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  • Dennis Gruening

The Tension of Both/And

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

The tension of both/and has been a poignant theme as we transitioned from year 1 of ministry to year 2. We are both feeling at home and desperately homesick at times. We can both speak the language fluently and sometimes feel like we struggle to communicate. We see both growth in ministry and yet feel the restraints of needing more time every day to get it all done. We are both thankful for our financial provisions and looking ahead prayerfully that it continues in the months ahead.

Back in October, I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on this very topic at a women’s event at our church and I could see it resonated with everyone in the room. Especially looking at the faces of the Ukrainians who settled in among us at church, you could see the tension. Both thankful for being in a safe place and longing to be home with those they love in the land they call their own. You get the idea and could likely create your own both/and list.

The question I had to ask myself as I took my both/ands into account was, of course, "How do I live in that tension?" What do I do with my gratitude all mixed up with sorrow? What do I do with my joy all mixed up with sadness? What do I do with my excitement for change mixed with a sense of failure because things take so long? The answer came to me as I was watching one of the latest episodes of the series, The Chosen (if you haven’t already seen it, please invest the time … you won’t regret it). The episode I'm thinking of portrays the story told us in Mark 5:21. It so beautifully showed both a woman’s desperation & fear and her incredible faith. Jesus’ words to her in verse 34 are: "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."

Living in the tension of both/and requires faith and is rewarded with peace. I can have faith that He will provide strength in my sorrow, beauty amidst my tears, love that casts out my fears, and reassurance that He is working in my waiting. One of my favorite songs says it this way, "When beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust." As I trust the Lord in these moments of tension, He gifts my heart peace. Peace knowing that He is working in the waiting and sanctifying me in the process.

As we continue to walk through year 2 of ministry and live in the tension of all the both/ands, I am bringing it all to the Lord’s feet with faith just as that woman did all those centuries ago.

"For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you."

Psalm 86:5

For further reflection:

1) Do you have a list of both/ands? If not, think about it and write it down.

2) What's your gut reaction to that list? Want ignore it? Get angry about it? Sadness? Wanting to run to the Lord?

3) Which one of those things on your list creates the most tension for you? Ask the Lord what it is you can do with/about that particular thing. Pray that you can respond to this tension in a way that honors him and is beneficial for you.

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Feb 21, 2023

Needed this today, my friend. Feels like living in the both/and is all the Lord has for me these days and I'm so thankful you get it!

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