living with tension

A few years ago, I wrote a post titled “how much is enough?” because I was adjusting back to the US after almost 20 years living abroad. In general, I think I have adapted well to my new life, but I still wrestle occasionally with some things.

This past week has been especially difficult.

Although I am always glad to see a philanthropic heart in action – the recently epidemic ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is one example, I can’t help but feel a tug in my heart for the ease with which we waste water… when others in the world are dying of thirst.

water tension

My husband and I went to vote yesterday. It could not have been easier: early voting options, no crowds, friendly and helpful volunteers. It is my “right” in this country – one that many even ignore or take for granted… when others in the world have no rights at all.

voting tension

When I go for my run in the morning, I get to see manicured, blooming flowers and plants, wildlife, lakes and fountains, and stop at Starbucks after to celebrate my effort… while others are running for their lives because of senseless, hate-filled persecution.

running tension

I gripe and complain about inconvenience when I go for medical care (in gorgeous buildings with high-tech equipment) or deal with insurance (that pays a large % of my expenses)… while others are fighting to survive in horribly inadequate facilities.

medical tension

I am almost done with my M.A. studies. It has been a blessing and a privilege to learn with a worldwide cohort… while many young girls cannot even attend elementary school.

school tension

I have more questions than answers when these tensions compete for a place in my mind, my heart, and my pocketbook. I live an incredible life while others struggle to survive. Sometimes I can freely enjoy the gifts without another thought; sometimes I feel guilty and want to DO something that will make a difference.

I pray, give more, evaluate my lifestyle, look for ways to get involved… searching for some amount of peace and reconciliation with the disparities and inequalities of life. Maybe I can encourage others to do the same. I am ok living with tension. It is the least I can do in the middle of my luxury.

Where do you experience tension? How do you handle the tensions in your life? How do you get involved to make a difference?


A few possible ways to help…
(Feel free to add your favorite giving options in the comments!)

ALS (non-embryonic stem cell research) giving option here.

Options for helping to provide clean water here and here.

Helping children to grow and attend school here.

10 thoughts on “living with tension

  1. Thank you, Terry, for expressing what I often feel when I see the news or remember experiences I’ve had overseas, and then lie down in peace and safety on a comfortable bed every night! I thank God for these gifts and pray for those who have so little and ask Him for a sensitive heart to do what I can to help those without. It never feels like enough, but then, maybe that’s ok. Without that tension I may do nothing!


    • You are a kindred spirit in many ways, Alice! I have been encouraged by you and your authentic choices so many times. It helps me to know others are praying through these tensions with me! Love to you!


  2. Life is tension. We’re aliens here, in a place driven by darkness. You’re perspective of having and not being grateful, of taking advantage of amazing gifts of grace without being aware of our blessings was a real wake up call. Then the real question–What am I doing to make a difference? How and what do I do that will really count for people and eternity? Thanks, Ter, for the reminder that I need to be intentional about the tension in my life. Not ignore it. Not deny it. See it as God’s opportunity to engage with Him in ways I may not have thought of.


    • Good summary and perspective, Dayle. I definitely DO want to make a positive difference with my life. In order to do that I believe I have to become more comfortable with the tensions in my life. It certainly helps to know that others are experiencing many of the same questions in their life. I guess it is still true that “misery loves company”! 🙂


  3. I wonder if these feelings we wrestle with aren’t just a milder version of “survivor’s guilt?” It seems like crazy talk when we hear if from others, but not when it comes out of our own mouths.


    • Good question, Russ. I am sure some of my feelings are likely a part of that guilt. I think some of the feelings are a nudge from the Lord to DO something more with what I have. The trick is figuring out which is which! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!


  4. I’ve recently read a book by Jen Hatmaker called Interrupted which poses some of these same thoughts. I find that my biggest challenge lies in balancing that necessary tension without feeling guilty fit the blessings I have been given. Thank you for the reminder.


    • The next comment by Russ mentions this also, referring to “survivor’s guilt”. Making me think a bit about that tension. Thanks so much for reading and commenting and adding to the conversation!


  5. Yesterday in church we sank the Newsboy’s song “We Believe”. I just sat and wept as I thought of so many of the things that you mentioned, especially the persecution that our Brothers and Sisters are experiencing around the world, while I live and worship in an air conditioned building with cushioned chairs…… There is tension. We can’t avoid it, but as you say, we have to do what HE has called us to do – make disciples right where HE has planted us. Then, keep our eyes on the New Jerusalem!! What a glorious day it will be when we equality isn’t even an issue because we are one our knees praising HIM!!!


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