**What you are about to read, is the raw, unedited, first look at my new book coming out soon, it is called THE INNER ROOM. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments... Enjoy**
Hello, dear reader. Welcome to the entrance of my inner room. The Foyer.
Before we enter, though, I would like to highlight a few thoughts that will help shape the direction of our short journey together.
Firstly, though I do not know where you have come from, I sincerely thank you for arriving here in this place. Thank you for making a conscious decision to pick up this book and enter into its pages. You have already stepped up to the door and I applaud you for choosing to open it as we begin to discover this inner work together.
Secondly, you will soon experience a small glimpse of my personal inner room. It is the inner workings of my inner world that shape how I operate in the outer world. Yet we will not be simply looking inward unto myself, for that is a dead end, but instead, we will look inward to something far beyond myself. For us to encounter this wonder, I must ask you to step into a metaphor that is specific to my inner room, yet holds the potential of giving words to the discovery of your own unique design.
And thirdly, this book is not designed to answer very many questions, but instead, to crack open the door of your imagination, by creating an open, safe space to venture into the beginnings of an ongoing exploration of your own inner room. Through this imagery, I hope to give words to areas of yourself that previously might not have been articulated or easily visualised.
So, we stand here at the entrance. And to know where we are going, we must first know where we have come from. Therefore, I believe it would be beneficial to share with you a brief understanding of the things that have formed who I am and how I see the world.
My childhood was anything but normal. At the age of two and a half, I moved to Papua New Guinea, and to my great delight, my parents moved as well. In a culture where staring could be the national sport, little white, western children stood out like a sore thumb. As I grew up and developed a worldview, I was heavily shaped by a culture that was not my own, in a country that felt like home, all the while being surrounded by people who knew I looked different and didn't fully fit in with them. The technical term here is a third culture kid.
The early years of my life were spent living in a tribe, freely exploring jungles and waterholes for hours on end with my sibling. We had the privilege of experiencing the safety of a community bound to an honour shame culture. Meaning as long as we were seen as part of the tribe, the whole tribe would keep an eye out for us and no one would dare harm someone within their own tribe. It is sad to say now, but I believe we were at the tail end of a bygone era, and that particular way of honour has since diminished with the rise of hyper-individualism.
But those days were formative to who I am today. My older brother’s imagination and ability to rapture us into one of his stories of fantasy and adventure was second to none. He modelled a posture of curiosity and exploration. It is safe to say that he planted more seeds of creativity and wonder in me than anyone else alive today. In fact, it was most likely in the shadow of his safe, welcoming and inclusive presence, that I may have first seen and cracked open the door to my inner room. I remember as a child, secretly finding an abundance of creativity and dreams within myself, though I rarely let others into that.
But I find myself jumping ahead.
As we grew, both he and I got to experience boarding school. In my fourth year of school, I found myself in a class of 25 students, made up of kids from 17 different countries. I got to experience the freedom of dorm life, not having parents around for 10 weeks at a time. Yet I also experienced the loneliness and confusion of that ‘freedom’ as a young child apart from his parents for 10 weeks at a time. However, It was at this season I witnessed first-hand how it truly does take a village to raise a child, with countless aunts and uncles in that community caring for me, leading me and walking with me throughout the better part of my adolescence. I saw the beauty in a broken and flawed community.
The deep bonds forged with my siblings and my parents, the tribal upbringing, the unique culture and the undeniably diverse group of friends I grew up with, were some of the best things that happened to me as far as developmental and spiritual growth are concerned. The environment shaped me and my worldview profoundly. And to my parents, I am eternally grateful.
However, though it was a beautiful blessing to grow up as I did, the cocktail blend of location, personality, personal experience and situational interpretation was a formula for developing unhealthy coping mechanisms within myself. Though these subliminal reactions were unhealthy, they were necessary and played a major role in creating who I am today.
As a teenager I can’t recall entering my inner room much at all. The door was there, closed but there none the less. Yet I was far too busy looking elsewhere, looking at how others operated; how others interpreted the world; how others determined what was important. Our inner rooms, as I will explain in great detail in the chapters to come, are the operating systems by which we all process truth, love, emotions, actions, and decisions. They are a safe place, where we are free to explore how we are uniquely designed, free from condemnation, judgement, shame, guilt and fear. Yet, I did not go there for many years. That door stayed closed and I became a lesser version of myself. You see we all have an inner room, but so many of us rarely venture in.
So at that time, I quickly built my identity on the things that made me different from others, like my strange australian/international accent, the colour of my skin or the ability to poke fun at someone while making them feel more loved in the process. Things like these differentiated me from others and I embraced them wholeheartedly, while paradoxically becoming a chameleon, a master of mimicking behaviours, accents and attitudes. As I got older I began to be able to adapt to almost any setting and situation at the drop of a hat, allowing me to stand out when it suited and blend in when necessary.
The outcome of this, to the level that I am conscious of, was at least three-fold.
I was unaware of who I was originally designed to be. I lost myself and have spent the last 30 years of my life trying to find who I am, what I feel and where I fit into the scheme of things. And I daresay this journey is far from over, for I will never fully be at home within myself in this life, I will be ever discovering and then forgetting who and how I was created to uniquely reflect my maker.
I developed the ability for efficient hyper-multi tasking and consequently high capacity. Contrary to the rhetoric of males being unable to do more than one thing at a time, in my early 20’s I frequently found myself closely following several conversations at the same time, while effortlessly reading the room, tracking who was entering and leaving, as I cooked the BBQ and watched the Rugby game being played, all at once. Later I understood this was not a superpower but an idol and insecurity (more on this inthe last chapter, after we leave the room). This developed a coping mechanism to deal with a multitude of things all at once without becoming burnt out, worn out or even stressed out.
The third outcome that I am aware of, was the ability to see things differently to the majority of my peers and those around me. Whether it was in the country I felt most at home yet didn’t actually belong to; or whether it was among the people whom I looked most like but had very little in common with; or the many times I found myself being in the minority. Therefore, unknowingly, I honed my ability to think outside of the box and somehow stumbled into becoming seen as a creative thinker or a creative type, while feeling like an imposter compared to the ‘real’ creative type.
I wonder if some of this resonates with you, as you are reading, or at least you can relate in part to the personality traits or coping mechanisms?
These not only affected me as a young teenager but also extended far into my adult life, particularly in my twenties and early thirties. I found myself feeling guilty because I was not phased by or worried about the things (I perceived) other westerners were concerned about. For example, I didn’t feel the need to have one steady 9-5 job nor did I have the desire to own a home. I regularly had to apologise for the way I made sense of the world, like waiting until a conversation was completed before leaving even if it made me late to the next appointment… surely they would understand right? Nope. The way I was coping and operating within this world, kept putting other people out.
My default has always been that if I hit a wall, I climb over it, dig under it or find a creative way to make a door through it. However, moving back to Australia, I found that in many situations I felt like I was expected to sit down at the base of the wall and complain about it or blame someone for placing a wall in the way. And because I desired to be accepted and valued I would mimic those around me so I could fit in. But, unbeknownst to me, I was simply pushing my original design behind hidden doors.
On a daily basis, I would try to wear other people's prescription lenses, which rightly so was causing migraines for my soul. I hadn’t embraced the lenses that were specifically created for me, through my experiences, personality and upbringing. When we embrace this, however, our soul begins to see with clarity and intuitively radiates its true identity.
My failure was that I didn’t know how to celebrate the fact that I have been designed to reflect the original designer, in my unique way.
The journey from where I was to where I am now is not what this book is about, though I’m sure some of that story will seep into these pages from time to time and be noticed by those with keen senses. And how I am personally wired, will look different to many of you reading this.
Nevertheless, I am compelled to share my experiences as an open door into how one person (out billions) has been designed. The hope here is to make a space for a shared metaphor that gives permission to start a conversation within your own heart around understanding how you were uniquely designed too.
Therefore the intent behind this book is to share this journey of exploration that may end in the discovery of seeing yourself in a new light.
Whatever your upbringing, your personal experiences and coping mechanisms may be, I wonder if you might brave the possibility of celebrating how you have been designed. That you might enjoy the way you have been wired and see that you were created as a beautiful work of art. Or realise that there is an eternal gap with exact specifications, sizes and dimensions, to perfectly fit your being. You were woven together in your mother’s womb, every detail designed with purpose, to play part in something far, far bigger than both you and your world.
I believe each life has been designed and handcrafted to reflect different elements and characteristics of it’s Maker. This is good and should be celebrated. Yet how often we find ourselves wishing we weren’t the way we are or that we could be more like someone else. We can find ourselves spending too much energy and time trying to hide or even change how we have been designed.
Though each of our designs have been smeared with mud, scratched with painful experiences and twisted by lies we believe about ourselves, there is still hope. The way and the truth which draws us into the life we were designed to live in, is within reach. But to change our outerworld, we must enter into the inner workings and find the original design.
Would you dream with me? Can we explore through imagination some of the intricate ways we have been wired and operate?
We each have unique opportunities, skills and giftings to create life-giving moments. You have an effect on and will shape those around you according to how you view who you are and why you are here.
That is pretty powerful.
I can only speak in my native tongue of stories and images, and will attempt to navigate through it all as I wear the only lens I have been given to make sense of this world. Therefore, I am aware that this book will not hit the mark for many readers. And I believe that is okay. However, for those whom this strikes a deep chord with, to those who see themselves in a fresh light, to you, I pray these pages spark (or reignite) that deep longing to be fully human, truly living as you were made to live… without guilt, fear or shame.
For this to happen, I want to share with you just one human take on this. My limited grasp to the inner workings of how I have been designed.
To do this we will enter into the inner room and experience together what it looks like and how it works. However, we must first ask the question… What is the Inner Room?
For me, the inner room is the space where who I am is seen and felt. It is a safe place to express my true self, and by that I mean who I was intended to be. It is not technically my mind or my heart but it is part of the process I go through to get from head deep into heart and then outworked though my hands.
Now, I see the risk of using a second metaphor too early in the narrative, yet I feel like it might be helpful to explain exactly what we are looking at.
Each phone, computer and now almost all tech items now have what we call an Operating System. Is the most important software in any tech item, because it manages all software and hardware on the product. There are usually several different programs running at the same time, and they all need to access the computer's central processing unit, memory, and storage. I know this is a lot if you are not “techy”, but essentially, the operating system is part of everything yet, but it is not an app or program itself, it simply runs the programs. This is why some programs are not compatible with some products, because they run on a different operating system.
With that in mind, I see the inner room is the operating system in which we make sense of the world.
Now, we are definitely shaped by shared values, unspoken expectations and family of origin which form our worldview. As well as unique experiences, personality and any trauma. But as mentioned earlier, the point of this book is not to dive into how each of these things have lasting and deep effects, that is definitely beyond my field of expertise. We are looking at the beauty of our inner rooms and beginning the conversation of how you can begin to explore yours.
Following vs. Leading: Since the rise of the digital age, the formation of a global village culture, and the subsets and influences that this global culture has within cultures, it is important not to make general assumptions about groups. We must be cautious not to throw blanket statements over people groups and ethnic cultures. People are people, we all struggle with similar core issues.
It’s been hard, of late, to connect with my creator Not by any fault of His, it’s more that I have become a spectator. Maybe this is something others can relate to? See, if I’m honest about my reality, these a greater disparity between what I see and what is actually going on around me. There are little glimpses when I clearly see him, feel him, but even then, these times seem to be in decline.
Although this part of my story began several years ago and it’s completion, I dare say, is nowhere near to being discovered, I want to share a little of the chapter I find myself in now. I am somewhere in the murky, swamplike middle... wading my way through unclear waters. I know why I’m here and I know that crossing this terrain is crucial for reaching the desired destination, however, being here is becoming disorientating.
In January 2015, I was having a skype chat with Jeff Vanderstelt, when he presented me with an opportunity that I had somewhat been dreaming about since 2009. He asked if Michelle and I would consider moving to Seattle for 2 years to be part of the team at DOXA Church (a good sized church wanting to transition from an event based focus to a missional community mindset). He said it was early days so we’d look at my specific role later, but essentially, I would be trained up under him, through life-on-life discipleship, and then be sent back to Adelaide to plant Missional Communities.