Picture a tug-of-war. A rope that’s being pulled by both ends. One word describes that situation: tension.

Image credit: Andy Beercroft, re-used under CC license

And we’re often in a similar situation, where we have to choose between two opposing things. Where we’re being pulled in one direction by comfort and habit, and in the other by a calling. This can take many forms – being friendly vs challenging someone; living in sin vs dealing with it; etc. But at the root of it, where there is a tension, it is because there is a hidden, but deep knowledge of what should be done. There is always a sin vs calling dichotomy.

That tension feels natural.

It isn’t. Sin is not natural, and while we do live in a fallen world, sin should have no hold over us.

That tension can be dangerous.

You can snap. Regardless of the direction you snap in – whether it is towards the “healthy” calling, or towards the ways of habit – it will be ugly.
If the snapping causes you to go back to sin, the loss is obvious. If it causes you to abandon your past ways, there will be parts of yourself – for instance, old friends, old hobbies – that will stay behind: a chunk of the rope entirely in the hands of the sin team.

It can also be helpful.

It can lead you to explore different areas of your faith. It can highlight areas of your life that are holding you back. Thanks to that tension, you can grow stronger in your faith and give over more to God.

What you shouldn’t do:

Add more hands to what you see as the “healthy” side. This only increases the risk of snapping.
Simply forget the tension exists/has existed. For one thing, there are probably others who live with similar tensions to yours. Knowing where you are/have been and being open about it helps build real relationships and will help those with similar tensions. And while tension can be helpful, it is only so when you are conscious it exists.
Moan about the tension. Like I said, there are ways in which that tension can be helpful. But by just talking about how difficult it is to deal with that tension, you’re not actually dealing with it.

What you can do:

Talk to someone about it – not to justify your tension, but rather to make it into something that is not inevitable – something that is tangible and which you can work on.
Realise the tension isn’t natural, and welcome God to remove those hands that are pulling the “sinful” side. There is something quite powerful in the Lord’s prayer there: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil“.