The Inconsolable Longing

Something is missing.

I’m speaking of that feeling that remains long after we have found what we wanted for so long; or after we have achieved that which have we worked so hard for. After a while, we realise that it just wasn’t enough. We want more, or we want something else, we want to go further and higher. The feeling of enjoyment fades and soon our souls start searching for it again. Any person courageous enough to return to the mirror and view their soul honestly will find a dissatisfaction that runs deeper than the day before.

Some realise this gradually when the things they enjoy lose their ability to bring them joy. Others become acutely aware of this when they experience trauma – like a romantic break-up, losing a loved one, or receiving news of a serious illness. Apart from causing pain, loss also makes us aware of this vacuum inside ourselves. After working through the emotional wounding of loss, trauma, and depression, it will eventually become evident that a hole of another kind remains. We would’ve found joy if we received a cure for our illness, or were reunited with a lost loved one, but there is a part of us that will remain deeply unsatisfied, even despite such a miracle. The loss of enjoyment could be a sign of depression and needs treatment, but awareness of this ‘missingness’ could also take us to an impasse in our spiritual journey that brings with it (along with the pain) the opportunity to view our core beliefs and recalibrate the ‘compass’ we use to navigate this life.

I don’t think we swing between painless times and painful times. I think that life is constantly painful. At birth, we became the hungry, the mourning, the poor, the lost. We all fall short. We all have a constant ache, but at certain times we grow more aware of this incomprehensible ache. Incomprehensible – because it is like an itch that can’t be scratched, a hunger for something we have never tasted, an emotion that cannot be felt, a yearning for someone we have never met. Sehnsucht is the german word CS Lewis used to refer to the inconsolable longing we all have. He described this longing as a longing for our own ‘far-off country’ which we have “never actually experienced”. Travel, love, food, warmth, studies, acceptance, wealth, and fame are only mirages of that something that can not be had in this world. They stimulate our dopamine receptors (reward system), but not our spiritual longing. Yet, our compass is directed towards things like these, because it guides us away from the ache, bringing only temporary alleviation.

Therefore, in a way, the pain we experience in this life takes us a little bit down the abyss of our inconsolable ache; and the joys we experience are like advertisements of our ‘far-off country’. Not only do our bodies consist of receptors to receive the positive and negative things this life can give, but we, presumably, also have receptors for things that this life does not contain. Therefore, an inconsolable longing remains.

Depending on how we view this fundamental truth, we will either be left hopeless; or hopeful. CS Lewis said that if we have a longing that is inconsolable by this world, the only other explanation is that there must be another world to which we belong. So, although we ache, we are not doomed, for if a shadow exists, there must be a light. Between the poles of an eternally ancient ache and a future home in a ‘far-off country’, a tension exists that not only keeps us yearning but also keeps us alive. No matter what we try, the tension remains, and it remains for a good reason. In fact, life ends when this tension stops – like a guitar string with no tension that seizes to make a sound, or a tree that doesn’t grow and has seized to live. Most people who have all the things they desire know this better than those who have less. The worst poverty is that unsatisfied feeling that you feel when you, indeed, have everything you desire.

The point of this is also not to neglect all things ‘worldly’. We must feed our bodies what it needs, and we must also feed our spirits what it needs. Don’t stop enjoying life – we were made to experience all the good and bad that this life demands. But this life will not address our spiritual poverty, hunger or mourning. Only when we are aware of our eternal aching can a satisfactory recalibration of the ‘compass’ happen. Only then can the true meaning of life be pursued and our ‘far-off country’ be reached. I recognise people who have joined the eternal journey – their compasses are calibrated by other things. Growing a pure heart, being merciful, serving others and peace-making are things that grow in priority for them.

We all have a belief system. We have all placed our hope in something. We follow our compass with conviction because we have faith in what we believe in. Contrary to many popular ideologies and philosophies, I do not believe that we will have abundance in this life. Judging by the depths of our pain, we currently fall terribly short in comparison to that which awaits us. We will either be overcome by this incomprehensible ache or grow the perseverance to fight ahead in pursuit of what we believe lies ahead.

Perseverance will grow the character needed to tolerate this longing while traveling, searching, and pursuing. And how important this journey is! Putting our next foot forward holds the promise of finding the door to our home in the ‘far-off country’ once our compass has been calibrated correctly. A strong character will grow the faith that keeps hope alive and hope remains if we continue tolerating this tension while pursuing this eternal desire.

If you are longing, there is hope; if your longing is inconsolable, then even more – because we are not of this world.



“Most people, if they really learned how to look into their hearts, would know that they want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things that offer to give it to you, but they never keep their promise. The longings which arise when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel and no learning can really satisfy…There is always something we grasp at in the first moment of longing that fades away in the reality. The spouse may be a good spouse, the scenery may have been excelent, it has turned out to be a good job, but it, the thing we are looking for, has evaded us .”

CS Lewis

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus (Mat 5:3)



Depression and Meaning

Why do some people carry on happily with life? Why do others cease to bother?

I note that some remain unhappy even though they have stopped doing anything and others remain energetic even though they are busy and tired. I do believe that the development of psychiatric illnesses, such as major depressive disorder, is closely related to the meaning you believe your life has. Although many factors play a role in the development of psychiatric illnesses, this is an exploration of the relationship between meaning and depression.

At its core depression is a feeling of meaninglessness, together with a downward drift, in your mood, energy, and overall functioning. Therefore, healthy people are in general moving on over the obstacles of everyday life in a direction, as if there is a meaning, and eventually end up further than when they started the day. This meaning is either conscious or unconscious to them. Seeing people in states of depression and wellness I have come to conceptualize life as a mountain and we are all on it. It has a valley, but it also has a summit. We are climbing and we are seeking different routes, ie, we are going to school, studying, and working. But not always…

Some of us, unfortunately, slip down the slope, and see only the valley, whilest wondering why on earth everyone else is carrying on. It happens unexpectedly for most as if a veil was drawn from their face and they are now seeing life as the meaningless reality that it has always been. Others are forced into this mindset by fateful circumstances that take away the reason they have been living up until then – usually the loss of something or someone. Chances are that most of us will endure an existential crisis like this, some will develop clinical depression, and others will escape it for various reasons, but re-aiming their meaning will be one crucial reason.

At this point, it must be mentioned that coming out of a depression is not as easy as ‘climbing out of the valley’. This article focuses on one way to prevent falling into the valley in the first place. Once you have developed clinical depression you will need professional help. This will include psychotherapy and medication. This will help with getting out of the valley, but it will not help with getting out of life. When patients seek treatment for depression they often want us to take it away (like a surgeon would take away an inflamed appendix), but this would be analogous to flattening the ‘mountain’. This is impossible, and therefore the ultimate solution is somewhere else along the mountain. It is inside of you – more specifically, where you have turned your focus toward on this mountain.

Are you climbing or falling?

Those falling have seized to believe that there is a mountaintop for them. They don’t believe there is anything to do, or that there is meaning to what they are doing. The mountain eventually becomes insurmountable. Gravity conquers. They become a burden to those moving up the mountain (people tend to avoid people who are suffering from depression).

But at this intersection, there is potential for meaning. Some climbers find meaning in helping others turn around. At its core, your meaning will involve fulfilling a role that otherwise would have been void. Doing something that no one else can/will do. Now, this is where some of us sell ourselves short. We say that we are expendable. ‘I can be replaced by many others’ or ‘if I don’t knit beanies for abandoned babies, someone else will’. But this would be to dismiss your own unique qualities. Only you can do it the way you do it. Only you can be the mom or dad to your children, the grandparent, the sibling, the cashier, the friend you are related to, appointed as, or befriended with. Furthermore, the people that meet you at a certain stage in their life will never again meet you at that stage in their life and you may have a specific role to play during that stage, ie, a friend going through an illness. The sociopolitical circumstances of your life might need an NGO, business, book, or activism campaign that needs to be started and written by you. Furthermore, the need in this world is so vast that, even if you do what many others do, your drop in the sea is a drop for someone. There is also meaning towards yourself – looking after yourself, living healthy, and reaching your full potential as you actualise yourself is meaningful.

From this, it becomes clear that the climber had to do a crucial thing, and that is to take up responsibility. The climbers own up to their meaning. They turn their head toward the summit and keep on believing in their own strengths. Climbers get tired and frustrated sometimes, but they are fairly happy because they are on their way. They start helping others, they develop themselves. They are at risk of taking on too much and burning out. That is why it is important to take a break and enjoy the view now and again. It is also likely that most climbers did slip down at some point and were met with a climber who believed in them. Most of us will need help along the way, but eventually, it will only be you who can put your foot onto the next ledge.

We are driven by a series of small meanings, which may change as life changes. But without it, life will be dreary. Spend a lot of time thinking of the times you did what no one else did or what you can and must do that no one else can.


Reading up until here will be enough for some, but I do want to add that it is possible that we all have a meaning that surpasses all the small meanings that get us through life – a meaning that remains after all the small meanings are gone. None of us has seen the summit of the mountain and it is quite possible that all these small meanings link together and join at the summit. If there is meaning to life, that meaning must come from God. [“Speaking about meaning in a Godless universe is absurd…”]. Maybe, while we were growing in our love for others, and as we were building character and as we were learning of our need for grace, while we were philosophying, fighting, and struggling, we were busy growing closer to God. Moving up towards the summit. Maybe the purpose lies in getting to know God. And then, climbing up this mountain becomes so much more important, so much more rewarding. Most of us will have gone through a valley of some sort and even learned a great deal about God while in the valley. What remains crucial is continuing to climb out and climb on.

“…let him who boast, boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me…”

Jer 9:24




  1. Man’s search for meaning. Viktor Frankl
  2. Camus

Mental illness affects people who suffer from bleeding disorders

During 2018 and 2019 I conducted research with fellow colleagues at the university of the Free State as part of the academic prerequisites for obtaining a masters degree in psychiatry.

We simply evaluated all available patients with haemophilia, or other inherited bleeding disorders, with the help of standardised evaluation forms and conducted physical examinations as well. We then analysed the data for possible risk factors which would be amenable with the purpose of improving these patients’ quality of life.

Many thanks to the selfless work of prof. Marius Coetzee, prof. Richard Nichol, prof. Gina Joubert and dr. Jaco Joubert, whose assistance was imperative in finishing this work.

The research was published as a letter to the editor of the official journal of the World Federation of Hemophilia, European Association for Haemohilia and Allied Disorders and the Hemostasis & Thrombosis Research Society.


Why are you so right?

I just walked past two children playing cricket on the lush grass-field along the lagoon where I am currently living. I was somewhat surprised when the two sisters spoke to each other in fluent Afrikaans, because they were black – unlike their parents (obviously adopters) who were stereotypical afrikaners, watching and coaching them from their camp chairs.

It got me thinking; why was I surprised? Due to the colour of their skin I had certain expectations about the language they would speak, the home they would come from, the sports they would like and so forth. The situation might have been the other way round as well, it doesn’t matter, the fact is that our brains are wired to react in certain ways to certain cues. Although this is a simple example, the psychological processes involved can ultimately lead to extremely illogical decisions and behaviour. Think about Nazi Germany, Apartheid-South Africa, current-South Africa and even the Trump administration. I want to describe a few psychological processes and site some experiments that I think can help explain what we have been witnessing in the news recently.

Classic conditioning: The first process is known to most of you by the example of Pavlov’s experiment with his dogs – where he started to ring a bell every time he fed his dogs and observed that even if the bell rang at different times the dogs would still get ready to eat. Isn’t it interesting that they can associate a neutral stimulus like a bell that rings with hunger – just because they have been associating them with each other over a long period? Or that I could associate the skin colour of a person with a whole different culture because of my experiences thus far. We might associate a specific religious group with terrorism because of the type of news coupled with that group every time they are named in the media. The same with political parties. As you can see these associations might occur very subtly from a very young age through the way our family and friends react to certain cues; to overt media messages we get exposed to over time.

So we are conditioned to react to cues. These cues are often times labels that we consciously or unconsciously place upon people or groups. It seems to be so deeply engraved in our DNA to belong to a certain group – whether it be the ‘left’ or ‘right’ -group, black or white, red or blue, conservative or charismatic; and I don’t think this will change – it is human nature to seek out the label where we will fit in. Look at the Robbers Cave Experiment from 1954 by Muzafer. Two groups of teenagers were randomly put together in two different camps at a summer school and allowed to socialise. For several weeks the two different groups didn’t know about each other, but when they were introduced to each other there were apparent prejudice and hostility towards the other group members – they even refused to eat in the same room. These groups were not even associating under the same specific label; just by virtue of sharing the same camp for a couple of weeks they formed a group that was unified somehow. This unity became more apparent when they let the two groups compete in activities. A bunch of normal random teenagers that new nothing about each others’ ideas and ideologies teamed up against each other. Or consider the ‘A class divided‘- experiment from 1968 by J Elliot who divided blue-eyed kids from brown-eyed kids and named the blue-eyed group the superior group, constantly praising them. This caused the blue-eyed group to perform better academically and bully the brown-eyed group. When she reversed the groups, the brown-eyed group displayed exactly the same behaviour. Labelling by eye-colour led to change in academic performance and social behaviour. (*These early studies does not always carry the strong validity as more temporary studies – due to small numbers and many uncontrolled variables – and often spill beyond current ethical guidelines, they, however, were the first to shed light on important psychological principles).

While this early experiments shed light on our desire to belong to a group, it didn’t explain why it could get so extreme. This brings me to the following phenomenon called group polarisation.

Group polarisation: Different groups don’t like each other, but why could they end up hating each other so much? A 1961 experiment demonstrated that people tend to be more extreme in their ideas when in a group than when alone – a phenomenon termed risky shift. Three main theories arose to explain this:

  1. Social comparison theory: people generally want to gain acceptance when entering a group and therefore they adjust their opinion to the group’s opinion – but then a little more extreme – to gain more acceptance. As this scaffolding happens between different people the group arises with a more extreme opinion as what the average of all the people in the group would have been.
  2. Informational influence: people are aware of the two arguments held by two opposing groups, but tend to lean towards the side that provides the more information and holds the most persuasive arguments.
  3. Self-categorisation theory: maintains that people want to identify with a certain group that is often more extreme and when a group is confronted by one that holds an opposing/differing view, the group become even more extreme in the direction they were already headed almost pushing each other further apart.

Neuropolarisation: in the wake of the events around the previous American election, researchers 2 once again endeavoured to understand this phenomenon. Technology advanced significantly since these previous early social experiments and neuro-imaging studies gave us a slightly closer look at the neural basis for these experiments named above. Participants from both conservative – and liberal political backgrounds were connected to functional brain scans (fMRI) while being shown both conservative and liberal election campaign advertisements. It showed two important things: Firstly it showed which part of the brain worked when participants considered the ads. It was the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), the part of your brain which is essentially responsible for you identity, your social judgement, empathy, emotion regulation and ethical decision making. Researchers calls the dmPFC the ‘lens’ of the brain as all the information our brain receives firstly passes through it. The same part of the brain was utilised by both groups of participants, but functioned differently – to such an extent that researchers could deduct from the brain scan whether they would be conservative or liberal. This is not because we were ‘wired’ to disagree – it is in fact these processes I have described above that changes the brains to act differently. The way our parents conditioned us and the propaganda we got exposed to – all form the way our brain works! And that brings me to the second important finding: This part of the brain was engaged mostly when language which highlighted threat, morality and emotion were used in ads. The scary thing is that the media knows this and has used techniques to gain votes which has probably resulted in extreme neuropolarisation.

After considering these processes that polarise people, one can try and understand why this can get so extreme. We have seen how easily humans gather themselves under a label. But now, no label is as appealing as a human being. Specifically one with strong character, fearlessness and keen persuasive capabilities – in other words, the political leader type of character – and there is a good psychological theory for this. Psycho-analysis is the field of psychology that can help explain dynamic processes happening in and between people. As we develop and become aware of our strengths and weaknesses through life, some parts of our identity remain yet unconscious. It is these aspects of ourselves, whether good or bad, that we tend to project unto other people, clasically our parents when we are young, and often famous people when we get older, like politicians. The Jews who requested the tall and handsome Saul to be their king is also a good example of this 1. And so we can end up, for example, in awe of the bravery of that person which is in actual fact our own, unknown, bravery. Or end up despising the arrogance of a person which is only our own arrogance, ever so unacceptable to our conscious selves! And so from the depths of our own souls, we idealise one political leader at the expense of another we despise. We end up witnessing on the news – conflict between two parties which is in actual fact two poles of our own souls. Furthermore, the unaware political leader becomes the bearer of his accumulated followers’ worst and best ideologies.

One of the most extreme forms of this polarisation we have seen in recent history may be the holocaust. In the wake of the holocaust researchers wanted to understand how human beings can end up doing the atrocities that happened in Nazi Germany. Comes theMilgram experiment from 1963: Participants were told they were recruited to help study the memory of other ‘participants’ in a study. The participants were told they were to give the ‘participants’ of the study an electrical shock each time they got the memory test wrong. The real participants did not know that the ‘participants’ undergoing the electrical shocks were actors who were instructed to make as if they were being shocked. The unknowing participants gave the shocks and increased the voltage as they were instructed by the study leaders, but stopped when they saw the poor ‘participants’ being in pain. After the study leaders reassured them that they will take full responsibility, 65% of the participants continued shocking the ‘participants’. Stanley Milgram concluded that: people will let them be directed by others if they believe they are authority figures who will take responsibility for the outcomes.

In summary, we have all ended up in a group as a result of our conditioning, projections, our culture and group polarisation dynamics, whether we like it or not. But there is one last element I want to mention that we have not touched on. And that is the presets we all have in our DNA – the code for our conditioning before humans programmed us. CG Jung observed that all humanity regardless of anything that other humans did to us, we have certain presets engraved in our psyche. Presets he termed archetypes. These are recurring themes like the need for mothering, for love, for meaning, the possibility to be significant and to be a hero. These themes has occurred through all of history in all humanity. And maybe this is what Jesus wanted to get us back to when He described the parable of the Good Samaritan 3. He demonstrated the victory of the good samaritan in whom the ‘Hero-complex’ overcame the need to keep to his cultural rules. For the hero inside him it was more important to show compassion and help, than to avoid a Jew because of those days’ customs. Maybe if we all started connecting with our original presets we will find that we all have more in common than we differ.

After chatting with my new friends at the lagoon, it transpired that the adoptive father was an ex-policeman who used to be a bodyguard of PW Botha many years ago. Their two black adopted daughters were in the place of safety, that they recently started and ran, and after the children got too old for the place of safety and were supposed to be returned to welfare, it was in fact him that desperately stopped the process and convinced the family to rather adopt them. I can imagine how much change must have gone into his mindset from his early days as an Apartheid police officer to where he was today, but the important thing is that such a mind shift is possible and we all should develop the skill to regularly reconsider all that we have been conditioned to believe. Because today we might sign up for a better Germany and tomorrow we could be putting Jews in gas chambers; today we could sign up to defend our country against the ‘rooi gevaar’ and tomorrow we might think it’s normal to prevent differently coloured people to sit on the same bench as us; today we might be voting for our liberators and tomorrow join them in bribery; or today we might be making America great again and tomorrow we could be destroying Capitol Hill property.

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your whole body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you have is not actually darkness.”

Luke 11:34
  1. 1 Sam 8
  2. Brain Imaging Reveals a Neural Basis for Partisan Politics – Medscape – Oct 27, 2020
  3. Luke 10:25



*Revised 25/01/2021 for sake of clarity


The space that matters

In a very fulfilling week I had the opportunity to meet with four different people who found themselves in very distressful situations. As they described their series of misfortune I soon realised how isolated and helpless they must have felt.

In summary they recently faced diagnoses of severe mental conditions, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, romantic break-ups and a suicide attempt. One lady’s brother had been admitted for drug abuse after a relapse. She had to look after him as her mother is old and frail. She started explaining that she had lost her husband the previous year and although she attempted to regain a stable financial income again, the COVID-19 pandemic hindered the growth of her business. Her two happily married sisters withdrew from her because of her problems and her only sibling who supported her financially was recently in a motor vehicle accident and lost most of his own income.

By default I constantly search for solutions, or at least some encouragement, but I soon felt myself ‘up against the ropes’. “How do some people survive conditions like these?”, I thought. All I could do was listen – as I did with the other three people. The results were the same each time: at the end of our conversations they visibly looked ‘lighter’ and even smiled as they thanked me for listening. Unfortunately, none of them could find a single other being that would do the same.

I remember a clergyman of some sorts once explaining the relationship between love and space. “Strange”, I thought at first, but he drove the point to clarity with very common examples: What do we create when we build shelters for the homeless, invite a friend to our dinner table, or schedule an appointment to meet with someone who needs to talk? We create space. What do we take a way when we sentence someone to prison, or solitary confinement, or ground a child for mischief, or when we don’t invite a friend to our party? There is a measure of pain associated with the taking away of space?

Type of space

There seems to be different kinds of space, though. We understand physical space, but there is a space which is less tangible, although very real. Let’s call it psychological space.

Physical space is a commodity of love as much as it is one of power. The rich, powerful and selfish have lots of it; and the poor and powerless have limited space. Those who love give a lot of it and those who don’t keep it to themselves while displacing others. Do the selfish not have big houses and the poor small ones?

Psychological space, though, seems to be the type of space most lacking today. It is climbing in value as it is growing in demand. If you don’t believe me, check what a psychologist’s/psychiatrist’s hour is worth. Because it is true that everyone of the people I met this week had a dwelling place, none of them found any space.

A space is created when one person is in the vicinity of another. It creates the potential for something to happen which is absent when we are alone with ourself – even if we should find ourselves with physical space as big as the Kalahari desert. But space for what? To be. To be fully. To be fully themselves – as they really are. None of these four people felt safe enough to tell anyone how they felt, what they were thinking or ask what they were lacking. They probably thought that if they did tell others about or even show them their anger/ disappointment/ suicidality/ hopelessness/ fear or uncertainty, that they would label or judge them as someone they weren’t. (The problem with stigma – it takes away the space for someone to have a chance to be themselves before being labelled something else).


But it is becoming clear now that neither having physical space nor being in the vicinity of others is enough to create psychological space. You can be most lonely when you are with others. This leads us to the space that really matters. There are two ways of listening: one is passive and the other is active. If you listen passively you will hear the facts; if you listen actively you will hear the message. Let me explain with one example: if you listen passively when locked in an argument with a loved one you may hear her anger about your decision to have drinks with your friends without discussing it with her and you may grow resentful and do the easy thing – stand up for yourself and explain how hard you worked during the week and how much you deserved this break. Listen actively and you may hear her message – that she values you so much that she would not want to miss out on an adventure causing you so much joy as the one you shared with your mates. You might have to concede that you could have handled it better and ended up with a much more favourable outcome, did you pay attention.

But this active listening takes up energy. It requires us to do the nitty gritty of engaging our prefrontal cortices and actually understanding. It leads to the activation of our limbic lobes and the generation of empathy. It requires a greater amount of our energy stores to burn up as our brain cells fire intentionally. (In summary it requires the use of our brains). This is the space that matters – a greater amount of receptors occupied in a greater amount of neuro-circuits that conjures up the empathy and understanding that forms the borders of a space for others to truly be (as they relate to others).

This in itself might be enough to help someone a great deal, but this space may have another advantage. I mentioned earlier that it also creates potential. Potential for what? To grow. Giving someone space enables them to see the reality of their circumstances and who they are and how far they have come. It might well be the space they need to plan their next step or change their direction. (1)

I hope you remember this the next time you open the circle bigger for a new friend to join, invite a stranger to your next holiday, create a time slot in your daily planner, you are giving something very valuable.

The problem with religion

It got me thinking about the problem with religion. If we accept that God is waiting for us in heaven, it is to evaluate our works/deeds, and then what? To judge? The ultimate effect of judgment is to take away our last bit of space. If we see religion like this we are in danger of losing space as we try to adhere to laws with the sole purpose of avoiding judgment. Where is the love, then? Well, right here. In the space between here and there, now and then. The space between who we are and who we could be, the space taken up by our spiritual growth between our immature and our mature selves.

If the Holy Spirit was sent to us after Jesus left, why do we have Him with us? If He is here, where is He? Next to us? If He is next to us, what is He saying? If He is not condemning us every time we stumble, what is He doing? If we accept that He is not judging for now, He most probably is encouraging us. When Jesus was on earth He was not impressed by those who kept the law, because their hearts were rotten, because they stopped growing. God wants us to grow because He wants us to succeed and that is why we wake up with a new chance every day, with new space.

The association between love and space is undeniable. Arguably, life itself is God making space for the human race, the Trinity opening up the circle bigger to join in relationship. If God is love and sharing space with Him is the abundance of life, then there could be only one reason He left us for a while: to create more space.

“There is more than enough room in My Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”

Jesus (Joh 14:2)



  1. The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck. London: Arrow books. 1978.

Are laws necessary?

Why did we receive the law? Seems so unnecessary. Why make life difficult? Why create human beings to live and then limit them again? Why look for ways to punish people? Why develop a constitution, criminal acts, childcare acts, labour laws? Why train people as officers to enforce these laws? The jails are overflowing already. Who enjoys catching someone doing wrong?

I must concede, though, that I generally do enjoy not being robbed or hurt, or killed, for that matter. I do appreciate the effect it has. So what is behind all these laws? Why is something right or wrong? Because someone said so? Let’s look at it from another angle.

Is it not good to love your spouse rather than to hurt them? Is it not good to be contempt, rather than to desire all the time, or to look after orphans and widows as opposed to leaving them to suffer? Is it not good and, therefore, right? Did God punish His people for the sake of punishing them or did He just actually desire that they trust in Him for everything. Did all the laws, rituals, warnings and punishments not point to one thing – that God is good and knows best for us?

God actually introduced Himself before he gave us the laws. “I am the God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love…I forgive inequity, rebellion and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty”. It all started with creation, life and grace, but by the time the Son of God came to the earth as the final offering that would free us once and for all people were being oppressed by the leaders, captive to innumerable laws and weary from the endless traditions of the ancestors.

So, when the leaders tried to catch Jesus out, as they did with everyone else, He addressed this straight on. “But Moses said we can divorce our wives if we have a letter”, they said. “It is because of your hardened hearts that he allowed you”, He said. “Your disciples are walking and eating on the sabbath”, they said. “Didn’t David do the same…didn’t you read that showing mercy is better than bringing sacrifices?”, He asked. “Your disciples don’t wash their hands before eating”, they said; “The prophet Isaiah was right when he said you honour me with you lips, but your hearts are far from me”, He said. And when they ran with an adulterer to Jesus, they were so assured of their laws that they were willing to confront Him in public. He cut through the law, however, right to the heart of the problem – their hearts. “The first one without sin can throw the first stone”, and everyone with a stone in their hand stood embarrassed, because the inside of their hearts looked like the adulterer’s – now laying at Jesus’ feet.

They missed the heart behind the law. And this is the litmus test I use to discern the religious from the true believer. The first group usually knows the theology only, but the second group knows God. The first group stays away from the wrong stuff, but the second group seeks out to go and do good. The first group needs rituals to remind them of God, the second sits at His table everyday. The first group seeks punishment and death and the second group seeks mercy and life. The first group is captive and the second group is free, because the first group read the commandments and saw the law, while the second group read the commandments and saw the invitation to learn from Him.

I reckon from a psychodynamic point of view that it was the deep seated sins and unacceptable drives that the church leaders of old carried in themselves (just as anyone else) that they projected onto others. Condemning others, seeking mistakes, upholding laws all serve a function – it keeps sin ‘outside of yourself’ and ‘under control’ (while it is not). We feel better when we find someone with a ‘bigger’ sin than ours, it makes the truth about our own souls more bearable. This leads to hypocrisy and then it leads to the hardening of hearts. Maybe this is why God opted to remove the heart of stone from our flesh and give us hearts of flesh.

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart.”


We need less of the ‘right’ stuff and more of the good. This is my opinion, but I am interested in yours…



  • Exodus 34:6
  • Ezekiel 36:26
  • Matthew 12:5
  • Matthew 11:28


Waarom al die pyn en lyding?

Waarom red God ons nie van hierdie verdrukking?

Waarom sterf ń kind aan kanker?

En betaal ek soveel belasting?

Waarom is daar nie kos nie en

waarom gee niemand om nie?

Waarom is daar nie room op,

die koek wat so lank gevat het om te kom nie?

Het al die waaroms uitgekom,

daar bo waar Iemand sou luister?

Want deur al die eeue heen,

Het generasies dit moedeloos gefluister.

Van begin tot einde eggo dit,

Die wat gevra is en die wat nog gaan kom.

En toe verskyn Jy in die middel,

Met al die waaroms, opgesom.

Waarom kom en sterf Jy,

Want ons het so lank gewag?

Waarom bly ons vas gekeer,

in die lang en donker nag?

Toe hou almal skielik hulle asem op,

Almal wat was en almal wat gaan kom,

Want Jy blaas jou laaste asem uit,

Toe Jy die ‘waarom’ van alle ‘waaroms’ vra.

En nou hoef niemand wat Jou gehoor het,

dit ooit weer te vra nie,

want ons waaroms het in Jou liggaam gesterf,

nou, dat God ons nooit sal verlaat nie.




A breath of fresh air thanks to COVID-19

Engineers are racing to produce ventilation masks, virologists are tracing viral behaviour, geneticists are mapping viral DNA (RNA in this case), pharmacologists are testing vaccines, health care workers are training for infection control, hospital managers are organising wards and staff, public health policies are locking us down, police officers are enforcing it, artists are hosting facebook parties and churches are uploading sermons unto YouTube. There is not one person whose life hasn’t been altered in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are not delivering an ‘essential’ service it will be altered in a different way. You might be facing something either terribly dreadful or very liberating – time with yourself.

If you can’t numb yourself any further to the inevitable questions of existence by the business of work and play you may have been granted a very fortunate prolonged quiet time. Inevitable psychological milestones might hit you earlier like the midlife crisis or you might get an early taste of what retirement would be like. If not this, then maybe the unpredictability of life will get hold of your attention. The closeness of death, unexpected inner urges and desires or ‘unacceptable’ character flaws surfacing will hopefully force you into what is known as the ‘inner journey’ if you have not begun this important journey yet.

Anxiety and depression might be clues that your psyche is unhappy and is seeking change. This would be a change of lifestyle, of mindset, of priorities or understanding of purpose. If everything you have spent so much time and money on suddenly seem so insignificant, then what is significant? Is there something more to be alive for if not for money, work, holiday plans, emigration plans or health? If future plans can crumble so easily, then what is solid? Do I like myself even if I don’t achieve something at work?

Many have found these questions insurmountable – husbands that used to be busy have started abusing their wives again, or other things. Others have just found alternative ways of keeping on keeping busy in and around the home, but mental healthcare workers are hoping that many will take the courageous steps into self-reflection. But they will also be preparing to treat the anxiety and depressive disorders or the burnout that will come from this pandemic.

Why is this important? Other than reaching a meaningful life, why do we need to reflect on our lives? Well, behold, skies are turning blue again; nature is gasping a breath of fresh air while the human race is on ventilators. Mother earth is taking care of herself, because we didn’t. We selfish, egocentric, money driven, ever unsatisfied generation of people are unable to live with ourselves and forever need to produce something new to be happy. We have neglected our families and children, the vulnerable ones. Let me ask you a better question: why did our comfort and our financial status had to be stripped so violently from us before we could identify a building to house the homeless in our city? Why did we have to lose half of our investments before we tried living slightly simpler? Why did we need to get locked down before phoning up friends again?

While health care workers and other ‘essential’ service providers are risking their lives outside, the world needs you to stay at home for a very important reason and it is not only to stop the pandemic from spreading. While thousands are fighting for their breath this is a chance for millions to take a much needed psychological breath of ‘fresh air’. Don’t let the opportunity slip away. Meditate and plan your future so that you can start living intentionally. Now is a chance to think, to read, to ask.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”





God loves you

The greatest commandment is to love. I thought it’s important to examine ourselves whether we truly now what love is; and is not.

Jesus explained so clearly how His relationship with the Father worked and demonstrated what our love should look like. It is like this chain of love that was started by God – Who is love – and in Him the Son dwelled daily. In fact this gave Him his direction, courage – His purpose. After His disciples saw this relationship as they followed Him they had a good idea of what it looked like. Then Jesus explained so eloquently in John 15 how He has also loved them the same and commands them to stay in Him and love each other as He stayed in the Father’s love.

  1. Considering the above, then, the first thing I want to say about love is that it is unconditional. Since love started with God, it is something that we receive and learn to do. Try as you may, you cannot earn it and you cannot change it. God loves you – and there is nothing you can do about it.
  2. Although it is unconditional, it is not limitless. At first glance it may seem contradictory, but we are speaking here about the practicality of love. Remember Jesus advised His disciples to kick the dust off of their shoes when they leave the town that doesn’t want to accept their message. Although love is a fact, it has to play out according to the rules of love. Beyond these rules you find what love is not. It is not allowing someone to do what they want – especially if it is destructive – it is more about helping someone to do what is best for them.
  3. Love is pro-active. We fall so easily into the mindset of going out and loving whoever crosses our path. We say: ‘Okay, God, I love You and today I am Yours. Show me who you want me to love today, and how.” It is this as well, but maybe love sits and wonders – how is the people in the townships coping with the winter cold or with the COVID 19 pandemic – and then asks his house cleaner about this or driving there and finding out from local institutions how to be of help or inventing a ventilator mask that could save suffering people. I think it is important that we realise that love is not passive.
  4. Love has many faces. Love is multi-dimensional. It has cognitive, behavioural, emotional and spiritual facets. You can feel in love with someone, you can think about it and know why you love this person or thing so much, you can do something for this person, because you love them so much and you can pray for that person, etc. It is with all of these faculties of ours that we love God first “…all your might, all you heart…” Therefore your love towards your 5 year old child will look different than your love for your 20 year old child, or your love for a homeless person will look different than your love for a sick person. Sometimes love may look like scolding someone over a destructive action or admitting a patient against his will when he is a danger to himself.
  5. You are the first person you must love. This chain that starts and ends with God is broken when you don’t play your part in loving yourself – “…love your neighbour as yourself.” Can you see that you can easily become the weak link that society so desperately depends on when you don’t understand how to love yourself? It makes sense if you think about it – you do for others as you want them to do unto you. If you make yourself the doormat for your work, always take on the extra work, never say ‘no’ and always deny yourself reward – you will expect the same from others. And you will grow extremely bitter, because others don’t ‘love’ as much as you ‘love’ them.
    • Some will reason that they want to stay humble. Well, there is a fine line between humility and low self-worth. In fact, I believe that humility can become very hypocritical when you do unto others what you don’t want to be done unto you, like in the above examples. It is a pseudo-love, a projection of your own unmet need – and that need is ‘the loving arms of yourself.’ Jung understood this so well. He eloquently describes how the most difficult enemy to love is within – and this makes all the difference in how you empathise. If you cannot love others through loving yourself, you probably cannot have true empathy.
  6. Love takes more than one. You have to love someone, apart from yourself, it can’t exist in loneliness. God loves the Son, the Son loved the world, etc. That means we have to participate in this love – answer the question, take the rose, accept the gift and join the adventure. When you do this then a relationship is formed. ‘God loves you’ is the biggest reason for our hope and your answer to His question: ‘do you love Me?’ will be the most important answer you give in your life. Acting according to this love will be the most important command you ever obey.

John 15, 3:16




So what if He lives?

Our behaviour is often driven by unconscious beliefs, feelings and fears. Most psychologists would agree that most of the time these beliefs, feelings and fears are related to death itself. We make use of denial to keep death at a distance, but it is really closer than we would want to admit. The frightening reality is that there is not a lot between life and death. We could cross over any second. There are enumerable things that can happen at any time that could lead to our death and we only realise this when death has come close to us. See how our behaviour and priorities change when someone close to us dies and we have spent a few seconds staring at the inside of a grave at the funeral.

We spend a lot of time and effort that is related to death and we don’t necessarily realise this. Our brains are mainly wired for two things: avoiding harm; seeking reward. Think of all the insurance, the safety measures related to traffic and to the work place. What does your anxiety towards a snake, social scrutiny, to panic attacks, to heights, to your health or to your money represent? They all remind us of the possibility of losing control, of suffering and of the possibility of death. Our earthly goals are not always directly related to avoiding death, but rather to pursue things like money, comfort, love and success. These things add a measure of hope though we are hardly ever aware of where this vague need for hope comes from, until life happens, we are stripped from all of our ‘crutches’ and we hang by a very thin thread in the galaxy of meaninglessness. Also called and ‘existential crisis’.

The flesh (our biology) is naturally wired to live and maintain life. Therefore, it flows naturally that we become fearful, selfish, self-righteous and addicted when death is unconquerable. It makes biologically sense. It is a survival reaction. The reality of death is a breeding ground for perpetual sin in our lives. Our flesh is as much a result of death as it is vice versa. To conquer death is to conquer sin and vice versa. But what if death loses its sting…if we no longer live to save what we cannot lose, would all these things not lose their grip on our lives? Would we not live boldly, joyfully, with hope and with love even in the face of death and in the midst of suffering?

There is a fascinating group of people that lived in the first four or five centuries A.D. that seemed to be unafraid of death. They were killed together with their spouses and children by the Roman Empire. All they needed to do to avoid this was to return a bunch of papers and stop telling others about what was written on it. They heard and read about the Man from Galilee that rose from the dead. Jesus lives. And this made all the difference in their lives. It changed they way they worked, did business, relate with others and the way they viewed life and death. What is so valuable about this?

If He lives, then the rest of the things He told His disciples is probably also true – of which the most important is that, firstly, sin is forgiven, secondly, that He would send His Spirit to guide them, comfort them and remind them of His words; and, thirdly, that death is not the end. This significantly affects life – life before death, even more than life after death. The domino effect of death conquered is life changed, radically – lives that live today!

Jesus lives. There were families that gave their lives so you would know this. So…what if He lives? How does your next step, next word, next project, next business deal, change? What does a life look like that received grace, received God’s Spirit and that doesn’t end?



Because He lives I can face tomorrow

Because He lives all fear is gone

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living just because He lives

Gloria Gaither / William J. Gaither



Caring is a miracle

A friend of mine that suffers from a serious condition came up to me the other day asking advice on how to handle a certain situation: he wanted to know what to do when well-meaning people came up to him and asked if they could pray for him. This has happened numerous times and he has grown tired of having to face them again after a couple of days, because he then has to deal with the disappointment in their eyes and sometimes have to experience a change in their attitude towards him. He almost feels guilty for not being healed.

What should our attitude be towards suffering; in our own lives, as well as others? It is so understandable that anyone who sees someone else suffer would want to do something to make it go away – it’s probably what we would have wanted if we were in the same shoes. I also understand my friend’s pain, he must have had these same expectations of being healed and subsequently learned to deal with the disappointments and with the feelings of confusion, anger, and doubt. So, what is going on here?

We are striving to be followers of Jesus Christ, but it seems we rarely truly grasp what this means. We imitate behaviour, but behaviour follows on what we feel; what we feel follows on what we believe and understand. Jesus spent a lot of time teaching (renewing minds) and the Bible often reveals what He was feeling while doing certain acts, i.e the compassion He felt before raising Lazarus from the dead, for the children they kept away, for the bunch of followers that reminded Him of a herd of sheep without a shepherd. So, the true followers would not merely be imitating, but would be renewed from the inside out as they follow Him.

I am concerned about what some disciples are being taught. It lacks the longevity, long-suffering and real empathy that makes up part of the fruit of the Spirit. (1) I wonder if we sometimes seek the easy way out by doing some spiritual thing and then leave. What my friend needed, firstly, was someone sitting down and listening so as to try and understand what he is going through. He needed to be known – for who he was, not who he could be.

This would mean that a relationship be formed. If we get to know others, we get to know what they need and what God is busy doing in their lives. Then we can better aim our good deeds. If someone goes through something we don’t understand it makes us uncomfortable, and we avoid what we don’t understand. Saying a prayer and bringing a ‘prophecy’ could be an effective way of avoiding the unknown. Who is the stronger person: someone who prays for miracles or someone with the courage to really get to know another person. Is the nurse that walks up and down on a 12-hour shift, tending to every sick patient’s needs less spiritual than the person that does miracles?

Where is this alien way of ‘helping’ people coming from? It is confusing many and I wouldn’t have taken the time to write this if I hadn’t been moved by the woeful experience my friend had to endure, and many others continue to face. If we want to love, then let’s love; let’s suffer with those that are suffering like Jesus did. Let’s get back on the road after Him and leave the road that is after our own misguided desires. Let’s seek the bigger picture, the one that is beyond our own egocentric lives, and maybe we will then be better able to help others. I am of the opinion that there will be more miracles – in the right situations, eventually, when we learn to live close to God and develop His mind and heart for His people.

  1. Gal 5:22




Punished or pruned?

Have you ever witnessed a close friend or relative that seems to be doing everything right, yet continues to get the rougher deal? You know this person is the most honest in his industry, the best at his trade, yet he just doesn’t reach the top. Almost as if you want to think: ‘God does this person not deserve better?’ ‘Where are You?’ Or maybe you feel you are this person…

Sometimes the things that happen in everyday life can seem so senseless, as if we are all at the mercy of random chance and people with power. It is easy, then, to start rationalising these things, or even spiritualise it as a coping mechanism. I’ve heard people find ways to ascribe circumstances to God’s greater plan, when sometimes we just bear the fruit of our own, or others’, bad decisions. They eventually end up living out their own self-fulfilling prophecies – and these self-fulfilled prophecies can look very much like a relationship with God.

I want to hazard an opinion, that the truth probably lies somewhere between two extremities with total chaos on the one side and ‘God – the master of puppets’ on the other side. When Jesus explained the discipleship life to His disciples, He used the metaphor of a vine; and you can only be one of two things: a branch withering on the ground or a branch in the vine. (1) The withering branch is the one that was cut off as punishment and it means separation from God, lifelessness, hopelessness, burning together with other lifeless branches. If you are suffering and wondering whether you are being punished, that is what you would be feeling if you were punished. You would be God-forsaken. I understand that some might feel God-forsaken, but the chances are very scarce that this is true of you, as you are indeed alive. Now the branch in the vine still has the potential to bear fruit, and sometimes it does. It can grow in any direction. So much random potential. Exposed to the elements of nature. But at times it gets seemingly unnecessarily cut off. Just as a break through is on its way, comes the Vinedresser and takes it away. It almost seems counter-intuitive, because the idea was to grow and get bigger. If life feels like this you are in a good place. You are alive and free to grow in any possible direction; and if you have entrusted your life to God, He comes and shapes you. It will be the ones truly desiring God and who bear fruit that would be pruned.(1) It is those who do good works (2) in response to the good works of God who will be shaped even more. It seems as if there is a rhythm to this discipleship life – started by God by creating us, teaching us, loving us; and we responding in obedience and trust. He opens a door, we enter; He provides employment, we work hard and honestly; He promotes us, we work even harder; He provides education, we study hard; He brings us into contact with influential people, we testify; He waters, we grow; He prunes, we get shaped into a beautiful fruit-bearing, God-glorifying tree with routes so deep that the driest of winters cannot take us down.

This gospel is one of grace and grace is more than receiving what we want – it is receiving what we need. It is grace that kept the thorn in Paul’s flesh (3). Because of grace, it was not removed for the bigger picture looked different than what Paul saw.

So, what should our attitude be towards suffering and hardships? Are we to pray the suffering away or are we to trust the Vinedresser? Are we to declare that no trials will sweep over us or are we to seek how our trials are shaping us? Are those going through tough times forsaken or are the tough times giving the direction?

  1. Joh 15
  2. Eph 2:10
  3. 2 Cor 12:7




Rebirth is a metamorphosis

After repentance starts the process of being born again…

Rebirth is more than a

Re-attempt to live the right way; it’s more than trying to

Change from a bad person to a good person or being

Relabelled as a believer rather than a sinner. It’s not

Praying longer,

Trying harder, or

Singing louder. It is a

Funeral followed by the

Birth of a brand new life; a

Metamorphosis from one being to

Another being; one story to

Another story; one way of viewing yourself and everything else to

Another – new perspective. Like a light

Switched on, revealing things previously hidden. It is as

real as a moth viewing itself as a caterpillar in larval stage and then

Flying away, knowing it is something

Different. It can distinguish when thoughts of a caterpillar re-

Emerges, but then realizes he has wings and need no longer think or do as his old larval state of being. He has a

New identity;

New family;

New future. It is a process that starts in death and ends in a new abundant





What if you’re dealt the JOKER card?

“How is it possible that one human can slaughter another human like that?”. Comments like these are thrown around after school killings, mass shootings and murders Have you had thoughts like this one? Well, how is it possible…

It is difficult to accurately communicate the subtleties and nuances that moulds a developing mind, but certainly the person that you become is the result of innumerable, minute and often unseen events in your life that interacts with your body, your DNA. It is difficult to describe psychological wounds and accurately communicate the tremendous disabling effects they have on a person’s life. One only sees the behaviour of people, which is most of the time an inappropriate reaction to the trauma. One often need to look deeper to see them. The movie ‘JOKER’ managed to communicate this exceptionally well – as art often does. While it might come easy for some to understand the root of people’s behaviour, others might find it more laborious to understand. The director definitely succeeded in creating a sense of empathy for a person that would otherwise have been labelled some name and dismissed as another sorrowfully, mad criminal. It is almost impossible not to feel some kind of empathy for the main character after having killed two bullies on a subway station watching the condemning crowd and the highly fascinated media on television. Yet that is what most of us would have been doing. This time around, however, we know the story behind the criminal, the person behind the mask, and it changed our perceptions and affected our feelings.

What about the story behind the person on the news that got sentenced to life for murder. It is broadcasted as a victory and brings great joy to the crowd outside the court room. It might equally be a victory for justice as it is a failure of society. This is another fact that this movie shed light on so effectively – not all bad guys were born bad. Some were made. Because criminals come from communities I feel that each time someone from our midst gets sentenced to prison, each of us should be reflecting on what we could have done to prevent it! How did we associate with the boy at school that got bullied for being poor, odd and different, because his mother was mentally ill, father in and out of jail and moved from one school to another as his parents failed to pay his school fees? How do we see the person visiting a psychologist or taking psychiatric meds? Sure, we cannot prevent everything, but did we play our part? It is easier to become angry and condemn than it is to reflect on the broken villain inside us.

I believe the reason that so many people go out to watch this movie is because it projects so much of our repressed selves onto something as acceptable as a cinema screen – whether it be pain, loneliness, chaos, fear or a longing for empathy – and brings some sense of connectedness and relief with it. A few years ago Batman was the hero and we identified with him, because he wanted to get rid of the bad guys; today, seemingly, many people feel more like the misunderstood and broken villain. None of us chose our cards, we all play the hand we have, good or bad, as best we can.

It got me thinking about those in South Africa that got dealt the ‘Joker-card’ as well. Those ones pitching up with weapons at schools or sniffing glue at the traffic lights or murdering their own loved ones? If the fragile soul of a child can be injured so easily by emotionally absent parents (eg. because of mental illness), inconsistent parenting, ostracism or purely by being treated differently, then how devistated must the souls of those children be who grew up here in poverty, violent neighbourhoods and lacked adequate access to education and health care – in other words…around 4 million South African children (1). We seriously need to change our mindset regarding the prevention of crime, as well as mental illness in this country. We need a huge effort and very soon. 

So, how to play the cards? Let’s all walk away from our defences and start addressing the hurt and chaos inside; let’s have empathy with ourselves. This would effect a greater change around us. Let’s look at our own mental health, and get treatment for our own wounds. Listen to each other. Or let’s just be nice to our neighbour in general. Let’s advocate for good morals, prioritising family, compassion for the marginalised. Society’s moral standard should be measured by how good they take care of their children and of their mentally ill…




  1. Hall, K., Sambu, W., Berry L., Giese, S., Almeleh, C. and Rosa, S. (2016). South African Early Childhood Review 2016. Cape Town: Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town and Ilifa Labantwana.
  2. https://psychiatrypodcast.com/psychiatry-psychotherapy-podcast/2019/11/23/joker-the-movie-a-character-analysis

Choose your pain

Be honest, are you happy with where you are? And if not, who is holding you back?

There are only two ways of dealing with your reality – you can either stay there or grow out of it. And life will always throw something at you that will force you to adapt/change/grow. Right where you are now, you are either stagnating or growing, you are either dead or living.

I want to single out one state that keeps people stuck – and that is low self-esteem. A state characterized by thoughts sounding like this:

  • I will never get better
  • I will never be good enough for…
  • I am broken
  • I don’t like this thing I am
  • No one will love me

The reasons for ending up in such a state of mind are numerous: you could have been poor as a child, bullied by someone or abused by your parents, or lost a loved one and these are all bad things. My question is, do you want to stay there, living as the person that was created by these lies? Because the consequences are huge – it will lead to you never taking the chances in life to achieve what you want to achieve, never developing your skills, and never rising to the occasions that life will bring you.

God can only interact with the truth of who you are. He doesn’t interact with, this false self that was built on lies. He doesn’t know the weak, poor, incapable, hopeless, short-sighted, fearful person you created because he doesn’t exist

We see another grave consequence in the parable told by Jesus about the three slaves. All of them got an assignment from their master to multiply their money (or gifts/skills/opportunities) and he was happy with the two who tried, but He was unhappy with the one who was too afraid to try. The master knew the truth about the slaves and their capabilities and He knows the truth about you too. If you feel a weight of responsibility on your shoulders, it means He sees the capability inside of you to carry that responsibility. God can only interact with the truth of who you are. He doesn’t interact with, this false self that was built on lies. He doesn’t know the weak, poor, incapable, hopeless, short-sighted, fearful person you created because he doesn’t exist and if you are going to live from these wounds, you will most probably miss Him when He calls you to stand up, sing your songs, start your career and achieve your goals. You will miss out on real life, for the sake of a life built on a lie and I cannot think that that is more painful than the next step you have to take today to get out of there. To study your next chapter, read your next book, see your therapist, go for practice, ask for help, and sign up for your next hobby. And if you have done this and failed/were disappointed then that is not a sign that you must stop, it most probably means you have to dig deeper and change something before you get going again. Don’t be swayed by the ups and downs of life, they are merely crosswinds. What is important is that you are able to look back over longer periods, say 1 year or 5 years, and see that you have changed and grown inside.

We cannot escape the tension that exists between where we are and where we need to be. It is an omnipresent fact of life. This tension will be like a spring that can either propel you to your next version, accompanied by growing pains; or keep you pinned down where you are – comfortable, safe, lazy, and unnecessary, with the accompanying aching pains. I am thankful for the growing pains, they remind us that we are alive.

It is going to be painful. You have to choose your pain.


  • Mat 25:14-30 (NIV)




Braaf staan jy voor ñ golf en kyk,

Jy’s in die vlak water, want jy’s nog klein,

Jy was net-nou nog bang gewees,

En nou kom die water al tot by jou knieë.

As jy een golf moedig trotseer,

Wag jy dieper vir ń groter een,

En as hy jou dan amper omslaan,

Hardloop jy vinnig na die sagte strand.

Jy gaan nie lank hier bly nie,

Die blou see roep jou altyd dieper,

Spoedig gaan jy terug keer,

En groter golwe trotseer.

Maar besef jy, as jy so lekker kry,

Die die diep blou see jou nog sal onder kry?

Dat die water waar jy so lekker speel,

Diep, en rof, en koud kan wees?

Ek sê dit nie om jou af te skrik nie,

Ek wil hê dat jy moet verder speel,

Want die brawe jy het sterk geword,

Die brawe jy, het ek geword.

En nou staan ek voor ñ golf en kyk,

Dieper as waar ek gister was,

Ek onthou daar is ñ sagte strand,

Maar die blou see roep my altyd dieper.

Jy het geweet om nie te veel te dink nie,

Om net in te spring en nat te word,

ñ Avontuur gesien en na gevolg,

So, het jy tot hier gekom.

Ek wil daai groter golwe ry,

Die mooi agter daai golwe kry,

Is jy nog êrens binne my,

Die jonger ek; die brawer jy?



Light is shining

Light is shining. You are either running away or running towards it; hiding in the dark or performing on the stage. Who are you?

We use spotlights in the dark regularly – to see where we are going, to find something, to avoid walking into something. There is also a spotlight that reveals the space inside of us. The spotlight I am referring to is our awareness. Peck (1) noted that the amount of power we have correlates to the amount of awareness we keep when making decisions.

So, how do we improve awareness? A number of ways – education, self-reflection, communication with others – all have the potential to broaden our radar of awareness – that of ourselves, as well as that of the world. You would recall the times you experienced something like an epiphany while speaking with a friend or reading a book… as if a light went on and you suddenly became aware of something that was hidden from you before.

I sometimes wonder if this was one of the goals, if not the goal, of the Law too. It is light, rather than rules, that I associate God with. As soon as He appears there is light. From ‘Let there be light’ to the flashlights on Mount Sinai and the light from the Bethlehem star leading the wise men to Bethlehem. The narrative of most religious stories is mostly strung between the poles of light and dark/good and evil. The law is used too much like a whip and not enough like a spotlight. We use it to persuade people away from bad behaviour and toward good behaviour. It conditions our thoughts and not our hearts. So, for example, I end up not speeding, because I don’t want to sit in a cell for a night, because it is cold and lonely there, and it costs money. It does little to affect my sense of responsibility and care for others’ lives. Laws don’t change our mindsets.

The law is used too much like a whip and not enough like a spotlight.

Our awareness is the result of the big bang – the words of Jesus, Himself, calling light into existence. When His light shines it separates life from non-life. This has always been the effect when Jesus shows up, and still is. When He showed up through the Law it brought into our awareness the truth about Him and about us. Never after this could we be ignorant of the sin inside of us again. When Jesus was born it was not to condemn, however. The world became aware of the fact that it was already in a state of condemnation. Through Him grace came to us and it showed the complete story – sin on the one side and grace on the other. For if we only heard how wrong we were that would keep us in jail. When Jesus showed that He is humble at heart it opened up a space at the feet of His throne. Using the law wrongly takes away the space to try and grow. Failing is too big a risk if condemnation would be the consequence – so in a sense the Law alone does the opposite of what the light intended to show us. If we are only sinners saved by grace that basically says: ” You are so bad that you must be thankful for just receiving your small space in heaven so just stay there and don’t try anything”. It brings about no change and leaves us in a state of passivity. But, look what the law did to Zaccheus. Jesus has lunch with him in his home. When the light shone there it caused a big change. Zaccheus starts living a radically different and exciting life. The law not only condemned him, it changed him.

What if the law of Moses was more like a flashlight? Something that shows us the facts – as they stand, and then brings into awareness a whole new way of thinking and living or being. It shows the good and the bad. It brings to awareness the reality of society – we see how bad stealing, hating, lying, etc. is and opens up the possibility of a life filled with the opposite – caring, belonging, and loving. It brings to awareness our own capacity to hate and kill, but at the same time shows us the alternative, a deeper desire to be good or at least better. And when we realize that the light comes from somewhere, maybe we will see the beauty, the possibilities, and a life worth living when we turn to the light. Maybe we will move closer to reality – life at its fullest – when we pay attention to the light rather than the shadows it casts. If God is the Light and all the bad things flowing from our hearts get in the way between us and God, then the commandments are only the shadows falling on the ground. Why will we show each other the shadows in our lives? Why not rather get rid of that which is in the way? God’s light is shining and He wants to show us something, but we seem to keep on trying to get rid of the shadows in our life – ignoring that which is in between.

If this is true then the law becomes our friend and not our enemy, something to grab onto and not shy away from. Then the goal of the law is less about condemning and more about stimulating growth. We may start off with guilt and shame, but must not stop there, for now, a new horizon is revealed in the light and we must find a way to get there. We must grow. For the light reveals everything – from our pitiful souls to the miracles all around us. We must traverse the virgin territory and navigate novel issues necessitating change and adaptation. We will seek ways of getting from where we are to where we could be. Nothing can happen before we have become aware – we can only work with what we are conscious of.

Jesus tried to help us with this, because He saw that when we would hear what He had to say, we would not understand. ‘When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes – so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me that I would heal them (2). A lot of time was spent on growing our awareness. He pointed out our ignorance many times. Was it not our ignorance that made us lead the blind when we were the blind? (3); that made us miss the log in our own eye? (4); and ‘ever be seeing, but never perceiving’? (5) If someone’s eye is dark, it must be dark in him indeed’. (6)

There’s a reason we sometimes opt for hiding away – we sense that big problems might lurk in the dark and feel overwhelmed. Our shadows might seem insurmountable. There is a risk that we might remain in denial and then go back to the old ways which have proven successful before, only to find they don’t work anymore. In some backward way, the prosperity gospel has lead many to fall into this trap, presenting a ‘word-of-faith’ type of religion where I am supposed to declare and focus on the positive and employ ‘faith’ so that we do not end up in sticky situations. So as to imply that misfortune in your life is a sign of little faith. I reckon that seeking prosperity hinders spiritual growth. Maybe it is the truth we should be seeking. There is a risk of becoming resentful, mad and heavy-hearted when we start to be open with ourselves, but we must grow out of it.

Compare person A with person B. Person A confesses that he will not get COVID and he doesn’t – so he testifies of God’s goodness. Person B gets paralysed by a gunshot wound and for the rest of his life has to ask the dark questions of why he cannot dance with his daughter. Who will need more faith? Who will need to grow more to remain faithful? Person A or person B?

Maybe the law is asking a different question than what we thought. Not: ‘can you avoid condemnation?‘, but ‘do you love the light?

“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone”

John 1:4




  1. The road less travelled. M Scott Peck; Arrow: 1990
  2. Mat 13:13
  3. Mat 15:14
  4. Luk 6:42
  5. Mat 13:14
  6. Mat 6:23