Creative Tensions

In his autobiographical essay, “The Crack Up,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” 

And, physicist Niels Bohr once said: “A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a great truth.”

For me, a faithful life often demands that I live in creative tension—in the push and pull, the give and take, of truths.

For instance:

God is vaster and more mysterious than the universe itself, but God is also as near to us as our own breath. 

God is higher and holier than we can conceive, but also more loving and compassionate than we can imagine. 

We are born and die alone, one by one, but we were made for love, belonging, and community.

Jesus was fully human and fully divine, and he said, among other paradoxical things,

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for things to be right, for they shall be satisfied.”

“Those who seek to save their lives will lose them but those who lose their lives for my sake will find them.”

“Those who would be great among you will be servants of all.”

We are made from the dust of the ground, but we breathe the breath of God’s own life.

We are flesh and spirit, animal and angle, sinners and saints. 

We are held to the ground by gravity and have dreams of soaring. 

We have eternity in our hearts and get bogged down by the details of everyday life. 

We carry the treasure of the good news in the clay jars of our humanity.
We are free but responsible.  We have the capacity to do great good but also severe harm. 

We can be Madonna or Mother Theresa, Bonhoeffer or Hitler, Bull Connor or Martin Luther King, Jr.

And, over and over again, I pray and live this paradoxical prayer: “I believe; help my unbelief.”