Comfortable with Uncomfortable

I remember sharing a thought with a friend once…I don’t think God wants us comfortable.

In the valley of comfortable is the land of complacency, stagnation, and indifference. I have been there more than a few times.

In Joshua chapter 7, after experiencing a great victory, the people face a defeat. Joshua laments, Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all-to deliver us into the land of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?

How does God answer him? Get up!!

How easy do we forget our victories when we are faced with challenges, defeats, and mountains??

I am not comfortable now. I am being stretched and challenged. More than once recently, I have felt God telling me to get up when I felt knocked down.

This morning, I can smile. I have had some challenging days, but I have sensed the Hand of God all over my life. Little things have caused me to step back and smile. Progress not perfection. Seeing my son interact in such caring ways with residents. Positive interactions with the staff and residents. Allowing myself to take feedback, reflect, and be willing to grow from it instead of internalizing and being defensive.

Sometimes in the midst of struggle, it can be hard to find the light in the desert.

The light is there. When we keep our eyes and thoughts fixed on God, it keeps our focus on where it should be. My friend, I don’t know what your life looks like, but if you are feeling uncomfortable…trust God to use your situation to stretch you and grow you closer to Him.

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Uncomfortable

uncomfortableYesterday, I was uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. In a sad way. In a disturbed way. In a way that hurt.

My faith calls me at times to be uncomfortable. My food issues put me in situations where I am uncomfortable and at other times leave me physically uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is not something new, but yesterday, it was a new kind of uncomfortable.

Early Saturday morning with coffee cup in hand, I settled into the front seat of my minivan with my family as we followed a small caravan of cars, full of friends from our church. Our destination: the homeless shelter in the downtown in the nearby city. As we toured the building and had our volunteer orientation, I was inspired by the vision of the organization, a Christian organization who runs solely on the generous support of others and no government assistance. Their vision includes plans to revitalize an old school building for their extensive programs. This inspired me. From there, we traveled to the men’s shelter for a tour. It wasn’t the visit to the men’s shelter with empty bunk beds and a pair of boots with two half rolls of toilet paper tucked inside that made me uncomfortable, either.

boot

It was lunch. We joined a room full of homeless individuals, each with a different story, for lunch. I sat at a table with two youth from my church and two ladies who had come in from the cold for a warm meal. One lady was chatty and shared her story. Another lady when I said hello to her, her cold eyes looked straight through me, no sign of hope. She stood up and wandered to another table where she could sit alone. What is her story? I will never know.

I chatted some with the friendly lady at our table who was willing to talk and share her story. I witnessed an almost fight at another table. I looked around the room and saw people socializing with one another. I saw people like the one lady who preferred to sit alone and keep to herself. They allowed us, the guests, to eat first which felt uncomfortable. I walked up and retrieved a tray which held a plate filled with food. Salad. Gray, mystery soup. Angel food cake. I ate the salad. The gray mystery soup had an odor and contained noodles, meat of some sort, and veggies. I felt uncomfortable because I did not eat anything but the salad, but I did not want to feel physically uncomfortable later. The lady at our table said the food is okay, depends on the cook, and lunch is better than dinner.

Then, our group went to thrift store ran by the organization where individuals can shop at designated times. Shopping day had been that morning, so we were put to work cleaning up and re-organizing and restocking. Our group donated over 500 pounds of clothes that day adding to bags and boxes of clothes and shoes needing sorted. I helped with the baby and children’s items. I was uncomfortable. Uncomfortable that we who have so much donate our children’s used clothes that are ripped and stained. Just because someone has limited monetary resources does not mean their children should have to wear someone’s chocolate stained sweatshirt or yellowed, formula stained bib.

shoes

Uncomfortable. I have food issues and intolerances. I can choose to eat foods that make me feel better. I don’t have to eat gray mystery soup. I can eat fresh fruits and vegetables. I have a bed at night. I can sleep in warmth and not in a room with fifty other people. I have a closet full of clothes and a ton of shoes I don’t even wear. I have a job.

I don’t know anyone’s story. I don’t judge. I don’t assume. Yet, I am uncomfortable. I am sad. I know the organization is bringing hope and changing lives. I know my faith will stretch me and make me uncomfortable at times.

As I drink my coffee this morning in my freshly painted dining room in the warmth of my home with my family upstairs that love me and I love, I know I have a lot to be thankful for. I don’t have the perfect job, the perfect body, the perfect home, but I have a sense of security and safety.

Matthew 25:40

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Uncomfortable so I can grow. Uncomfortable so I can help others. Uncomfortable so I can have compassion and love. Uncomfortable so I can have understanding. Uncomfortable so I can have gratitude.