Is your comfort zone synonymous with not moving forward and not desiring to attain higher goals? In other words, is being comfortable a bad thing? Is it a good thing? Is it needed, kind of like a warm quilt on a winter night or is it undesirable like a rough wool blanket?
I like being comfortable. There are certain things I think I need to be comfortable. My comfortable shoes, the air or heat set at about 74 degrees, enough money to pay bills and have a bit of a cushion, a job that helps me sustain an acceptable quality of life. I’m sure you could name a few things that you feel you need to be comfortable.
Just as I like to be comfortable, I realize I will never move forward unless I have at least one or two goals that push me out of my comfort zone. It could be said that they are uncomfortable, but they cause me to reach a little higher and move a little further down the road.
For instance, sticking to my eating plan and exercising is not really comfortable for me. I would much rather reach for “comfort food” and sit in the recliner watching television.
The flip side, for me, is if I set a goal too high, it can derail me faster than anything. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of setting smaller goals rather than one huge goal that seems unattainable.
Here are some examples:
- Want to lose weight? Losing 50 pounds may sound unattainable. Try losing a pound a week. In a year you will have lost over 50 pounds.
- Want to write a book? Write two blog posts a week and in a year, you will have a book.
- Want to pay off an $80,000 mortgage? If you are paying 6% interest today on a 15-year mortgage, pay just $400 extra a month (price of a new car payment) and in less than eight years it will be paid. The added benefit? You will have saved over $21,000 and now have over $2,000 extra a month.
Each of these pushes against established comfort zones but they get that pie-in-the sky goal met. Most of us, though, won’t step out of our comfort zone, set a logical goal and go forward. So, what do we do?
Without some areas of comfort, we will never step out and go for even one of our dreams. Comfort is part of feeling secure and there has to be something to hold on to before we reach for a dream that seems risky.
Determining which comfort zones are healthy and sustaining is a place to start. For instance, when I was a kid we lived in a cold, drafty house. Mammaw, my great grandmother, was especially concerned about this. So, she made me a quilt.
This wasn’t one of those beautiful, intricately-designed, patterned quilts. It was hastily put-together but extremely warm in sub-zero temperatures. Each time I snuggled down under it, I was reminded of her love and care for me. She couldn’t be there to hold me and keep me cozy but the quilt was a comforting reminder of her unconditional love.
There are these kinds of things that remind us of relationships that are comforting. These relationships allow us to live and grow and become everything we were designed by our Maker to be.
I believe God himself knew our need for comfort. Listen to this verse and see if it rings true to you:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort, too” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, ESV).
Mammaw’s quilt embodied what this verse talks about. The top was made out of Papaw’s old, scratchy, wool trousers, cut in large squares and pieced together. It was warm but uncomfortable to have against your skin, kind of like the stuff you and I go through in this life.
The backing was a soft, warm brown flannel that made you want to curl up in a ball like a kitten. It reminds me of the loving care we receive from the “God of all comfort”.
She sandwiched a warm blanket in the middle of the wool top and fleecy back. Edging the sides with flannel, she tacked it all together with bright red yarn. It’s almost as if Mammaw knew what color yarn to use to tie it all together.
The red, of course, is the color of Christ’s blood, symbolic of His suffering. It’s that suffering that ties it all together. He understands our difficulties and because of that can comfort us like no one else.
I love that the verse reminds us that even though difficulties may come our way, Jesus knows what that’s like. Because of that, He will abundantly comfort us.
I don’t have Mammaw’s quilt any more. It fell apart from constant, everyday use. I do have Christ’s overwhelming comfort to underpin and gird me no matter what comes my way.
Much like Mammaw’s quilt, His love covers me, sustains me and infuses me with the desire to keep reaching for whatever is the next goal and the next and the next. After all we have His comfort. What more do we need?
God of all comfort, I pray, comfort us today.
Read more about comfort zones here and here. What do you think are comfort zones good or bad? Leave a comment below or if you are reading this via email go to www.realGodrealpeople.com and leave a comment.