It's Uncomfortable to be Uncomfortable, but We're Called to it.
Remain in the discomfort.
These four words have become my most constant reminder and have given me a different perspective for sharing the gospel with others. A couple of weeks ago our speaker for the week, Richard Marks, talked about race in the church and why it matters. Earlier that morning, I had been reading John 4, specifically, the story of the woman at the well. I had asked the Lord to reveal something to me about that passage because I felt that there was more significance than I was seeing. During Richard’s talk, he brought up the woman at the well and how there were race issues within the story. It was unacceptable for a Samaritan to speak to a Jew and vise-versa. Jesus knew the Samaritan woman was going to be drawing water from the well and made it a point to be there at that time. He was fully willing to leave the comfort of His inner circle, and engage the woman in conversation. He talked about the situation with her husbands, which had to have been uncomfortable for her. However, Richard noted that even in the discomfort, she remained. By the end of the conversation, the woman had realized who she was speaking with and chose to follow Him. She then shared her experience with others and told them about all that Jesus has said. Later in the chapter, it means, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” This woman’s testimony became a light to others, all because she remained in the discomfort. It’s uncomfortable to be uncomfortable, but it’s what God has called us to. We shouldn’t retreat to comfort when we get nervous. Allow Him to refine you and make you uncomfortable so that you learn to be dependent on Him. Are we remaining in the discomfort? Are we even allowing Him to make us uncomfortable? Are we sharing our testimony so that it might be a light in the darkness? We have a light for the darkness, and wherever we are, God shows up; so let the roots form and remain.
I’ve been able to see the Lord using this phrase to transform my heart for others and the way I treat them, speak to them, and love them. Last week was a week of discomfort; from conversations to sleeping arrangements to hunger. We went out of our comfort zone in Branson, Missouri and traveled many hours to the great city of Birmingham, Alabama. We arrived Sunday night and were immediately split up into our family groups. My family included myself, Ivy Ott, Sage Danner, Rowan Hall, and Dean Edgar. Each family was given a total of 20 tickets and $10. Our money went toward breakfast for the whole family; which ended up being off-brand Cinnamon Toast Crunch and peanut butter. We decided to split the tickets up evenly between the five of us; each was getting four tickets for the week. The tickets gave us access to a shower, staff breakfast, a mattress, or an hour on our phone. I wanted to use this week as a learning opportunity to serve and not be served. I made it my goal not to spend any of my tickets so that I could experience all that there was to offer. Each day brought its challenges.
Monday was cold and rainy, which could’ve been seen as a challenge, but the group took it upon themselves to push through it. My group went to a house and demoed the whole base structure of it. The biggest challenge was stopping for lunch. Cold, wet, rainy, and hangry, we all stood around each other eating our sandwiches. At this point in the day, the weather dropped, and because our blood flow had stopped, it became increasingly colder and less motivating to work. It was the mental game of giving up or pressing forward. Something I had to keep reminding myself was to remain in the discomfort. I’m telling you, this phrase showed up every single day. We were told to start putting our tools in the truck and to get ready to leave. Some of us felt encouraged to keep working and finish what we had started. Monte, the head guy, was completely fine with us continuing our sledgehammer party, so we did just that. Graham, Stephen, Gail, and I sledgehammered until the entire last piece fell to the ground. It was one of those things that people may look at and think we wanted recognition for finishing the job, but it wasn’t. Serving shouldn’t feel like a competition or a “look at me” show. It was merely the end of the task we had been given, and we wanted to bless the people coming in behind us to build a house.
Tuesday was less hard labor and more centered around building relationships with the people we were able to meet. We spent our morning helping with a food pantry and met people who lived in or around Birmingham. I learned something on this day that speaks so much truth about my phrase. I was so uncomfortable and was honestly feeling frustrated. I had sat down with some people, and my friend ended up moving to sit with someone else, but the people we had met wanted nothing to do with any sort of conversation. I am such a people person and was frustrated that I wasn’t connecting with people. When I became uncomfortable, I quickly retreated to comfort; finding Link Year people to give me security. At some point, I looked down at my hand and noticed those four words written in my favorite pen. Oh the Lord got me there. I realized I had dismissed any chance of being uncomfortable which potentially could’ve to lead to greater things. I was feeling very discouraged about the situation, but then I asked the Lord to send something or someone. He sent my homegirl, Maeve. She and I, along with Breezy, were asked to find some people who had filled out their papers incorrectly. A lady overheard the conversation and came over to check and make sure it wasn’t hers. At one point, Maeve and I both had this feeling that we should talk to this lady more. So, being the bold people we are, we stepped right on over and sat down with her, and I am sooooooo thankful we did.
This lady’s name was Cathy. She immediately expressed her gratitude towards our class and our willingness to help out. She was a regular volunteer, but it’s very exhausting for her and makes it hard for her to enjoy the rest of her day. She was so kind, loving, and one of the most faithful women I have ever met. She has been through more things in life than you could fathom. She has lost loved ones, been abused in every way possible, and seen things no one should have to, yet she has never lost faith in God. It was one of those conversations that the Lord placed explicitly in front of us because He knew we needed to hear the things she had to say. The week before Urban Entry was honestly one of the most challenging weeks I’ve experienced in a long time. In no way is this to toot my own horn, it’s merely something I know about myself; I am entirely empathetic and will willingly sit with someone for the sake of comforting them. I want people to feel heard and not go unnoticed. I am instinctively empathetic with those whom I think a great deal of importance towards. Someone who was vitally important in my life for a very long time was grieving, and even though there was nothing I could physically do for her (being in Branson and her in Tulsa), my initial reaction was to empathize with her.
Moreover, it wrecked me. It made me feel utterly numb to the world, and I wasn’t able to accomplish any of my weekly needs. My natural desire to go to people for their help was thrown out the window. I isolated myself from people because I just felt they didn’t understand. All I wanted for her was to be okay, and I knew she wasn’t. I was angry and confused. I have prayed and prayed for her to know the Lord, and ask for the Lord to reveal Himself to her in some way. I felt as if the one thing I had consistently prayed for had come true yet it was nothing at all what I had imagined. How can the one thing I prayed for be so extreme? Why can’t it be something less painful? I learned so so much. This is one of the greatest examples that God’s plan is ultimately more significant than anything we could ever begin to hope for. My heart hurt for my friend like never before. I felt that the Lord betrayed everything I had asked for and took away any sense of hope that He is right or that He is in control. What blows my mind? He knew exactly what I was feeling, thinking, and questioning. He knew and sent encouragements throughout the week so that I might catch a glimpse of His love and taste His mercy and grace. He sent Cathy a week later to open my eyes to the truth of who He is. He is good. He is in control. He is the most powerful, loving, and genuine being there is. I learned that there is a feeling of peace that only He can provide. He showed me that being confused and angry at Him was okay. The fact that I still believe that He exists and have any feeling towards Him is encouraging. I could’ve completely abandoned the idea of Him. Cathy encouraged me that life as a Christian isn’t anything natural. The process of sanctification isn’t an elevator ride up to heaven; it is like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro over and over again until we are brought to an end. With that being said, the only thing that will act as a harness in the climb is your faith in Him; fully trusting that He will get you to the top. It looks like chanting “Lord, give me the strength to get to the top” every single day until we meet Him face to face. It was one of the most necessary and refreshing conversations.
Wednesday was another day of demolition, and before we knew it the week was over. It was such a great week of learning and service. It gave me a new perspective of being thankful for what I’ve been given. The best part about this is that it led right into a week of family, friends, and thanksgiving. I am feeling very thankful. Thankful for the opportunity to attend Link Year. Grateful for a week full of spending time with family and friends while enjoying delicious food. Grateful to know a God who blesses me beyond measure and loves me so unconditionally.
- Continual hunger for the Lord
- Patience with people who bring out my flesh (Gretchen is my flesh name hehe)
- Relationships continue to deepen and remain Christ-centered
- My upcoming trip to Ireland
- Peace about the trip in general
- Safe traveling
- Safety in general
- The desire to learn all that I can
- Unity among the group