Learning to be Comfortable with Discomfort

I did it again last night. I stayed up late. Way late. Like, went to bed in the morning late. So today, my eyelids are heavy and my arms are limp. I am exhausted.

I wish I could say I stayed up to work on some great project. I didn’t. I spent a lot of time wasting time.

I avoided going to bed.

My husband is on a business trip and I hate going to bed alone.

I used to think it was because of my over-active imagination. The way my mind wanders to the impossible possibilities of intruders and danger.

But that’s not the real reason. It just took awhile for me to admit to myself what it really was.

I stayed up late to avoid discomfort. I didn’t want to miss him.

For the most part, I can make it through the day fine when he is gone. Sure, I wish I had extra help. And I miss conversations and laughter and presence. But it’s tolerable.

What I dread is that moment when I lay my head on the pillow, waiting to fall asleep. In that moment, the quiet and the aloneness is just a little too real. When I stay up late, I become exhausted. I fall asleep instantly and avoid the prickly feelings.

I avoid discomfort a lot.

I eat regularly, so I can avoid hunger. I keep Facebook open, so I can avoid loneliness. I watch TV, so I can avoid boredom. I keep myself busy, so I can avoid the uneasy feelings that come in stillness and quiet.

This avoiding makes me wonder.

I am so comfortable with my life. It is a great life. I am grateful for my family. My friends. This blog. My home. Neighborhood flowers. Great conversations over good coffee.

I am grateful and I am comfortable.

But now, I wonder.

Am I comfortable because of how God has blessed me? Or am I comfortable because I avoid the uncomfortable?

Likely, it’s both. And I wonder how I am missing out on God’s purposes for me.

This question makes me think of physical fitness. If I avoid physical discomfort, I am not healthy. Exercise is uncomfortable. Stretched muscles ache. Well-used lungs heave. Bodies sweat. No pain, no gain, as they say.

If I avoid the discomforts of life, what does that do to the health of my soul?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Matthew 5:4,6

Do I miss out on being filled because I avoid emptiness?

We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5

Do I miss out on hope because I avoid suffering?

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  - Matthew 25:24-26

Do I miss out on Jesus because I avoid self-denial?

I think I’m going to have to sit with these questions for awhile. They are uncomfortable, but for once, I’m not going to avoid them.

I’m going to sit in the discomfort and trust that God meets me there.