Beyond Our Comfort Zones

by Heather Bradley

We all have our comfort zones. Sometimes we decide it’s time to step out, and we just take a leap and hope for the best. Sometimes we’re so afraid of stepping outside of these comfort zones that we never really experience all that life has to offer us. There are even times that we don’t step outside of them because we’re afraid that what we will experience on the outside will be so gratifying, so magical, and so beautiful that we will feel bad about leaving what we are comfortable with now in the dust.

This is where I have been finding myself lately.

I started seeing a therapist in August of last year, and I have broken so many of the walls of my comfort zones down. It’s been pretty amazing. Yet, there are still those that I stay firmly in, and find myself terrified of opening the door. I’m so afraid that what might be waiting for me on the other side is going to change my life. Why does that bother me so much? Who cares if what’s waiting for me on the other side of the door is going to change my life? Maybe that’s what we need.

When I heard that Fred Phelps being “on the edge of death” and shortly after, passed away, I can honestly say that I was surprised at my own reaction. I wasn’t filled with joy that he was going to die after all of the sufferings and hurt he has caused so many people. My reaction and my feelings were quite the opposite. For the first time in a long time, I felt nothing but compassion and a deep feeling of empathy for him. I can’t honestly say that I didn’t feel a tiny bit of anger in the process, but the point is that overwhelmingly, I felt forgiveness, compassion, and love.

People may argue that there is no point in forgiving and loving if you can’t do it 100% with a cheerful heart.

While that may be true for some, for me, I feel like if we wait for that 100% before doing anything outside of that comfort zone, nothing will ever get done. The more we push our own limits, the easier it will become for us to willingly do these things. Most of the time, the only thing standing in the way of accomplishment is ourselves. We feel like we have to be a buffer between ourselves and the world when, really, why should it matter what the world is going to say or feel about us? If we’re being true to ourselves, how they react to that is none of our business.

Sometimes I feel as though Christianity is a cool kids club—like if you don’t follow certain rules and guidelines, you can’t be in the club anymore. What happened to God loving and accepting and caring for every creature? This goes along with the comfort zone analogy earlier. Christians are so comfortable socializing with people who are like them that we lose sight of those who need our love, compassion, and mercy the most: the people who are considered “outcasts.”

It’s time for us to take a stand for those who may not be strong enough to stand up for themselves.

It’s time for us to show people the love of Christ and His grace and mercy without making them feel like we’re out to win points for some big soul-winning game we’re playing. Sometimes I feel like Christians are playing in the Hunger Games. Only instead of competing for survival, we compete for who can win the most souls for Heaven.

Somehow, in the process, we often wind up turning more people away from God than we do winning them for God; mostly because, once again, we stand in our own way. If we would get out of the way and let people see the true and unconditional love that is Jesus Christ, then we may get to reach more people. It’s not our job to clean people up so that they can be worthy of His love. If that were the case, nobody would ever get saved because we will never be truly worthy.

Thank God for His grace and mercy that allows us to be worthy of His love and compassion.

Remember why we’re all here. It’s not to alienate each other or belittle each other. We’re here to love each other and spread the love of God who put us here in the first place. If you find yourself pointing fingers, look at the ones pointing back at you and see why you’re so upset with how other people are living their lives.

We aren’t God. We can’t save people. All we can do is love them, faults and all, and pray that they really get to experience that love that God gives freely. In the end, love always wins.

Image via flickr user Jun Kok