If you’re like me and you grew up in middle class America, you are probably very familiar with comfort. A house where if you’re too cold or too hot you press a button and adjust the temperature. A nice soft mattress with a thick down blanket and a pillow that feels like your head is resting on a cloud (now I want to go back to bed).
Right now I’m sitting on a porch in San Diego, CA. The weather is beyond perfect. It’s as if somebody pressed a button and set the thermostat just right. I’m comfortable
Comfort is very attractive. I think because I’ve been comfortable for most of my life, when I’m uncomfortable I feel as if something is wrong. Yet when I look back on my life: mission trips, finishing school or finishing a record; those “uncomfortable” seasons were the most meaningful and rewarding events in my life.
Comfort can be a good thing. When we are hurt, people we are close to can comfort us with their love. It’s a gift and a beautiful thing to have comfort. But there is a type of comfort that is dangerous, a type that lures us into complacency and lulls us into wasting our lives one day, one month, one year at a time.
Earlier this year I had some time off. It was good at first because I got to reflect after a crazy year of recording and releasing a record and touring for a few months. But after a while I started to get paralyzed. I started to build my life around my own emotions. If something was very difficult I gave up very easy. I drew back my expectations on life because I was afraid of failing, afraid of pain. For two months I was confined within my own boundaries of safety, fear and comfort. And needless to say I was miserable.
I became “uncomfortably comfortable.” My life was unfulfilling, boring, and absent of purpose or challenge. I wanted to change but I was trapped inside my illusion of control and comfort. Now this has happened MANY times in my life. I’ve wasted years in that prison. In an effort to relieve pain, loneliness and let downs I’ve turned to the temporary things around me for comfort. And I’ve realized something about our culture:
The things around us that make us comfortable have become a prison cell that prevents us from stepping outside of ourselves. We call it our COMFORT ZONE.
Think about it. The more comfortable your bed is the harder it is to get out of it in the morning. And the more comfortable our lives are the harder it is to embrace change, take risks and live a life that costs a lot (and rewards a lot too).
Here in San Diego my grandmother is in a nursing home. When I first went to visit I could barely handle the reality I walked into. I saw a room full of people who are at the end of their lives. Society has forgotten about them. For some of them even their families have forgotten about them. They are not looking forward to the rest of their lives, they’re reflecting on the lives they’ve lived. Most of them can’t walk, some cannot eat by themselves, and well, let me stop there. It was quite depressing honestly. I was uncomfortable. My stomach squirmed as I looked at their vulnerability. I quickly wanted to retreat to my own world of comfort by myself back in Tennessee. But by the third day something shifted in me. I saw my family love on my grandmother. I saw my grandfather take the time to pray with one of the residents, and my aunt help feed someone who didn’t have anyone to help. Being in that environment every day created a longing inside of me to be a part of a community like that. My skin got thicker, I saw that love can trump suffering, even though the pain is still real. I didn’t want to escape or run, I wanted to be alive again.
When I returned to Spring Hill, my own isolated world of comfort felt empty. I couldn’t go back to it. After stepping out of it I became aware of what I was missing. I wanted more than what comfort had to offer, even if it was going to hurt.
(to be continued…)