I’m addicted to my tension. I squirrel it away in my shoulders and across the middle of my back like a twitchy little critter. The science shows that this is as destructive a habit as a poor diet or substance abuse.
I know this about myself, so I’ve built pressure release valves into my life. I rest, read, and meditate for an hour after lunch every day while my four-year-old listens to audiobooks. I practice yoga. I keep Sabbath. I vacation with my family for a week each year, and run away with my husband regularly. I choose yearly One Words like “slow” and “flow.” I use lavender, peppermint, frankincense, and ylang-ylang essential oils. I quit coffee.
These consistent habits could look sleek to the untrained eye, but do you know what a tension addict does with the space she creates with good habits?
She over-functions when she’s “on,” so that she can earn time “off.” Pulling back on commitments won’t cure it. The addiction is soul deep. As in yoga, what’s needed is to cultivate ease in the pose, to breathe deeply when what feels most natural is to hold your breath and muscle through.
An addict needs outside help, and this is the stage I’m at now. I really want to live differently, and I’m now willing to do the work and spend the resources to get help. I’m seeing a massage therapist who works on the tension I’ve accumulated, and I’ve scheduled an initial conversation with a spiritual director that I hope will lead to a transformative relationship.
Hesed is about repair. It’s the force eternally existent in the Trinity that works shalom. It’s also the committed space in which God nurtures God’s people to maturity. The word hesed is linguistically related to the Hebrew word for “stork,” because the stork outshines all other animals as a good mother.[i]
Her antithesis is the ostrich.
“The ostrich flaps her wings futilely—all those beautiful feathers, but useless! She lays her eggs on the hard ground, leaves them there in the dirt, exposed to the weather, not caring that they might get stepped on and cracked or trampled by some wild animal. She’s negligent with her young, as if they weren’t even hers. She cares nothing about anything. She wasn’t created very smart, that’s for sure, wasn’t given her share of good sense. But when she runs, oh, how she runs, laughing, leaving horse and rider in the dust.”[ii]
In her chapter on the Ostrich from Consider the Birds, Debbie Blue suggests that God’s poetic “Where were you?” response to Job, which contains this Ode to the Ostrich, isn’t so much thunderous rebuke as it is a tender shift away from a human-centric worldview. God speaks affectionately about creatures we disdain, like the crummy ostrich mother, or a twitchy squirrel.
Debbie Blue concludes: “God is not judging, censoring, or slaying any part of the wild creation in this poetry—God gave birth to it, and like a mother, God is nursing it, swaddling it, and seeing to its upbringing. It may be a long process, but God is loving the world into fully being.”
God is loving you into fully being. It may be a long process.
Are you addicted to your tension? Where is God nurturing you to maturity?
This is The Grove. It’s where we gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art. So join us in the comments. Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt “Metaphor”. Click here for details and instructions.
[i] Card, Michael. Luke: The Gospel of Amazement (2011).
[ii] Job 39:13-18, The Message.