Have you ever felt restless and yet life is good? There have been times in my life when I distinctly remember feeling out of sorts but I couldn’t figure out why.
Right before we moved from Charleston SC to Waynesville NC, we spent a whole year living our best lives and simultaneously feeling our most miserable. It was baffling. It felt like we were an arrow and God had pulled us back on the bow and we were just hanging out right there in that moment.
The tension was palpable. And uncomfortable. And intriguing. And frustrating. And even exciting.
What did that mean? Why were we here? What was about to happen?
Have you ever been there? You feel caught in the “in between.” It’s not that you even hate where you are. It just simply feels like nothing is happening while life is still going on, but at any moment everything could change.
I think in the western world especially we fight the tension or try to hurry up past it. We don’t like that uncomfortable, undefinable feeling. We don’t know how to sit in it and simply just wait it out.
Tension isn’t meant to stop us in our tracks. That whole year we were feeling it, we kept doing life — preaching, leading, working, parenting — all the things. But we also made space for feeling the tension, talking it out with each other and our mentors, and asking God to clarify it for us.
I know that may sound crazy but we need to take time to feel the feels. It's important to be in touch with the nuances of our day to day lives. I vividly remember sitting on the porch with my pastor saying, "I have no idea why I feel this tension - my life is in a great place right now - I wouldn't change a thing - but I feel restless and disconnected and this push/pull. What the heck is going on?"
For us, in that season, the tension served a purpose - God was about to call us to move away and do something crazy. I honestly think that if we hadn't been in that season of tension + restlessness, we would have ignored or brushed off the move. Why? We had a great, comfortable life there and no reason to really leave it.
I'm not saying that all tension means God is going to make you move or leave everything behind. But I am saying that you should pay attention to that tension. Lean in to it. Ask God to clarify it. Sit in it for a while and just observe your feelings, your thoughts, all the things. God uses the tension to speak to us. He uses it to stretch us -- just like that arrow gets stretched in the bow. That's what propels us forward into the next season.
Have you ever experienced the tension I'm talking about? What did it feel like to you? What was the end result? Did you embrace it or fight it?