Comfort zones….oh, I love them! Seems they take a while to develop but once you have one established, well, it’s so comforting! Comfort zones enable you to know largely what to expect, there are few surprises, few occasions to feel exposed or vulnerable. There is a wonderful predictability about life. A safeness. Like a snuggly blanket.
For the adventurous, risk-taker, the adrenaline junkie, comfort zones may be abhorred and misunderstood. They might recoil at the mere thought of such routine. For others of us, we need them.
Wikipedia defines a comfort zone as a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries. Such boundaries create an unfounded sense of security. That definition causes me to feel a bit pathetic but not for long. I’m weird; I don’t like change but I don’t like other things to stay the same very long. Go figure.
I feel like since I came back to my home area in 2000, my comfort zones are continually being challenged. I was READY to leave the Work when I did; desperate for a change of everything. I wanted my comfort zone/routine shaken up at that point.
However, fast forward a few years. My mother passed, I had a great job, but the ever increasing unrest and frustration I was feeling about the meetings was forcing me to look at the status quo of my life and see if I could continue to live like I was. The changes I could see ahead that would need to be made seemed daunting at times and yet they beckoned me. I knew just about everything would change if I made the decision to leave the meetings. It would rock my world and also those closest to me. I had to dissect it all piece by piece.
I knew I wouldn’t be doing things with the friends any more. But the reality was I had already quit going to get-together’s and potlucks. I did not enjoy these times at all. Sunday morning meeting was stifling and I had quit attending all other meetings quite a while before that. I was looking forward to being free from system rules about appearance since I had quit believing in the necessity of them my last year in the Work. For me, not being part of a community anymore was different but I found I didn’t want to be part of it anymore; it was sucking the life out of me. I slowly found Christian friends and started forming a new community.
Interestingly enough, in the years since leaving, my new circle of friends are largely people who have a similar background of meetings. I have a couple of close friends that still attend meetings but they are non-judgmental and living outside of the professing box quite a bit.
The time spent alone unlearning things that were not true and then learning what truth really was became an exciting and soul searching time and I was getting to know God like never before, so it was well worth the discomfort! I learned too that just because something was different and made me a bit uncomfortable (like attending another church service) did not make it wrong. Worshipping with modern contemporary music was different but God spoke to me powerfully through those songs.
Through it all, God has continued to shake up my routines and my comfort zones for the sake of my spiritual growth. He knew that some of the reasons I was resisting change were not the best for me at all. In fact, they were keeping me back from moving forward, from a richer and more meaningful life, greater joy, fulfillment, and more peace. Some of my friends kept telling me those things but I just wouldn’t listen for a long time.
I keep seeing how it is a matter of walking by faith and less by sight. That whole concept is so difficult for me. Sometimes we need to take a good long look at what we are so afraid of letting go and ask ourselves why and what hanging on to that thing or person might be keeping us from.
No one left their comfort zone more so than God when He came to this earth in the form of Jesus. Even though He was coming to the very earth He had created, yet it had to have been vastly different from heaven and certainly His place and role in heaven. Because Jesus walked on this earth and hasn’t forgotten what it was like to live and work and be here, gives me great comfort and assurance that I can let go when the Holy Spirit is prompting me.
What must also be mentioned is that whatever God may be asking us to let go of, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, He will ALWAYS be leading us to something that will ultimately be much more comfortable…much more. He will lead us to something where our soul will feel at home like never before. We will then wonder why we clung so long and hard to the old when He had something so much better to give us in exchange.
“Light after darkness, gain after loss, strength after weakness, crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears, home after wandering, praise after tears.
Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain, sight after mystery, peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow, calm after blast, rest after weariness, sweet rest at last.
Near after distant, gleam after gloom, love after loneliness, life after tomb;
After long agony, rapture of bliss, right was the pathway leading to this.”
You will find that much of that hymn will be your reality right now, in this life. It won’t all be on the other side. (yes, heaven will be a complete fulfillment of those things but He wants us to have heaven on earth at times as well.)
So, I write this for myself as many of my current comfort zones are being challenged.
“Oh Father, You have lead me this far and Your leading has always been so good. Help me trust You once again and forgive me for my doubts, for clinging to my ways rather than Yours. Help me always remember that You are leading me away from something only to lead me to something better. Keep my eyes on You at all times.”