My husband and I live near a ski resort and we are pretty avid skiers in the winter. Well, actually I am a snowboarder, but to me, we all have the same downhill destination. There is just something about bundling up and breathing in that cool, fresh air and feeling the crisp, white snow under your toes that is pretty exhilarating.
For those of you familiar with the skiing and snowboarding realm, you will know there are some major differences between the two. One of them is that skiers are basically facing forward when they ski down, and snowboarders are generally sideways.
Because of this difference, it is a little bit harder for snowboarders to see when someone is passing them on their “blind side”. Our peripheral vision is limited, because, well, we can’t turn our head around backwards! Crazy, right? There have been so many times that someone is all of a sudden in front of me, that I had no idea they were even on the trail. Skiing can be a fairly dangerous sport because there are so many variables; conditions of the snow, how the trail was groomed, beginner skiers on the trail, and most of all you are strapped to a piece of material that is intended to go fast and a slippery surface – it is easy to get out of control even if you are an expert. You have to be vigilant to be safe and aware of those around you.
As I have been snowboarding this year, I have noticed a few things.
1. Because I have a blind spot and don’t want to have a collision with another person on the slopes, I tend to ride near the edge of the trail. This way I can put my back to the trees and others are less likely to sneak up behind me because there isn’t a lot of space there.
2. Because of the reason above ^ I ride on the same side of the trail – ALL THE TIME! We live near a mountain and ski here a lot, so I know the terrain pretty well, but I am basically only seeing half of the mountain because I am always on the left side of the trail. I am so comfortable on this side, I know that twists and turns and bumps in the trail, that I just automatically gravitate there.
It got me thinking – how often in our lives do we stay in our comfort zones because well, to be plain, we are comfortable there? We have our friends and family and things that we like to do and we just go about doing them, because that’s what we always do. Life is easier when we have a routine and a safe, cozy comfort zone to live in.
It’s scary to try new things. The unknown is terrifying! I have always loved to read and write, but I was always self-conscious about my writing. I never felt like it was good enough to share with others or what I had to say was important enough that others would care to read it. But, I had this desire to share with others, but I kept squashing it down because I was scared and it made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to put myself and my thoughts out there for the world to see, but God kept pushing me and encouraging me, that I finally worked up the courage to start this blog. And I’ll tell you – it is scary and terrifying every time I hit that “publish” button, but I know that I am doing what I am supposed to. I am pushing myself out of that nice, cozy comfort zone and following the one who is leading me – God. He is right there beside me. How do I know this? Because he tells me in Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Just like every person is different, everyone’s comfort zone is different. Someone else might think writing a blog is no big deal, but signing up to finally finish that degree is painfully frightening. Or maybe showing up to a gathering where you only know one or two people causes you so much anxiety that you just stay home instead. Or giving up that bad habit – smoking, drinking, (insert bad habit here) – just seems too overwhelming to even try, because you couldn’t do it any way, right? WRONG!
One of my favorite verses of all time is in Philippians. Paul is talking about how he has lived through a lot of different circumstances in his life, being rich, being poor, being hungry, and being well-fed, but through all of it he had God to help him. He states, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13).
It isn’t about me or you finally being confident enough in our own ability that we decide to step out and try something that scares us. It is about God working in you so that you have enough confidence in him to know that no matter what happens, he will be there.
To me, stepping out of that comfort zone is about pushing yourself and growing. Whether it is skiing on the opposite side of the trail (which is GREAT by the way!) or deciding to start your own business, when we push ourselves to do new things, we grow as human beings. We meet more people and develop deeper relationships. We learn to trust God and what he wants for us. He wants us to grow and mature (Eph 4:14, Heb 6:1), but how will we ever do that if we are never doing anything new? In the book of Isaiah God tells us,
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you. (Isa 43:2)
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that every time you step out of your comfort zone, it’s going to be a magical and perfectly rewarding experience, because quite frankly it probably won’t be. There are probably going to be times that you do something new and far outside of your nice, safe space, and something will go wrong and it will be totally awful and horrid. BUT there will also be times that you step out and try something new and you will be greatly rewarded for it. It will be so satisfying that you won’t remember why you were afraid to do it in the first place.
It doesn’t have to be some life changing – move across the country – type of thing. It could be going over and helping your neighbor shovel their walkway, or taking a new yoga class, or asking your boss for that raise, or maybe it is about moving to a new town or taking a new job, but whatever it is seek God and his strength and find peace knowing that he is right there beside you.