I think it’s fair to start this post off with a simple assumption: we want to be happy in life. Right? I mean, no one wants to go through our 80+ years on this Earth being miserable. God wants us to be happy too! When you love someone, there’s no greater joy than making them laugh, seeing them smile, and knowing they’re doing well.
The problem comes when we confuse comfort and joy. Joy is mobile, energetic. When we are filled with delight, our instinct is to share it. It’s not something to be hoarded, but spread, and the more we give, the happier we are. Comfort, on the other hand, is static. When we’re comfortable, we like to stay where we are. We snuggle down into our nest of comfort-zone items and we start hibernation. It’s an effort to share, and efforts can be uncomfortable.
We are a generation, a society, that worships comfort. Every advertisement out there sells us comfort above all. Better cars, better clothes, tastier food—it’s about ‘the zone’.
Not only has the goal of life become to be as comfortable as possible, but it is absolutely forbidden to intrude on anyone else’s bubble and push them out of their ‘zone’. Relativism tells us that as my belief is this, and this person’s is that, both are of equal value. Aye, and there’s the rub, as Shakespeare would say. Because both beliefs are of equal value, that suddenly means I have no right to express my belief, since it is the opposite of yours, and my belief might make you uncomfortable. By speaking of my convictions, I am automatically imposing my belief on yours, and this is such a terrible no-no in our world today. We must never impose! Imposing takes away comfort, and discomfort forces you to think of a way to defend your belief. This has led to the birth of what I’ve heard called ‘the PC police’ and goodness it is vicious. Political Correctness has become a muzzle, or rather maybe a leash, to keep us where we are and make sure we don’t step on the grass. This is not life as it was meant to be.
I heard a story, recently, of an author who illustrates my point. This lady had a great project. She slaved away for years, polishing and refining and putting heart and soul into her words. There were a few issues, as with every project, and so she had a team of sensitivity readers take a look. Yes, that’s an actual job, and they cost about $300, depending on your manuscript length. Well, it passed the first 12 readers, with only minor corrections. She made them, and was in the final stages of publication, when a new team read through. Nine had no problem with the content. One did. So, she threw out the entire manuscript and—that was it. She said it wasn’t worth the risk of a single person being offended and destroyed years of work.
Since when has reading been about comfort? A real book, a well-written, page-turning, age-defying novel—is one that makes you think. It takes you on a journey far out of your comfort zone, and makes you cringe and cry and most importantly it makes. You. Think. Has anyone ever been comfortable reading Fahrenheit 451? Great Gatsby? Heck, the Bible? Pope Benedict XVI said, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
When we grow, there is pain. There is heartache. We are wounded, bruised, battered, stretched, and torn apart. And God puts us back together, stitch by painful stitch, and we get a little taller, a little closer to Heaven. There can be no growth without movement, and no movement without a push outside of our comfort zone. Now I’m not saying run around offending people for the heck of it, that’s another extreme. But don’t hide the Truth, either. Don’t hide your thoughts, don’t bury your beliefs. Argue! Fight! Push boundaries! Embrace discomfort and explore it, move with it. Don’t stand still, run! Every great story begins with a character leaving the comfort zone behind.
“It would be delightful to report that they reached the nursery in time,” a narrator in Peter Pan tells us of the Darling parents returning home as their children prepare to journey to Neverland, “But then—there would be no story.”
Live your story to the fullest. If you get hurt, and you will, that’s a guarantee, God will pick you up and put you back together. Trust me on that. It’s pretty much His job.