Where Transformation Happens: Seek Discomfort
Rebecca writes a challenging piece which serves as a reminder that following Jesus is not necessarily comfortable, but that it is how we grow and we are better for it.
Convenience and comfort
We often associate development in the world with convenience. We have the ability to order anything from the internet and have it delivered to our house, disposable food packaging that allows us to eat on the go, owning our own cars so we can go anywhere. These tend to signal progress, wouldn’t you agree?
However, as we learn more about the harm that plastic can have upon the earth and the implications that driving everywhere has upon our health, it makes you question whether our so-called notion of development is truly development at all.
For a fleeting moment your busy life is eased because you can grab some sushi in a plastic container, eating it in your car while driving to your next meeting. This example highlights the convenience and comfort of our modern lives. The convenience of everything we think we want at our fingertips. The comfort of being told we can choose anything we want, to make all parts of our lives serve ourselves and never really being stretched for anything.
However, consider whether these ideas of development, convenience and comfort are really a reflection of the lives Jesus calls us to (check out Matthew chapter 10). What does Jesus call us to? Make disciples.
Should we really measure the development of the world by the technological advancements that simply make life more convenient and comfortable, typically for people who already have so much privilege, accessibility and agency?
Slip away to a quiet place
I think Jesus might consider development as something else – that internal development trumps external development. And I think the way he worked in his ministry was hardly convenient at all – think of the many times he slipped away to a quiet place when there were so many miracles to perform and people to teach ! (Mark chapter 1, verse 35; Mark chapter 6, verses 45-46)
For all of the so-called development in the world, are we really any better for it as people? Take the earlier example of eating quickly on the go between meetings. This creates no space for rest, produces waste and is really just road-rage waiting to happen - if you’ve spilt food in your car, you know.
Despite what hustle culture says, we need so much more rest than we often allow ourselves. I think it is because rest can be really inconvenient that we often avoid it. Any time that you unplug from the world, make yourself unavailable to a text, call or email, you really inconvenience the people who want to get in contact with you.
Furthermore, if you actually can manage to slip away to a quiet place – how uncomfortable is that?! With nothing to fill your ears, occupy your hands or entertain your eyes, being alone (with God) can be somewhat uncomfortable. Having to deal with your thoughts, pain, past hurts, desires for the future, current worries and stressors – this can be hard and uncomfortable. Reflecting on ourselves, true and deep reflection, can feel selfish and awkward.
Where transformation happens
But if the Bible makes a significant effort to tell the stories of Jesus’ taking time to rest, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable it might be, might we be wise to follow? Because after a busy week, a challenging conversation, a thoughtful message, anything that drains from us or has the power to impact us (so basically most things we do in life) – we truly need time to rest.
And in that place of rest is where transformation happens – or at least begins to. Lately I’ve realised that while I enjoy reading informative articles and listening to interesting podcasts, I often don’t give myself time to properly sit with the material I have received and to process it. Something that may have been transformational is simply left as unrealised potential. Further to that, regardless of whether you have a book or podcast to process, we absolutely need space to reflect on ourselves, our weeks, our lives, our jobs, where we spend our time and where we want to go.
Whether we are unintentionally avoiding quiet time because it is uncomfortable, or because it is inconvenient to carve out that time in your calendar, it is crucial for us to make space in order to grow and be transformed. Nothing grows if you ignore it - except bad habits.
In that place of rest is where transformation happens.
The world might push the messages of convenience and comfort in the pursuit of capitalism, but what do we really need?
Previously, when we have talked about how the disciples were told to leave their lives behind and follow Jesus (Matthew chapter 4, verses 19-20; Matthew chapter 8, verses 21-22; Luke chapter 5, verses 11 and 28), I haven’t found it all that inspiring; in fact, it is extremely uncomfortable and scary to do. But when I’ve considered this more recently, the idea of the disciples stepping out of their comfort zones in order to seek Jesus and the transformation in their lives that followed – I am more intrigued.
We know that growth doesn’t really happen inside our comfort zones and I think most of us want to grow. If you want to grow and transform, convenience and comfort isn’t that satisfying for long and can become hindrances.
As followers of Jesus, who want to make disciples and to grow personally, we must seek discomfort.
We need to step outside of our comfort zones.
I used to wonder if this conflicted with our faith, thinking that Jesus-followers ought to just keep the peace.
But we know belonging to Jesus looks different to belonging to the world (John chapter 15, verse 19) and being set apart as different inherently situates you outside of a comfort zone.
To seek Jesus is to seek discomfort. To be where transformation happens, you need to seek discomfort. And to live out in response to seeking Jesus, being transformed and loving others – that can be uncomfortable.
And thank Jesus – for He sent us the Comforter (John chapter 14, verse 26, NKJV) So, we won’t be too uncomfortable for long.
Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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