Nothing amazing ever happens inside your comfort zone. I believe those eight words with every fiber of my being. Think about it. If you’re comfortable and it feels easy, I don’t think you ever truly appreciate the beauty of a victory. To me, the beauty is always in the struggle, in knowing what I overcame to get where I am. But even though I know that the struggle is all that lies between my comfort zone and the result I want, it can still be unsettling to dip my toe into the unknown. The only way I’ve been able to overcome this fear is by developing my faith.
I’m on a bit of an emotional roller coaster lately, but that’s okay. It seems like one day I’m full of fear and trepidation, and the next day I’m overcome with excited anticipation and expectation. I guess that’s what happens when you’re growing. For some time, I have felt like I’m on the verge of several major breakthroughs in my life and with each day that passes, I feel closer to victory. But this wasn’t always the case. In fact, I spent months battling frustration, fear, negativity and sadness until I learned how to pray about it. I had read this verse or heard it referenced countless times, but I never truly studied it:
Jesus didn’t say “cast your cares on me and then keep worrying about everything,” but that’s exactly what I had always done. I thought sending up the prayers was enough, but I never actually RELEASED anything. Instead of simply giving my burdens to God, I decided to tell Him about them and then try to help Him carry them. He was basically like, “that’s cute Jenalee, but I’m good.” So many of God’s blessings can only be accessed through faith, and when I look back at my own track record I realize I’m notorious for blocking my own blessings because I didn’t know how to let go. You see, letting go means giving up control, and that takes me right out of the comfort zone I’ve been clinging to so desperately this year.
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that it’s been a year of change for me, mainly because I got a divorce. I believe that divorce is difficult to understand unless you’ve been through it. But to put it in terms that even a child can understand, it’s like drawing the Plumpy card in Candyland when you’re already past Queen Frostine. You’ve come so far that you actually feel like you can see the rest of your life (a.k.a. King Candy) ahead of you, but all of a sudden you flip over that fuzzy green monster and you’re back at square one. It’s enough to throw anyone for a loop. Whenever a big shakeup occurs in life, it’s natural for us to cling to anything that feels safe and familiar. That’s precisely what I did for months. I was losing my husband, so I tried to keep everything else exactly the same. I kept the same apartment, job, friends, gym schedule and even my closet exactly as they were before because doing so was comfortable. That worked for a little while, but then God asked why I was trying so hard to keep everything the same when so much needed to change.
At first the fear was so overwhelming that I couldn’t even ask God to show me what needed to change. I didn’t think I could handle it. But over time, I realized that with His help I had already done what I thought was impossible: I had made it through the most difficult season of my life. I started to realize that if I could get through that, I can get through anything if I just exercise my faith a little. Since then, I’ve realized the need for change in some major areas of my life.
I discovered that I needed to take a closer look at the company I keep and make some edits. It’s scary to think about cleaning house because that means I’m inevitably going to spend more time alone, which is something I’ve been trying to avoid at all costs. I also seem to believe I have some superhuman ability to love anyone under any circumstances (editor’s note: I think it comes from being a Red Sox fan in the 90s), which makes it difficult for me to let go of anyone, regardless of how much they hurt me. I’ve always believed that everyone needs and is deserving of love, and while I still believe that, I now realize that I can never make loving someone else more of a priority than loving myself. Instead of begging God to keep certain people in my life, my faith now allows me to pray that he will strip away those who are not meant to be in it. At one point in time, that was the scariest prayer imaginable…but not anymore.
It also occurred to me that I’ve gotten too comfortable at work. Rather than striving to improve our processes and product like I used to do, I found myself going with the flow and trying not to rock the boat. I was playing it safe rather than challenging myself and while that was easy and comfortable, I know for a fact that I was designed for more. You see, I’m not a mediocre person, although being in a dysfunctional relationship for so long really had me acting like one. I used to be hungry, driven, outspoken, and confident, but eight years of being invalidated had turned me into a watered-down version of all of those things. Once again, I was fearful to pray about it since I would basically be asking God to make me work harder. Fortunately, my faith made it possible and I’m finally on the verge of change.
2014 has been an interesting year for me. On the outside, it may seem like I haven’t done much because I’ve been laying low a lot. I have been in the struggle...you know, that area in between my comfort zone and the result I want. When I get weary during this season of waiting, I simply liken my journey to building a house and remember that even the most beautiful mansion can fall if it’s not built on a strong foundation. It is this thought that gives me the patience to hang out beyond my comfort zone and the peace of knowing that by the time I have been built back up, each brick will have been cemented by faith and nothing will be able to knock me so far down ever again.