I have often wondered if life would truly be better if it was simpler. What if I didn’t have to strive quite so much? What if relationships just happened naturally? Wouldn’t everybody be better off if we removed the struggle and pain and work? I mean don’t most people just live for the weekend so that they can kick off their shoes and relax?
I think that this idea is actually fairly hollow and will not actually lead us where we want to go. An oft repeated story is told of butterflies that must wrestle with their cocoon in order to strengthen their wings so that they can survive once they are loose. I have been through this process many times personally and, due to my recent events, I feel like I am back in caterpillar mode, whereas I had been in butterfly mode for several years. The only way to get back to the freedom that being a butterfly provides is to walk through the process of tension…tension that produces dreams. What does tension do for us?
Tension provides a sense of gratitude for an accomplished work
Tension makes the thrill of jumping that much bigger
Tension helps me know what is worth fighting for
Tension provides the perspective and momentum necessary to take a risk
I have shared before how it took seven months of unemployment before I landed at my most recent job. Talk about tension! The team that I was privileged to lead is currently wrapping up a 3-year project to create resources for local churches to better serve families affected by disability. These resources are the result of years of tension – conversations, debates and discussions about the best way to serve the church. Personally, I am back in the process of tension as I seek my next great adventure.
So, what are the basics I need to focus on to ensure that this time of tension is one of growth and production, not discouragement and frustration?
1) Tension forces me to revisit my dreams, my goals, my hopes. If tension causes me to give up on any of them, then they weren’t that compelling to begin with. My dream is ultimately to make a difference in the lives of others, to advocate on behalf of those who have been marginalized, to develop leaders and build sustainable teams to accomplish amazing projects! I look back over 20+ years of full-time leadership and these basics have never changed. Take this as a great opportunity to revisit your vision and make sure that it is truly large enough to be compelling.
2) Remember that life is a journey and tension is simply one of the steps you must take on your way to success. Tension is the pressure required to create a diamond, the rubber band stretched and ready to launch, or the nervous feeling you get right before you make a leap of faith. Embrace tension as a launching pad to your next great adventure, not an obstacle that will keep you grounded.
3) Although it might be clichè, there is a reason that it works – “what doesn’t break you only makes you stronger”. Tension is necessary for world class athletes to become stronger. I am not content with status quo. I don’t want to be bored or settled or live a dull and mundane life. I want adventure and excitement and progress in my life and tension is the tool that brings this about. And without tension you will never learn just what you can truly handle.
4) Tension brings you to the feet of Jesus. I do not want to assume that everybody reading this is a follower of Christ, but for my life, this is the only constant. Tension reminds me constantly that He is God and I am not. I cannot, nor am I meant to, proceed through life on my own strength. Tension keeps me humble which is always the best way to be.
I don’t know what you are walking through this week, but I would imagine it includes some tension. Be encouraged to not run from it, but rather to embrace it…and to anticipate the dreams that will be birthed because of it.