Tension to Tenderness

By on August 24, 2013

By Heidi McLaughlin –

My heart sinks when I hear someone say: “I feel so overwhelmed, overscheduled and fatigued that I am afraid I am bypassing my divine life’s purpose.” Each time I hear the framework of those words, a familiar arrow hits my heart. I know what it feels like to function at Mach 2 speed. I am a card carrying member of this generation that is running on a depleted “soul tank.” Like unrelenting shock waves I hear stories of another blown up marriage or someone unraveling like an ‘out of control’ scotch-tape dispenser. Years ago I came to the shocking realization that I had to make some relentless decisions to slow down and leave more margins in my life. This revelation came to me in a large grocery store.

In the middle of Aisle 5 of the canned fruits and vegetables I flipped out over the fact that the store had run out of their whole cranberry sauce. Before you chastise me, you have to understand it was three days before Christmas and I was exhausted and running late. Back then I didn’t realize the danger of running on a depleted soul. When our bodies are ready to crumble under fatigue, it doesn’t take a universal catastrophe to crush the last remnants of our sanity. After I was rude to the clerk and stomped out of the store, I sat in my car and submitted to my inexcusable, shameful behavior. Something was wrong and it had to change. I was not experiencing the life that Jesus said is available to all of us. The bible says: “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10 NLT).

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I know that you and I do not want to miss out on the fulfilling life that is right in front of our noses. But how do we re-schedule our days, dismiss some obligations, disappoint people and give up our people-pleasing gratification? As women of influence we need to be able to orchestrate our lives through a wiser grid. Let’s recognize the fact that we are modeling this behavior to a younger generation that is already struggling with depleted souls. Instead of beating ourselves up with endless obligation we need to model more Christ-like tenderness towards ourselves and others. How then do we change the tension of all our demands into a nourishing tenderness?

Please know that as I am writing this article I am not the teacher who has it all figured out and is giving self-righteous advice. I am still the student. Changing tension into tenderness is a daily struggle and commitment. But I do know this: it is my responsibility to guard against the constant barrage of invading tension. The bible tells me that this all starts in my heart: “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Here are 4 things that help me.

  1. I must realize that my heart is the essence of who I am. It is where all my passions, desires and dreams live. It is the part that connects me with God and all people around me. I need to listen to the murmurings of my heart and make it a top priority to keep it physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy.
  2. Know that my heart is under constant attack from the demands of life around me. No one else can change my tension into tenderness. Every choice I make is in my power and I need God to help me.
  3. I must be brutally honest about why I am trying to cram so much into my life. I need to ask some harsh questions. What is my distorted vision and belief system which makes me believe I have value only when I work so hard?  Why do I feel jabs of guilt when I goof off and feel unproductive? Do I continue to work to earn love and approval from others instead of God?
  4. Each day I end my time with God with this simple little prayer, “God help me to do today what I need to do today. No more and no less. To give glory to Your name. Amen.” It’s a simple prayer but it has revolutionized my life and God is empowering me to keep my days balanced, so that I can enjoy the rich and satisfying life available to me.

You and I live in the daily tension of meeting life’s demands plus trying to find tenderness for our own soul. The power lies in our hearts. I challenge you to make some bold choices to change your tension into tenderness.

About Heidi McLaughlin

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When she is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book; or golf and laugh with her husband, family and special friends. You can reach her at: www.heartconnection.ca

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Tension to Tenderness