I have spent much of my life living under the notion that comfort equals peace. Or comfort equals joy. Or comfort equals everything is going really well. Can anyone relate here? It took years and years for me to soak in the fact that God never promised me comfort. He did not put us on this earth so that we can be comfortable (much to my dismay). He loves us (1 John 4:9-10). He wants good things for us and wants us to thrive (Jeremiah 29:11), but friends, when I reflect, I’m not sure I am aware of one thing that thrives simply by being comfortable. (In her blog, “The Grapes that Struggle Produce the Best Wine”, Julie Hildebrand reminds us that our struggles and being out of our comfort zone often shape our character and who we become (“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must also finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4)
Comfort is just a stop gap between me and growth. And last I checked, growth is a really good thing. But… it can be really uncomfortable.
Five years ago, I was feeling called to step out of my corporate career to more mission-based work. I couldn’t explain it, other than I was feeling pulled. Now let me set the stage a bit for from where I was coming.
I was an executive director who had a great deal of respect within the agency I worked. I worked a reduced schedule, had flexibility, and an awesome team. I also had great clients, really liked the work, and was making a nice salary. We also had just hired a new CEO, my new boss, and I really respected him and our working relationship. From the outside, things looked really good and, well, comfortable. But… alas. I was being pulled. I was feeling this pulling for quite some time. So I prayed. And I boldly prayed for an opportunity while I volunteered both at our church and at my boys’ school (thinking if an opportunity were to present itself, those were the likely avenues to head down).
Well, an opportunity did finally present itself. Or better stated, God sent an opportunity my way.
At half the salary.
And I was to be a team of one.
Oh – I left out one minor detail… my husband Matt had quit his job about four months earlier (also a ‘pulling’ from God, but that’s an awesome story for a different post) and thus was still unemployed. I remember the call so vividly to Matt, letting him know I received the offer and coming to the quick realization that this was the worst possible time to take a salary cut.
“Take it.” My husband did not even hesitate.
“Really?” I was frozen in my tracks at the moment.
“It’s an answered prayer. Take it.” He was so assured and that assurance quickly made its way to me. So, with no further hesitation on my end, I took it.
I took it, and it quickly became very uncomfortable.
The job was hard. I underestimated the transition. I was even hit with a crisis to manage within the first month and things just didn’t get any easier from there. And when my husband was still volunteering full time for our church nine months later, my discomfort level was at an all time high. It also came with a dose of discontentment. Where was God taking us? How was this chapter in our journey going to close? Was it ever going to close?
Time and time again during that season, I was reminded that I just needed to submit. Submit to my husband’s leadership of our family (He never led us astray before, so why would he now?) Submit to God’s ways (even though several times I was convinced my ways and others’ ways sounded better for us). I was also reminded (and shown) that His ways would keep our paths straighter. Proverbs 3:6 says “in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight”, and I tightly hung on to that verse. I submitted and said yes to things that were really uncomfortable and God allowed me to be in a lot of uncomfortable space at that time. As such, I was not submitting as joyfully as I would have liked, but I was submitting.
I’m convinced now that God pulled us out of comfort (Remember that pulling? My husband had one too). Comfort looks different for my husband than it does for me, but we’ve both realized it’s all stuff that keeps us from fully being in relationship with God, and from growing as we know we are called to do. Sitting in this truth has me dealing with discomfort in an entirely new way. Instead of avoiding it, or dwelling on the fact that I’m uncomfortable, I see it as an opportunity to engage with God. Because God has met me in big ways in my discomfort. (Isaiah 41:10) He showed me that I should never look to my circumstances to determine how comfortable or content I am. Rather it’s been my posture in and through my circumstances that has determined my comfort and contentment.
I left out a lot of details that just further illustrate how God has showed up in this crazy path God put us on six years ago, but they have been overflowing. Over and over He has shown up in the midst of our journey. (Kind of like a BOOM, I’M HERE, then mic drop.) For a few years, I was waiting for this chapter to close, and for us to get through this trying time of feeling like everything is a bit ‘up in the air’, and this crazy time too shall pass. But I realized this isn’t just an uncomfortable time… Life is an uncomfortable time. And that’s why I need God so much. And I don’t want this chapter to close. Because God has met us big in the uncomfortable. I still find myself seeking comfort from time to time, but I’m reminded the comfort to seek is God and not the creature comforts of this world. Because those are temporary, and I want to be about the eternal.
Please pray with me…
Heavenly Father, I admit that times of discomfort can be so hard, and I’m not always a fan of the discomforts that life throws my way. I am so grateful that you are exponentially bigger than any discomfort I have. I thank you for your presence which shows me that my comfort does not rely on the world around me. I pray that you make your presence abundantly clear in the uncomfortable spaces, and that I can rest in knowing that you are the ultimate comforter. In Jesus’ name I am grateful and pray. Amen