Ever been in pain or discomfort? Most people don’t like being uncomfortable. I have a favorite chair I love. It’s a swivel recliner. It’s where I’m sitting right now as I write this post. I have a favorite pair of comfortable shoes. I have drawer that holds only my comfortable shirts. You could say I’m into comfort.
Discomfort is defined as uneasiness, hardship, mild pain or anything that is disturbing to or interferes with comfort. I like my comfort zone. Pushing myself out of that comfort zone is not something I like. I design my life to feel and to inflict the least immediate pain possible.
Moving out of my comfort zone causes me anxiety. However without incurring discomfort we don’t change. We just stay put. We don’t challenge ourselves. We stay the same.
My comfort zone can become a prison in my life. It pulls me back to a place where growth is not possible. Growth, reaching for something more doesn’t come without pain.
Years ago, my husband and I had a cat named Clown. A beautiful calico, Clown was the preferred mate among the numerous male cats in our neighborhood. The first time she became pregnant she was not happy. Things were changing in her body. Her meow became a cry.
The evening came when the kittens were ready to make their entrance into the world. She was lying on the bed between us. I could feel the kittens move against my leg.
All of a sudden I realized what was happening and told my husband to run get some towels. He did and we moved her to the floor beside the bed. She cried terribly and looked at us with big terrified eyes as if to say, “What have you gotten me into? This is too hard. I want the warm bed back. I want the pain to go away.”
With each kitten she gave a screeching cat cry. After the five were born, she settled down and began licking them and cleaning them, grooming them, feeding them and purring contently.
The pain had brought something marvelous into her life. And in her way she told us she was grateful.
Clown had many kittens after that. After that first time, she understood what the pain would bring and welcomed it. We never heard her cry or complain about the pain.
One possible response to the hurt is to see the pain discomfort as a classroom to teach me some lesson. In second grade, Mrs. Cunningham didn’t let us get by without learning our pluses, as she called addition. I had to memorize that 9 + 4 is 13.
We were tested on it and if we didn’t pass, we had to go back and study some more. We worked with buddies who quizzing each other using flash cards. We did it until we got it. She didn’t let us slide. As a second grader I sometimes thought I would die repeating those addition facts over and over.
Today I’m grateful that those facts come easy imy everyday life. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t comfortable. But I did it until I learned it.
The classroom of pain and discomfort can teach us things but, we have to be willing to learn. When we run away, we will find ourselves back there again. If a lesson is worth learning it will stretch us. There will be growing pains. There will be birth pains. But, it is a lesson we need to learn to go to the next level in our lives.
A companion response to that, Dr. Russ Hardesty explains is to say, “Thank you, Teacher, that you care enough to teach me this lesson. Let me learn it well.”
Approaching pain and discomfort this way will necessitate taking things one day, one hour, one moment at a time. But in the end we will be better for it. We will be stronger. We will be more compassionate towards others who have the same or similar pains in their life.
James even tells us to consider the junk and pain in our lives “all joy”. The lessons we learn, he says, include patience, perseverance and faith in order to present us perfect before God. (James 1:1)
I’d say those are some lessons worth learning. Living and growing includes pain, discomfort and stretching beyond where we are. If we approach it with dread, the lesson will be more painful. If we embrace it as a part of our life and look at it with expectation we will become more of what we want to be.
The knowledge that joy comes in the morning helps me endure pain here. Because I know there will be a time not too far away when we won’t remember the momentary pain today.
This week my challenge is to do something out of my comfort zone each day. Today I went against the current as I walked the lazy river in the pool. It was hard. It hurt. But, the strength and stamina I am building Is worth it.
What will you do to push yourself out of your comfort zone this week?