Embracing Discomfort: “There’s no painless route to your Promised Land”
There are times when being under the weather can have surprising benefits. Even if at first glance the benefits feel more like a metaphorical face-punch.
Yesterday was one of those times with one of those benefits.
Yesterday was Sunday. And like many people around the world, on most any given Sunday, you’ll find us in church. Not because we’re holy and have it all figured out, but because we’re a bit more of a mess than we care to admit most days and need all the help we can get.
(Don’t let the ‘church’ stuff throw you. If you aren’t really into ‘that sort of thing’, I promise this post has something to offer you.)
OK, so where was I? Oh yeah, church. Sort of.
I suppose I could have gone to church in an actual church building-but, still residing in the Land of Ick with this flu and not wanting the attention hacking through the service would likely bring, I opted to ‘do church’ from my comfy chair, sitting by the comfy fire, in my comfy study, wearing my comfy clothes (are you sensing a theme here?).
On days like yesterday, when physical church attendance isn’t an option, we often choose to ‘attend’ our former church in Texas via the miracle of modern technology. And that’s exactly what we did yesterday.
Now, it’s from this point on that I can’t take much credit for any inspiration you might glean from my words, as they’re directly inspired by the way God used Pastor Toby Slough to speak into my life yesterday, including the line at the beginning of this post: “There’s no painless route to your Promised Land”.
While I realize what Toby had to say applies first and foremost to our walk with God, I'm certain it applies to every other aspect of our lives as well.
His message was a cornucopia of challenging, inspiring and convicting thoughts. I wish I had the time and space to share them all. But in this particular post, I want to focus on a small fraction of what Toby shared. With Yoda like wisdom (except the words were in a more normal order) he said this:
“You will never step into your destiny if you keep holding on to your comfort.”
Once I came to, here’s what I realized:
I have met the enemy of my potential. Potential to achieve, to help, to grow, to learn. To make a difference. To step into my destiny.
That enemy? Comfort.
Sound dramatic? Over-stated? Well, maybe. But just hang with me for a minute. If you read my post from last week, Purpose or Paralysis, we talked a lot about what the peddlers of paralysis might be in our lives. Today, I’m aware of one that may be the mother of all others. Let’s look at why.
What stops us (stop me), from trying, taking chances, using our talents, exploring our hearts, leaning into the possibility that we’re created, by a Creator, for a purpose greater than we could ever imagine?
What stops us (stops me) from healing from hurts, facing our fears, risking failure, asking for help, helping others, being vulnerable, owning our story, apologizing, changing, choosing “sacrifice over security”? (Another Toby-ism).
I think the answer ultimately comes down to one thing. We value, dare I say, worship, our comfort. And understandably so.
Our culture is ripe with ways and reasons to place our comfort above most anything. We’re inundated with it from companies who promise the ultimate comfort in clothes, shoes, homes, vacations, cars, the list goes on. And others who pedal convenience (which is just another form of comfort), for everything from pre-made meals, to virtually anything delivered to your door, to walking our dogs or scooping their…well, you know. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying there’s inherently anything wrong with using these services. I’m merely using them to emphasize a point. Personally, I love it when someone else does the cooking. Or the scooping.)
We’re conditioned to believe if we’re uncomfortable something must be wrong. So, we abhor discomfort and look to avoid it at every turn. We’ve been lulled into a false belief that if we can do that our lives will be happy, rich, full. Complete.
What we don’t realize is that the pursuit of comfort, whether implicit or explicit, has dulled us to the pursuit of our potential and our purpose. To who we truly are. To what we might accomplish if only we were willing to embrace discomfort, to recognize it as the motivator it can be. I’m guilty too. Which is why I’m writing this. To call myself out. To get uncomfortable.
I knew yesterday that I would write this post and was excited about it. But unlike the last two posts in this blog, which practically wrote themselves, this one was more laborious. And true to form, I caught myself seeking refuge from the discomfort it was causing. I washed dishes, cleaned the kitchen, played with the dog, talked to a friend, read a bit. In and of themselves, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. But then a small voice kicked in and said, “Hey! You’re avoiding your computer because it’s not coming easy. You’re seeking comfort. What is up?! You’re doing the very thing you intended to write about. Cue irony! Now, go call yourself out.”
So, here I am, feeling the burn of discomfort. Not just in attempting to put together a post that is coherent and helpful, but in admitting I’m a discomfort-a-phobe too.
Now, what am I going to do about it?
Today, I’m going to make a list of all the ways I avoid discomfort. It can be tricky, because so many of the ways I avoid it seem harmless, even reasonable or necessary. But because I have a God who directs my life, I will ask Him to show me where my blind spots are. I will keep the list in a place I can see often. You know, so I can check myself before I wreck myself, or worse, others. That could happen you know. Because what we do, or don’t do, goes way beyond ourselves.
Since I’m a visual person, I have already begun to place reminders around me to ‘embrace discomfort’. Reminders that ‘comfort is the enemy of change’. Those two phrases are presently written on the mirrors in my bathroom. In bright, red lipstick.
And I will add any other form of motivation I need to help me face discomfort, sword in hand, to fight for what I really want and who I’m created to be.
What about you? Are you a discomfort-a-phobe too? Not sure? You can pray (if you’re into that sort of thing) or you could ask some close, trusted souls who will be honest with you about what they see. (Talk about an exercise in discomfort!) In the end, I’m certain you will find that at least on some level, you’re a discomfort-a-phobe too. Perhaps we should start a support group.
Maybe right here.
If your exploring takes you to a place of realization, consider practicing discomfort. Share this post. Or better yet, share in your own words, how you will embrace discomfort and offer to help others do the same.
Arm in arm, we can let go of our need for comfort freeing our hands up to embrace something much more rewarding. And most likely find a place of true joy and contentment in the process.