Tension Between the NotesFound in: Main Articles
I love going to the symphony: the excuse to get dressed up, to have a handsome date, people-watching all of the wealthy old folks, and, of course the wildly gorgeous live music. Imagine, as lights dims down, and all eyes are on the orchestral pit, where musicians, decked in their black formal attire, assemble in chairs as they begin to tune their instruments. Even in the chaos of each doing something different, the emitted energy meets me in the squeaky and red-velvety cushioned seat, M13. I’m hooked.
Once the music begins, its dramatic ebbs and flows weave me in and out of a glorious story that feels so much bigger than me; meanwhile, my heartbeat is speeding to catch up to the rhythm of the timpani. Cymbals crash and then suddenly the room grows absolutely silent for what feels like ages. Not a sound can be heard in the room as we, the audience, are completely enraptured by this piece of the story. Then the violins begin to sing and its overarching melody sweeps us all in once again.
Music moves me. Silence moves me. Those moments of tension between when I hold my breath, awaiting that forthcoming resolve of a note—they move me.
Over the last year I’ve immersed myself in various books and teachings about the influence of sound. Say, the vibrations of a violin or cello, what physically occurs in the instrument and how it can shift its immediate environment, and how its immediate environment can affect its sound. We too are instruments emitting sound, sounds that shift things. (Think about how you feel when you hear a contagious belly laugh or a baby’s first cry.)
Do you know what happens when you tighten the strings on an instrument? Its sound changes. The frequency is altered. While the same instrument, it presents a different expression of itself. Sometimes that brings forth a sound greater than where it began. Lately I’ve wondered what the soundtrack to my life would truly be, could I align sounds and rhythm to convey the frequency that I live in today, could I put audible expression to this season that I call my own.
And my conclusion is that I live today lingering within that tension between the notes where there is not yet resolve but anticipation, expectation of its soon coming arrival; its that place where one feels the draw between what is broken and what is redeemed, prompting a deep ache from within to wait, to hold out for whatever it is that God has promised, and to not give up before that happens. The ironic thing about this uncomfortable place of tension is that I experience such peace and rest in lingering there when I stop trying to solve things. Why? Because it is where God told me to remain, for however long I do not know. So out of my character it is to not have resolution, to willingly remain where questions are unanswered, yet here I stay, waiting on Him for that moment when the note in the chord resolves.
And I’m strangely good with that.
Numerous conversations with friends about this lately allude to the same response: I must tell people it is possible to find rest in spite of ambiguity, in the midst of that aching for things to resolve—to be okay with the idea that things don’t always have to add up. I will make it, so will they. “I still feel in process, though,” I argued. “Its hard for me to write about something I’m experiencing when I’m still trying to wrap my head around it and don’t know where it will lead me.” I suppose that right there is the point. “There are some who need to hear you in the process to validate the ‘in-between’ that they’re in, too,” they responded. Okay, okay, I get it.
My recent journey with this tension originated at the exposure of my deeply rooted fear of being unlovable. Therein laid the deception that God had been holding out on me (for now probably 20 years), good gifts were for other people, and He had abandoned me. Good grief, I cannot even write this without weeping. That was the lie I believed, a lie that I believed for so very long. This manifested in the sense that I had the hardest time relinquishing control of things. Stupid. I clearly haven’t been successful at it so I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that it wasn’t working. Maintaining control in some measure of self-preservation or protection in a way eliminated vulnerability and risk, and therefore the freedom to truly love and be loved. Self-fulfilling prophecy, much?
In response to this fear’s exposure, my position has been one of repentance and of abandoning abandonment. It is the process of laying things down, even so far as laying down my right to understand (hence the whole need for things to add up), living in that “I’m okay”-ness of things still in the in-between, and standing on the truth that God loves me and will take care of me. The reality is that because I’m letting myself truly trust God to come through, the peace that comes even in this tension far surpasses that which I experienced when all was seemingly well in life.
So tension ensues, and my sound is changing as a result. Now, melodies are created out of my agreement with God to let Him pull on my heartstrings just a little bit tighter and tune my heart to the sweet song of intimacy that comes from resting in Him, leaning so closely on Him. I am becoming attuned to His whispers so I can echo them. So I’m starting to sing about them. There’s a melody dancing in the ears, and it sounds a whole lot like victory on its way. The timpani’s I now hear are the sound of walls of lies I’ve believed about myself falling down. Replacing violins are the sound of hopes once deferred, now renewed. The orchestra I now hear is the stirring in my heart to celebrate, even when nothing has changed in front of me--prompting my mouth to declare its forthcoming, even though I do not know the day. Until that day of victory comes, I will find rest in the tension between these notes, because I know that there is a beautiful sound is being formed at this very moment and I am so excited to hear the tune of that song.