A Functional Tension


A Tension Wire Used To Keep the Gate Together

When I took this picture of the tightened wire on the hook keeping the gate together, I was reminded of the value of healthy tension.  Every four or five years, the fences on our property lean and become out of shape. Of all the things we’ve tried to keep the gates upright, the tension wire has worked best to keep the larger pieces of the fence sturdy and useful. I am thankful to be reminded of a level of tension that makes life function well.  The right tension with the wire serves a great purpose, because it helps hold things together.

I began thinking of other situations where tension helps life run well.

For instance:

*A sewing machine stitches perfectly when the tension is at the right setting for the specific fabric being used.

*The resistance, or tension, when using weights in weight training helps to strengthen muscles by keeping them healthy and in turn revving the body’s metabolism.  Without resistance of weights there is no strengthening of muscles.   Due to a lack of resistance, astronauts who spend a long periods of time in space are susceptible to their muscles atrophying. The absence of the force of gravity on the body has a negative effect on a person, because the human body does not have to work as hard without the tension of gravity to move.

*The sound of the beautiful notes and chords of the violin are caused by the tension of strings being pressed, strummed, and plucked by the violinist.

*To tune a guitar, or any stringed instrument, the right tension is created by tightening and loosening the wire.  Without the right tension, the instrument is out of tune.

*A bicycle chain needs the right tension to stay in the spokes and to keep the gear set moving smoothly. If the tension on the chain is too loose, the chain will fall off.  If the chain is too tight, pedaling the bike will become stiff and difficult.

*Suspension bridges, like the Golden Gate Bridge, use the balance of compression and tension to keep them in good use.  The compression and the tension in the wires ‘suspend’ the bridge above the water creating a roadway where otherwise there wouldn’t have been one.

So, if tension works in a physical realm of life, can the right amount of tension be a good thing in how we choose to live our lives also? I would argue there is a tension in life that holds us together and can show us what care about and who we care about. Having pressures like, earning a living, paying bills, using our talents and gifts to provide for ourselves, choosing activities to do with our time, and having people in our life to interact with, all motivate us to find a healthy balance with time and energy. The tension of working and caring for ourselves and for others gives us purpose; it tethers us to those we care about.

It is important to find the right balance of tension between work, activities, caring for ourselves, and spending time with others. Some call it a rule of life.  It all takes time and adaptability to adjust to what is happening in life.

I’m finding it’s worth the effort to find the right balance between a healthy tension and the areas of frustration, or resistance.  Knowing what to hold on to and what to let go.  It is a constant struggle to find what works best for me.

blessings on your day,



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