Photo by Geoff Duncan

It’s now the middle of our family’s big road trip experience, and we’re starting to learn more about tension. We just spent some time with my (Eva’s) folks in PA and it made me want to get back to them to help with the recovery process after an upcoming surgery.

It’s a challenging place to be when you’re feeling a strong pull to take two really good, but different directions. It’s easy for me to feel stress and anxiety as I wonder what I should do, wanting to both continue and finish the road trip as well as to help care for my parents. I was realizing how I tend to think that life is going “smoothly” when I do not have to deal with detours and delays. I’m finding, however, that these times can be viewed instead as real opportunities to live more fully.

When life is more predictable, it’s easier for me to think that I’m really self-reliant, independent, and being successful. The truth is that in those times I’m forgetting that I need others as much as they need me. Those uncomfortable times where life is not predictable, where I don’t see very far into the future and don’t have a really clear plan can be an opportunity for me to build community by reaching out to those around me both to be vulnerable as well as to be available.

In that tension lies possibility.

Take for example, a rubber band. When it is lying on a table, untouched, not experiencing actual physical tension, the potential possibility isn’t seen or felt. But when you add tension you can use it to hold things together or stretch it to its limit, so it can be released to soar.

How do you view tension in your life? Do you shy away or do you embrace it? When do you feel most alive? Is it when life is cruising along without a hitch, or when you are feeling some pinches and tugs in different areas? Would we be able to really enjoy the “easier” times as much if we didn’t live through difficulties?

I’m not saying that everyone should be seeking thrills in order to live fully, but when tension happens, maybe we don’t have to fight it. What would happen if instead we recognized it, welcomed it, had coffee with it and didn’t work so hard to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Could the tension possibly have a bigger purpose than being annoying and stressful? Could it be happening to teach us something or prepare us for something? It could be the catalyst to inspire caring for others around us, or for letting others show we care.

So next time you’re faced with a moment of tension, or a season of life that seems to be stretching you to the limit, try to stop fighting it and, instead, embrace it. It may be an opportunity to stretch, grow, or even fly.

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