I am sure that at some time or other you have heard someone make reference to something called the “comfort zone” of a person. The “comfort zone” is a set of limitations that we as individuals place upon ourselves that governs our actions or risks that we are willing to take in life. The ” comfort zone” of a person is created based upon what that person if familiar or comfortable with. The actions, lifestyles, risks, and challenges that we take upon ourselves as individuals rarely extends outside the parameters of that which we are familiar or comfortable with; hence the name….our “comfort zone”.
The primary problem with choosing to only live life within your comfort zone is that it prevents personal growth. The emotional, social, and spiritual growth that we as individuals need to experience in order to live a successful life, and the kind of life that is vibrant and makes a positive impact on the world around us, only comes from a willingness to venture outside of our comfort zone. It is outside the familiarity and parameters of our comfort zone that real personal growth takes place. There are things in life that we will never experience and places that God wants to take us in this journey that we call life that we will never be able to reach as long as we imprison ourselves within our comfort zone. We rob ourselves of some of the greatest blessings in life that await us, and some of the joys that life has to offer when we limit what we do to only what we are comfortable or familiar with.
Our comfort zone is to a large degree, created by fear. It is created by fear of the unknown. Fear brings about the questions that begin with words such as ” But what if….., or ” But what if I…..” There are always going to be things in life that offer no guarantees, and things that we are not 100% sure about. If you choose to live your life only doing things that you are 100% certain about, then you are choosing to not make faith a part of your life. According to the Bible, in the book of Hebrews , we are told that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. There are times in life that we simply have to step out and trust God, even when we don’t know all the details of our journey. The great Martin Luther King once said “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Think about a time in your life when you were very young. Do you remember the very first time that you tried a certain food, and realized that you liked it? Do you remember the very first time that you rode a bike? What about the very first time that you went swimming, or the very first time that you traveled somewhere alone? Do you remember the very first date with your spouse? Imagine how different your life would be now if you had never taken the chance and tried some of those things. All of these events in your life involved extending yourself beyond that with which you were familiar or comfortable with. All of these events took you out of your “comfort zone.”
Over the last 30 or 35 years, I have had the pleasure on many occasions of teaching young adult Sunday school classes, adult Sunday School classes, speaking to youth groups, and men’s bible studys. I think I was about 14 years of age the very first time I did any public speaking before a group. I remember to this day how terrified I was of speaking to a group that very first time. The thought of failure or the risk of making a fool of myself almost paralyzed me with fear, but I took the risk. I am so glad that I did, because it has played a huge part in giving me much of the joy I have experienced in my life. I have always felt like God’s desire was for me to be a person that would encourage and teach others. That very first time I ever spoke in front of a group was definitely a journey outside of my comfort zone. In June of 2009, during one of the worst economic periods of our lifetime, my wife took a step of faith and journeyed out of her comfort zone by starting her own medical recruiting company; Cornerstone Medical Recruiting. Her decision to take that step of faith has resulted in one of the biggest blessings of our lives. In August of 2012, we had the privilege of traveling to do missionary work in Burundi, Africa. Burundi is one of the 5 poorest countries in the entire world. Before this trip, neither of us had ever been on any kind of missionary trip, so this was definitely a journey outside of our comfort zone. However, I would not trade the experiences we had there for anything in the world. It was definitely a life changing experience for us that we will never forget. Taking journeys outside of our comfort zone has brought blessings to our lives that we would have never experienced otherwise.
When you experience personal growth as a result of taking a journey outside of your comfort zone, it will enable you to reach heights that you never thought possible. I can use an analogy and compare personal, emotional, and spiritual growth to physical growth that we experienced as we grew up. I remember when I was just a small child growing up at home, perhaps 5 or 6 years of age. Back then, because I was so small, I would have to get a chair and use it to help me climb onto the counter to get a glass out of the kitchen cabinet. I had not grown enough to reach that height on my own. Of course, after I grew taller, I could reach heights that before were physically impossible for me to reach. Likewise, when we grow emotionally, and spiritually, we can reach places in our lives that we were never able to reach before, but that type of growth only comes from taking the risk and the step of faith to journey outside of your comfort zone.
I truly believe that the most rewarding and life changing times in your life will be those times that you allow God to use you in capacities that extend beyond the parameters of your comfort zone. More times than not, when we come to the place that we are fully committed to doing whatever God wants us to do, God will ask us to do things that are far outside of our comfort zone. I believe God does this for a reason. God does this because if He only asked us to do things that we were comfortable doing and involved no fears of failure, we would be placing too much faith in our own talents, strengths, and abilities. However, when God asks us to do something that we are very inexperienced in and is outside the parameters of our comfort zone, we will have no confidence in our own skills and abilities. It is in situations like this that we must solely place our faith and trust in God to work through us to do whatever He has called us to do. This is what God wants from us to start with. Something that we must never forget is the fact that God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called. God will never call you to do something that He will not empower and enable you to do. Nobody who is unwilling to place complete faith and trust in God will ever step outside of their comfort zone.
I would like to leave you with a quote by H. Jackson Brown Jr. that says, ““Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I challenge everyone to take this advice and, as it says, sail away from the safe harbor. That safe harbor is our self-imposed restrictions and limitations of our comfort zone. Take a step of faith and journey outside of your comfort zone, and your life will never be the same.
Thanks for reading!
Until Next time,