|  Blog Post   |  Living In the Tension

Living In the Tension

I cannot tell you how many times I have said this phrase in my office lately.

Living in the tension.

Another way to describe my concept of the complicated grey.

Because nothing in this life is all good or all bad, despite our brain literally being wired to over-categorize and to think in the black or white or in the all or nothing.

Life is simply just too complicated.

I believe our happiness lies  in living in this tension between the two worlds; living in this complicated grey.

It is the best way to describe how my life and my recovery has been after surviving infertility and defining my own happy ending. I must practice this work of living in the tension because this recovery is complicated. It includes lifelong losses of the infertility journey. It includes managing, and therefore being a thriver, of anxiety and depression. And, it includes practicing the daily work to be better than okay.

It is what it is.

As a mental health therapist I have heard the phrase it is what it is in many contexts.

Half of me believes this statement can be about acceptance. The acceptance of things that cannot be changed. The acceptance of our circumstances. The acceptance of what is not in our control. Many of us could be happier and healthier people with this work in active acceptance.

But the other half of me knows that this statement can also be used in an apathetic way. The way to declare powerlessness. The way to assume being the victim. The way to choose to stay stuck, stand in our own way and not change our lives.

Where we find our magic.

I think recovery for all of us must lie in the tension between active acceptance and this passiveness. In other words, perhaps we must work to find our place between the two. And embrace that feeling lost between the two just may be where we find our magic; where we actually find ourselves.

At least that is where I have found mine, as it has only been in embracing this tension that ever upward was born within me and is my love to share with the world.

The work of living in the tension between overcoming the lifelong losses of infertility and defining my own happy ending.

The tension between the sadness of not being able to be a mother and the freedom and joy of being a childfull mother.

The tension between the days that the sadness, anger and unfair bitterness strikes and the days I know I am okay, actually better than okay because of this journey.

The tension between soul crushing sadness and emptiness and the deep knowing breath of my version of mothering.

The tension between the hard anxiety and depression days and the choosing to practice recovery from both.

The tension between feeling alone in the pushing and delivery of Ever Upward and trusting that God has it all in His hands and perfect time.

The tension between never fixed and forever changed.

The tension between knowing what I know and trusting what I can’t.

The tension between soul scars and always healing.

The tension between accepting what is and hoping for what could be.

The tension between the struggle and the choice to practice recovery.

The tension between doing and letting it be.

The tension between fighting until our enough and everything and never giving up on ourselves.

Simply, and yet utterly complicated, it is the tension of our epic lives.

Because, It is within this tension, and the complicated grey, that the brilliant colors of ourselves, and of life, emerge; embracing that within this tension our ever upward will be born.



Justine is a Licensed Professional Counselor with more than 25 years of experience in traditional mental health and personal and professional development. Justine has been certified in the work of Dr. Brené Brown for ten years. Justine is the author of eleven books, including five Amazon bestsellers covering subjects such as infertility, faith, and grief. She has been honored to do two TEDx Talks, The Permission of the And and The Donut Effect. She travels nationally and presents virtually to global audiences delivering keynotes, workshops, retreats, and trainings on topics such as leadership, courage, resilience, mental health, preventing and coping with burnout, and courageous and curious conversation, especially in creating cultures of belonging and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Justine lives in St. Louis with her husband Chad, their three dogs, and for four months of the year hundreds of monarch and swallowtail butterflies.

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