Saturday, July 31, 2010

Serenity on a Freeway

Tranquillity is all about context – what we take heed of and what we don’t.

A recent ‘escaping’ Sabbath—one I take every three months or so—was just what the doctor ordered. My plan made the previous day was mapped out quite meticulously, but being in the moment always necessitates some last minute changes.

As I arrived at the little serene jetty not far from the central business district of the city I live in I realised that the noise of the nearby freeway was just not on. In went some headphones and on went the worship music; voilĂ !

The view back over our shoulder—as we head out on our jetties-of-serenity—is ugly. The view forward, however, is beauty. Sure, screening out the freeway noise was critical, but tranquillity is more.

It’s about where are heads and our hearts are.

In these moments of existence in the macrocosm of life we not only feel small and perfectly irrelevant—able to escape the attention and notice of everyone and everything—we’re totally at home with our intrinsic selves, and then the rebuild begins!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fighting for Courage

Fighting the good fight of faith is about acting faithfully to the needs of the given moment.

If we see that acting faithfully requires from us a flow of momentary courage—a thing never subsiding if perfectly manifested—then we can get on, and stay on, the right track.

But what happens is we struggle in and out of the pattern of this courage. Don’t worry, we all do—all of us ‘normal’ people.

We underdo and overdo our reactions and responses to life so far as this eluding momentary courage is concerned.

And this is what, essentially, this is about.

Having the courage to do what is honest, fair, just and right in our moments is not always that easy is it? It requires a strong heart colluding, simultaneously, with a sound mind—“all the planets aligned,” in holy congruence with God’s will.

Perfection is not to become us; none of us will reach it and find our home with it permanently. Perfection of courage, then, will be a fleeting guest sitting at the table of our moments, soon to seek leave from the meal that is our current problem... us there asking it as it passes our chair, “Do come again, soon!”

Perfection of Courage – Not the Real Point

Where we can endure honesty into the painful reality that is ours we instantly touch this perfection of courage—and it seemed almost too easy. Once we have it we enjoy it, but we don’t clamour after it for it will be sure to vanish as controlling fear ascends the moment.

We see here that perfection is not the point. Honesty is.

Honesty is the process getting us to the destination: courage. Honesty has us acting faithfully; faith, the momentary variety, is not that hard after all.

Our issue, then, is to string one faithful moment together with the next—a daisy chain of beautifully moral action; to the virtuous proportions akin of the Almighty God.

And this at last is the achievement of God’s will for our individual lives, so far as we’re set in the world.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Dealing with the Baggage and the Selective Memory

Dealing with the bad parts of our stories – now – will mean all parts of the journey – later – will be recalled fondly, then.

There are two types of individuals in the world; those who’ve dealt with their pasts and those who haven’t. And yet, it doesn’t matter which camp we belong in, because these skills of dealing with our emotional baggage—and everyone has some—are required continually and can be learned/learnt at any time.

A Feature of Reconciled Memory

Have you ever wondered why the past often seems rosier than the present?

For instance, the previous company we worked for was (probably) so much better (at least in some ways) than this one we presently work at. Our childhoods—if we’re not scarred by them—we cherish fondly; we’ve forgotten the school bully, the chiding parent, the embarrassing moments of growing up, and the frustrations we experienced in life, particularly related perhaps to the rate or extent of our physical and mental growth. (Adolescence, if we’ll recall, is a horribly painstaking process.)

Our memories flatter our pasts...

Unless that is, if we’re still living in our pasts via an unreconciled account of what took place back then. Never mind; it’s not too late—it’s never too late.

Enjoying Great Memories of Now in the Future

Dealing with our presents and our pasts, now, is sowing into our futures a sense of hopefulness that we can’t even begin to grasp now; it’s an investment—a ‘lick’—of faith. It is then that we’ll be impressed with the wisdom we had, to undertake this reconciliation process, now.

And this reward pertains to our courage to be honest. Most of the time these issues that hurt us weren’t even our fault, and yet we’re the ones stuck in this space.

Putting the past behind us is perhaps simpler than it seems, if we hit it running, honestly and with all sincerity of commitment. And there’s only truly a thin veneer of fear to deal with if we go at it with guns blazing—and the right sort of loving support in tow.

In doing this, we enjoy a rather selective memory which has reconciled the past and forgiven it—moving on to the more relevant aspects of life, where, in fact, there is good influence to be had and a peace-filled journey to be enjoyed.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Master List

Improving ourselves is often a daunting prospect, for where do we start? I’m sure this is the wrong place to begin from.

We worry far too much in life when many of our problems and concerns might be addressed or solved through the simple use of our peripheral focus called ‘subconscious thought’.

It’s So Simple It’s Very Easy to Overlook

The Master List idea is simply about brainstorming a mind-map or list of things we’d desire to change about ourselves in the moulding of our characters toward moral virtue—the best investment we can ever make in and for ourselves.

This is so simple it’s astoundingly easy to overlook.

We make a simple list of the things that irritate us about ourselves—things we want changed—and then we place the list on a bedroom mirror, in a journal, or some other frequently accessible place.

Then we intentionally forget thinking about change.

How the Story Goes

The theory is we’ll see the items on this list so frequently—even best without noticing them—they’ll embed themselves into our subconscious minds and before we are really aware our subconscious minds will be informing our overall mind, influencing and motivating it.

It’s the movement of a kind of osmosis.

Change of the lasting variety is only a time away once we’ve set our subconscious to work. The best thing is change will begin to occur without a lot of stress and it will happen more naturally.

After all, we’ve given ourselves space to get used to the idea.

Again, We Worry Far Too Much

The whole premise here is to take the haranguing sense of pressure off ourselves—that pressure which ransoms our capacity and energy for change by strangling our joy.

It is far better to set up the environment and just let it happen. Of course, this doesn’t mean we don’t still have to make the decisions for change—it’s just that the right motivation occurs at the right time, and steadily it builds.

We daren’t rush a process where we want the outcomes to truly stick.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

The Looped Mind

Waking up at 2.30 A.M. is a habit of mine at least once a fortnight—woken by the God of creativity; the wheels of the mind spark into motion, alive and a-churning.

To get up or not to get up? That is the question. To get up and take down the stream of thoughts that come to mind, so as to develop them come morning is beneficial—they’re not forgotten and the opportunities lost aren’t rued all the next day. But then, getting up runs the risk of staying up... “BLING,” awake and tired no more (until 6 A.M. rolls around!).

The Power of Looping Thought

The looped mind is both a blessing and a curse. The same creative thought, a good thing most would agree, where not acted upon, can shoot around and around the mind for hours, keeping us awake or worse. Negative and positive thoughts—both—are indiscriminate here.

If I managed to take the ideas down and then be sufficiently tired to go back to bed so as to wake bright and chirpy at my usual 5 A.M. wake-up time, the mind loops through satisfaction all the next day for having gotten its almost uninterrupted sleep; this is a vast sense of sweeping wellbeing.

But, the looped mind also dogs us when we’ve made a bad decision and we’re now ‘wearing’ the consequences.

Investing in Our Immediate ‘Thought-World’ Futures

Using the looped mind to good effect is seeing, now, the potential for regret and remorse in the immediate future and modifying our action, now, so as to create beneficial loops of wellbeing producing thought, then—i.e. in our immediate futures.

It’s recognising the value of investment in our future-mind’s chatter; it’s the mind influencing the mind—propelling for itself; it is thereby also confidence-driving, the thought-world’s boon and success for the proverbial day to come.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Beatitude of Hard Work

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”

~Sam Ewin.

We all recognise the importance of working hard, at least at the level of theory. Yet, working hard, even for those who revel in it, isn’t really an attractive proposition in advance, is it?

Hard work is daunting or certainly unattractive; it’s only after we’ve worked hard and achieved much that we can sit back and comfortably reflect over the outcome. No matter how many workload mountains we’ve climbed it seems the vision of hard work coming, if it’s perhaps not daunting, is certainly not exactly attractive.

And yet, some just routinely accept this and “turn up their sleeves” despite any dissonance experienced.

Three Responses - Only One That Works

The only response to work that, indeed, does work, is to roll the sleeves up and, as Nike used to say, “Just do it.”

This is the application of a will that takes no correspondence into account to the contrary. This is the power of the mind manifest to make a hard and fast decision and then just get started.

The latter two examples show their reticence to the activators of work.

Whether it is pride (to “turn up the nose”) or sloth (“don’t turn up at all”) is no difference; the work’s left laying around in abeyance... either someone else will need to do it or it won’t get done.

From a moral perspective, it is easy to see that the way of pride and sloth are straight out of the disobedience of God—a reality any truly spiritual person will want to address and resolve.

Blessed are the Hard Workers, for Theirs are Rewards in Abundance

We only need do a keyword search in a Bible search engine through Proverbs using the words, “diligence,” or “diligent,” and we’ll find plenty of wise sayings about the diligent and their rank opposite, the sluggards.

It is almost needless to say that the hard workers in this life—those who truly attend to the moral reasons for work—will be rewarded, and constantly—both covertly and overtly, and from within and without. Their esteem will follow them and they’ll grow a safe and prosperous reputation because of it.

Blessed are these who roll up their sleeves!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

The Second Reason

Whenever we choose to do something we intrinsically want to do, we will often find a second different reason to justify committing to the action. This can contribute to us either feeling better about a dubious decision or it can highlight the decision-of-instinct was actually well made.

We’re best to bear in mind, however, that rationalising decisions—especially those we made instinctually—bears potentially the marks of the, at times, corrupt heart beneath.

Sometimes our initial decisions—at the subconscious level—will not sound resilient of themselves and they’ll need shoring up, reducing our cognitive dissonance.

We must remember, however, that two wrongs don’t make it right!

This is just something to be aware of; we all should keep ourselves personally accountable for the decisions we make.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stopping to Watch the World Spin

Stopping just long enough to marvel at all there truly is and all that happens in our world—that is blessing.

Just every now and then we’re most blessed to take a morning, a day, or even a few hours to stop. Whilst we stop and take a look around we note how fragile we really are in this world and just how voluminous the world is.

This is a great reminder of how privileged our place in this living system called “our existence” is.

The Subject of ‘Sabbath’

To stop the rush and hustle and bustle of life, even for one day every few months (if not more frequently) and stand still—and certainly every time we feel wearied by our place in the world—is a vast though simple wisdom action. It’s even better to truly structure life for a conventional Sabbath every week.

What’s most fascinating about the world is just how complex it is and how remarkably smoothly it runs, given just how ‘big’ everything is.

Time to Marvel

Size is a marvel. We just have to appreciate how finely balanced things like our economies are, not to mention transport networks, internet technology and administrations of medical care systems etc. Notwithstanding all the faults inherent in any system, isn’t it marvellous how comparatively well-structured our societies are?

Taking the appreciative look helps open our minds to the vastness in the complexity—and to thank God for it all.

But it’s up to us to stop. No one can force us to stop. And though it’s altogether too easy to see the wrong in the world, we really are the beneficiaries when we elect to see the positives—there are worlds of positives to see.

And when we’ve marvelled enough at the world, we shouldn’t forget to look up; not to thank God—for which we’ve done—but to worship and praise the Deity who is responsible for it all.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

When Failure Does Not ‘Become’ Us

Ever since I was ten years old I’ve been a cricket fan. I don’t expect my passion for the game will ever wane for any substantial length of time. It kind of fits well now that I can see semblances of good faith in the highly successful Australian side.

For a good example, a recent test match saw Australia bat first and they were skittled for a paltry 88—a record low score. This was quite a depressing reality if you consider Australia had the advantage of winning the toss.

Captain Ricky Ponting got it wrong.

But perhaps a surprising thing was the joviality of the captain only hours afterwards as he was seen joyfully leading his charges at training. It wasn’t because he didn’t care. A bad day on the field, or a bad test match, is never a thing to bring this captain or this team down for too long. Failure doesn’t become them. Their heads don’t drop. Their looks are never sullen for long.

Seeing Past the Failure and Hopeless Times

There is a key to this thinking that every one of us can employ.

This is a healthy form of denial that’s enshrined in the truth of hope. The best ‘musts’ in this life are shoving us away from our failures and disappointments back into the fray to have another go.

What this denial isn’t, however, is proud and unaccepting. It admits defeat and may even boast in it—to the lauding of those deserving credit. It takes failure squarely on the chin, meeting it, and finding, like most things, the fear of failure is actually a veneer... it’s not real.

When we choose a more virtuous and utterly alluring denial in the presence of failure we’re saying to this world, “Come on, and give me everything you’ve got, because I’m coming back again and again and again.” This is even beyond courage, in some ways, to the setting of our wills—the decided mind.

We decide beforehand and our commitment commends us to a destiny worthy of our will to succeed beyond any failure that comes. Nothing can stop us.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Regenerative Capacities of the Holy Kind

There comes many times of growth and renewal; fatigue is a necessary and chastening by-product. The person harnessing regeneration in their fatigue will travel farthest in life.

Rock bottom moments are good. They’re opportune times provoking recovery.

There are at least two problems with these statements, however. Many people both find themselves at the point of a chronically-manifested rock bottom—the reality they can’t escape from; others, when finding themselves at this place, do not respond to the call of courage to hone in on recovery via the path of honesty.

Both issues work semi-circular; in, over and through themselves, mixing together, to an often-confused mess. Despair is the usual outcome.

The Fundamental Importance of Surrender

For a human being to come close to that which pertains to the holy there is a requirement: surrender.

In other words, repentance is the key to being close to God. Unfortunately, repentance—as a concept—is narrowed to ‘wrong’ these days, i.e. wrongs we overtly ‘do’. But, repentance is a whole lot more. At its base it’s simply turning back to God, as recognition that we’ve left the good path—usually after we hadn’t realised it.

Surrender is the point of decision when we choose to repent. The path to recovery is then laid out before us.

God’s Way or the Highway of Desolation

I’m unsure there is a way back to the proper design of spiritual regeneration without God; it’s certainly beyond my experience and knowledge if there is. God is truth, after all—all truth—so these maladies are ‘fixed,’ or at least attended to, only through the touch of God’s Spirit.

The regenerative capacity is something—a skill if you like—that we all need.

Recovery from things that would exhaust us, according to a long list, is very much contingent upon the capacity (or the quantifiable ability within potential) to identify the need and then put in place the plan to get to the desired place of regeneration, via—in most situations—the process of rest.

Rest – for the Weary

Rest is a decision, and it’s often made boldly. This means disappointing people. It might also mean disappointing ourselves for a time.

It certainly means delaying our goals and jumping clean over the interceding frustration. But the delay now will pay handsomely, later.

If we want to get better or stay spiritually healthy we must take our rest—the best way it works for us.

Rest is the golden nexus of regenerative capacity; it’s the time we allow God’s Spirit to pour into us more hope of inspiration, more innate energy of vision, and clear purpose enshrined in eternity.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

That Encouragement You Need...

You never know how or when it’ll come, but that encouragement you need could be just around the corner!

Everyone gets spiritually jaded, even those who apparently don’t believe in God.

Recently whilst I was off ‘cooking tea’ at the local Wok-in-a-Box, dealing with a spiritual torpor of quite discouraging proportions, I found myself agitated as I waited for the food to be cooked. I’m always one to make the most of every moment, and the down side to that is downtime comes at a real premium.

As my eyes roamed around the restaurant I saw the obligatory pile of magazines and thought perhaps I might find a charge of inspiration thumbing through them; modelling and car magazines mostly...

Then I saw something sent from God; a neatly arranged spread of five Joyce Meyer Ministries magazines!

Something occurred instantly. God said to me, “I am with you,” as I flicked through an article by Meyer discussing intimacy with God. No sooner had I been struck by this wonderfully encouraging revelation my name was called and it seemed God was saying to me, “Go on, I’ve done what you needed me to do, now GO with my blessing.”

We really do not know where, when or how our bouts of spiritual attack will fold because of the provision and shepherding of God.

But, we could very well be more expectant—though it is very understandable that ‘expectation’ is something quite foreign to those engaged in spiritual challenge and vast doubt.

Nonetheless, we never know where the needed encouragement will come from.

When in need, don’t forget to look for it!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

The Appreciative Life is Better

Just about everywhere we go we will see things the eye can see and hear things our ears can hear that will magnify the magic known to life: the appreciative context.

Still too many of us, and too often, clamour to draw attention to ugliness over beauty, when the beauty is just too magnificent—in fairness and equity—to ignore or pass over.

It reminds of a good proverb that is not really about women, but a broader truth:

“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”

~Proverbs 11:22 (NIV).

Like looking the gift horse in the mouth, and trying pessimistically to see what little fault there may be in anything, our lives shrivel and die for want of life when we choose to see the negative in front of the positive. And let’s not leave it there; others’ lives too are shifted off-balance in response to our negativity.

To Be Positive or Negative? – A Choice

It takes a better person to note the positive and encourage rather than be negative, criticise and therefore condemn. Not that the latter person is a worse person in their own right; they just aren’t living up to their potential—a God-cursed shame that is, right there. And most of the time we’re blind to it, in those negative moments.

Both realities are real and both a visible: the positive and negative.

One only is set for blessing, the other apportioned to cursing. One is set in joy; the other misery—personally and interpersonally. One is destined for a multiplicity of growth; the other is bound for not only atrophy to the good, but hypertrophy to the bad—cancerous thought and malignant action.

Everyone of ‘Good Heart and Mind,’ Surely, Wants the Better Life

It is clear what is better, both beginning from and with us, to the extension of our relationships.

But we’ll often find the temptation to focus on the negative is very contingent on our mood. It is a great investment then, to be more across the expanse of our moods, to be preparing for hormonal and life variances as far as possible; to see appreciatively as far as we can.

Bearing in mind that we all want the best of life, and we can see how we’ll get there, we can start to think more in ways of the positive; the silver lining to our clouds and so forth.

How we think is how we are.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pushing On in GROWTH

Growth in things we love is always exciting, and never daunting, even if it’s somewhat occasionally scary.

Our passionate loves in life always find us and not the other way around. This is something of discovery—a sort of reverse self discovery.

When we suddenly find we’re intrinsically drawn to the thing we’re doing, wanting it more and more—and it’s good for us—the thing has found us and we’re eternally grateful.

Suddenly, we can feel the pull of God, a call from the heavens. Life just seems to make sense now, but with it, frustration—whenever we can’t do what we feel we should.

But, God always has final say, no matter of the call we think we have right now.

Patience in-dwelling, inside the call, is then the requirement. A day, perhaps two; there are the inevitable delays. And with this is an ebb and flow—a cycle of continual halt, then release, before recurring.

Patience is always needed as we delay the things we simply must do. It’s the tempering of hardened steel in our approach to life.

But we look out on hope; never failing to see what is just beyond, and preparing for that moment in resuming those planned activities.

In the meantime we’re diverting to those things that can be done in the meantime; those ‘other’ things that need doing.

Growth in such delaying circumstances only seems to be tarrying—it will still be ‘on time’.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, July 23, 2010

When Comes the Call to STOP!

The anger of frustration crowds in within our ‘right now’s’ and we can scarcely believe within ourselves how tremulous we’re feeling. We cannot contain it much longer. We feel likely to explode as this gently-growing fury boils over—white hot—burning inside us just now.

No one understands this but us; yet, so strangely all are confounded (yes, without exception) by the same set of prattling circumstances—at the value custom-designed to the person.

And it means nothing really how mature or ‘refined’ we are. We all have our bursting points where going ‘spare’ will be our thing, however fleeting or semi-permanent it is.

So what?

Perhaps we’ve contained within ourselves a long hoped-for dream, or we’ve put it off, or perhaps it just isn’t materialising for us. Maybe it’s something entirely off the curve. Whatever, really it doesn’t matter—we’re ‘here’ now and now we have to manage our chiding emotions before we damage things or things damage us.

Indeed, perhaps we’ve even scared ourselves and others—including our loved ones—with what has already taken place. The warning signs are now a glowing beacon, beckoning us to wake up and stand firm for ourselves... to change, no less... to STOP!


Stopping takes awareness and courage; it also takes the wisdom of insight, as we prophesy a ‘good word’ over our own lives.

It can be a thoroughly hard and seemingly impossible thing; from this angle it is. But, surely we’ve done something before to emend a situation such as this?

We call home to something familiar.

We take that break that we’ve long promised ourselves. Or sometimes it’s about just getting creative again. Maybe we just need space.

Whatever, time is now to do it.

Waving the Gracious White Flag

We take that white flag of reservation and we wave it before our heart, the heart beating calmly again... sweet surrender is welcomed at this point as the point of relief we have so sought.

White flags are great. There is oxygen for life in the function of the flag, and peace, finally.

From this position we look back over that felt anger of frustration and we’re both bewildered by what it was about and satisfied relating to what has now even serendipitously come to pass.

Then as we quaff a well-deserved cool glass of water, we smile, resting, knowing, reflecting; time, again, has been found in all this—we escaped the horrible gauntlet right now, and this ‘now’ is now bliss!

How would it be to make a habit of doing this in all our frustrated moments?

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Race of (Self) Discovery

“Happy are those who find wisdom,

and those who get understanding...

Long life is in [Wisdom’s] right hand;

in her left hand are riches and honor.”

~Proverbs 3:13, 16 (NRSV).

There is a task for each of us in life—the task, should we choose to embrace it, for many truly do not.

It is to gradually and persistently solve the many and various mysteries that make up the ‘you’ and ‘me’ that pertains to this life.

This task is bayed in the words of proverbs above. It’s enshrined in understanding, to the lengths of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health—over the lifespan. It indwells itself in the mastery of joy both personally and interpersonally; a happiness that’s beyond simply being happy. It’s a happiness, come what may.

The race of discovery, then, is the very matter of unravelling the source of completion in all our endeavouring in life.

The Search – Long and Persistent

This race is a one that is based in the most fundamental of learning, application, trial, readjustment and, finally, acceptance. We never get fully all the way there; in that way it’s a peculiar race—but we do get to levels of self-satisfied fulfilment because we have come to know ourselves—the self that God put together.

Life is a mystery unless we tackle it. Some things will always remain a mystery and it is so important to differentiate between those that are designed to be unlocked and those that are designed to be left.

The race is ours and ours alone. No one travels the same path and has anywhere near the same mysteries. We’re all unique. This is part of the reason God is so great!

But one thing is for sure; we race to discover ourselves—the quicker we can, the less time we’ll waste living someone else’s life.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.