living in tension

This week, I've reflected a lot on how paradoxical the world is, how such violence and evil can exist alongside extraordinary beauty, wonder, and goodness. It's wild, and wildness is not one or the other; it's that tension again, the strangeness of being both things at once.

I'm struck by the discrepancy in tone between my social media feeds. Twitter is loud, angry, demanding justice. Instagram is upbeat, beautiful, subtle. Both of those reflect parts of me, and if I'm not careful, I find myself picking one attitude at the expense of the other.

Sometimes, I get stuck in perpetual anger and righteous indignation. My heart is heavy with the weight of brokenness, and when it's all I see, eventually, it sinks me.

Other times, I swing the opposite way: such intense feelings can be exhausting, so I look for an escape—and I stay there. I turn a blind eye to the ugly things and I focus on beauty, on comfort, on what's easy.

Both things are true: the world is horrifying and the world is wonderful, and I think we all have a tendency to focus on one or the other. As you enter your weekend, choose to explore the opposite side.

If you've been overwhelmed and heartbroken by this week, let yourself rest. Breathe. Recognize that beautiful things still exist, and go surround yourself with them. (I know it feels wrong to take a break, but you are so much more effective when you aren't constantly traumatized or stuck in despair.)

If you struggle to wrestle with the hard, painful sides of the world, remember that seeing them doesn't negate the good things. The more aware you are, the more you can do to create more goodness and beauty. You can be part of creating change—but only if you aren't blinding yourself to what needs to BE changed.

“To be human is to live by sunlight & moonlight, with anxiety and delight, admitting limits and transcending them, falling down and rising up. To want a life with only half of these things in it is to want half a life, shutting the other half away where it will not interfere with one’s bright fantasies of the way things ought to be.”
- Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark
Brittany Stoess