Goodbye, Comfort Zone!

Goodbye, Comfort Zone!

In church this past Sunday I challenged our church to do something that I’m not great at myself, but I asked them to hold me accountable.

I don’t ever want to ask someone to do something that I’m unwilling to do myself.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, or what your title (business, ministry, anything) is, you’re never too high up to do anything.

If you think you’re past the point in your life where you have to scrub the church toilets, think again.

If you see a piece of trash on the floor after church, don’t step over it and think “I’m not on the schedule to clean this week, it will get picked up before next Sunday.”

Just pick it up! It doesn’t matter if it’s your job or not. It’s your church. Help keep it nice.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your job or not. It’s your church. Help keep it nice.

I’ve actually seen people get closer to a wrapper or something left on the pew after church to see what it was, and then walk away and leave it there.

Don’t do that. Be helpful everywhere you are. At home, at a restaurant, at work, at church.  Doing something little can make a big difference in someone else’s day.

That was for free. Anyway, back to last Sunday…

I challenged our congregation to step out of their comfort zone.

I love my comfort zone. It’s so warm and fuzzy and it’s filled with lots of strong coffee and chocolate chip cookies!

My human nature would be satisfied if I just didn’t put myself out there at all.

Unfortunately, I can’t reach my city that way.

At our organization’s General Conference last month, our General Superintendent said something that I knew, but still hit me with force that night.

It only takes ONE intercessor to change the destiny of a city.

Wow.

God called our family to this city and obeying Him wasn’t comfortable.

Leaving our church family, my husband leaving his good job right before a hefty raise kicked in, wasn’t comfortable.

Driving 2200 miles to the unknown with two kids under 2 wasn’t comfortable.

Becoming the pastoral family in a new church where we only knew a couple of people wasn’t comfortable.

Meeting my new neighbors and people around my city wasn’t (and isn’t) comfortable.

That’s OK though because God didn’t call me to be comfortable.

I can’t change the destiny of my city if I stay in my comfort zone.

After my challenge on Sunday, I was praying on Monday morning and asked the Lord to open up a door for me to meet someone who will see Him shine through me that very day.

My only plans outside of the house were to drop off and pick up Judah from school and go to the grocery store.

I decided to stop at a coffee shop on the way home because it was a chilly rainy day, and a steamy hot vanilla chai tea almond milk latte sounded so good.

I almost always go to a place with a drive-thru when I have the kids with me because unbuckling and re-buckling car seats get old really fast.

Monday though, the only hot beverage that sounded good was from a coffee shop without a drive-thru, so I unbuckled Judah (Charlie was home with my husband) and we went inside.

As he and I were talking about the animal heads decorating the wall while I was waiting for my drink, a woman and her daughter came over and kind of stood awkwardly close to us. The little girl kept looking at Judah and neither of them said anything so I decided to jump in and start a conversation. Because this little girl wanted to come see Judah, I was able to meet her mom.

We talked a bit and I found out that she was recently divorced and trying to figure out life in a whole new way. She was telling me how hard it was adjusting to being a single mom. My heart went out to her. I learned that she and her daughter are at that coffee shop weekly at that time, and we are going to plan to get together with the kids.

I don’t know what is going to come of that meeting, but I do know that I’m going to spend time in prayer for her and her daughter before we meet again.

Isn’t it funny how when God answers our prayers, it surprises us?

I also felt conviction.

How many opportunities every day do I miss just because I want to stay in my comfort zone? If I’m waiting in line at a store, I usually pull out my phone instead of noticing who is around me. How many people has God placed near me so I can be a light, and I’ve ignored it because it wasn’t comfortable?

When that lady and her daughter came over to me and Judah, I immediately felt the Lord tell me I should have been the one to go to them.

I didn’t.

I honestly didn’t even notice them because I was comfortable.

It’s only been a couple days, but I’m practicing being more aware when I’m in public. How can my light shine if my face is always looking down scrolling on my phone?

Here are some ways to practice stepping out of your comfort zone:

Pray. That one’s a given, right? I mean pray specifically each and every day that God will direct your day and you will cross paths with someone who needs what you have. Be aware when you’re out and listen for God’s gentle nudging towards the right person or people.

Use your kids!
Having kids with you makes it easier to approach people, whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert. Everyone wants to talk about their kids. Use that to strike up a conversation with another mom at the grocery store.

Don’t automatically grab your phone when you’re waiting in a line. Look around, try to talk to someone near you.

Don’t push. Yes, we want to reach everyone, but don’t push when it’s obvious a person isn’t being receptive. We want to show God’s love, not leave a bad taste in their mouths.

Realize that sometimes, if not most of the time, your conversations won’t be super spiritual. When I talked to the newly single mom at the coffee shop the other day, we both mentioned church, but that wasn’t the focus of the conversation. I didn’t invite her to church because I didn’t feel like that was the right thing to do in that moment. I want to create a connection with her first. She mentioned that she meets up with her mom’s church group at that coffee shop on Mondays. I noticed 2 things.

  1. She obviously has ties to a church in town.
  2. She intentionally said it was her mom’s church group, not hers.

I picked those key things up in the conversation and I’m going to remember them when we meet next time. Pay attention to details in conversations so the next time you talk it’s clear that you were invested in the previous conversation(s.)

Go outside!
Even when I have a million things to do inside the house, if I notice a bunch of the neighborhood kids are out, if I can, I’ll stop what I’m doing and take the kids out. Sometimes their parents are out with them and sometimes they aren’t, but I want to make connections with the kids as much as their parents! We have Sunday School classes that need filling up. 🙂

There is one particular boy that lives by us who is 7 years old, and every time I’m outside, he stops what he’s playing with and comes over and talks to me. Yes, sometimes it can be annoying to talk to a 7-year-old boy for a half an hour, but I do it anyway because I get the feeling that a lot of the adults in his life don’t take the time to really listen to him. I want him to know that what he has to say is important.

I want him to know that he matters.

Matthew 28:19 doesn’t say “Stay comfortable and people will come to you and ask you all the right questions.”

It says “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…”  Sometimes God does send people to you, but that’s not going to be the case every time. Sometimes we need to get uncomfortable to reach our neighbors, our cities, and our states.

I’m praying that in my life, my comfort zone becomes uncomfortable. Familiarity is comfortable. I want stepping out and reaching the hurting people in my city to be so commonplace that it’s my new comfort zone!

I’m so thankful for this beautiful life I live. It’s not perfect by any means, but I live a life of hope! I want others to know they have hope too. I want to change my city, and I need to step out of my current comfort zone to do so.