Both Things Can be True

Sometimes we find it difficult to live in the tension that life brings.

We as a people love to look at things and people as all good or all bad. In order to live in the tension of relationship we have to understand the importance of recognizing that just because we disagree with one point does not mean we throw out the person completely or that everything they say is bad. We can deeply believe in people and still know they have shortcomings. That’s the beauty of relationship.

People cancel one another over disagreements related to religion and politics because they immediately see that person as all bad instead of holding both things to be true. We can actually be talking to a good person yet they can also say something we disagree with. As we grow to respect one another as human beings, we listen more to the heart of what they may be saying and they just might end up making a point that we hadn’t thought of before.

In order to grow in our capacity for holding the tension of things we have to identify what we have issue with and engage the emotion that is rising up in us due to that issue. It’s important to recognize for ourselves what is painful so that we don’t dismiss ourselves but it is also important to recognize that just because someone has done something painful to us does not mean they are a bad person and have nothing to offer.

For example, I’ve been hurt by how Christian men have felt threatened by my confidence as a woman. It has made me feel like who I am is too much and it does not make me feel embraced for who I am. However, even though that is true and my feelings are valid, I also deeply believe in men and who they are meant to be and the voice they bring to the table. I want to be honest about my feelings but also call them higher by encouraging them in who they truly are, not what patriarchal men have pressured them to be. We have to be able to grieve what we wish we had in order to embrace what is now, so we can have grace for the in-between of the here but not yet.

As we confess our honest struggles and wrestling, we can grow in our capacity to hold more. Jesus lived in a time of deep tension and division. He held a lot in his body and his heart but he walked the line of both/and. Of loving with compassion and calling higher. Of feeling the pain and hoping for more. If we want to become a picture of who Jesus is, we have to embrace the tension.

What helps us in the tension is setting our hearts on relationship. Conflict is hardly ever about right or wrong. We are missing the point when we focus on what the right answer is. The point is always relationship. Just as Jesus showed us and continues to show us through one another.

Written by Carmen Eby, LPCA