I firmly place both of my feet on the ground beneath me. Finding my balance, a place of steadiness for the work at hand. My body is angled, with my vision set on the mark before me. I take a deep breath readying myself, and slowly let the breath leave my lungs. With one hand gripping the handle, my other hand pulls out an arrow from my quiver and places it carefully within the bow. With all my strength, I pull back on the bowstring. There is a level of tension that grows as my arm pulls back farther and farther. The more pressure that is created, the farther the arrow will go towards its mark.
Tension. What does this word mean?
Let’s take out our trusty dictionary or, in this case, go to dictionary.com to find out the meaning of the word. This is what I found. Tension means:
– the act of stretching or straining.
– the state of being stretched or strained.
– mental or emotional strain; intense, suppressed suspense, anxiety, or excitement.
– a strained relationship between individuals, groups, nations, etc.
– a device for stretching or pulling something.
Okay, truth time right here. Who feels like these definitions describe your life right now? In the middle of a pandemic, uncertainty in our lives, chaos in families, financial issues, relationship problems, and pressure on all ends. I’m telling you, this girl right here has her hand up with the rest of you.
Scriptures tell us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So, how do we navigate in this place of tension? It’s a hard place to be. Tension is seen in families, relationships, marriages, parents with their children, neighbors, community members towards one another, political views, and debates about faith. The list can go on and on.
How about tension felt emotionally or mentally. Feeling overwhelmed. Anxiety to such a high degree, you find it hard to catch your breath at times. Emotionally depleted, exhausted, and feeling hopeless. In this place, you literally count the hours and minutes until it’s time to go to bed so you can rest.
Now please hear my heart, if you are in a place of tension that is about your safety, my friend, I encourage you to find help. If you don’t have any resources or are uncertain of who to contact, please call your local authorities, pastor, counselor, or friend to get connected to the right help.
For the rest of us, we need to pause and find out what this tension represents. Instead of focusing on the results, the feeling of pressure, let us look at the underneath issues. In Genesis, we read how God created the heavens and the earth. During the process of creation, God began to separate and divide. He brought order to the chaotic mess. For ourselves, we need to invite the Holy Spirit to help us bring order to our chaos, our tension. Here are a few possibilities we may find as we pause and do the introspective work within ourselves.
My own triggers. Here’s the truth friend, sometimes the issue is me and not the other person. I know this is a hard thing for many of us to swallow. Is the tension because of my own triggers at the moment? Am I reacting to a sensitive area in my life? Do I have past wounds that cause me to react? Whenever we are in a place of difficulty or hurt, we need to pause and ask ourselves these simple questions:
– Is this reaction in me because of past wounds?
– Is their motive to hurt me?
– Then we need to pray and ask God to reveal our hearts to us and show us those hidden areas of hurt. Once He does, we then need to surrender them to God and ask for His healing.
Fear-driven thoughts instead of faith-led thoughts. Who and what is driving your bus? Fear is consuming, and if we allow it to have a place in our heart, it ALWAYS takes over. That’s right! Instead, we need to focus on who and what God says about us and our lives. Hold on to His promises, pray them over our lives, and read them daily from God’s Word.
Introvert vs. Extroverts. Sometimes the tension builds up because we have lost some of our personal space. Especially right now, with most of the world following shelter in place guidelines, we are ALL having to adjust to a change in how we do life. We also need to remember we have different personality types and learn to be respectful and thoughtful towards each other. I would recommend scheduling personal space-time in your daily schedule. This gives everyone the ability to disconnect from outside noise that can build up tension within each of us. It’s amazing what one hour to yourself will do for your emotional and mental space.
Anger. With tension often conflict is there as well. For some, feelings of anger, irritation, or frustration are right on the surface. Often in conflict, individuals feel they need to have the last word and for others as if they are not being heard. Pausing in the middle of tension for anger to decrease is vital to our soul care. When our heart rate increases above 100, we don’t have the capacity or ability to reason clearly. Take a break or time-out and come back to the discussion when all have calmed down.
Change is hard. Change often comes unexpectedly, but even the ones we are aware of still can be challenging to manage. Be aware that in the middle of change, our equilibrium is off, and it takes time to find our solid ground once again. Give yourself time. Don’t forget to breathe and, most importantly, give yourself and others grace during seasons of change.
Exhaustion. If we aren’t sleeping, it plays a big part in our mental, emotional and spiritual health. Be sure to get the sleep your body is needing, but don’t just lay around all day too! Balance is the key to all we do in our lives.
Finally, below you will find a list of some helpful remedies or coping skills to use when navigating through tension.
Coping skills during seasons of tension:
Spend time with Jesus.
Put your worship music on!
Get into God’s Word.
Get plenty of rest.
Eat healthy foods.
Take personal time-outs. Sometimes the whole family needs this one. 😉
Be quick to own your stuff and apologize for your wrong attitude, reactions, or words.
As you spend time this week doing the introspective work needed to understand what is beneath the tension, I would love to hear from you. What is God whispering to your soul while you are doing these? Comment below, visit my website or go to my social media pages to comment. (links below)
P.S. If you have a friend who you believe needs to hear this message, please be sure to share it with them.