Our modern American culture tends to glorify comfort and convenience.
Cars with heated seats.
Living rooms with recliners.
Memory foam pillow top mattresses.
Drive thru windows.
But it’s no secret that hardest things in life are often the most rewarding.
Running a race, giving birth, and climbing a mountain are personal examples that come to mind. Josh and I intentionally strive to live a life that defies the modern idea of putting comfort over personal growth.
Challenge Brings Fulfillment
My favorite days aren’t the ones where I sit around and do nothing.
Lying in bed eating ice cream and watching TV is fun, but only for a few hours.
My favorite days are the ones when I am stretched.
My favorite days are the ones when I am faced with a challenge and overcome it.
The best days are the hard days, not the cushy soft days.
The days when I do something difficult and rewarding.
The days when I face a challenge, fix something, overcome an obstacle, learn a lesson, or defeat laziness.
That sense of accomplishment at the end of a productive day is the crowning glory of a life well-lived and it far outweighs momentary comfort in my book.
I can lie down at night feeling fulfilled on the days I gave something my all – whether it was a bike ride instead of a car drive, a day spent making meals from scratch, a challenging hike with my family, or a new skill learned on a DIY house repair.
Those are small examples, but they are real-life examples. Our daily accomplishments don’t have to be earth-shattering to be worth doing.
It can be as large as delivering a baby, or it can be as small as trying a new food or hobby for the first time.
I learned firsthand about how to have “miserable fun” by camping with my family growing up. We experienced many breakdowns and mishaps over the years. We drove thousands of miles with a van filled with five kids and all our gear. We camped in sweltering heat in Florida and frigid cold on Lake Michigan. We camped during a tornado in rural Oklahoma.
We lived to tell about it. We bonded. We had a good time!
I learned valuable lessons on those trips. I learned the power of staying optimistic and insisting that there was fun to be had.
That makes me think of all the good things we potentially miss out on because we’re afraid of momentary discomfort!
We Aren’t Called to be Comfortable
I know several families that have given up “comfortable” lives, predictable routines, and even their “lazy” retirement years to follow an unselfish calling to serve others. Their stories make me look at my own life.
What does “more” look life for me?
What is the next adventure God is calling me to?
When I was pregnant with Shiloh, I had mixed feelings. I was excited of course, but I was saddened and nostalgic about Malachi not being my only baby anymore. God distinctly spoke these words to my heart:
Don’t let sentimentality keep you from moving forward in life. You aren’t meant to be stagnant.
Tough words. “Stagnant?” Like standing water with smelly algae on the surface? Wow. Kinda harsh, but it was exactly what I needed to hear.
I had gotten the hang of taking care of Malachi. He was almost 2 years old. He slept through the night. He spoke well and expressed his needs. Parenting was pretty smooth. I felt like I had served my time and survived the turbulent newborn stage.
But God was calling me to more. He was asking me to embrace this change – the blessings and the challenges – with open arms.
And I’m still doing that. Is raising two kids harder than one?
Yes, so far.
Are the rewards also multiplied?
Some days I have no idea what I’m doing. Some days I’m teetering on the edge of a complete meltdown.
But I know I’m in the midst of my life calling, and that’s reassuring.
And I’m confident that once I “get the hang” of this stage, there will be another new adventure awaiting.
Giving of Ourselves
We often open up our home to bands, guests, and students from around the world. We do this because hospitality is one of the core goals of our family.
I’ll be honest, sometimes hosting is challenging with small kids. Sometimes I stay up too late visiting and the kids wake up too early.
Those weekends with guests can be filled to the brim.
Filled with dishes, laundry, late-night conversations, sleep-deprivation, blessings, community, and love. All rolled into one.
When I pour myself out the most, I am filled.
Sometimes it means you need more challenges in your life.
If life inside your little “comfort bubble” is unsatisfying, try giving more.
Volunteer in your free time, learn a new skill, babysit for a friend, visit the elderly, or plant a neighborhood garden.
If those things are outside of your comfort zone, great!
I’d rather live a full life than an empty one.
I’d rather have a home full of guests and crying babies than a quiet one.
There’s a place for finding rest and being filled up, of course. We can’t give out of what we don’t have ourselves! (As a matter of fact, Josh and I just returned from a restful trip to the Flint Hills of Kansas!)
But even if I’m only thinking of myself, I find more personal fulfillment and satisfaction from giving rather than taking.
Seek Out “More”
We’re all called to different things of course.
But I’d like you to ask yourself what does “more” look like in your life?
It’s ongoing for us.
Where are we choosing comfort over calling?
Where are digging our heels in the dirt and saying “No, not there. I can’t do that.”
What would it look like if we just said yes?
If we weren’t afraid of failure.
If we weren’t thinking about ourselves first and foremost.
If we surrendered all that and said YES!
If all that’s holding me back is my own fear and selfishness, then it’s time for a change.
We should never be afraid to answer God’s call. In fact, there’s no safer place to be than in the middle of his plan. I’d rather give myself fully to his work, even when it’s challenging, than go my own way and fail at that.
It’s not about me anyway.
And even if it was about me, God knows what I need better than I do.
Shifting my focus away from myself is both liberating and humbling. How will he use me to build his kingdom? How will I allow him to rule in my home?
In what areas of life are you comfortable and scared to change? Is there anything you feel called to do but fearful to let go?