Holy discomfort

During my sophomore year of college I did what I had determined I would not: I changed majors. I went in as an elementary education major and within three semesters I was overwhelmed and had cold feet—frostbite cold. So I changed. I don’t like change. I like predictable, routine, and familiar.

I gave up a program that was becoming predictable, routine, and familiar because my gut was uneasy. To officially change majors, I had to get permission from the heads of two departments, the old and the new. I knew one but not the other. I walked with leaden footsteps into their offices, expecting them to ask me to defend my position and decision. But neither professor asked for a defense. Each simply checked my progress and GPA and signed on the dotted lines. It was far easier than I expected, though morbidly uncomfortable.

The last three months have been equally uncomfortable, and have reminded me, with varying amounts of discomfort, of that day so many years ago. After my December graduation, I was met with some timorous weeks while I waited on paperwork and prayed for a job. Thinking of my future at any given point during those weeks made my heart seize with worry. Uncertainty about my future pushed me to maximum discomfort capacity. Proverbs 3:5–6 became my most-repeated reminder and prayer. Trust in the Lord. With my whole heart. He will make my path straight.

The Lord soon opened a very unexpected teaching job. In kindergarten. Kindergarten sent my discomfort to new, unfounded heights. Amid launching my teaching career, I also decided it was time to visit other churches. Consider my level of discomfort reaching epic heights now.

All of this discomfort came because the familiar was being shaken up. The foundation wasn’t shaken but the walls, windows, and doors rattled and jolted. Throughout this discomfort, I confessed to a friend (and I will confess it again here) that while my head knew of God’s sovereignty, love, and faithfulness, my heart just didn’t feel any of it. My feelings were broken.

All of the visible changes served to unveil a deeper issue. Realizing that my feelings were broken was the breaking of the dam. Through the predictable, routine, and familiar, my faith became rote and complacent. My issue of complacency was the beginning of loveless orthodoxy. My service in church had somehow and somewhere turned into work. What should have come from a joyful and thankful heart became a chore and duty.

However, God has been working with the broken feelings and small faith. His hand has not been moving in broad, obvious strokes, but in small, perfecting ways. Things I can’t see, little things I’ve prayed for at various times, are coming together in a way I never thought they could (or would).

My discomfort in so many areas pushed me to persevere in striving toward holiness. Complacency wouldn’t do. The Lord is working and he made me uncomfortable so that I would be ready to move and grow.

The other day I read Psalm 77. Verse 19 stood out for this season of my life and is a beautiful illustration: “Your way was through the sea,  your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.

While I have recited and prayed over and over for God to make my way straight this year, a splendid truth took root in my heart: Jesus is the way. All the discomfort is straightened when I set my course to follow Christ. God’s way is through the sea though his footprints are unseen. He is faithful and will complete the work he started.

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