Getting Comfortable Outside the “Comfort Zone”

Hudson Running editedPaul wrote, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

When it comes to reaching our goals—and even more importantly, God’s goals for us—I find that we are more often than not in a conundrum. We want to reach the goal, but we don’t want to stretch and strain. Which of course, presents a problem: we can’t have it both ways.

The picture that I am using for this post is a rare “personal” picture. The boy in red is my oldest grandson, Hudson (I am so proud of him!). Note the expression on his face, the muscles in his arms and legs. Can you tell that he is straining? All of life isn’t that intense, of course, but there will be days, situations… Smile

What does “straining” look like in everyday life? Here are a few examples.

I have been a real estate agent since 2005. When I first started in that business, everything felt like a stretch. I was continuously afraid of doing something wrong, of ruining someone’s life (I know; I’m overly dramatic). I did not get comfortable selling houses until I had sold a few. But to sell the first few, I had to be willing to go through that uncomfortable phase. And then about the time I got “comfortable” selling houses, someone wanted to buy land only. That presented a whole new set of scenarios I had to learn. The easy (aka, comfortable) thing to do would have been to just opt out of selling land—to be a residential specialist (only). But to be an excellent real estate agent, I needed to be well-versed in all kinds of properties. And so I stretched myself. There were also leases and farms and commercial sales to learn, followed up by listings of all kinds. The point is, I could learn the bare minimum, just enough to get by and make a few dollars, or I could commit myself to the process and be excellent.

Another example. For years, I walked for exercise. It made me feel good about myself, it appeased my conscience (regarding being healthy), and it was downright pleasant. I loved it; I was comfortable with it. Then one eventful day, I ventured a run of a few feet (see My Running Story for the details). It was not comfortable, it didn’t particularly make me feel good about myself (it’s hard to feel good about yourself only being able to run a few feet!), and it exposed the true level of my physical fitness. Nevertheless, that experience was the beginning of a stretch in the physical realm that has bled over into many other areas of my life. I continue to “strain” via running, and I am stronger physically than I have been my entire life (judging from measurable criteria such as endurance).

In my relationships with people (those near, like family and close friends, and those that are merely acquaintances), I have lived most of my life as a “people pleaser.” And why wouldn’t I? I want people to like me, and I don’t want to rock the boat by dealing with differences or confronting those who are under my leadership. Obviously, the people-pleasing paradigm produces very shallow, un-authentic relationships, and it is definitely a disservice to those whom I am leading. It’s comfortable—at least in the moment—but it’s wrong. The correct, and uncomfortable, approach is to learn to be authentic while being as tactful and compassionate as possible when dealing head-on with “issues” (Talk about stretching! That combo is indeed a stretch). Needless to say, dealing with issues creates some discomfort for those on the other side of the equation, too, but for those that are “straining toward the goal” like I am, they are ultimately thankful for the honesty and directness. We all benefit from the interaction; we all grow through the process. We all are stretched to a new level.

On the converse side of that same equation (confrontation), it is not necessarily comfortable being corrected by someone in authority over me. However, I can honestly say that I have moved beyond resisting and rejecting correction. As one in a leadership position, I know that correction is not handed out lightly. Also, as a student of the book of Proverbs, it is so evident that one of the keys to knowing God’s will is to be able to respond well to correction (Proverbs 1:23), whether from God or man. My goal, then, is to learn to embrace correction and discipline, which is a novel concept in this age where rights, freedom of expression and comfort are far more emphasized than maturity, responsibility and “straining.”

As I conclude this post, I will re-state what I posted on Facebook earlier today: When Paul said he was “pressing” and “straining,” I believe that means he was stretching beyond his comfort zone, he was not coasting. To reach God’s goal for us, we’re all going to have to do the same—s-t-r-e-t-c-h! That will manifest in numerous ways every single day—the way we work, the way we respond to people, the way we treat our families, the way we think, etc. Are you stretching or coasting? Leave me a comment and let me know how all this hits you.

Speaking of Facebook, if you are not already a follower of MyPleasantPlaces, you can become one simply by clicking the Facebook “like” box in the sidebar to the right. By doing so, you will receive the daily tips for personal development that are posted on Facebook, and you can participate in the occasional casual surveys that I conduct among the “followers.” These surveys provide background for some of the topics that I will be writing about in the future.

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5 Responses to Getting Comfortable Outside the “Comfort Zone”

  1. Sherri Sumstine says:

    I love your blog, my friend. Your posts always inspire me. This one included. Sometimes when we strive we do it waiting. Sometimes when we strive we do it running as fast as we can…. Running hard to be obedient to the goal God has set before us.
    Personally the past five years has been both…. a strain of being formed into a new identity and with it a new focus of God’s calling on my life. I am now finally entering new territory and, let me say, it has been worth every patient hour, every heart pounding minute…every quiet walk and every muscle’s effort.
    Gods Personal individually created ‘program’ leaves us healthy in body,soul and spirit and makes us ready to run the race before us far into our new season.
    Thank you for your commitment. Diane, to be faithful to God’s call. Love you.

    • Diane says:

      Great comment, Sherri. I believe that whether we are “waiting” or “running” (and I am speaking in Kingdom language here), we are always moving forward internally if it is obedience to God. And yes, it is always worth it! Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Ann says:

    Diane, thank you- I have been thinking a lot about living to the very edge of the boundaries that God sets up for our lives- (from EAD session 1) This post reminded me of it yet again.. God wants me… us.. to move into that place of fully trusting Him… going beyond what we know we are comfortable with and are familiar with or even what we know we are good at. He wants more from me. God pushes us to the very limit, He has a life full of abundance and power when we finally get to that place of finally letting go completely, and trusting that what He already built in us is going to produce exactly the results that He has intended. You inspire me too- so glad we are building the Kingdom together.

    • Diane says:

      Hi Ann! Thanks for the comment! I like your phrase, “living to the very edge of the boundaries.” I’m sure God would be so pleased if we all were so intense about the “race of life.” Thanks again for the feedback!

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