WHAT’S WRONG WITH BEING COMFORTABLE?
IN PRAISE OF THE MUCH-MALIGNED “COMFORT ZONE”
by Len and David Schmidt / original illustrations by Caitlin Ng
No matter where we turn these days, we seem to run into a preacher telling us that we need to “get out of our comfort zone.” The exhortation is often couched in positive terms: “You can do it! God wants you to move out of your comfort zone and into your faith zone!” Sometimes, however, the message contains darker undertones and nearly threatening implications: If you’re in your comfort zone, if you’re using your natural talents and gifts and feel fulfilled doing so, watch out…God just might take it all away from you.
To be sure, at certain times in life we definitely need to move beyond our personal comforts. The “comfort zone” becomes a problem when we fall into complacency and laziness, when we trust in our material abundance as if it were eternal, when we assume our spiritual life no longer has any room for improvement. We must stretch ourselves to pursue worthwhile goals, to help others in need, and to answer even the most delightful calls on our lives—a marriage, for example, or a cross-country move for a new job. Most importantly, getting out of our unhealthy comfort zones is an integral part of spiritual growth. When we move beyond our customary patterns, ruts, addictions, habits, and dysfunctional relationships, it almost always feels uncomfortable—but it is always worth it in the end. As C. S. Lewis once said, “The blows of [God’s] chisel which hurt us so much are what make us perfect.”
If all we meant by the “comfort zone” were a state of indifferent complacency, it would make sense to always set our sights beyond it. Many preachers cast a broader net with the term, however, suggesting that we should make a conscious effort to be uncomfortable for the sake of being uncomfortable—that discomfort is a desirable state to inhabit...
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