A fat rubber band lay on every seat in church this Sunday. The worship leader assured us at the beginning of the service that this wasn’t a mistake, but we had to wait to find out the purpose of these scattered office supplies.
Once it came time for the sermon, the pastor, after some joking about snapping the person sitting beside you, explained they were inaugurating a new series on “Tensions”—more specifically, certain theological tensions that we have to hold in order to be truly biblical in our thinking and avoid the risk of reducing who God is by trying to fit Him into the boxes of our little human minds. Like that God is both knowable and a mystery. And that He is both all-powerful and all-loving.
All this got me thinking about tension in general. See, I hate tension. Tension in relationships, among family, between friends—it absolutely ties me up in knots, physically and emotionally. But as I am beginning to realize, just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean we should turn away from it. Just because it’s painful doesn’t mean it isn’t good.
As a novelist, I should know this. So much of writing a story is creating tension—developing the central conflict of the story, and also making sure that essential thread of tension weaves through every single scene. Frankly, if a scene doesn’t have enough tension and conflict of the right sort, it’s bound to be boring. I’ve seen it in the growing pains of my own stories time and time again.
But it’s a whole lot more fun to create and resolve tension for my fictional characters than it is to encounter it in my own life.
Yet as the pastor pointed out this Sunday, rubber bands wouldn’t work at all for their intended purpose—to hold things together—without tension. They would just snap, break, and be useless. And if I’m honest, it’s been through times of tension, of stretching and straining to work through things that have been very hard, that I’ve seen some of the most growth in my own life…and that I’ve seen the Lord’s faithfulness and graciousness and help in some of the deepest and tenderest ways.
Even though it’s never easy.
So I wore that rubber band on my wrist for the rest of the day. Because I need to be reminded that tension can be a good thing—if we are willing to work with and in and through it. And that it is not in staying comfortable, but only in being stretched and tested, that we can grow and become more who our Creator intended us to be.
What about you—do you hate tension, or have you learned to embrace it? Why do you think tension tends to be necessary for growth? Please comment and share!