The title of this post is a bit deceptive, although, not intentionally. I’m not living with tension in the sense that my dogs and cat are fighting all the time. In fact, it’s really the exact opposite – they are getting along splendidly, for those of you interested in my canine/feline children.
No, the tension I’m living with is much harder to describe. So maybe I’ll just throw some examples out there and let them speak for themselves.
The first one I noticed was the tension I felt every evening that I was home. That’s when I miss Dale the most and when the loneliness is still sometimes overwhelming, coming in waves. And yet…I drew comfort from being at home at night, relaxing with a good book or a good TV program, and of course hanging out with Daisy, Winnie and Max. So, do I fill all my evenings with activities to keep the loneliness at bay? Or do I stay home and avoid any “mom” guilt from leaving my children at home alone again? (And satisfy the homebody part of my personality…) Tension #1
What to do with these tears? On one hand, it’s exhausting to cry and grieve the loss of Dale. Honestly, it’s still a daily occurrence for me, even though you’d think I’d be about out of tears by now. So that part of me would like to push through this season and reach an equilibrium where I just cry occasionally. And yet… there’s a part of me that almost dreads that day when I don’t cry for Dale because I’m afraid it will feel like I don’t miss him as much, or love him as much and I might lose some of my connection to him. My logical mind knows that this makes no sense, but my heart is just not ready to let go of that yet, even though it wants to heal. Tension #2
I can feel completely energized by this new ministry to which God has called me – helping others be a blessing to their grieving friends – and sense clear leading from Him and a heightened sense of excitement and confirmation as I think through all I’ve seen from His hand in this part of the journey. When I share what I’m learning with others, either at a presentation or during a one-on-one coffee, I experience a certain level of joy, knowing that I am right where I need to be, in the middle of God’s will. And yet…there’s such a large part of me that wants to scream out, “This is NOT the ministry that I want to be in! I want my husband back!” Tension #3
This season of grieving can easily draw my attention to the hope of heaven, because I’m tired of hurt and loneliness and sadness. I’m tired of living without Dale. I’m tired of living in a world tainted by sin. I’m tired of seeing how that sin manifests itself in countless ways in this world. It’s evident just looking at recent news examples or challenges in the lives of my friends – tornadoes, wild fires, missing college students, chronic illnesses, abuses, cancer diagnoses, addictions, unbelieving children. The list of heartaches goes on and on. So, I hurt for me, and I hurt for my friends, and I hurt for the world at large. I long for Jesus to return and take His children to heaven where we will spend eternity with Him and sing God’s praises FOREVER! No more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears, no more lonely, no more trials, NO MORE SIN! It’s a beautiful picture and so much of my heart longs for this.
And yet…Jesus has not returned. I am still here. And so are you. There is still time to be a blessing to others. There’s still time to learn more about God and His character. There’s still time to let God work in my life, refining me more and more through this trial. There’s still time to do His will. There is still time to spread the Gospel message to unbelievers. There’s still time to accept God’s free gift of salvation through the death of His Son on the cross. Many reasons to long for heaven, and many reasons to keep fighting the good fight. Tension #4
Are you starting to get the picture? These are some of the tensions that I live with on a pretty consistent basis. But I don’t have a market on this. My guess is that any one of you could create your own list of tensions that may consume your lives. And it will be unique to each of you and your personal situation.
What’s the lesson in all of this? Not sure I have a clear answer to that, but in part, there is tension built into this world, because ultimately, this is not our home. In Ecclesiastes 3:11, it says, “He has also set eternity in the human heart;…” So that’s part of our issue. We know instinctively that there is more after this life.
I also wonder if perhaps I’m trying too hard to resolve the tensions and find a perfect balance. Lately, I’m beginning to understand that whenever I try to do ANYTHING in my own strength, it falls short. Is it time to focus on what the psalmist said? “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). In that stillness, in that quiet, His Spirit can fill us with all that we need.
What’s the opposite of tension? How about calmness, contentedness or peace? That’s what I long for, and that’s my prayer for you as well. And there’s only one Source.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13