twentybydesign

the life and times of a twenty year old designer

Tension, Grace, and Trees

with 3 comments

To this day, I remember with beautiful clarity a conversation from a year and a half ago. We were in a coffee shop, I was a complete mess of feelings, and my friend asked me to stand up and try an ankle exercise. Feeling foolish, I obliged.

“Here, try this” she said. “Stand on just one foot, hold yourself up by the strength of your ankle.”
“This is hard to do” I replied, wobbling to keep balance.
“That’s because you’re living in tension.”
“What happens if I put my foot down?”
“I don’t know. Mercy. Grace.”

The grace, love, and understanding I felt in that moment was complete and overwhelming. Since then I have returned to the state of tension many times, but in those moments I find the reminder to accept grace in my own inability to stay perfectly balanced.

Life since graduation has been a life held in tension. Tension between who I have been, who I am, and who I am becoming.

Tension between the inquisitive, often insecure student and the competent, capable professional.

Tension in my heart, aching for the community where I have learned to love so deeply, but can no longer be intimately involved, and breaking for the community in which I long to be embraced but struggle to find footing.

Tension which cries for courage to cross the chasm between comfort and calling.

Tension in friendships when a well-cultivated, attractive, and safe personal distance is impossible to maintain, but the cost and risk of deeply genuine connection carries scarred echoes of past failures.

Tension between trying to living up to expectations and finding a sense of self independent of validation.

Tension between conviction and complacency as I find myself both stirred by the words of those who have gone before me to consider a life far greater than the one I had planned to lead, and at the same time completely unconvinced that my life will ever gracefully follow such a story.

Tension between needing to lead and aching to follow.

Tension between mature and eloquently written insights and youthful inability to verbalize a genuine state of heart.

Tension between being too much and not being enough.

Tension between clinging tight, with a hard heart and clenched fists, and softening, letting go, and opening hands to receive.

Tension on the bridge from chaos to peace.

Tension as I dream of returning to the lush green forests of the East (the place where I felt most truly and deeply at home) but find myself living as a nomad in these parched desert lands.

Tension between truth and convenience.

Tension between the high-achieving, over-motivated self  longing for accolade and advancement, and the heart who sees power made perfect in weakness, finds grace sufficient, and longs to reach out in love.

I am ready to stop trying to stand on one weak ankle.

I am ready to plant both feet.

Because no plant has ever grown, blossomed, and produced fruit without first taking root, firmly entering into a future of complete reliance on the soil. The ground promises to stay steady, no matter what storms and winds, rains and droughts beseige the poor sapling from above.  In order to grow taller, the tree must sink its roots deeper and deeper into the ground. This will not be easy, for the ground is often full of rocks, the tangled mess of the roots of other plants, and the small living creatures trying to dig out their own meager existence. It would seem easier for the poor tree to focus all of its energy on visible, upward growth, and neglect  the unseen roots. But the tree knows that strong roots are the only way to avert complete collapse, and so it continues to trust that the pain is worth the journey, continues to anchor itself ever more firmly, and continues to grow.

The best place for such a young sapling to take root? Love. Love which is not a fleeting feeling, a choice to be retracted, or an impulse to be disregarded, but a commitment stronger than we will every fully understand. May we be together rooted and established firmly in this love. May we look to a hope that sees certainty in a future more beautiful than we could dream or create. And may we have faith that frees us from the burden of trying to live independent of the soil which we so desperately need.

Because it’s time, friends. Time to abandon the tension we hold so dear, plant our feet, and begin to grow.

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Written by Taylor Webster

July 5, 2012 at 1:28 am

3 Responses

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  1. Surprising yet touched…

    shaunakatdalal

    July 5, 2012 at 2:28 am

  2. That was off the chain yo, thank you for that. I did have one reaction as you were talking about the soil, so I will explain it here, and I pray that it is something the Holy Spirit has brought up for a reason.

    I am in Sendai (part of the tsunami-stricken region of Japan) doing volunteer work. Today, part of my team went to help a farmer, because the tsunami brought a bunch of trash and wood and other stuff that isn’t conducive to rice growing into his rice field. So, our job was to remove the things (mostly rocks) that would inhibit a good crop.

    When you mentioned “the ground is often full of rocks, the tangled mess of the roots of other plants, and the small living creatures trying to dig out their own meager existence”, I was thinking in my mind that God has people and angels working in the field that you are planted in. They are removing so many obstacles that we will never have to deal with. That doesn’t mean we won’t deal with any, but just think about all the pieces of crap that God has decided He can teach us without. We are so blessed to never even have the knowledge of these things that God has saved us from!

    Anyways, let me know whatcha think Taylor. 🙂

    Royal Langer

    July 6, 2012 at 6:10 am

  3. Its superb as your other blog posts : D, regards for posting . “As experience widens, one begins to see how much upon a level all human things are.” by Joseph Farrell.

    Steven Olson

    August 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm


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