Can I share something vulnerable with you?
When hard conversations arise, I tense. For most of us when we feel this tension, our instinct is to fight, flight, or fix. I think I’ve experienced all of these at one time or another. This happened just a few days ago. As a conversation in a large group unfolded, I felt a tightening of my shoulders. Not because I didn’t think the topic wasn’t important, because I did. And these were people I trusted and loved. But I was tense because hard conversations can be mishandled. I tensed out of fear, wondering about where this conversation might go. I tensed because the ‘fixer’ in me was on high alert. I tensed because I felt somehow responsible for every single person in that room, hoping the words didn’t land in their heart in a way that was triggering.
I tensed because everything in me wanted to run, but I felt a tug to “remain.”
It wasn’t an easy conversation that day, but it ended up being a powerful, important one. Afterwards I talked with a couple of friends about my response. I admitted my struggle. One friend said something that I am still praying and weighing even today. He said:
“Suzie, sometimes we need to live in the tension.”
I climbed in my car to drive home, his words tumbling around in my soul, talking to God as I drove.
Lord, you know me well. You know that I grew up in unhealthy conflict. You know I am a healed woman, but I also struggle with potentially difficult conversations. I fear they’ll take a tangled road. I fear they’ll hurt others. You know that I sometimes slip out of the room if there’s potential for conflict or disagreement. And Lord, you know that sometimes this can be a wise move, but also sometimes it’s running. . .
Living in the tension
I realize there are some of you reading this right now that are a bit triggered even as I bring this up. It’s okay to acknowledge that. What I’m talking about isn’t toxic conversations, but harder conversations. Those that might be about important issues. Those that address ongoing conflict. Those that may put people I love on opposite sides. What I sensed God speaking to me through my friend’s words was an invitation. Rather than fight, flee, or fix, it was an invitation to make room for the tension with wisdom, with a heart for clarity, without the need to fix, manipulate, or manage the outcome.
- Sometimes those harder conversations are where God meets us, and help us work through conflict or issues.
- Sometimes those harder conversations allow us to hear another’s heart.
- Sometimes those conversations open the door to healing, for us or another.
- Sometimes those conversations allow us to see another side, even if we don’t agree, which allows us to walk away with a greater understanding
- Sometimes those harder conversations allow us to be sensitive to those around ys, but without the need to fix.
I’m not here to tell you how to do this, because the truth is I’m asking God to show me what this looks like in my own life. Living in the tension means I’m listening to the Holy Spirit. It’s denying past experiences of unhealthy conflict to keep me from healthy, harder conversations. Maybe God is inviting me to learn, to grow, to experience something deeper with him and with others. I don’t have all the answers, but my heart is wide open.
Just for you
I love offering resources to help you live free in your faith, family, and feelings. I hope these encourage you.
✔️ Come with Me Devotional: 5 Days of Devotions absolutely free just for you.
✔️ Prayer Starters podcast – daily encouragement to connect you with your Heavenly Father, right where you are.
✔️ More Than Small Talk podcast – encouraging, honest, raw conversations about things that are on your heart.
✔️ My new book, Prayer Starters: Talking with God about Hard Times – a resource to help you (or a friend) talk to God about all the things in that hard season.
Thank you. I’m involuntary unemployed right now and I’m struggling with self esteem. My family’s finances are horribly tight.
Please pray for my mental and spiritual health.
I’m praying for your peace. I’m praying that you will become even closer to God during this. I’m praying that you will find a job that you love, that will feed your body and your heart. I’m praying that fear and discouragement will not overcome you. Most of all, I pray that you will feel the presence of God in your joys and your sorrows.
God bless you and keep you. Sandy
Lord, I pray for Anjeleigh. I pray for a job that will meet her family’s needs. I pray that, just as you saw the sparrow, you will let Anjeleigh know that you are close, that you see her, and provide for her need of shelter, food, security, and wellbeing. I ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.
I deal with the very same thing for those very same reasons. I do not address conflict for fear of making the situation worse. Most of the time when I have attempted to address issues, it is made far worse, so I just leave things as they are until I implode. I would love to know how this story ends and how to address. I have learned that I have no boundaries.
Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I have experienced the same feelings. You helped me put those feelings into perspective.