It used to feel like all I needed from life was balance: enough of this and enough of that, and everything would work out fine. If I planned everything out just right and balanced the sleep and the work and the diet and the checkbook, things would magically fall into place and everyone would be happy—my ultimate goal. Can't everyone just be happy?
I never really found this mystical balance. I keep finding, instead, that there are seasons that are hard, seasons that are easier, and the best days are the ones in which you get a glimpse of what God's doing (always in hindsight). The best days are a mix of tension and grace, and you learn to pair up what's true with what's pure and lovely, to take them all together.
Tension is the pull between what I want and what I need (the two are usually different). Tension is the struggle between telling you what I think and seasoning my words with grace; between getting enough rest and shirking responsibility; between salad and french fries.
Tension is the riff amongst people who love each other but want different things. It forces us to work things out, to set ourselves aside, to see another point of view.
We are in a child-raising season and we are realizing that wow, this is a long, hard task and tension is inevitable. We dig down deep into the dailyness of it and forget to come up, look around, look ahead. We forget to pace ourselves sometimes and we just plain burn out, and the only remedy I've found for that kind of parental weariness is light-heartedness, thanksgiving, and a realization that part of the tension is coming from our own growth, as parents.
All relationships require tension.
Think about everything easy and clean and harmonious but falling, nothing held tight. There are no decisions without tension, no music, no art, no satisfaction. There is no life without tension because the struggle to survive keeps us alive, Christ giving each breath and the need for air forcing our lungs open again.
In terms of relationships, a prolonged lack of tension might only be a putting-off, a sweeping under the rug, because you're a sinner and you live with sinners and you're raising them and working with them and loving them imperfectly, every day.
I'm not saying easy relationships are fake. I would say I have a pretty easy relationship with my husband, but just the other day he said I like it when you disagree with me, because it helps me articulate what I really think. That's tension at its finest.
My thoughts trigger my flesh—that part of me fueled by rebellion against God and a desire to rule my own Self—and without any tension coming against me, I tend towards selfishness and a narcissism such as is common to man.
So praise the Lord for thoughts coming against my own, for counter-balance, for strife and conflict and the pull of someone else's needs combatting my own lethargic pull to the couch. Praise Him for giving us each our own minds and encouraging us to strive to be of one mind.
Tension holds us together.
It doesn't answer every tough question.
Believing that a little tension is ok reminds us that sometimes the hard questions are more important than the easy answers we want to throw down, so keep asking them. Keep pulling the string tight against easy faith, falling lightly, whispering ease and comfort. Pull everything up tight now and then and wonder about your own easy answers you give yourself. Maybe you hide tough issues all for the sake of harmony?
Let's not forget that love is safe enough to handle some conflict.
Let's not forget that conflict is what made Love available to us in the first place.