I am a slow learner. I have to be exposed to something several times before I catch on, in most situations. This is especially true in spiritual lessons.
I believe that my Heavenly Father has a wide variety of lessons and opportunities to grow provided in each day. I miss about 99.6% of them. The other 0.4% are either so blatant that I can’t miss them, or it’s a lesson I’ve been offered for the 10th time, so I am finally catching on. For this reason, I have started to pay attention when I come across a word of theme that I see many times in different settings.
This most recent word He has sharpened my eyes to see is “tension”. I don’t mean the type of headache or physical tension. More mental and spiritual tension. Leaving things undone or untidy.
A wise Bible study teacher I know used the phrase “live in the tension” once and it stuck in my ears. The context was that we were trying to figure out the answer to some deep, spiritual concept, and our tendency was to wrap it up in a neat little bow before the session ended so we could have some type of closure on the topic. But, instead, he urged us to not find a succinct answer just to fill in a blank and instead to let that tension keep our senses sharp. If we had answered the question, we would just go on about our day and possibly not give the topic a second thought. It wouldn’t matter that the answer was incorrect, or that there could conceivably be a different answer to that question for me than there was for the next person. We could stop thinking about the question.
Tension is uncomfortable. It’s something we cannot check off our list because it remains undone. It continues to distract our attention and won’t go away. But, it is also good.
Living in the tension means that we don’t wrap up a topic that has earned a lot of research and contemplation. We continue to seek the answer, and we may find that the questioning was the best part of the journey. Seeking involves deep conversations instead of small talk, and an acknowledgement that we cannot figure out what words to use for every situation. It grows a relationship and reminds me of the One who gives me answers.
If you are in the tension of an unanswered question, allow the tension to be. While it’s tempting to stamp a neat answer on it and get a happy ending, acknowledge the struggle and continue seeking. Live in the tension and let it guide you to wisdom.