Wednesday, 23 August 2017

They say....

I have seen tons of memes like the one above, or a variation of it.  It sounds great, it even sounds true. Makes one think they should do everything possible to leave their comfort zone....  

So what exactly is a 'comfort zone'? Well, this definition comes up when you google it:
com·fort zone
ˈkəmfərt zōn/
  1. a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.

    When you look at that your reaction might be, "why would I want to leave that place"?Why would you want to leave the place where you feel safe and without stress? It's counterintuitive. Yet apparently life begins just beyond it!

    This circle implies that the comfort zone is not a good place. One can apparently only find a mediocre life there.  Everything is outside of it. Now I will be one of the first to say that the whole "what if i fail" thought is quite strong, while sitting inside one's comfort zone, because we fear failing. 

    They also say that nothing grows in one's comfort zone, although admittedly a beautiful place.  

    Well, I can't speak for everybody but I can share my own life experience. My comfort zone was a happy place, beautiful even.  Living 2 blocks from my parents, kids close by, church family, friends, job, etc.  A nice safe place, although not without stress. I don't know if life is ever stress free. But I do know it is a lot easier than stepping outside those 'walls'.

    Moving to Mexico could be viewed as leaving one's comfort zone because it is definitely not the same as staying in 'the circle'. Yes, moving across the country from family, friends, church, and my kids, was scary, and not SAFE.  It has been a time of growth for me.

    That said, one can easily create a safe, comfort zone kind of lifestyle abroad as well.  It is, I believe, a natural instinct, and a normal part of 'adjusting'.  

    But alas, that has not been my experience. We have done things outside of our comfort zone regularly. Our friends are very different here than we had back in our little comfort zone in Canada. We had a very rural mentality to life. What is open to do on the average evening? What times does one head home from an event? Well, let's just say that my schedule is all berserk here! Things START here at 8 p.m. And, if you actually arrive at 8, you will be one of the first people there. We often leave early - 1 a.m. - 2 a.m. 

    I am always doing things outside of my comfort zone. I have found that there is a lot of growth that happens there, a lot of stretching. If I look at who I am right now, I am quite different; I have been adapting. I daily, sometimes fearfully, leave that safe zone and try. 

    I am trying to follow Paul's example of being all things to all people "for the sake of the gospel" (I Corinthians 9:19-23).  I think in doing this one has to know who they are in Christ, what they can and can not do, and not lose sight of the reason for which they are 'crossing the room'.  

    No matter how we try to adapt we are still clearly distinct. We stand out and apart. And that's the way it should be! They accept us, and love us, but we are a 'different animal'. Our goal is to make them feel and see the love of Christ through us. It is a daunting task but one we feel God calls all of His children to.

    This weekend we did something that is a big step out of our comfort zone:

    Here is a picture from the weekend. On Saturday night we headed out at 11 p.m. to meet  friends and celebrate a birthday. They wanted to go dancing. Obviously a place where people drink and dance can be quite a bit outside of our normal experience - to say the least! However, can I really expect them to cross into my environment unless I'm willing to love them where they are at? One of the greatest criticisms Jesus received was that he ate with 'publicans and sinners'. He crossed the room, joined in their feasts, loved them as they were. So too we must 'cross the room', love them even before they have 'accepted' or 'changed'. So we laughed and enjoyed ourselves in an environment way outside of our comfort zone. We got home at just before 3 a.m.! 

    We are aware that we are being watched, evaluated, and that our testimony is important. 'Crossing the room' doesn't mean participating in everything - there are limitations. But we can be a presence, we can be salt and light - where it is most needed! 

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