Monday, August 20, 2012

Going outside the comfort zone....

Ever been there? Outside your comfort zone. Of course! After all, how much does it really take to find yourself in a place where your comfort is not a factor in the universe's grand design?

I confess that it takes little, very little for me to find myself outside my comfort zone. Any thing can do it. Something not working right in a project, usually one that requires physical commitment, focus and determination-particularly when I don't have experience in it. Those who know me best can testify that if I am to prevail over those frustrations, it is because I made a promise to myself-or someone with foresight-that I would not "lose it" when things don't go according to plan. Building, repairing, renovating....you name it. I can loose my cool in an instant when the zone of my comfort is invaded by the changes, challenges and chances of living in an unpredictable universe.

Of course, everyone wants comfort to some degree, right? A decent meal, a safe place to keep our stuff, a warm (or cool) bed and reliable cable and wifi internet all contribute to the achievement of same. An ebb in personal, professional and familial conflict goes a long way as well. Let's not forget good health, enough sleep and a positive emotional and mental chemical balance. After these, comfort seems a forgone conclusion.

But is that the chief aim of life? I am not so sure. It's attractive, seductive even, to see comfort as the great prize at the end of any long journey.

As I get older, perhaps from time to time wiser (yes, I hear the snickering), I realize that the point of life is not so much to strive for comfort as it is to embrace trial and conflict. When we take hold of the storms, the craziness in life and attempt to live into that wild tumult as God's gift to us, then the quiet moments become not so much the desired end as the welcome oasis or calm as we rest and prepare for the next stage in our journey.

In other words, if the point of being at Mt. Everest was to enjoy the camps along the climb, then what is the point to trying to get to the summit?

So, from time to time, when I am willing to be a little less stubborn and a lot more open to God calling me forward into life...I remember that God promises us any number of things when we commit to following his Son. God promises struggle, growth, pain, consolation, hope, fear, desire, community, loss, discovery and deliverance. What is not on that list? So many things are not there: assurance that we are fine just as we are, free passes on hard pathways, easy transitions without pain, death without grief.

Today, I am grateful for a quiet moment to sit down to write, but in writing I am aware that God is preparing me for the next chapter of a journey that has seen me through fire, famine, disease, death, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, perhaps even a few storms of locusts (figuratively speaking)...and what has got me safe thus far? Grace....not comfort. Amazing grace.....

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