Live in tension. Live intentionally.

A few days ago I was involved in a conversation where each person shared a phrase that has come up often in our lives, that carries a lot of our life philosophy in it. You guessed it, mine was “Live in tension. Live intentionally.”

I have come to realise that in some way or another there is always a level of tension in my life. The tension I live in has many different sources, some are easier to manage than others. (I want to just make a proviso here that I am not writing about living with chronic anxiety, PTSD and panic attacks. Please get professional help if that describes you.)

Sometimes this experience of tension can be related to choices I have to make. I have so many ideas but it is impossible to pursue them all. There are a number of people in my life with expectations of me that may conflict with my own priorities. There is only so much I can do with my time and resources.

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Our first Diversity Dialogue online!

A reason to celebrate – on Saturday 22 August we facilitated our first online Diversity Dialogue! We appreciate everyone who brought their time and energy into that space, especially those who felt some trepidation at doing something new technologically! Our topic was “Sensitizing the Church to Gender Based Violence”. We would like to share some highlights…

It was apparent during the dialogue, that there are many churches where the teaching seems to be more about rules and gender roles than about Jesus’ love for sinners. In many churches, women do not feel they are seen for who they are because they feel they have to fit into a small and rigid role and cannot be authentically themselves. There was a sense of mourning and lament for the loss of their potential skills and talents that could have contributed to life together but were not enjoyed by the community.

In both community life and Bible teaching, we need to develop an equal focus on the perpetrator and the victim. Bible teaching should be about the real people described in the Bible, with their faults and sins. The heroes of the faith should not be “sugar-coated”. In our practical lives, we can accept all broken people including those who are aggressive or alcoholics, and deal with their hurt. We can work with men who are in pain, allowing them space to heal before their pain leads to violence.

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Integrating all aspects of YOU

While I was doing my coaching course, we were advised to focus on finding and developing our own niche as coaches. My thought process kept bringing me back to the term “integration” – a concept that has often featured in my life, in a number of ways.

I was first introduced to “integration” when, as an Occupational Therapy student in the nineties, we learnt about how better results are achieved when the two sides of our bodies and brains work together. Much more so, than when we rely on only one side. Integration can be defined as the process of combining two or more things in an effective way so that they form a unified whole that is more than merely the sum of its parts. Disintegration then is the loss of effectiveness, cohesion, strength – a process of fragmenting or falling apart. We experience disintegration when we feel overwhelmed by external and internal stressors and challenges, when our parts are not working together smoothly.

When we experience stressful circumstances, we often struggle with strong emotions like anger, pain, anxiety and fear. It feels like they are taking over our lives, and often we try to avoid dealing with them for as long as possible. However, suppressing them often results in an uncontrolled pressure-cooker effect: the pot boils over or even explodes, often when it is most inconvenient.

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Let’s take a moment…

After the frenzy of activity of the last few days, trying to keep up to date with rules and regulations as they were published, getting ready for lockdown and cleaning the house yesterday to start lockdown with a germ-free state, I am taking a moment (or this weekend ) to assess where we find ourselves at this moment.

During this week we have done many things for the last time for the foreseeable future – shopping at places we know will be closed, visits to family members and friends, walks/jogs around the neighbourhood. These were intentional experiences that were appreciated, greeted and gently left behind.

Then there were those things where we did not know we were doing them for the last time – because the market was cancelled the evening before, the library was closed to the public with staff still working inside, the next weekly face-to-face Sepedi conversation falls in the lock-down. There is a sense of irritation and unfairness around losing these experiences, it does not suit us that we had to unexpectedly leave these behind.

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Killing in Schools

On 13 July, ten people gathered at Johannesburg Bible College in Soweto to dialogue around the topic of “Killing in schools”. Other themes included violence in home and society, rights and freedom vs. responsibility, and government’s failure – mainly in the education system, the unintended societal results of changes and laws, and the unintended results of institutions taking over responsibilities that were relational before.

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Who owns the land?

On Saturday 26 January, the topic chosen for our Diversity Dialogue was “Who owns the land?”

The dialogue began on an intellectual level with much reference to facts and articles written about the land issue. It became apparent that the facts were interpreted differently according to the framework people were coming from. People tend to expose themselves to the information that confirms their bias. As we continued, the underlying optimism or pessimism of people became apparent, with the majority sounding more pessimistic.

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How do we manage inconsideration in community and how do we improve?

Inconsideration was the topic chosen by the group on 8 December 2018.

Here are some comments made at the end of the dialogue – perhaps not always answers to the question, but certainly food for thought …

  • “I believe that bullies get supported, no-one wants to escalate the situation and to avoid conflict, so we support the bully. If that’s the way we do things interpersonally, we are not going to change the broader picture in our country.”
  • “Most fear is coming from men. If men are secure in their position, they will be more considerate to women.”
  • “We need to change selfishness, where people are concerned with themselves and don’t do anything even when they hear screaming.”
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Colour-coded superiority and inferiority

On 3 November 2018 at Nokhupila, the topic chosen as a door-way to the conversation was “Colour-coded superiority and inferiority”. Significant voices in the dialogue included Fear, Anger, Pride and Denial.

  

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White supremacy

On 7 July at Christ Church Midrand, the topic chosen for our dialogue was “How to kill white supremacy” with the themes of “land restitution” and “dealing with anger” influencing the conversation.

Apartheid was described as “successful in meeting its goals”, because the structures it put in place largely remain and this outside structural racism has penetrated our insides. Our inner racism, even in those who don’t want to be racist, is pervasive. Often both white and black people think that white people are superior and black people inferior. Many black women feel they are at the bottom of the oppressive systemic racism pyramid. At the same time, black women spoke from the pain of being married to black men who feel trapped in their circumstances – they want to be strong for their women but feel they have to swallow racism to keep their jobs and survive financially.

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Struggling with Identity

This was a private Diversity Dialogue at Arcadia Christian Church with more than 25 people. The topic “The Struggle with Identity because of the Past” was chosen. As each voice made an opening statement it was evident that many voices expressed fear underlying their main points of view. “Shame”, “Fear”, “Stereotypes” and “Anger” were the main contributors to the conversation. Out of the voice of “History not dealt with”, a “Longing for accountability for the past” from all sides, “Disillusionment with reconciliation”, but also a strong “Hope in a new identity in Christ” emerged. “Being judged”, “Inner Brokenness”, and “Distrust” tended to observe rather than participate in the conversation.

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Events Calendar

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