We don’t talk about tension enough.

There are the things that are obviously hard. Things no one would question.

But then there’s all the little things. The things that “aren’t that big of a deal.”

But they’re still tension.

They’re still things to navigate.

The tension of wanting to grow, but growing means acknowledging something about the way things are now must change.

The tension of wanting people to know you care while needing space.

The tension of telling people you will not meet their expectations, because you don’t have the same goals and priorities.

The tension of wanting to support someone but realizing your support will keep them from growing.

The tension of asking someone for something you need, and not knowing if they will give it to you.

The tension of sharing something meaningful with someone, and not knowing if they will treat it with the respect it deserves.

The tension of not hearing from someone you want to hear from.

The tension of hearing from someone you’d rather not hear from.

The tension of forgiving someone yet not wanting them back in your life at all.

The tension of forgiving someone and having them reenter your life.

The tension of not being old but not being young.

The tension of finding out you didn’t get something you thought you really wanted and realizing you didn’t want it after all.

The tension of realizing that something not working out means there are questions about what will.

The tension of getting something you really wanted, and realizing it means more unknown.

The tension when things go really well, and trying not to wonder if you’re missing something.

The tension that arises when things go really wrong, because it makes you wonder what else you were missing.

The tension of not knowing.

The tension of knowing.

Sometimes one of these “not that big of a deal” things pops up and you find yourself shipwrecked, wondering why you’re just not sailing perfectly through it all.

But then you realize there’s been a tension a day.

And there you are, feeling shipwrecked.

But not stranded.

Calling a friend. Someone who will jump in the water with you and get you pointed back the right way.

In the days after, you might find yourself a little raw. Not quite put back together. A little washed out, but not quite sprung back to life.

It’s like that calm after a storm. Where you look around and the ground isn’t quite dry, some things have been tossed about. It’s a little messy.

But it’s fresh. And something about it makes you breathe in. And you can’t help but smile.

We try to make things black or white, because it removes a lot of this tension.

But the world operates in shades of gray, and a whole lot of color.

The more we try to make it black and white, the more we lose all the glorious color that comes in the midst of navigating the gray.

And while tension might not sound like something we want, it’s what moves us forward.

It’s an opportunity to reflect. To clarify values and choices that push us closer to where we need to be.

The tension can lift you, or it can pull you down. You get to choose.

We have to be able to name the tension in order to move past it and rise above it.

If tension is a rubber band, naming the tension is the force that helps the rubber band release and fly through the air.

Continuing to try to move past the tension without acknowledging it is the force that stretches that rubber band until it’s so tight it breaks, or until it has enough force that it pulls you backward.

Life is never just one tension, but I find – with people and organizations – that there is almost always one deep-rooted one in the middle of each storm. And if you solve for that, the others fall in line. The appropriate action becomes more clear.

We have to be able to name the tension in order to move past it and rise above it.

And oftentimes naming it comes as a result of being able to sit in that calm after each storm. The tension can lift you, or it can pull you down. You get to choose.

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