We all like to be comfortable. We like soft sheets, clothes without scratchy tags, food that makes us say “Mmm.” We even talk to others about how comfortable they are. “How are you guys doing?”
It’s all about how good things are, how nice we feel, and if we feel safe, loved, cared for, comfortable. These things are not bad, but they’re not the point of this life, either. Jesus didn’t say, “Please live your life in a way that makes you the most comfortable.” He also didn’t promise us that we would always have everything that we ever wanted, or that we will always be healthy and happy. Those are things that we wish for other people in this life, but if you really think about it, are those the things that we should want for each other? If we are really pursuing a life worth living, are those the things that we should hope for?
2 Timothy 3:12 says this: Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. To be perfectly honest, this doesn’t sound like a lot fun, and it sure doesn’t sound comfortable or nice. We should desire to follow Jesus, but that doesn’t mean our lives will always be amazing, and in fact, it means that we will suffer in some way for our beliefs. That doesn’t make them not worth having, but it does mean that believing in God comes with a price: losing our comfort so that we may follow God.
Matthew 16:24 says: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. We are to follow. Wherever God would lead us, that is where we should go. If that means we have to make sacrifices, or give up soft sheets and expensive meals, we should do that. If that means we have to give up things that other people might consider “necessities”, then we should do that. If that means we might look foolish to others, we should do that. Only you know what God is calling you to; just don’t walk away from it because it makes you squirm a little bit. There is good stuff in the making. He is bringing you away from your comfort zone to bring you closer to Him. I think most of us don’t want to hear “deny yourself”; that’s why diet is a dirty word with many people, divorce is rampant, and we have things like Facebook where people can glorify themselves and everyone can comment on how amazing they are.
Trust me, I am not immune to wanting comfort. I live in a house I never would have dreamed of when I was a kid growing up in a single wide trailer. I am wearing my softest tee shirt, and I have my back door open so I can feel a nice breeze coming through my living room. In fact, at this very moment, I wish I had a chocolate bar sitting here next to me, and a hot cup of tea. I wish my kids weren’t fighting so I could focus on my words that I am typing. I wish I was more comfortable.
Two nights ago, I couldn’t sleep. I was exhausted in the way that a mother of four with a nursing child is exhausted. I have gotten an average of 4-6 hours of sleep per night for most of a year and I’m never not tired. I’m not one of those people who just needs less sleep. But, there I was, with my eyes burning and my mind racing. I laid in bed and prayed to God, “Why am I awake?” This is something a mentor of mine said in the past, and it has always been the case that God gave me something when I’ve asked. I couldn’t stop thinking about a family at our church, one that we don’t know very well, and we haven’t seen in awhile. After praying, I knew I was supposed to make them a meal and drop it off at their house the next day. I prayed, “If I am really supposed to make them a meal, please let me remember tomorrow.” I fell asleep right after that. When I woke up, the first thought in my mind was, “You are supposed to bring a dinner to that family tonight.”
Now, I had no information that there was anything going on with them. There have been no deaths, new babies, or sickness that I know of with them. Those are reasons to stop by and drop off a meal; I didn’t know of any reason I should be doing it, just that God put it on my heart. I just knew. I told my husband I was going to drop him off at work so I could bring them a meal. He didn’t say anything except that if I needed to buy groceries, I would have to put it on my credit card. He didn’t even look at me weird, but I wondered what he was thinking. I was very uncomfortable telling my husband that I was doing something that didn’t make sense to me.
I sent this lady a message on Facebook because that’s the best way I knew how to get in touch with her. I will call her Joy, even though that’s not her name. I waited for what seemed an eternity for a message back. I was uncomfortable. My stomach felt tied up in knots. I was waiting for her to laugh at me or tell me I was being silly. Joy messaged me back and said that it was very sweet we were thinking of her, but she was going to be running errands all day and wouldn’t be home for dinner. Would we like to join her family for dinner the following day? It wasn’t what I expected (see how I thought I knew what would happen… God is always surprising me!), but I agreed right away. I admit, I did feel a little sad and foolish inside that “everything was fine” and they didn’t need my help when I offered it. Silly. Selfish. Me.
Today I got up wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. This is a family that we don’t know very well, and when we have talked to them in the past we haven’t found much common ground. My husband pointed this out to me, which made me doubt myself and my “silly” idea that started this whole deal to begin with. He is always agreeable to do anything with me, which I love, but I know he was uncomfortable too. I want him to be happy, and comfortable. Here we are, back at trying to make everything “nice”.
Joy said she would text me and let me know what time and what to bring. So, when I got up this morning, I had no idea what the plan really was. I also didn’t know how to plan what I was making. I was uncomfortable and I hated it. I just kept reminding myself that God’s timing is perfect, and He planned this.
I went about my day, shopping without knowing what I was even supposed to grab at the store and waiting for a message back. I started to get irritated. I needed a plan. When did I get this way? Spur of the moment is just irritating to me now. I couldn’t plan part of a meal for 11 people with 5 hours before meal time; didn’t she think about that? My head was spinning at the store and I became more and more uncomfortable with the whole thing.
After loading up the groceries in the car, I got a message back. Joy was making spaghetti for dinner; could I bring garlic bread and meatballs? Of course, I texted back. Then I got into my car, turned on the radio, and drove home with my thoughts on dinner. I did grab hamburger at the store, even though I didn’t have a plan for it at the time. I did now. If I went home at that moment, I had just enough time to prep and sear meatballs and throw them into my crockpot. I could do that. I abandoned the rest of my day to get home for our cooking project.
I threw everything into a big bowl and had my son mix. If you know me at all, you probably know that I don’t touch meat. I hate touching raw meat and it actually makes me want to gag. When I’m pregnant, I actually don’t eat meat unless someone else cooks it because it makes me sick to smell it raw. My son couldn’t mix it well enough. His hands were freezing. He actually almost started crying. I took a deep breath and plunged my hands into the bowl of cold, soft meat and spices. I spent the whole time with “yuck face” on. I cringed, shuddered, and complained. I was uncomfortable. But you know what? I made those meatballs. They are cooking right now and they smell amazing.
The thing is, this is the tip of the iceberg. I know that in this lifetime, God will ask me many more times to sacrifice my time, my comfort, and my “plan”. Each time I say yes, I choose to follow Him. Each time, I would like to think, I get to know His plan and His heart a little bit more. I shouldn’t be afraid to be uncomfortable, to do something that doesn’t make sense to me, or to speak up when I know He wants me to. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 There is good being done when I am willing to do something that He wants, even if (especially if?) it is not a part of my plan.
As a side note, I did find out that Joy’s family is going through some things right now, and I (sadly) felt a little hurrah of victory when I found out. Isn’t that horrible? Who wants to be right about something like that. Silly. Selfish. Me. I’ve got lots of room to grow. It did give me hope though, that maybe, despite her not wanting my help, God was trying to show her He cares for her and her family. Or maybe He was reminding me that He still speaks to me, in His time (this is something I have struggled with this last year… feeling out of touch and confused). I know He has sent many people to help us when we were struggling in the past. It’s a sweet reminder of His love for us. You never know when something you are doing will change someone’s life. Keep being uncomfortable. Keep trying when it’s hard. Ask God what you can do.
In the spirit of not asking how “good” you are, how about asking your friends this instead:
“How is God challenging you to step out of your comfort zone right now?”
“What are you learning about yourself and about what God wants for you in your life?”
“What makes you uncomfortable that you know is worth doing anyway?”
*I wrote this post January of 2014, and this woman and I eventually stumbled upon a sweet friendship between our families. I love re-reading this post. *