A New Leaf Part 3- Embracing Discomfort
My husband and I sat on our couch, stunned and speechless. The last big barrier in our process of whether or not we could adopt Josh had just been removed. “Talk to each other about it, and let me know what you decide.” the lawyer said. What we decide. Our decision. We had wanted to be parents so badly, and now we were faced with the reality of it, and we were scared. Petrified. I remember feeling like my body was on fire. As I sat on our couch and looked at my husband, I could see in his eyes the same feelings in my own heart. All the fun thoughts of parenthood fled and we were left with the intense and uncomfortable thought: life as we know it will never be the same.
“Are we ready for this?”
Hard things happen to people every day. Horrific things in some cases. We hurt, we struggle, and (hopefully) we grow. But I have found that, for me, there is a huge difference between hard things happening and choosing hard things. When Dave and I were faced with the decision either to adopt Josh and completely change our lives or to opt out and maintain our stable, comfortable lives, my flesh cried out to stay the same. But my spirit knew that the comfortable choice was not the right one. And in that moment of desperation and clarity, my heart longed for discomfort. I couldn’t go back to the comfortable life I had lived before that moment because I knew that, after seeing a glimpse of something more meaningful and significant, my old life would never be enough. I would never be satisfied where I was. Despite fear and panic and a million “what ifs?” that filled my mind, I was ready to be uncomfortable. Nothing had ever felt more right.
As human beings, we desire comfort. I would choose a hot shower over a cold one any day. I turn my air conditioning on when I am warm and my heat on when I am cold, and I don’t think twice about it. I eat when my body tells me it’s hungry (and often even when it doesn’t) and I surround myself with people I like and agree with most of the time. But then something will happen that will momentarily shake the foundation of my comfort, and in those moments, I have a choice- to seek to return to comfort at all costs or to be adventurous. To continue existing or to really live.
Historically, I have sought the road leading to comfort. As a child, it was a joke in my family that I was the cautious one who would dip her toe in the water before getting in and who couldn’t stand it if my sock had a wrinkle in it. My sister, on the other hand, was free-spirited and a bit wild (compared to me). She would dive headfirst into a freezing cold pool without a second thought. She would act first, then think, and I both envied her carefree attitude and feared for her safety. By not taking many risks, I knew what to expect from life and I felt secure- until life would act on its own accord, leaving me helpless and confused. This led to a lot of anxiety and fear that was debilitating at times. Gradually, I learned that, although I can control some variables in my life, I can’t control them all. But I still desired to maintain my comfort at all costs.
Fast forward to that night on the couch with my husband, as I am faced with the most uncomfortable, overwhelming decision of my life. All of a sudden, in the midst of such discomfort, I felt more present than I had ever felt before. Every part of my mind, body and spirit was responding, and I felt alive. Being uncomfortable was exhilarating and liberating. By not choosing comfort, the world was wide open to me. Everything in my bones knew what I wanted to choose, and I was ready to lean in to my discomfort.
Over time, I settled into my routine as a working parent. Life is pretty predictable and stable, and I am grateful for it. But when I think back to that night on the couch, that moment of pure discomfort, I have to admit that I miss it. I miss the sensations of uncertainty and the flood of emotions. I miss the intense connection I felt to God, my husband, and my own passions and visions that day. I know that I cannot exist in that place all the time. It would be too much. But what would it take for me to be that uncomfortable again? What are some daily ways that I can push through my desire for comfort in an attempt to live more courageously and less carefully? I want to be like my sister and do a cartwheel into the swimming pool and say, “Ta-da!” with my arms raised high. I want to teach my son to be thoughtful and use common sense, but also to be uncomfortable and take risks and face hard things head on.
What makes you uncomfortable? I mean really uncomfortable. How can you lean in to that discomfort? I am discovering as I pursue my dreams that fulfilling one’s passions and life visions is the epitome of uncomfortable. But it’s worth it. And in the end, I think it’s the only way to really live. So let’s lean in to our discomfort together.