Staying in the Uncomfortable
For many people, stepping out of their comfort zone means physically moving into something new.
Whether it be taking on a new job or ending one, moving out of the house, moving to a new city, starting new relationships or ending old ones, stepping out is usually associated with big changes.
Not so much for me.
You see, my life has been a series of moving into something new. For 24 years of my life, I have moved into 16 houses including the ones in the Philippines. In 2009, our family moved here to New Zealand. By the time I was 18 and a high school graduate, I moved out of the house to attend a university in Auckland. A year and a half later, I moved to Wellington, and last July, I moved out of the house again to go flatting. A lot of moving around. A lot of new places and new people.
I found comfort in taking on new adventures, which means staying is not really my thing. When I moved to Wellington (which started as a new adventure of comfort), I never thought that would be a call to step out from the moved-around gig into staying-in-one-place life.
Year after year, I made plans to move to a new city, or even a new country. Yet, for the plenty of times I have asked God for a move, the response was always ‘not yet.’ This came in forms of blessings like a new puppy, new house, having my eldest brother finally coming over to New Zealand or the purpose of Her Progress. But, I have always wondered why He wants me to stay and stick around in one place.
I’m in my fifth year here in the beautiful little capital city of Wellington, New Zealand. As I looked back on the years behind me, God taught me the most important thing to learn about staying:
The grass is always greener where you water it, not on the other side.
It wasn’t a smooth sailing journey.
Time and time again, I have given myself reasons why I should leave a place based on all the lacks that I’ve picked out of the many luxuries. Whether it was in my relationship, career or geographical location, I always looked for ways to see what is missing. There aren’t enough romantic gestures, or there isn’t enough career growth, or there aren’t enough cool places to hang out in the city (which can be very true, especially on a rainy day).
But the deeper I dove into the seasons of life, I am learning that the grass is not greener on the other side, but on the area where you water. A relationship is not fruitful without ongoing investment. A career is not fruitful without hardwork. A place is not fruitful when you only see what is missing.
The time you start seeing the blessing is also the time that your eyes open to what you have, and gratitude comes out of our mouths more than complaints. You start to be thankful for the simplest things that have gone unnoticed, such as the air you breathe, the warm sunny days or simply the people who truly loves you.
And because of this, God taught me the most important thing about our faith: perseverance.
The grass will only grow into a luscious patch of green when there is a consistent pouring of water. Same with faith. Faith only grows when it is nurtured continuously.
Persevering in faith has brought to my attention that I have used my comfort of moving around as a reason to escape a challenge. When its easier to give up, I would rather run off to something new, where everything is fresh and not as messy. But James 1:2-4 (MSG) reminded me of what it is like to have faith under pressure. His words speak to exactly how it feels when you need to stay in the midst of a struggle.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, you faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG)
There is a fine line between a calling to step out and a reason to escape. When you are called to step out of your comfort zone, uneasiness will become dominant in your nature. Your faith will brew and grow into something even stronger. When you are finding a reason to escape, your faith will remain dormant and unchallenged.
Strengthened faith comes from the more pressured seasons, and it will only grow when you reach outside of your comfort zone. So even if it’s uncomfortable, just go with it anyway.
Whether we like it or not, a calling will always take you out of what’s comfortable. Whether it be stepping into something little in the same place, or to move into a completely new territory, it is at the edge of your comfort zone that faith will be your greatest compass and God will be your trusted inner GPS. It is outside your comfort zone that you learn new things, love new places and enjoy new people. In my case, I learnt new things about myself, loved new facts about the same place and found new joy in the same company.
It’s been an abundant season of staying in the uncomfortable and burying deeper roots, and I am still challenged to be plant deeper roots and dig even deeper. But a little part of me is invited to be uncomfortable again and spark something in that has gone to sleep. And I am excited for what, when and where that calling will take me!