growth

The Value of Tension -Why We Should Embrace It

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach – something’s just not right, but you can’t put your finger on it? Maybe it wraps its fingers around your mind in the dark just as you’re starting to fall asleep, and the thoughts are swirling in your head. Or maybe you can feel the tight grip on your heart as Sunday afternoon turns into evening, and your weekend is coming to an end and going to work on Monday morning looms over you. Or it might be the dread you feel when you think of a certain relationship. Maybe it’s just a general feeling of dissatisfaction – you try to distract yourself, but it keeps creeping back in like fog over a lake.

Discomfort. Stress. Tension.

Often our first reaction when we feel this sense of ‘something is not right’ is to try to just get rid of that anxiety. We look at our phones or computers. We watch television. We eat. We drink. We distract ourselves with whatever we can to just not feel that discomfort.

What would it mean to look at that discomfort in a positive light? As we are on this journey of finding our dream, our purpose, our meaning – what if that tension was a tool that we can use to help guide our path, to push us in the right direction – or in any direction?

Tension is valuable because is tells us that something needs to change. It is a necessary tool in our overall mental health – it is a sign of the gap between “. . . what one has already achieved and what one still has to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become.” (Frankl)

If we only seek to discharge that tension and remove the discomfort, we lose out on the most important purpose of the tension, stress, or discomfort.

The motivation to change.

We don’t need a life free of tension. We need a life in which we struggle for a greater purpose. If we seek to simply ‘feel better’ by alleviating our discomfort, we miss the chance of striving towards a call to purpose, a deeper meaning which only we can fulfill.

Author Jon Maxwell says,

“Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be.”

What would it mean if we embraced the tension? Or at the very least did not attempt to immediately rid ourselves of it? That discomfort is our heart’s way of telling us we are not where we should be.

Journaling exercise:

Think back to a time this week when you felt stress/discomfort/tension.

What did you do? Did you try to get rid of that tension or ignore it?

Can you identify a meaning that is waiting to be fulfilled? Or is this tension pointing to an area of needed growth? What other meaning or message can you learn from this time of experiencing tension?

 

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Lost

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Today is a tough day. Driving the 13 or so hours from Orlando, Florida back to Louisville, Kentucky, my husband and I have a lot of time to talk and think.

I miss my boys, who are scattered all over – one on the West coast, one on the East coast, and one in India. I am missing ‘home’ in the Northwest. I don’t want to go ‘home’ to Louisville. I don’t even know where to call home anymore. A couple of days ago at Disney World, our waiter asked us, “So, where are you from?” Craig and I just looked at each other, unsure of how to answer that question. It’s a strange feeling. Unsettling.

I’d love to wrap this up with words about growing, learning, trusting your path, being right where God wants us, all steps have led us here, blah blah blah, but not today. All of those things may be true, but I can’t go there today. Some days there is value in sitting in the uncertainty of it all.

“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that  are right with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity, to name a few.”  Brene Brown

 

Dare To Be Awkward and Uncomfortable

Jesus spent His whole life engaging the people most of us have spent our whole lives trying to avoid.        Bob Goff

I’ve been going a lot of thinking lately about moving out of my comfort zone. I read a post at Love Thy Neighborhood this week about how bold love sometimes requires us to be awkward.  Building upon that, I told Craig

Me: I think I’ve found my tattoo!

Dare to be awkward                           and uncomfortable

Me: It encompasses everything I’ve been learning! Moving out of your comfort zone, loving people, showing grace and forgiveness, pursuing your dreams, personal growth – everything hard requires you to be awkward and uncomfortable.

Craig: It’s like wearing a polyester leisure suit.

Blank stare

Me: Way to ruin it for me, babe.

*this is brought to you courtesy of Craig and Kristin’s Roadtrip Conversations*

When You’re Sick of Yourself

Day 2:For the month of October, I’ve joined over 1600 other writers in a 31 Day writing challenge. You can read more about it and see the participating blogs at write31days.com  Here is the starting page for 31 Days of My Search for Balance: Body, Mind, and Soul. From there you can find all of my October posts.  

For many people, times of growth and change arise from a difficult circumstance – trauma, loss of a loved one, a broken relationship such as a divorce, or a failure such as loss of a job. These circumstances can stop us in our tracks.

Other times, it sneaks up on us. Slowly, over time, discontent creeps in. It can look many different ways.

looking out window

Your dream job has become a chore.

Your relationship, which you were sure would bring you joy, feels empty.

You finally reached your goal, only to find it is not as fulfilling as you had hoped.

People you loved and trusted have disappointed you.

Life isn’t what you had imagined it would be.

You are not living the story you thought you would.

So where do we go from here? We can focus on outside circumstances, we can focus on other people and how they have failed us, but then what? If you’re really honest, focusing on circumstances and other people are the easy road. We have no control, it’s not our fault, and we have no responsibility. We can remain victims. We can be mere survivors. 

How do we become warriors? What would it look like if we were brave? What if we were honest? What if we looked beyond other people and beyond outside circumstances, and looked within?

When you are finally sick of yourself – that is the starting point of change.

When you are just not comfortable in your skin any longer, when your tools for dealing with life seem dull and useless . . . then YOU ARE READY TO GROW AND CHANGE. You are ready to live a better story.

Everyone, if you’re honest, comes to this point in their life – often more than once, as we grow through different stages. If we didn’t ever feel like this, we would never be motivated to mature, to expand our hearts, to develop as a full human. Think about where you were five years ago, or ten, or twenty. Are you the same person you were then? Do you have the same behaviors? The same beliefs? The same approach to life? We are not built to stay the same. To stay the same would mean we are stale, stagnant. And who wants to be stale, stagnant,and boring?

Existential crisis serves a valuable purpose – to motivate us to move beyond victims or mere survivors, and become strong warriors.

So can we stop pretending that everything is great all of the time? Can we admit that we’re all in this together, and that sometimes it is hard to just be a human on this planet? Can we stop putting on the 24 hour smile, the isn’t-my-life-perfect Facebook posts? I’m not saying that we should all walk around in black and profess our every misery. And I’m not saying that everyone needs to hear every detail of our lives the first time we meet them (unless your heart whispers, “They need to hear this”.)

What I am proposing is that we learn to be strong, brave warriors, marching side by side. We fight alongside one another, we march in the trenches when we need to, we build shelter from the storm, and when one is weary, we carry their gear for a while. It might get dirty, and it’s always going to be messy (because HUMANS) but it will be our beautiful, holy, mess.

Jacopo Bassano - The Good Samaritan - Google Art Project

Jacopo Bassano – The Good Samaritan – Google Art Project

Who’s with me? Let’s live a better story together.

Love, KM