Remember the New Year? The one where everyone was talking about resolutions and goals – oh! And stretch goals! Those goals destined to pick you up body and soul from where you are comfortable and transplant you in a foreign zone where things are not familiar? It works great in theory. I can see the value in learning something new, adding a level to physical activity, participating in an activity you’ve never done, or even adding an exotic food like Sushi to your menu. Well, maybe not that.
Let’s be honest. You set some stretch goals, didn’t you? I did and so far, I’m doing pretty well on them. Of course, this is only the third week of January and there are still about 340 days left in the year – but I’m optimistic. There is a purpose for expanding our horizons and we reap the benefit. I’ve been thinking a lot about comfort zones though. Even in the absence of goals and ambitions, how often do we say we are totally at ease, living the dream of the comfort zone? That’s what I thought. At night cozied up to watch TV or read a book – comfort. Spending time with friends and family – comfort. Driving the same car, wearing the same clothes, eating the same food – we’re comfortable.
We can be comfortable one moment and a phone call later, be catapulted into the discomfort zone. It isn’t always tragedy that sends us there, though. It can be as simple as a negative feeling creeping into our thoughts. Don’t you wish you could see an emotion lurking around so you could slam it with your shoe like a nasty bug? Slam it and return to your reading or whatever you were doing. That would be awesome! We like comfort, it’s where we are at ease. If our boat’s going to be rocked, we want to be the one to rock it – like working through those stretch goals. They can be rocky!
A lot goes on in our comfort zone that isn’t all that comfortable. Sometimes getting outside our comfort zone means choosing a positive attitude when our circumstances are negative. Getting outside our comfort zone could be that we look for a sliver of good in a bad situation. It could be deciding that ‘this’ will make you better, not bitter. See, our comfort zones aren’t all that comfortable. Isaiah 40 starts with Comfort, Comfort my people. We want to be comfortable and God knows that. But there’s a difference between comfort and complacent. Maybe the thought behind getting outside our comfort zone is a warning to not become complacent. In Luke 18, the Pharisees were full of pride and complacently pleased with themselves to the point that the looked down on people who didn’t meet their standards. In the latter part of James 2, we are warned about complacently sitting back and doing nothing when we should be helping others. Faith is nothing if we do nothing to express it through our actions.
So can we agree that it’s OK to appreciate our comfort zone, but guard against becoming complacent? When our comfort zone isn’t comfortable do some soul searching to understand what’s going on in there. Is it time to learn something new or experience an activity you’ve not tried before? Does your spiritual life need renewal? Isaiah 40:31 says “But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.”
Look again at Isaiah 40. The chapter is bookended with God’s recognition that we will need to be comforted and that we need his strength to carry us through whatever comes between.
Ready team? Let’s get out there!
Time to shake things up a little. Shake, Shake, Shake – like you’ve been Changed, Changed, Changed by Mercy Me