Last week, I was introduced to a phrase that has become an annoying earworm. I cannot quit thinking about the phrase “a delicious tension.” Most people shy away from tension. It seems like the word conjures up a negative vibe. Tension is an annoying unknown outcome, which looms in close proximity. It is the straw one short of letting the camel fall, or one wind less than, “Pop goes the Weasel.” A room full of tense people can cause of high blood pressure, snippy conversations, fear, and even mild hysteria.
Tension in and of it is not bad or good. Tension is just a state of being. Tension happens in good circumstances and in less favorable. The more I think about, I believe that Christians, and most faith practitioners, live best when we acknowledge that our whole life is best lived aware of the tension of God’s desire for us to live holy and righteous lives, and our inability, because of our humanness, to do so. Lutherans highlight the theology that we are both sinner and saint. We are saints because we believe that Jesus, is the Son of God and that he was born, lived, died, was buried and raised from the dead so that we could have eternal life. We believe that Jesus is our Savior, and that spending our lives trying to follow in his footsteps, as disciples will enable us to share the Kingdom of heaven with others. On the other hand, we cannot help but sin. But that doesn’t mean we should try. We all fall short of being righteous.
I believe that one of the best ways to live graciously into the tension of faith is to pray, specifically the Examen. Each day, (twice if you are really holy, noon and evening) pray the way the Ignatians pray. The Examen is a method of prayer that many people find useful in quelling the negative vibes which comes from living in our tension filled world and our role as Christian. The Examen is a way of reviewing your day, and is really more an attitude more than a method. It is a time of thankful reflection of where God is, in our everyday life. The time it takes to do the Examen is relatively short, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. See below the primary steps, there are many versions you can look up online. I wonder how entering into Examen each day will change our lives. Perhaps the tension will soften, or we might happily live into it, appreciating the “delicious tension” of living our faith.
Noblesville’s Teri Ditslear is a pastor whose column appears Saturdays in The Times. Contact her at, on Facebook or at