Do Something Comfortable
Rector Chris Girata's latest article in the Katy Trail Weekly
It’s a new year, and with a new year comes lots of resolutions. I dislike resolutions, not in theory, but because I’m no good at keeping them. The idea is good — change something to make yourself better — but the discipline and follow through is often lacking.
Yet I have to think that you’ve made a resolution of some kind. Perhaps you’re going to exercise and eat right. Maybe you’ll read more books and watch less television. Or you might even commit to going to church (I’m a big fan of that one!). However you resolve to improve your life in 2019, I’d like to offer a somewhat more unconventional suggestion: do something uncomfortable.
We’re not accustomed to doing much that makes us uncomfortable, and I’m just as guilty as you. I don’t like being inconvenienced and I’m not patient. I am pretty good at making sure my life is as good a fit to my preferences as I can make it. And yet, I think there is a gift in discomfort.
Over the holidays, I read a lot of articles and watched short interviews that focused on how things can be better in 2019. I was struck by just how many people were exhausted by 2018 and wanted to put it far behind them. There was hopefulness about this New Year ...or perhaps not hopefulness, but a deep need for 2019 to be better all the way around.
I sympathize with that desire, but believe that to make this year better, we have to make real changes in the way we operate and in the way we behave. Only by changing our behavior can we truly change our character and the way we see the world. And if we really want 2019 to be better, we have to be better first.
Think about the last time you intentionally did something good that was outside your comfort zone. I hope that good act wasn’t too long ago, but I fear for most people it was. Consider how you felt afterward. When we put ourselves in situations that stretch us by challenging our assumptions, we are given the opportunity to grow. Growth comes through conflict, and doing something good that makes us uncomfortable is the best kind of growth.
Challenging ourselves to go outside our comfort zone for the good of other people is a nice idea, but there’s one more important note I should make before you try this: you will not succeed. I want to make sure that you do not create a plan for yourself with the idea that by doing something good you will succeed in being a good person. Nope. We are imperfect and no amount of doing good will make us perfect. But we can be comfortable in our imperfection.
Perhaps that’s the key to the hopefulness of 2019. Far too many of us feel paralyzed to try something new and challenge our identity because our culture has gotten so good at pointing out our imperfections. If we’re not careful, meanness can hold us back. Unless, of course, we own that we are not and will not be perfect. Instead, we are beautifully and wonderfully imperfect. Claiming our imperfection can free us from the pressure others place on our shoulders and give us the space to grow.
So this year, instead of chasing a resolution that is meant to perfect you, perhaps you will choose a resolution that will help you grow into the goodness our world needs most. We all have the good inside us, and maybe this year, we will choose to do something uncomfortable enough to let more of it out.
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