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  • Writer's pictureJim Donaher

Finding Comfort in a Discomfort Zone

Chances are you have been advised at some point that you need to 'get out of your comfort zone.'

Chances are you didn't say thank you.

Maybe you wanted to find a new relationship, try a new sport, expand your wardrobe or get a different haircut. Or a new job. Or a new life.

Like most of us, you hesitated. Sometimes this is prudent caution, as when someone tells you to jump off a bridge into a river.

Other times, hesitation is just a habit. It's satisfaction with what is or fear of what might be or both. You don't think in those steps but that is the lightning process that produces the word 'No.'

Or as the 3-year-olds like to say, "I DON'T WANNA!"

Zones get comfortable for a reason. They are snug. They are cozy. They are made just for you. There is room for you to move if you want to, but not so much that you could rattle about and hurt yourself.

Man assessing the risk of failure
All he sees is the risk...

Snug, cozy places are warm and inviting. They are places you want to stay. You are safe and you are warm and you have no logical reason to move. (Note: I thought about a womb analogy here, but didn't find a proper one. If you have one send it along. I'll give you credit).

Why would anyone leave their comfort zone? It seems, on its face to be a dumb idea.

The thing we struggle with is that in order to grow in whatever direction or aspect you need to grow, you must necessarily leave your comfort zone.

Growth is inherently uncomfortable and at times painful. Nobody likes to fail or look stupid or feel awkward. No one loves to ask for help or depend on others for guidance. Nobody wants to get hurt while they learn.

It depends on how you assess risk. A cautious person sees danger everywhere. An adventurer sees an adrenalin rush everywhere. Somewhere in the middle lies the sweet spot where prudence meets faith.

Getting ready to take the leap!
I think I can do it...I hope!

Faith is a broad word. People use it without clarifying the object of one's faith. Very often, it's assumed to be faith in oneself or someone close to them. "So-and-so wouldn't steer me wrong, so.." or "I have done crazier things than this and lived, so..."

That sort of thing.

I heard an amazing message Sunday about comfort zones and faith. Faith in God, that is. The pastor likened God to a parent who gives a direction and when the child asks why, the answer is 'Because I said so.'

The point was that none of us like that answer in the moment, but when we look back, we see that at the time, either (a) we wouldn't have understood the reason or (b)the need was too urgent for our parent to stop to provide background. We also realize, usually, that whomever told us this was doing so out of concern for our safety or some other positive rationale. "Just do it because I said so."

At that point, we have a decision to make: Either we obey or we do not.

We may have no idea what will happen if we obey. At that point, we have to decide whether we have faith in whomever told us to do it.

Picture a small child standing on the side of the pool with an adult in the water saying, 'Come on, jump to me, I'll catch you!' We've all seen this go one of two ways:

  • In the happy way, the child jumps, maybe after some hesitation but finally jumps and shrieks with delight as their parent catches and hugs them and tells them how brave they are. There is likely clapping and other adulation from others at poolside. Faith was greater than fear.

  • In the less happy way, the child clearly assess the risk as too great, and the beckoner too unreliable and they run away, sometimes crying. Faith was less than fear.

Unlike people standing in water beckoning us to jump and to trust their varying degrees of reliability, God has no limitations.

Flying over risks with a leap of faith.
Trust Him, He won't drop you!

When He tells you to trust Him, be assured, He can be trusted. He has already arranged for the next steps if needed, and how everything is going to turn out, but He wants you to trust Him without knowing what is next. He wants you to say 'Yes!' and not ask 'Why.' Because the reason why is, 'Because I said so.'

What God tells you to do may not make sense. It may be directly opposite to what the conventional wisdom tells us to do. It may fly in the face of basic safety.

It may involve some risk or maybe even a lot of risk. At the minimum, there is a risk of looking awkward or foolish. Further up the risk scale are financial or vocational or relationship risks. Toward the top are risks to our freedom and at the top are risks to our lives.

The risks only appear daunting if you are unsure about whether what you are doing is possible. Those who don't know God, or have not yet learned to trust Him see only the downside, because it's standing there daring you to try it, suggesting disaster.

But if you know God, the voice you're hearing is quiet, but persistent and earnest. He doesn't yell and scream or wave pom-poms. But He does already have the entire thing figured out. He knows what you are going to get once you take the leap. It might be an invitation to take ANOTHER leap. Picture going across a river by hopping from rock to rock. And it's foggy so you can only see the closest rock.

In situations like this we doubt ourselves and rightly so. If we can't see, can't touch, don't have some sensory assurance, we have little chance of leaping the right way. Instead, we'd splash.

But if you trust the Lord and know in your heart that He has called you to do this thing - whatever 'this thing' is - He will help you. He loves you more than you can imagine. And He wants you to be in heaven with Him with all the earthly preliminaries are over. Meanwhile, He makes good use of the preliminaries by growing and stretching our character, our faith and our love.

So be the brave little kid on the side of the pool. With your little floaties on your arms or whatever they're called.

Your heavenly Father wants you to take the leap. He wants you to trust Him. No matter what happens, your Father will wrap you in his arms and tell you how proud He is of you and how much He loves you.

So go ahead. Take the leap.The water's fine. And He won't drop you.

God bless you!

toddler jumping into daddy's arms
He loves you and He is so proud of you!

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Thank you for reading!



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