our best objective is to simultaneously receive the hurt so it can be dealt with and processed—not denying it—whilst we manage these levels and process the hurt in safety.  We need to be destined for healing, ultimately.
Let’s not forget that one core life purpose is to receive our healing throughout our lives.  There is a more-or-less continual need of it.
We need to develop a system of responding to our hurts in a way that uses the best faculties of both the heart and the mind.
This is best done when the heart is free to feel, and where the mind checks and validates the feelings before rebutting these situations with its gentle truth, empathising always.
Here we’re allowing and even encouraging a dichotomy to exist between the heart and the mind.  The heart is necessarily (and healthily) irrational, but the mind counters it with an empathetic logic.  This way we’re not at war with ourselves.  A sensible peace is therefore thrust at the pandemonium we otherwise experience.
Rocking back and forth, then, the heart issues its hurt feelings to the mind and the mind then responds with loving care, so that internally we’re not being torn apart.  We’re actually just innocently vacillating.  This sort of temporal inner double-mindedness is normal in situations of adjustment. There is inner double-mindedness so there doesn’t need to be outer double-mindedness.
All this assumes a mature mind. The mature mind accepts what is and doesn’t judge it. It’s always best that we do not judge what is from the angle of right or wrong. We let it be.
This is how we were designed to cope with everyday life grief.
This is how we adapt to our changing circumstances and mature through them.
The heart’s role is to feel. The mind’s role is to think. They can help each other when we feel hurt or troubled as we process our struggles. The mind accepts what is and doesn’t judge it. Likewise, the heart feels without judgment; we just sit with the feeling. It’s best we don’t judge angles of right or wrong. We let it be.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Being Wrong and Feeling Good About It

There’s no damage in being wrong,
It’s only our pride that’s harmed,
We have a beautiful song,
When with humility we’re armed.
Most issues of right and wrong are pretty insignificant. There’s generally a bigger picture and that relates to loving and respecting the people around us. Being wrong is so often an opportunity for love and respect.
So, this article is about pride.
We all suffer a little from overblown pride—that inability to acknowledge the truth, for it hurts too much in the instant of its release.
When we are trapped in our pride we find it almost impossible to love and respect people the way God would have us love and respect them.
Pride is that part of us that rallies in fear, because we feel we are giving up too much of ourselves. And whilst it is healthy to protect the dominion that God has entrusted us, it is just as healthy, if not more so, to discern where we have been negligent in the stewardship of our dominion; where we have reacted sharply in overprotection of that dominion of ours.
We all have a dominion—that place for which we are responsible and where we own things and where it is right to defend the things which God has placed into our hand. He has made us stewards and it’s right for us to discharge a certain ownership for these things.
But too often we get the balance wrong and when we are wrong on an issue, or even a little incorrect as we reflect, there is more to gain from being honest, even though the pain of admitting our error is quite raw.
Dealing with the rawness of pride, and telling on it, isn’t easy. We rally against the feeling of being hurt, not enjoying brutally honest feedback, for instance, and we justify our behaviour whilst condemning how others have behaved. Others always seem to be justifiably treated in a poor and graceless manner when we are in pride, whereas we will issue ourselves a special portion of leniency. Humility runs against that grain; it considers the other person better than us.
There is a tremendous freedom in knowing that being wrong won’t crush us, ever. In fact, when we can be openly and unashamedly wrong, we execute power of the living of our lives, we prove ‘real’, courageous, and even inspirational. And most of all when we are willingly wrong, we consider the other person better than ourselves—which is always their gift; a gift most wish to reciprocate.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2 Tensions Every Pastoral Carer Must Hold

Just as it is a privilege to care for someone, it is just as much a burden if we are ill-equipped, and the ill-equipped may struggle to realise two critical truths that must be respected in a person’s suffering.
Their belief system needs to be respected and the facts of their experience supported.
As we hold these two tensions together—perhaps a person’s belief in God, and that same person’s doubting, that, “How could a ‘good God’ allow this suffering?”—we are able to support the person without feeling like we should have the answer. In times of deep suffering we cannot possibly have the answer; the timing is wrong and the words almost certainly will come out wrong. It is right to say, “Yes, it doesn’t seem fair, does it?” or “I don’t know.”
There are situations also where there is no religious underpinning, yet there may still be a virgin faith. Seriously bad circumstances cause us to question the purpose and meaning of life. Sometimes they push us toward God and sometimes away.
What we should be open for, however, is to be prepared to meet a person with a unique belief system, where faith has a personal context—especially as they meet tragedy. We often don’t know how we will react or respond until we are in the thick of the moment, in all its messiness. As a carer we hallow the messiness. It is what constitutes this other person before us, just now.
This is why the pastoral carer enters the situation without words, trying to discern the way, respecting the environment, being careful only to add value, where silence can be a dear friend.
Open-mindedness and respect for people’s dignity, with the wisdom of the significance of the moment, work with a few seasoned words that are not rehearsed beforehand, but are given to us by God, as we experience the moment with them. We are, for that moment, inside them, feeling as they feel, as best we can. We are humbled. We cannot possibly know how they are feeling, but this lack only drives us to be attentive to the moment.
Being attentive to the moment and being utterly respectful of the person’s faith-stance are the keys to good pastoral care. Their truths are the truth, unless they ask, seeking to be corrected, as is sometimes the case. What does it matter if they are angry at God? Allowing a person to discharge their feelings without judgment seems easy, but we need to have processed our own hurts to be fully available to them.
There should be nothing the needy person can do that would be wrong.
When a person is suffering their belief system needs to be respected and the facts of their experience supported. Being attentive to the moment and being utterly respectful of the person’s faith-stance are the keys to good pastoral care.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Love In Unexpected Encouragement

There are times that God provides where we are encouraged; it’s the times we most need it that God slaps our backs with his salvo of support for where we’re at right now, for what we’ve just done; for who we are: love is known by the kindness of encouragement.
And God brings people to us—many times people we would not credit—who would encourage us. I’m reminded of the story of a young woman, a professional basketballer, who was told by 80-something-year-old man that she was “gorgeous.” She found that remark very encouraging. Sometimes from the most unexpected sources come the best of encouragements.
When we live life expecting more of what we don’t ordinarily expect, we live a fuller version of faith. But we must temper such a gregarious faith with the humble realism to never expect such blessings.
There’s a fine line, right there.
We live with expectation that those things God may do may actually occur, but we don’t live driven by those expectations by means of disappointment for when they don’t occur.
It takes faith to know God can do anything—and use anyone in any situation to encourage us. But it also takes humility to accept that many blessings of a surprising nature will not happen, and some will actually appear as injustices to us.
Encouragement in unexpected circumstances is the blessing of God to be enjoyed. God’s providence is real as it is powerful. Such encouragement, however small in nature, is palpable; it carries much weight and makes us fly higher and longer by virtue of the confidence given.
It bodes us well to regard how we might be placed, uniquely and purposefully, by God, to encourage those around us—in the specifics of the things they are doing that people might otherwise rarely notice.
There is such a thing as the gift of encouragement, but everyone, by the rites of kindness, has that role to play. Imagine how God wants to use us to bring glory to another person, by our encouragement, which always brings glory to God.
Unexpected encouragements are truly awesome. Good to rest in these truths, accept them; dwell there for a moment. God is there!
Being used by God to encourage someone with a thoughtful word or act is the key privilege of life. God lifts us as we are deployed in giving genuine kindness. Encouragement is its own gift of grace, power, and love. It’s a gift anyone is privileged to thoughtfully give.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Wisdom in the Decisive Seconds

DECISIVE SECONDS: that precious moment where, for the provision of courage, patience, or faith, we take the time to do something for which later we would regret if we hadn’t taken that time to do that thing in the first place.
Life is in the decisive seconds.
Death is in the minutes, hours and days of regret.
Decisions made and committed to, to the point of action (or inaction), are wisdom.
When we understand that the full and sweepingly abundant, bliss-filled, life is all about wisdom—and that wisdom is all about practiced decisiveness—and we apply this golden principle—our lives can only improve and blossom. And we know it by our experience of life; confidence, trust and poise are attributes we enjoy.
A Poem About Decisiveness
Some moments hold a richness for what we may do,
If only we may have the awareness and the poise to act,
Decisiveness is the key, giving us the clue,
That regret is just an option, not a foregone fact.
What is far superior is knowing action now,
Will certainly foreclose on some facts of regret to come,
Decisive seconds are those where we bow,
To the Divine Hand of Wisdom;
And what a beauty it is now to succumb.
Alcoholics Anonymous declare that there are two common pests for the alcoholic—hurry and indecision. I’d argue that these are universal pests that drive us all to varying degrees of insanity.
I’d argue one more thing: that indecision leads to hurry—that awkwardness of spirit that has us undecided, swishing from one wave to another, on an ocean of uncertainty most our lives. No wonder we can never transcend the basic problems of habit that shackle us.
Taking the moment and running with it sounds rather inspiring, but most moments that are truly transformational appear banal apart from the awareness of their significance.
Doing what can be done now, in order that the many circular moments of regret do not appear later, is wisdom. The first action is seconds-long. The regret reaction is circular in that it recurs over and over, perhaps dozens of times, consciously and unconsciously.
There is wisdom in the decisive seconds, because we change the flow and direction of our destiny in that part of our lives. God honours our diligence. There is the mode of obedience about doing what can be (and should be) done now. God loves us all, but he is additionally pleased when we obey by willingness of personal will.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Entering Intentionally Into Our Sadness

We might find it a ridiculous notion to enter into our sadness, for what advantage could it possibly avail to us? We are forgiven for protecting ourselves from the pain of the sadness we have experienced, or do experience. Entering intentionally into our sadness is the practice best done when the sadness has long been dealt with. Then we are able to consider it with the benefit of perspective. Yet most of us are still afraid of journeying with our sadness.
But sadness can be a beautiful thing. A case in point is music: I think of the song, The Lonely Shepherd in the pan flute, and it tears my heart in sadness that overwhelms me to tears. There is the sadness of God in the fact of our sadness; God’s love made manifest that has, as yet, found itself unrealised in this broken world. What rends God’s heart rends ours, also.
After the rawness of our sadness has been dealt with, God connects with us with ourselves in our sadness and within our sadness we are made real people.
An experience of listening to a sad piece of music elucidates much depth of our person to the thickness of our true souls. Sometimes we don’t know how much sadness there is until sadness strikes. The reality is always bigger than we first imagine.
There is a range in sadness: it has breadth and depth about it. It is voluminous and much bigger than we can contain, but there is also safety in the size of sadness, that we may undergo the therapy of God in these moments bereft of response. Being bereft of response is precisely the point; we cannot control such a thing so we might as well surrender, and in surrender is acceptance.
When we are happy, remembrances of sadness provide us a cosy warmth, especially if we had the wisdom and the spiritual fortune to deal with it in the first place. But if we didn't have the wisdom or the spiritual fortune to deal with it in the first place it’s not the end of the matter. God shows us much in our sadness if we go there without fear, and where we go with God we ought not carry fear.
As we enter intentionally into our sadness God shows us things we would not ordinarily contemplate. Our imaginations are expanded and we are given vision of many things we could not possibly see visually.
God connects with us with ourselves in our sadness and within our sadness we are made real people. Sadness gives us a depth of emotional experience; a dimension of reality we are otherwise robbed of without it.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Is Hoped for Is Coming

DARKNESS transcends many of the moments in a winter of discontent—the loss of a dear one, a period of depression, a fear-racked anxiousness, and the like. In such seasons we daren’t hope for something that seems ridiculous. That’s our personal counsel and the counsel of those a little closer to us than is right—well-meaning friends and family without the right thing to say. Our hope is torn and bereft of firm foundation. We are swimming listlessly on a nowhere tide, backwashed continually and forever out at sea.
What we need right now is no ordinary hope; a hope borrowed, but one most certainly true by its stature—a foundation of God.
We need a hope that will come true. Eventually this hope does. It’s the Lord’s justice unveiled to all who are somehow transgressed. We may hope in this sense for expectation without fear of disappointment. This thought will not betray us and we can found ourselves in it.
The Importance of Vision
A vision of hope is important for those who cannot see past the present murkiness of the extant evil day.
Having a vision of what God is doing in this time of the inner transgressions done to us by life or a soul’s loneliness is about sowing or investing in an imaginative venture procured of the Lord.
We indwell such a venture in a moment of transient strength; we are led there by the Spirit who helps us. Oh, to know that we are being aided by God! What a thought that is.
A vision is not anything out of this world. The vision we want is for the realisation of the hope we hope for. We need to know what it is that God is drawing us to. We seek the Spirit for a vision of what it looks like and we hold onto it for dear life.
Going on Past the Present Darkness
We won’t always be able to access the vision we have conjured for ourselves, but even a few hours a day or a day a week is enough. We really only need a taste of a good vision’s hope and we are convinced of the need and reason to go on.
A day at a time we get closer to the realisation of the hope, though at times we really doubt we are anywhere near it at all. But hope is something quite invisible; if it were visible it wouldn’t require hope to believe.
Despite its invisibility we still contend in hope.
Present darkness is a nemesis to our hope. The key, then, is to procure some vision of a true hope we can hold on to. God will lead us to such a vision if we seek him. Just a glimpse will do and then what we hold on to will fuel our faith sufficiently that we can go on.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The 2 Ways of Expressing Sadness

“There are two types of people in the world: those who prefer to be sad among people, and those who prefer to be sad alone.”
We have all resonated with sadness and, indeed, there are not many, if any, days that aren’t affected by even a tinge of sadness. It is the person who denies sadness who has the saddest case of all, for joy is truly qualified in being able to touch sadness and still be able to feel the touch of God.
Experiencing sadness and being able to hold that moment without judging it is a matter of emotional resilience; a courage known to the spiritual realm where we rally not against it, but let it exist as it is truthfully ours at the time.
As the quote, above, suggests we are one of two types of people, and perhaps we can relate with both depending on our mood state and situation.
Sharing Sadness with Others
There are times when our sadness is all too real and being with people helps us to escape. It’s okay to escape every now and then. And sometimes we can deal more effectively with our sadnesses when in the company of compassionate others.
There is a time and place where sadness is best experienced with other people and not alone, but sometimes being alone is the best possible remedy for what God might do in the sorrow.
Sadness Alone and Possibly Also with God
When words are no longer any good to us in our sadness we gain solace from being pitiful in our aloneness—when sobbing holds sway. Times like this, sobbing is all we have left, yet it’s a tremendous faculty of emotional means.
Sobbing is a human competency; it is really best practiced by both women and men. There is nothing wrong with it and, indeed, sobbing connects us with our inner selves and with God, when, through prayer, we have access to the Presence of God via our consciousness for the Divine.
Extracting the Joy in Sadness
It is a spiritual truth that there is joy in sadness if we can subsist in it without any sadistic pleasure. When we know we can survive through a purging sadness, where the emotion doesn’t break us clean in half; so where we can just sit with it, we can begin with God to process the sadness in order to extract the joy from it; wherever it might be or however it might be sourced. God can show us much we could not previously anticipate knowing.
We express our sadness either alone or in company; by dealing with it or denying it.
There is a time and place and circumstance that are right: this moment. Not judging the moment is key. Letting the sadness be, as something to touch or something to leave alone, is the key.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Open Letter to the One I Hurt

To the person I hurt:
Even though I have wronged you when I didn’t intend to, I still wronged you, and, though I accept it’s not my fault, I accept that I hurt you, and pray that one day soon you’ll forgive me and we can reconcile—so you might be at peace.
I did something that I was unable to anticipate fully, yet, here I am, still wondering whether I should have known. I am thankful that God has revealed this matter so I can come to you in this way. I’m hoping, yet not expecting, you’ll respond.
Please know that, even in this state of sorrow I’m experiencing for this thing that has occurred between us, I still love you—that this is possible because of what God has done in my heart because of you. I praise God and take no simple pleasure out of knowing I want the best for you, even though it may seem that I didn’t previously.
I seek that opportunity ahead where I might be able to prove to you my sincerity, but not to save or protect my own skin so much; I want you free of any antagonism within your spirit, as far as it depends on me.
It should seem difficult to write this letter to you, but I’m finding it easier than I thought. I think God is with me, because he knows how important your peace is and he also blesses every act to reconcile—it pleases him and so, therefore, I will try.
I come to you, via this letter, not out of a mood for begging; I do earnestly seek a fresh start though. I want a chance to honour all memory for what has occurred in and through us, so it wouldn’t appear that I’m trying to foreclose on you emotionally.
There are reasons you are hurt that I’m unaware of and probably ignorant about. I hope and pray that you will teach me. Please consider this and I pray as you do that God will confirm it; that this seeking of reconciliation is of God.
When we have hurt someone, perhaps inadvertently, it’s best we seek earnestly and with all our hearts and timeliness to reconcile. The fullest, sincerest humility is not always rewarded by a second chance, but it often is. We must ply our humility in faith. It’s about this other person, and not us at all.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Trusting the Silent Counsel for Healing

I HAVE OFTEN written on forgiveness and healing, but I haven’t always gotten to the heart of ‘the how’ of such a mysterious set of divinely-appointed-and-arranged processes. In fact, rarely have I. It’s caused me no end in frustration, but then I rationalise that these are mysteries and I am but one person in the maze of humanity trying to do the same thing as many are.
But, here I am. I’m thinking “How does one person who needs release actually experience the deeply abiding peace of one who knows God’s forgiveness to such an extent they can apply it routinely in their life?”
My short answer consists of investing in the therapeutic practice of what I would call Silent Counsel.
Defining the Practice of Silent Counsel
We may or may not know that there is an amazing power of God unleashed in silence. We hear God speak in the silence, not audibly, but in the depths of nothingness, where nothing else intrudes on the Lord’s quiet Spiritual Presence.
Many things are achieved, spiritually speaking, when we give way to God in the silence.
The Practice of Silent Counsel: sitting with deliberation, silent and empty-minded (yes, it may take some time each time, and practise), where the Silent Counsel of the Spirit of God indwells us—even for an instant. There is memory in the instant. All we need is a taste that God is there, with us in this practice.
We are doing nothing but being silent and available. God does the rest.
Availability is the key; it’s the mood of surrender imposed on one life that seeks, for a short time, the transformation of God—so healing might take place.
The Import of Silent Counsel for Forgiveness
When we talk healing we are really talking forgiveness, and most of the time it’s relational; whether we need to forgive ourselves, experience God’s forgiveness, or forgive someone else, others, or a situation/s.
In Silent Counsel we draw near to the power that can secure for us this vast healing.
We take in all of God as we draw silently close.
There, and only there, may God tip his truth and his love into us by the Holy Spirit. Then we know it. Something has changed. There is openness from within us to try this forgiveness, knowing that God is with us and has empowered us to forgive.
There’s an amazing power of God unleashed in silence. We hear God speak in the silence, not audibly, but in the depths of nothingness, where nothing else intrudes on the Lord’s quiet Spiritual Presence. It’s there where healing may take place.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Trusting God’s Confirmation

If we are indeed in communion with the Lord our God, we will quickly have discovered many of God’s confirmations about what we are to do in life, notwithstanding the times when we are confused about the right path.
It seems the biggest problem is knowing God’s will. At times it can seem impossible to discern it. But when we know it, and when we know God’s confirmation, why is it that we doubt? Why is it that we go back and ask God again and again?
Perhaps we don’t like the answer.
Or, maybe it’s the case that we doubt our vigilance to follow through with the will of God. But in this way God will not take us where he knows we cannot go; he equips the called in a just-in-time fashion.
And that is the secret beyond doubt. For, faith will take us anywhere God has destined we go.
Trusting God’s confirmation is both our duty and our privilege. It is our duty because all we must do if we are to please God is discern his will us and develop ways of carrying it out. It is our privilege because we know that, in pleasing God, we have reached the Halcyon Heights of human experience from the eternal viewpoint.
Drawing Deeply into the Vision of God For Us In Our Lives
We know God wants the best for us; but not our best, but his best. This best is a better best than ours.
When we draw deeply into the vision that God has for us in our lives we begin to understand how our hopes and dreams can be achieved, because God wants for us what we usually will want for ourselves, beyond greedy and selfish ambition.
It is up to us to draw deeply into this vision; to ask God to reveal it to us. I believe this is only possible through prayer; a silent sort of prayer where we commune regularly, and with intention, with God.
God will show us and confirm it to us, but then we must trust him, otherwise we will turn about on the initial decision to trust God’s confirmation. Once we have the vision, unless it changes for some divine reason, we must trust and continue our commitment until we reach the goal. This is our task and everyone who obeys is rewarded.
God confirms his will to us with monotonous regularity. Our role is to trust God’s confirmation and to obey it, for this is how God’s Spirit leads us in an uncertain life. Trusting God’s confirmation is surely following the path of redemption, blessing, and reward.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, June 14, 2013

BE with GOD

The Spirit said to me once, recently:
Be with God...
In your home, alone, with company, at night asleep or when awake,
At your workplace, in meetings, and in your office,
Whether together with friends or alone or in the company of enemies,
When you drive the highways and byways, the freeways and lonely tracks,
In the depth of confusion or turmoil of conflict,
Attending the emergency room, and the idle doctor’s office waiting room,
In chastised boredom and in pervading fulfilment,
By the pleasantries of breathing—inhaling and exhaling,
When enduring abuse and throughout the hollow expanse of neglect,
Through celebration...
Be with God.
Be with God,
Because God is with us,
In noise and quiet and all volumes of spirit between.
Enjoy God,
Knowing he is present,
Knowing his care is ever more loving than our care is even for ourselves.
Be with God,
Simply be.
No matter what,
Be with God,
Because when we are we know what we’ve got.
God is good in that we can just be...
Yes, as we are, where there is no judgment.
Be with God,
We are who we are, and, in that, so is God who God is.
No disputes and indwelling piracies of enigma,
We be with God and accept,
Life is easier when we be with God.
There is no shred of doubt about this for the believing person: they have equilibrium and wellbeing in the fact of simply being with God.
We love our God for the majestic Divine Presence we experience in the silence—as God waits on us and us on him.
The fact of God upon our experience is an amazing thing; that this entity that breathed life into Creation is making his personal Presence known in our lives, in the moment of our reality, with nothing judged of it. God simply is. God has made a way to share in communion of that moment with us. He bears himself silently as we consider the wonder in the fact.
Think of God operant in the scene of our present moment; this Lord of All is here with us, present as we are present in life. God is. God was. God will be. Always. When we are able to simply be with God we attribute to life what is true.
There is nothing truer than being. It requires no doing, just being.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.