At an conference last Friday on the arts in the church, Nancy Ortberg talked about learning to manage the tension in our lives and ministry. Previously I’ve heard it said that we must learn to live creatively in the tension. But for some reason, this idea about managing the tension struck me afresh.
It occurred to me that tension is a great indicator that we are not only alive but growing. What would a life be without any sort of stress or tension or conflict? If we could ever attain that state, most likely it would be because we managed to isolate ourselves on some remote paradise island, but even there after a while, we’d probably notice some stirring within that would push us once again away from our comfort zone.
So how do we manage tension? How do I manage tension? I don’t think she was referring to the uptight, tense feeling I experience far too often, but it probably applies. I think I’ve done better over the past few years, learning to press into conflict and tension a little, to listen to what’s going on within me, and within my interactions with others. Most importantly, I’m learning to accept that tension is a part of life – not something to be avoided. I still don’t love it. But I’m starting to realize that’s where the real growth happens.
So how am I “Sleeping with Bread” in this awareness? Given my tendency to either run from things or close my eyes and pretend that knot in my stomach is just hunger pain, acknowledging that something is going on inside serves to get me and God on the same page. And from there, I am learning to just be still and listen. Literally, I find myself going to sleep trusting God for a way through situations. That sort of bread truly satisfies.