So last week I had great fun taking the men from the Church Choir to the studio to record some group vocals for the title track, ‘Out of the Ashes’. It was very moving for me hearing them sing it in the practice – once again hearing the song grow and develop from just one voice and piano. Now I think it is fair to say when they got to the studio there were definitely a few people feeling out of their comfort zone. Suddenly they were in a new environment – handed a pair of headphones – grouped around mics and asked to sing! It took a while to get people comfortable, warm up before working hard at getting some good takes to add to the track. But in the end we got there and it was great having them be a part of this album.
This got me thinking about comfort zones. They are different for everyone and they can indicate the characteristics of that person. For me, I am comfortable being in the studio or standing on a stage in front of lots of people, singing, acting – jumping up and down leading kids music/games. I thrive in those environments. I think there are definitely good things about having a comfort zone, and I do believe God gives us gifts and talents and it’s good to use those. However I also believe that God wants us to continue to grow and develop – and I truly feel that to do this we have to be prepared to get out of our comfort zone.
Now I will admit I am someone who will cling to certain comforts. When I am feeling low I will want to eat spaghetti bolognaise for dinner, if I am made to watch a tense action film I will check out the plot first so I know exactly what will happen, and if I go to a restaurant I am likely to spend twenty minutes looking at the menu only to order exactly what I had before. I don’t think there is anything wrong in this, however sometimes when we are so comfortable we don’t experience new things – we can miss out because we are afraid to let go of what we know.
Sometimes by going out of our comfort zones we can connect with other people in new ways. There is a Korean Church that meets at our church on Sunday afternoons and last week they joined us for a bring and share lunch. My family and I were sitting with them and they showed me the amazing sushi, tempura and noodle dishes they had made. They were keen, even insistent that I should try them. I was really nervous as I am not very brave with food. However I realised that it was important for me because it was important to them. To be honest I really enjoyed it. I might not be ready to make sushi at home yet, but I was willing to have a try and I feel it was important.
Not being afraid of something new can be the first place to start! So my brother and sister in law kindly gave me, Ali and my in-laws the Christmas gift of the ‘Clue Quest’ experience. For those of you who aren’t aware of what this is, you get locked into a room and have an hour to complete a series of riddles, clues, and puzzles then escape. I really didn’t want to go – I am not a very logical person and I struggle with puzzles and riddles. So the thought of being shut in a room and being made very aware that I wasn’t clever in this area did not appeal. Ali kept telling me that it would be okay as the game would require different skills, and that I was good at looking for hidden things. Anyway Ali dragged me there (almost literally). I was totally out of my comfort zone with not knowing how the next hour would work or what would happen next. Yet as soon as I got into the room and realised that a large part of the game was looking in bizarre places for things it all clicked. I think I channeled one of those kids TV shows from the 90’s where they have to rip through a room as quickly as possible looking for a key before moving on. As it was going on I realised a few things. 1. I was pretty good at this – although I wasn’t much use on the logic puzzles I was finding things the others weren’t that helped them complete their puzzles. 2. I was actually having a lot of fun! 3. I had wasted several weeks getting myself worked up about this simply because it was out of my comfort zone.
It got me thinking how often we kick up a massive fuss with God when he asks us to do something new – we can be so scared of the unknown that it is very easy to stay where we are comfortable. Yet when we take that step out of our comfort zone I believe that God equips us with what we need for that situation. It makes me think of Jesus’ disciple, Peter, getting out of the boat. He was so desperate to be with Jesus that he was willing to get out of his comfort zone. It also reminds me that when we fix our eyes on Jesus we are able to walk confidently no matter where we are – but as soon as we take our eyes off him and fix on the seemingly overwhelming situations that can be we start to drown. I have to remind myself constantly of this. Only this afternoon was I starting to feel weighed down by anxieties and worries – and had to sit myself down and remind myself to put my focus back on Jesus – to remember that we never have to do it in our own strength but in his.
I want to encourage you this week that when God encourages you to go out of your comfort zone whatever that may look like that you would go knowing that he is with you and he will equip you with all you need!
May you have a blessed week.