Years ago there was a show called Monk about an obsessive-compulsive detective who was scared of just about everything, but his brain was so good at figuring out puzzles that he often helped the police department solve crimes. Despite his fear of heights and germs and messes and small spaces and even milk, he got out into the world and found ways to stop bad guys. While the show is rather humorous because of the quirky characters the writers assembled, I empathize deeply with the main character, Adrian Monk. He’s always scared. He never wanted to leave his house because that was where things were safe and neat and perfect, but he left anyway. While I’m not agoraphobic or OCD, I know that I hate getting outside my comfort zone about as much as Monk hated leaving the house.
Who benefits from your comfort zone?
I think the answer to this question is: no one. When I’m firmly rooted and unmoving from the place where I feel comfortable, I am the one who reaps the “rewards”, though I’m beginning to think these pale in comparison to the rewards found when you ditch the comfort zone.
I’m afraid of a lot of things. I’m not scared of bugs and snakes and things like that because I know I can kill those pesky creatures; I’m not scared of heights or public speaking, those things are fun. I’m afraid of failure, success, disappointing others, hurting others, not fulfilling my calling, wasting my life, and so many more. And yet, in the face of all these fears, I must keep going. It’s as if there’s a constant war within me between the fearful and the fearless sides of me. So, yes, I’m afraid of many things, and I’m often filled with fear as I go about my day, but do it anyway.
Writing a book is scary. Being in relationship with people is scary. Pursuing your purpose is scary. Being open and honest and transparent is scary. Being you in all situations is scary. Forgiving is scary. Hoping is scary. Waiting is scary. So many things that we do as Christians are scary.
I think that fear has gotten a bad rep.
The emotion of fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it alerts us that something is wrong. But the problem comes when we react to fear in a way that’s contrary to God’s word. The phrase “do not fear” is in the Bible hundreds of times but have you ever taken a moment to look at the implied meaning in that phrase? Jesus and angels could say to people “Do not fear” not because their emotion was wrong. The people no reason to fear because they were in the presence of something greater. So when I’m afraid, which is often, I have to remind myself of who is with me and for me and loves me. God is good and gracious and loving and a fierce protector of his kids and greater than anything that I am afraid of.
With this view, I no longer have to condemn or shame myself for being afraid. I acknowledge the emotion, pray and remind myself whose I am, and then keep going, in the face of fear. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is scary, taking a leap of faith is an opportunity for fear, but, in my experience, it’s in those places that immense blessing comes. So let’s lean into fear, step outside our comfort zones, and grow closer to the Lord today!
To go deeper: Read Fear is a Funny Thing, Fear: A Gateway Sin