Comfort Zone

Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him.

— C. S. Lewis

At dinner with my husband tonight, I found myself ruminating on the topic of stepping outside of a comfort zone. My thoughts were prompted, in part, by today’s sermon, in which our pastor gently but firmly reminded us all that staying in one place isn’t necessarily God’s plan for His people. From the beginning, God was all about sending people away from their comfortable places in order to further His purposes in the world.

I have certainly been challenged to go beyond my comfort zones over the past year. From the moment that I took on my current volunteer position with American Heritage Girls, I have been pushed to learn new things and function in new ways. It was never the administrative detail about this job that scared me–it was, rather, the realization that I would have to be “up front” a significant portion of time. First, because of my position, I’m the primary communicator for the troop. I give announcements, devotionals, information, and the like to girls and parents. I run leader meetings and board meetings. I act as liaison between our troop and our charter organization and between the troop and AHG in Ohio. That position is not a natural one for me. My nature normally relegates me to the back row, where I like to slide in a minute late, sit quietly and sing softly, and duck out a minute early.

But the second and more difficult position is the one where I am required to act as mediator between other adults. I can handle it between kids or young adults. I’m a mom. That kind of mediation is in my job description. But to be the mediator between people who should know better and be able to get along . . . That’s the tough part. I’m not good at interpersonal relationships under the very best of circumstances. When the circumstances are less than optimal, I fear I am positively dismal.

And yet, here I am, being pushed outside of my comfort zone, occasionally even surprising myself by some of the fairly reasonable and relatively calm words that come from my normally snarky and reactionary mouth. I know this must be the Spirit protecting AHG from me, and I thank Him for His mercies. Left to my own devices, I’m 100% certain things would be falling apart right now rather than coming together.

So here we were at dinner tonight, discussing comfort zones and the leaving behind of such things. Mr. P and I were discussing some of the current pushing we’re experiencing and what some of our own thoughts were during the sermon. And then I confessed that, while I considered my AHG experiences first, I eventually came back to my writing. What if I’m supposed to be outside this safe place–this place where I don’t write, don’t share, don’t publish? What if the safe place isn’t the right place? What if God does have something else in mind here, and I’m being stubborn and uncooperative?

As a side note, I have been in a place of being stubborn and uncooperative with God before. I am here as a cautionary tale: Humble yourselves, dear brethren. If you wait for God to do it, it’s so much worse than if you start the process yourself.

The truth is, I have every reason to think that if God really wants me to do something, He will most certainly make His wishes known in unmistakeable ways. But what I really fear is that He would love for me to be writing and sharing because what I have to say is important in some way, and because this is not a matter of real eternal significance, He’s simply letting me be stubborn, fearful, and stuck. God, being a gentleman and a great respecter of persons, does not seem to wish to force us to do anything. Rather, He wishes us to love Him so much that we choose obedience to Him, no matter what the cost.

Including the cost to our personal comforts.

And there is a second huge fear–namely, what message am I sending my children by resisting the pursuit of the one great vocational passion of my life? By saying that it’s not worthwhile, it’s not good, I’m not good enough to make a living, I don’t have time, I’m too afraid of sharing it, or any one of a thousand other excuses I’ve made in the last year, what am I telling them?

Whatever it is, I don’t think it’s what I wanted to teach them.

Mr. P surprised me. “I think you should go back to writing,” he said.

That wasn’t all he said, but it was probably the most definitive statement of his opinion about my pursuit of this chosen vocation since I left it over a year ago. Like God, my husband has been a gentleman about my struggle. He has not demanded or cajoled or wheedled or insisted or in any other way attempted to talk me into returning to my work. He’s simply listened, watched, waited, and quietly encouraged when I have dipped hesitant toes back into the creative waters.

So here I sit, on the edge of yet another comfort zone with a wilderness before me. In my honest moments, I confess that I knew I would end up here again. It was rather inevitable. The stories and ideas and need to write are still there.

The question now is . . . what do I do? Do I step into the wilderness? Or do I play it safe?

I fear that the wilderness isn’t the right place. But what I fear even more is that my Canaan is beyond the wilderness, and that I’d rather stay stuck in Egypt making bricks than find the milk and honey.

Till next we meet . . .