I saw it there as I stood in the check out line at JoAnn’s with one of those adult color books for my daughter as a Christmas gift. She says she is “too old” for normal kid coloring books these days. So as I waited to pay for the coloring book, the gold shimmering off the black caught my eye as I read the words…
“Great Things Never Come From Comfort Zones”
My current journal almost filled, I knew this journal was calling out to me, because you see, I have been contemplating stepping out of a comfort zone lately… actually for a long time. For a long time I have thought of venturing out into the realm of blogging to share my thoughts and ideas, my hopes and questions about life and faith and God. Blogging has long been something I have thought about and talked about doing… ask any of my friends. They are probably tired of hearing me say it. I am sure they have thought at least once, “Stop talking about it Janise, and just do it!”
But something has held me back… and its name is fear. Fear that comes in the form of these questions: What if no one reads me? What if I put my thoughts out there, deep thoughts, about life and where God is in the midst of all it, what if I share these thoughts out there into the nebulous, vast world of the internet and NO. ONE. READS. IT. What then? What does that say about me?
It’s not that I am afraid to talk in front of people or share my thoughts. I do it all the time… it is a deep call in me. I have preached and taught in front of 100s of people, many times. I speak in front of groups all the time on deep matters of faith and life, unpack Scripture and try to help point people to the truth of a God who is pure love and is good and is working for redemption and wholeness in our lives and this world. My fear is not talking or sharing in front of others.
But here’s the catch, when I preach in front of a congregation or share a talk at a Bible Study, I have a guaranteed audience. I know there will be someone there to listen. And somehow that helps affirm in my mind the value of what I do, the value of me. Someone is there to listen to me! And that must mean I matter! (Issues of where one finds their value and worth is a blog post for another time.)
But out there in the blogosphere, well there are a lot of people with really good things to say and there is no guarantee that someone, anyone, will read me. So perhaps my biggest fear is putting myself out there and hearing crickets at the other end… hearing nothing. Because you see, its not just words on a screen I share here, it is my heart I am sharing with you. And you want someone to receive your heart.
Fear that no one will receive my heart has kept me from venturing into the world of blogging. But it also guarantees that no one will hear me… no one will received my heart.
And so the journal title called to me… Great Things Never Come From Comfort Zones. The truth is, I will never know if what I have to say will be meaningful to anyone if I don’t say it. I will never know if my heart can touch another heart if I don’t extend it to you all first. It is a risky thing though…
Risk. It is defined as the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as an injury or a loss) will happen; the possibility of loss or injury.
Risky. Defined as full of the possibility of danger, failure, or loss.
With those definitions, isn’t our first inclination to say, “No thank you!” to risky things… whatever your risky thing is? None of us want anything bad or unpleasant to happen to us. But we also may never know the good that God has for us if we don’t risk the possibility of failing.
Stepping out of a comfort zone is by nature a risky thing. You don’t know what will happen when you do. And we each consider different things risky don’t we? I have no problem stepping up in front of a large group and talking… but that would terrify someone else… far too risky. What if they can’t think of what to say? What if they freeze? How mortifying! For many out there in the blogging world, it was no big deal to start writing. For me, well I you know where I am on that one.
But here’s the thing…
Comfort zones, they can become cages that lock you up…
Comfort zones, they can become graveyards full of the things you never did…
Comfort zones, they can become a den of regrets…
And who wants to live in a cage? Who wants to sit grave-tending for the rest of their life? Who wants to live a life full of regrets?
Comfort zones may sound nice and cozy, like sitting by a warm fire on a cold day, but soon you discover it is summer outside and the heat of the fire doesn’t feel so great and you are missing things by staying there and not venturing out into the broad open space of summer.
What am I, what are you missing, by staying in a comfort zone? What are you missing by holding back from taking that risk? What great thing may NEVER BE because you never ventured beyond your fear?
You see there IS a risk if you step out of your comfort zone… but there is also a risk if you don‘t… a risk of missing the fullness of the life God has for you!
As I shared my fears yet again with my dear friend (she really is so patient with me), her words to me were “Janise, Jesus is extending his hand to you and calling you to step out of the boat. Step out in faith even though the waters seem uncertain.”
As I thought about the verse she was alluding to, Matthew 14:22-33 where Peter is being called out to walk on the water with Jesus, I realized regardless of what happened on that water, float or fail, Jesus would not let Peter sink! Our failures can never fully submerge us and often they teach us how to walk more steadily on the water in the end.
I heard in my dear friend’s gentle challenge: take the risk and trust God to hold you success or failure! Because the ONLY thing you ensure in not taking the risk beyond your comfort zone is a life of something great never tried. And that doesn’t sound so great on a journal cover or as a life statement… I Stayed in My Comfort Zone and Never Did Great Things.
So this is me stepping out of my comfort zone… because great things never come from comfort zones… and I don’t want to miss the great things God has for me.