By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Creative Arts Director
A month ago, I was working with a group of upper elementary students. They were spread out over three tables and, as usual, the boys had all congregated at one table. The girls were at the other two tables, all except one. There hadn’t really been room, so she had quietly pulled out a chair at the boys’ table. As I was passing out materials, one of the other girls asked, “Would it be okay if I went to sit over there?” I was a bit thrown by her sudden question but answered, “Yeah, that’s fine, if you want.” She took the paper I was handing out and added, “I just don’t want her to have to sit by herself.”
I was blown away. This young girl had seen another who was likely feeling a bit lonely and left out and, without hesitation, took the opportunity to change that. She could have continued to sit comfortably among the other girls (boys at this age do have cooties, after all), but she gave that up to help someone else. She took a risk, got out of her comfort zone, and put aside her own preferences. I was so proud of her. And so convicted. Were I in a similar situation, would I have made such a bold, unsolicited sacrifice? Would I have so readily stepped out of my place of safety in favor of someone else’s comfort?
She got me thinking, and I’ve made a resolution for myself this year: I want 2018 to be a year focused on, yes, making healthy choices for myself, but I also resolve to make it a year in which I take risks for myself and others. Comfort zones are fine, and they have a time and place for sure, but not much gets done in comfort zones. Lives aren’t changed and the Kingdom doesn’t grow when we’re at ease and continuing the status quo. Rather, it’s when we step out in faith that things happen. The Gospels are filled with risk-takers, and if we’re called to follow Jesus’ example, then we’re following the biggest risk-taker of them all.
If you’re a parent, I encourage you this year to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to raising your kids. Are you uncomfortable about having spiritual discussions for fear they’ll ask questions you can’t answer? Dig in anyway knowing that, “I don’t know,” is a completely acceptable answer that can lead to a journey of discovery together as a family. Want to spend more time with your kids but feel tied up with a busy schedule? Perhaps that schedule is a bit too comfortable, too routine. Shake it up, even if it means sacrificing a few things, and make family time a priority.
Whether you’re a parent or not, you can choose to set aside time for others. Perhaps you will find a volunteering opportunity that not only takes you out of your comfort zone but blesses others in an immense way. It could be the extra time you put into friendships and relationships helps you define your passions and what direction God is calling you to go this year. It might be the new, slimmed down budget you work out allows you to give more substantially to an organization that literally changes lives around the world every day.
Let’s make 2018 a year in which we set aside comfort zones, hold tight to God’s hand, and follow where He leads even when it seems risky. Because the one thing we can be sure of is He will be with us every step of the way.