“What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting, to be out in the world–to be free!
My heart should be wildly rejoicing!
…Oh, what’s the matter with me?
I’ve always longed for adventure, to do the things I’ve never dared.
Now here I’m facing adventure; then why am I so scared?”
Getting out of your comfort zone. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the constricting throat that makes speaking hard, the fast-paced beating of the heart, the slow, controlled breathing holding back tears of fear as I drive into new territory. I’ve cried alone on the bed until midnight, feeling like the only one in the world, wanting to sleep who taut to relax. I am there.
This month, I’ve moved out to Camp Douglas Smith, a run-down property alongside Hamlin Lake. While there are lots of perks to the job, I’m still really struggling to enjoy it. As I have named it, my “squatter’s shanty” is not exactly a dream vacation destination. As I wrote in my initial description of my stay, “Arrived and cleaned out the spiders, beech nuts, rodent scat, and other things from my 8′ x 10′ cabin with a half broken broom. Tried hard to stay positive about the shape of the little wooden box. On the plus side; I do have electricity.” An inventory of the cabin disclosed one folding wooden table (sinking into the rotting floor boards), two old wooden chairs, a nice mattress, a half-broken broom, and a heck of a lot of graffiti from the 1970s.
This is out of my comfort zone. I talk about life being an adventure. But at this moment I shake my head and murmur, “I’m really not that into adventure anymore, actually.” I talk about faking it till you make it, but right now, I’m faking it so much like an actress…behind a mask…dressed in an animal suit so people aren’t even sure I’m a human. I talk about controlling emotions instead of letting emotions control me. But right now, my emotions are setting up a heck of a protest and I’m hearing every word they say.
To tell you that I always practice what I preach would be a lie. To tell you that I, as a Christian, have achieved eternal joy and always rest in His peace and spend my days brimming with hope would be a smite more than an exaggeration. To tell you I’m a hypocrite who offers life hacks for everything but still has a lot of bad days would be much more honest.
But. I’m human. And I’m learning.
And, even in the discomfort, even in the flood of emotions, even in the digging-my-heels-in-wishing-I-could-be-back-home, I still believe that getting out of my comfort zone is important. No, I don’t like it. Does anyone? But it’s adventures like this that lead me to have new perspectives. That is valuable. Getting out of my comfort zone reminds me that I’m not living for right now because, well, Earth stinks (I’m waiting for what’s ahead). That’s valuable. Struggling through these discomforts causes me to cry out to God. That’s valuable. And then, eventually, I get more comfortable in the position. And that gives me freedom to do more, serve more, reach farther. That’s valuable.
Don’t let my cheery advice fool you; I’m human and, even though I wholly believe in peace and hope and joy, I have my rotten days too. But, although I’m currently struggling with all the whirlwind of being out of my comfort zone, I still believe. I still believe that God has a plan in this. I still believe it’s worth it. And I still believe that it’s okay to fall. But then we have to get back up again.
Please share some of your experiences with getting out of your comfort zone. Do you regret it? What did you learn? Do you agree or disagree with my claim that it’s worth it?