I Could Cut it with a Knife

This isn’t a “how to” blog.

My hope is that this would be more of a meet me here in the hard, thick mess, kind of blog.

That is the shift I feel my life coming too. Going from a “hey, I know the answer to that” to “I have no idea what’s happening here, but here are the cold raw details.”

And most of the time, my thoughts aren’t organized or eloquent.

I have about 8 rough drafts sitting in my drafts folder, of short little essays, but my thoughts were hijacked and I didn’t know where I was going with my words.

Then I realized what has been happening with my writing that is parallel with most of my life right now: it’s full of tension.

They say tension is a good thing, because it challenges you and makes you uncomfortable, which then leads you to growth in a particular area. I totally believe that. I’m pretty sure I say something along those lines every day when I’m coaching.

But as I’ve been writing over the last couple of weeks, I feel my words turn hostile. I want to cuss more. I feel words coming out of me that aren’t necessarily as healing as they are hurtful.

It makes sense, as nearly every area of my life right now is covered in what feels like the thickest, heaviest tension I’ve felt in a long time.

The tension between my oldest son and I, as I snap at him for not listening or his frustration with me for not listening to him. Or the tension of guilt I feel when I realize how hard I’ve been on him.

The tension between my husband and I, as we adapt to new schedules, learning life with two kids (including a teething baby), and some huge personal transitions that we are both going through.

The tension at work, as I figure out how to balance this new life with my freelance work and all the grace I have to ask for because I don’t have the same turnaround that I once did.

The tension I experience as I walk into my church, not sure if where I stand in my faith. I hear a song proclaiming things that seem to come off of everyone else’s lips so easily, but I’m stuck wondering why it’s so hard for me. It’s this tension that makes me realize I’m more on the spectrum of being spiritually homeless than anything else right now.

It’s the tension I feel and see as I coach high schoolers and I try to comprehend their everyday life and what’s important and normal to them.

I feel it everywhere. I feel it at 1AM, then 3:30AM, then 5:30AM while I’m up with our 5 month old. I feel it throughout the day when I’m trying to fold clothes, or make lunch, get my kid to school, or heaven forbid, have 15 minutes of silence.

I think I can say that there’s tension in every area of my life right now. Nothing really feels easy. It all just kinda feels like a struggle.

So is it a coincidence that I’m also going through some of the largest personal revelations that I’ve ever experienced? I don’t think so.

Tension = change.

I believe that tension always causes some change to happen, but that change can be good or bad if we aren’t careful. If we are shoving feelings, tension will burn us out.

But if we look it square in the face, acknowledge that we are uncomfortable and in a hard place, and practice managing that stress, then there can be tremendous growth.

For me personally, I know I need to pull other people in, just so I can share these hard truths and feel like someone can relate to me just in the smallest way. Just so I can feel some sort of normalcy.

Sometimes we tell ourselves this lie that other people can’t handle the burden of the weight we are carrying around. But we are all carrying the same weight. The baggage just looks different for everyone.

Even in places where we are told it’s OK to be broken, I see leaders, and especially women, who are just trying to hold it together because they feel responsible for helping other broken people. They are depressed, anxious, burned out, but yet they have to shove that tension because that’s the culture we have. Put your head down and press on. We are here to help others. Not ourselves.

I have some friends that will say “I’m praying for you” and I have some friends that will say “have you tried yoga?” Both are great, thank you. But both are psychological tools used to help our mental health. What about our connectivity to each other?

What about just being honest and open to one another, so we can actually feel like we aren’t alone in the knee-deep pile of shit?

I feel like there is this message that if we have tension in our lives, that it’s our fault. That we are the common denominator and we have to fix it. I think part of that is true, but I also think that feeling tension is an organic and natural occurrence that happens when we are adapting. There’s something good to be said about tension. It means there’s an opportunity for change and growth.

I feel beat down by it right now. But I’m aware that in some areas of my life, this tension is stirring up something that can come out beautiful the other side. I’m still afraid of it though.

So to the woman wrestling with your faith and in the most uncomfortable place you’ve ever been in…I feel that tension with you. Keep digging. It’s good to have tension in something you’re betting your life on.

To the mama who is being crushed by the weight of how much she is carrying…I’m so sorry and I’m with you. You don’t have to do this alone.

To the mama who can’t catch a break and feels the tension from feeing like her identity solely rests in being a mother, I’m with you. You are more than just a mother in this world. I’m trusting that we will find ourselves again one day.

To the woman who wants a baby of her own and can’t help but feel all the tension with another pregnancy announcement and around new moms, I’m so sorry for your pain. You are not unnoticed. This tension matters. Fight back and keep pressing on. You are an advocate for many and you also have many advocating for you. Your body is important. Your existence, with or without a baby, serves a purpose.

To the high schooler (because I know they will probably read this 😝) who feels the tension every day as they walk into school that their value is controlled by others…you need to understand that your worth is much larger than your popularity or the content you post on social media. Your life is much more valuable than what anyone else can say. It goes way beyond that. You’ll see in hindsight one day that high school does not make you, but unfortunately it can brake you if you aren’t careful. Don’t run your life based off what you think someone else wants to see.

Feel your tension. Press into those hard places. Be honest about them. Look someone in the eyes and say “talk to me” instead of letting them get away with continuing to suppress their feelings.

Last weekend I went to a tournament, and I was blown away by something that a team practiced. This particular game that I watched was really close, and the tension in the room was high. Each time a girl would sub in on this team, that girl would go around to each of the girls on the court, grab both her hands, look her straight in the eyes and give her a nod and say “we’ve got this.” Even with the stakes high and everyone on edge, this team made it a priority to connect with each other before anything else.

I wish there was more of this in our communities. Grabbing someone by the hands, looking into their eyes and saying “I’m here with you now. I’m going to help make a difference. You aren’t here alone. Even if you don’t say it, I feel the tension and I’m going to carry it with you.” What a beautiful picture of human connectivity.

We can keep saying “I’m here for you if you need to talk.” I’ve said it. We’ve all said it. I think we mean it for the most part. But I almost feel like it’s this way of putting the ball back in the other person’s court, so that we don’t have to press anymore.

There are some people who have no problem talking about themselves, (🙋🏼‍♀️) but there are also people who don’t take those opportunities. Does it mean they need support any less than someone else? Absolutely not. We need to press harder into them.

I see you. I’m here. I feel the tension and I’m ready to carry it with you. I’m struggling with the same thing and we can do this together.

Let’s be more real and acknowledge our tension so that we can make these hard, dark days serve a purpose in our lives and in the lives of others.