Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Stay in the Tension


Jesus said, “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you." John 15:4

One of the blessings of living with a chronic disease is that it never goes away and so learning is continual. If I was able to fix it, by simply having one surgery or taking one medication then I feel something would be lacking.

Endurance would be short lived. Patience – quick. Peace – thin.  

This past week, we had the opportunity to stay in a mountain hotel for an artist-in-residence program for my husband. He painted and gave workshops and I was free to relax and write and walk. It was a really great week, paid for by the hotel and we were thrilled for the opportunity.

But it had a strange tension. Most of the time, I was in pain. It was my normal kind of pain but I seemed to notice it more since some of the distractions of home life were gone. There was no dog to take care of, laundry or dishes to clean, or events with our kids. It was a gentle, simple, undistracted week and the pain was steady. The food was delicious but I was unable to eat most of it because of my need to liquefy the food. Much of the hotel environment revolves around food so it was a week of seeing and smelling delicious meals that I could not have. I wanted to be with my husband and enjoy good conversation but it was wearing to be in restaurants that much. We figured out a routine that worked and I had my own stash of food in the hotel fridge that worked for my limitations. I was able to enjoy a good cup of coffee in every restaurant. But it was wearing–strangely enough.

A few days into the week, I found an empty grand hall and followed the sunshine to an old yellow couch. I sat with my journal and poured out my thoughts to God. There is tension between luxury and pain, enjoyment of food and finding nutrition, conversation over dinner and wishing I could have dinner. I told God about watching the wealthy tourists walking the hallways and the newly immigrated housekeepers who gratefully cleaned our room and lived on very little, sending much of their income home to their family.  My soul was restless and I wanted it fixed.

Jesus reminded me . . . “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you." John 15:4

Jesus is at home in me. His Spirit lives within me, observing and feeling all the same tension I feel. He knows and understands. He is not running from the tension. He has been there, knows and is gracious. He invites me to make my home in Him.

I took a deep breath and settled in. Jesus is here.

Nothing needs to be fixed right now. Jesus is here.

I acknowledged the enduring pain in my abdomen and the longing to enjoy eating a normal dinner with my husband. Jesus is here.

From then on, the day seemed to open up a little. I began to feel curious about how Jesus engages with each moment, each twinge of pain and each new fun experience of this week. I decided to allow the pain to be part of the day, part of my experience and not need it to be fixed. It meant moving slowly, engaging in conversation more with others and sometimes sitting still. Knowing that Jesus was here, in my tensions, inviting me to make my home in Him somehow allowed me to be able to experience little bursts of joy in the middle of each moment. I could stay in the tension because Jesus was there.