Photography by Oscar Keys

Photography by Oscar Keys

There's an internal struggle that we have or will experience in our lifetime. It is the struggle between our desire to flourish and the temptation to remain… comfortable. Comfort is a Monday morning spent cuddled up in bed sipping coffee while scrolling through Pinterest and stalking your MCM's Instagram. You're in full relax mode and quite frankly you don't want to get up, but priorities call. Perhaps, school, work or even the trip to the gym you said you would make two months ago (guilty of it all). Comfort can feel gratifying, but it is not conducive to productivity.

About two or three years ago I came to the realization that I was living quite comfy, with the occasional (yet still rare) risk. I was slowly becoming complacent, ashamed and aware that I was not living in the fullness of who God created me to be. Comfort gave this sense of stability or control. My comfort zone felt safe, protecting me from what I was prone to avoid—i.e rejection, being misunderstood. In reality, my comfort zone was handicapping me, making success or even progress difficult; telling me that I was doing "just fine" where I was and somehow all of my dreams would just fall right into my lap. Comfort would even try to silence my cries for more— to be seen, to be known and to live the adventurous life of a world changer. 

"Comfort zones do not challenge us, they cause us to become stagnant and, eventually, unsatisfied with our lives." -Naj

In the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, God spoke clearly to me, "this is your season to get uncomfortable." In the moment I felt a little nauseous, but I knew it was for my own growth and development. (Kind of like getting that perfect summer body I've always wanted, just I was never disciplined enough to be consistent with working on my fitness.) It wasn't that I never did anything out of my comfort zone, it was just time to pick up the speed. Time to die to self, repeatedly. For me, discomfort looked like auditioning for worship team, volunteering to stand up and share my process with over 60 people. Communicating how I feel without worrying about how others would react, approaching leaders in my environment, initiating friendships, and sharing incomplete artwork. Seeing the large impact these actions had on my life, not only helped me realize how much I was holding myself back, but empowered me to make this a lifestyle. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of things I needed to pursue courageously. Accelerated growth happens when we choose to step out of the comfort bubble daily, instead of once in a blue moon.  

Discomfort brings us to a higher standard, to look beyond our present perception of ourselves; to push the boundaries; to risk. It opens the door for breakthrough and freedom. When we are closed off to trying new things and breaking the chains of fear we don't have the pleasure of discovering our full potential, we are confined to what we are already familiar with. World changing events happened through catalytic people who were unafraid to stand out and do what most were afraid to do. Shoot, the butterfly was not able to share its beauty without first experiencing the struggle of leaving the cocoon. 

What aspect of life do you need to get uncomfortable in? Discomfort can look like processing through pain, sharing an unpopular opinion, pursuing that passion you disqualified yourself from, loving your neighbor. Just look at it as kicking fear in the rump shaker. It can feel a lot like being blindfolded, unsure and uneasy. “Will I hit or miss?” Well, comfort does not step up to the plate whatsoever. You choose, swing and miss, with the option to swing again or walk away knowing that there was a possibility of making that home-run. The point is, you can play it safe thinking you're protecting your reputation when you're really keeping yourself from success and the joy of seeing others benefit from your breakthrough.

Accept the challenge of stepping out of the comfort zone. The more you choose to pursue those stretching areas in life they become less intimidating each time. As unpromising as it may seem at first glance, discomfort is worth it. Once you've taken the first leap you'll find there wasn't much to fear in the first place.

( WARNING: This process does not always look pretty! Take it on knowing that growth takes time, but in each moment of hesitation remember you already are that beautiful butterfly, you're just breaking free from the cocoon! )