Week 1: creative tension

I don’t necessarily like new year’s resolutions; goals sound a little better. Are you setting any goals for yourself this year? I’m setting at least one.

One recent night while trying to fall asleep, it came to me: Write one reflection every week for a year. If you don’t start right now, you never will. You will keep all of your words, heart and gifts in silence. And you will regret it.

And this is for you, too. You must do something with your tension. You must let it write words, make music (or create a painting, speak to an audience, start a business, audition for a part…). Tension without music is a silent instrument. Tension without voice is a wordless poem.

Take, for instance, guitar strings. If the strings on my guitar have no tension, then I cannot play music, and the instrument is useless. It’s as simple as that.

Brennan Manning said: “When God introduces creative tension into our lives by calling us to break camp, abandon the security and comfort of the status quo, and embark in perilous freedom on a new exodus, our insecurity and procrastination may focus only on the darker implications of the challenge and plunge us anew into unhealthy guilt. Stubbornly to stand still when the Lord is clearly challenging us to grow is hard-heartedness, infidelity, and a dangerous lack of trust…”

I, for example, have always had this strange tension around writing (“resistance” as described in The War of Art). I always want to do it more often than I do, but I’ve lacked the discipline and commitment. And really, I’m just shy and insecure about sharing what I write. I don’t really like being vulnerable. Instead of allowing the tension to create something (like strings on a guitar), I’ve allowed it to hinder me – fearing what the tension might or might not produce, if it will be good or not, and if it will be accepted and liked or not.

You and I have to trust the gifts inside of us – we have to believe they mean something, they’re worth something. We have to open them. We have to use them. How absurd is it to leave a perfectly fine gift unopened and unused? I sure didn’t do that on Christmas, and I’m sure you didn’t either.

So I’m going to try and write a short reflection every week of 2020, all 52 point something of them. It’s a little daunting, a little uncomfortable. But it’s my way of embracing tension. Practically speaking, it’s creating goals and following through to give them a voice.

There will not necessarily be a theme or a stream of related content. It might be theological or poetic; it might be a simple thought; it might be a short quote; it might be something from a book I’m reading or a movie I just watched; it might come from a conversation or a personal experience; it might be something I discover in nature; it might be words right from my journal or a note I jotted down on my phone. I’m not a “writer.” I’m not a scholar, poet, or theologian. I just believe I have to say something. And this is my attempt to give a voice to tension, to let it speak.

How will you give a “voice” to your tension this year? How will you step in to what you’ve been afraid to begin? And what goals will you set to do so?

If you would like to receive these weekly reflections via email, subscribe to my blog (kingdomofseeds.com, “Follow Blog via Email” on the right side of the home page). Otherwise, follow me on Instagram (nielsen_mt) or Facebook (facebook.com/negreiner). 

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