Friday, May 17, 2013

Comfort Zones

Sometimes life is so comfortable, sometimes it isn’t necessarily comfortable YET, but you can see where it will be, you can see how you are getting to where you want to be to achieve it.  Many on spiritual journeys can relate when I say ‘just when I thought I had it all figured out, God changed the plan’.  As a Christian who has been ‘reborn’ in the sense that my eyes and heart have been opened to the Lord’s ways, the Lord’s instructions and directions, I am seeing the hand of Jesus in my life everyday.  I grow and I change as I feel the spirit leads me to .  And it seems just when I think I know what God wants from me, wants me to do, who he wants me to help, to witness to, God changes the plan.  Life gets interrupted and I am put out of my comfort zone. 
Recently I posted about making a commitment and sticking with it in regards to loving others, especially your spouse.  It was in response to our pastor’s recent sermon series but it’s also because it has become a big part of my daily life….and no, I don’t mean my own marriage.  Though I will comment on that and how much getting out of my comfort zone has changed my views there too.
More than a month ago my husband came home from a men’s ministry study and spoke to me about a couple from our church who were going through some tough times.  He wanted to reach out, he wanted to help them to reconnect, wanted to be there to talk and to share with them.  I resisted.  I felt like it wasn’t our business.  I felt like I didn’t know them enough. I felt like I wasn’t anyone who could give advice when my own marriage has had/still has so many struggles.  Geoff suggested I pray on it. I did but I really didn’t feel  any closer to an answer. 
A few days later another friend from church sent me a text thanking me for ‘stepping out into the next chapter in our ministry together as a pair of God’s servants’ in regards to helping this couple out.  I was like ‘what …who said I was doing that!’.  But a situation quickly presented itself where I was ‘stepping out’ and soon I was offering an ear to listen and a voice of perhaps reason to one of the two in this couple.  I found myself being able to relate to both of their perspectives, remembering when I’d been in similar shoes.  I found myself looking at my own life, my own marriage, our situation and I felt like God was showing me that I was not  an island, my problems were not unique and I did not need to fear sharing them because I was not alone in this. 
 It felt good to help and yet I was so far out of my comfort zone, I felt so uneasy.  I knew that I needed to present myself as a supportive friend to both members of this couple but, I will admit, I resisted.  Not because I was ‘taking sides’ but because I was uncomfortable, unsure of myself and my words.  I wanted to reach out, I planned to but somehow it just ‘never seemed like the right time’. 
By the time I did reach out ‘equally’ to both of them an alliance seemed to have been formed and it was admitted to me that it would be hard to trust me, even though I seemed very impartial, because it had now been a week since I first stepped out of my comfort zone and into their lives.  And I admit, I was kind of hurt and yet could understand completely.
The situation has since had many ups and downs and we’ve taken a very pivotal role in it.  Sadly it doesn’t seem like reconciliation can be made.  Now I am in another ‘uncomfortable’ area as I am ‘stepping out into the next chapter in our ministry’ as our friend puts it and am now supporting their children. 
And once again God has shown me that not only can I do this, can I help, can I make a difference but he’s also showing me, what I said earlier, that I am not an island, my problems are uniquely mine but they are not unique.  We are working through things, we are strengthening our relationship, working together for a stronger family and we have some great support to do this. 
It’s made me realize that I am where God wants me to be…even if it does make me uncomfortable, even if I am out of my comfort zone.  But that just gets me thinking about how you know.  How do you decide when something makes you uncomfortable if it’s God’s interruption or a path you should not be taking?
My Jonah bible study has us really focusing on it.  Each time I go there I think ‘but what is that God is asking me to do’, ‘where is the interruption that I am avoiding’?
Maybe I have found it…at least part of it.  Perhaps ‘marriage ministry’ is part of my calling.  Who knows?  Maybe God will put in the path of something else soon? 
I know that I have always been told that I have a calling in supporting others experiencing trials, loss, grief and their healing process.  I haven’t really run from that and each time at the Jonah study we talk about how life get’s comfortable and we think we know where God is calling us to..and then suddenly it changes. What we knew to be comfortable becomes uncomfortable.  Where we saw things working, suddenly it doesn’t seem to fit together anymore, it doesn’t seem to be where we are needed, are most useful etc.  Or maybe it just starts to go ‘wrong’, people you once counted on don’t seem to be there, places and things you found comfort in are suddenly filled with negative feelings, negative actions. 
So often I ignore this ‘stuff’, this negativity that seems to come around in places that I offer support.  I used to get ‘sucked’ into it and have learned to rise above it.  But it wasn’t until a friend of mine and I discussed some ‘tension’ the is a part of an area that we are both active in supporting that I began to wonder if God has been trying to tell me something for a long time and I have been ignoring it because I thought I was doing ‘good work’ where I was.  I wonder if maybe ‘God work’ is what He wants, not ‘good work’.  If maybe I am not hearing his voice encouraging me to be uncomfortable by leaving behind some of the support areas.  My friend said that he was once told that ‘you may think by staying in the presence of something evil going on you can help, but in reality all you do is hurt yourself and it is best to cut the evil out.’ He used to stick around in situations where he was treated poorly in the thought that he was doing something good by my sacrifice, but in reality all he was doing was hurting himself.
I had never really thought about it much…that the negativity that makes me uncomfortable isn’t needing me to stay around to help…that God wants me to help, my ‘good work’ is helping and it does make me feel comfortable and gives me a sense of purpose…which is comforting, but the kind of discomfort that comes in the situations I described might just be coming from a place so far from God .
And so I am listening, God, I really am.  I know that often when I am put out of my comfort zone I am ‘needed’ to do Your work.  But I also know that when the comfortable place becomes a place where I am being hurt, where my morals are being questioned or where I begin to do or say (or type) things that go against my own morals…the time has come to move away from the ‘comfortable helping place’.
Proverbs 16:9 says it so well,
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps”.

Here are some things I found on a great website….
YOUR COMFORT ZONE may be that God is calling you
to ANOTHER area of ministry than where you are presently.
YOUR COMFORT ZONE may be that you need to SACRIFICE
something that you really enjoy but you KNOW it is God (it will be WORTH IT!).
Jesus’ methods to get you and me out of our COMFORT ZONES and watch over our lives are often
NOT the way we would do it, but OBEDIENCE to God’s ways
 will bring about His desired RESULTS and FRUIT in our lives.
Whatever God tells you to do that affects your comfort zone,
it is for the GREATER GOOD OF YOU and the Body of Christ.
God is NOT telling us to get out of our COMFORT ZONES to make our lives miserable.
So open your heart to what God has for you and get out of your comfort zone.
If you sense God is leading you “out of your comfort zone”
and whatever that means for you, be OBEDIENT to Him.
 If that is where God wants you, it is the BEST place to be! 
Couldn’t have said it better if I tried!!!
Have a great weekend!                                                        

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