I was stretched today. I know it’s normal to be uncomfortable when you’re taken outside of your comfort zone. (That’s the whole point of a “comfort zone” in the first place. ) Today, however, I was taken well beyond that zone. (I wish stretching outside our comfort zone resulted in being a bit taller and thinner, but alas, I am the same size as I was this morning.)
Nothing bad happened today. I was invited (read “volunteered”) to accompany a singer for a number of songs during an event in a local church. I play the guitar just enough to sing along and lead worship on occasion, and that’s fine most of time. Until today, I had never played accompaniment for someone else, and it was a stretching undertaking for a number of reasons which aren’t important. The point is, I was taken far outside my “zone”, and it was a very challenging experience.
I could have avoided the discomfort. There were a couple of instances during the process when I could have said “no.” No one forced me to pick up the guitar and strum it. I made the choice to say yes to a request.
As I have thought about the situation this evening, I have realized once again that it is most often in the uncomfortable places where growth occurs. When God told me my word for 2016 was “Growth,” I knew that on some level it would involve growing pains. Saying “yes” to God and other people often involves discomfort. Sometimes, it is momentary discomfort of playing a guitar in front of a group of people and feeling completely inadequate to the task. Other times it may involve saying goodbye to loved ones and moving far away or missing big moments in the lives of those we love.
Growing pains are not fun, but growth rarely happens without them. Yesterday, I celebrated two years of living in Ireland. It has been an amazing experience, and I would not trade the life I have today for anything. I am not the same person who arrived here back then, but all of the growth that has occurred has brought a measure of discomfort and pain.
Still, pain isn’t something to be feared. It’s not a thing to be sought after for no reason, but growth and even healing require a certain amount of discomfort. If we avoid experiences that take us out of our comfort zone, we will never reach our potential or discover the new things God may want to do with us. I have no idea what might be coming around the corner in my life, but I pray that I have the courage to continue saying “yes” to opportunities no matter how uncomfortable they make me.
What are you avoiding that might take you beyond where you are comfortable? What might you need to say “yes” to today? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!