Friday, August 26, 2011

A Day in Harbor is Safe

But that is not what ships are built for.
William Shedd

I'd like to talk about comfort zones a little bit.  If you follow my blog, you know that I work with youth at a church.  I've done this before, but it's been a few years.  OK, it's been twenty years.  This afternoon I will take a group of eighth graders on an overnight trip to begin their confirmation class.  I know these young people.  We've been together in youth group for the past six months.  They are good kids and I'm certain that we will have fun while we begin to learn about what it means to be a confirmand.

Here's the issue:  it's been twenty years since I've taken a group of kids on a trip like this so I'm feeling a little out of my comfort zone.  Isn't that interesting?  It's not that I don't think I can do it.  I have done it before.  There's nothing especially difficult about it.  It's just that it has been a while and I had sort of settled into a routine that was safe and predictable.  There is nothing predictable about eighth graders, especially when you have them overnight! 

Have you noticed that comfort zones are always changing?  You move from a smaller comfort zone to a larger one.  Your next comfort zone is larger than the last one.  In each new zone, you feel the same amount of safety or threat, but your zone has grown. 

Comfort--You feel safe and secure.  Discomfort--You feel unsure and fearful, sometimes overwhelmed and ready to give up.  And then Comfort again--you feel exhilarated and grateful.  And the cycle keeps on going.  What we don't realize is that each time this happens we grow a little more.  You've seen it play out in your life in various ways:  athletics, music, socially, or professionally.  At each stage, you moved through discomfort to comfort--and became a prime candidate for discomfort again as you cycle through your life of learning.

I'm feeling discomfort right now, as are the parents.  I have already had two calls this morning.  You see, I know the young people pretty well, but the parents and I don't know each other well yet.  We will.  As we proceed through the year we will have several of these cycles and we'll all stretch our boundaries and grow together. 

Comfort tomorrow evening I'll be there!   

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