On a recent vacation in Cancun, Mexico, I had to literally jump outside my comfort zone as I faced a 40-foot drop from a cliff into the clear surface waters of a cenote, a network of underwater caves and caverns.
On my way up to the cliff, I felt very comfortable with the jump, having dove off high dive boards many times. But this was to be different.
After peering over the edge and seeing all my companions down below urging me on, I froze. After three tries at talking myself into jumping off the cliff, I made the leap and embarrassed myself with my fellow travelers below as I raised one leg, turning a #10 descent into a #2 back flop.
Ouch! Double ouch!!
After I climbed up the rugged stone path out of the cenote pool, one of my companions tried to mitigate my embarrassment and pain by saying, “At least you did it.” I thought, “Yes, I did it.”
God is waiting for us at the edge of our comfort zone.
Despite the redness and stinging on my back, I felt great. But while the experience was an example of someone stepping (jumping) outside their comfort zone, it certainly wasn’t comfy.
Ups and Downs Outside Your Comfort Zone
As my less than perfect cenote experience demonstrated, going outside your comfort zone can have its ups and downs (literally for me).
Our comfort zone is a psychological state in which we feel at ease with what is going on around us and what we are doing. We feel little stress and are able to productively accomplish what needs to be done. Life feels good.
On the Upside
By going outside your comfort zone, two things happen. On the up side, you are living beyond what you’ve thought possible for you. You are thinking beyond your natural abilities. As you live this way, you expand your comfort zone, experiencing new things, new adventures, and personal growth.
On the Downside
There is stress involved, but if kept in check, it is a small price to pay for the growth you can experience. However, on the down side, when you go too far outside your comfort zone, pushing too hard beyond what you can realistically accomplish, anxiety and stress mount to a point where your enjoyment and productivity suffer, and your personal growth can be stunted.
When you make a habit of thoughtfully stepping outside your comfort zone by trying different things and pursuing new experiences, you can become more willing to push your personal boundaries, more productive, more comfortable with the unexpected, and more creative.
Where is God in all this?
He is waiting at the edge of your comfort zone, telling you that you should not look at life challenges and opportunities from the standpoint of what YOU can do or should do. He wants you to measure your ability to do things against what he can do, and what you can do with his help.
Finally, as you prayerfully trust him and believe in his Word, you will also trust yourself more, and be more comfy living outside your comfort zone.
Listen to God's Words
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)
Also read: Proverbs 28:1, Jeremiah 29:11-14, Romans 12:1-2
In the Words of Others
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone. Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Roy T. Bennett
“Life is a concept, like the ‘universe,’ that expands as soon as we reach what we think is its edge.” Kamand Kajoouri
“You must always overcome your comfort zone.”
Think About It
Recall times you stepped outside your comfort zone. In what way did they expand your comfort zone and result in your growth?
Was there a time when you couldn’t bring yourself to step outside your comfort zone? What prevented you from doing so?
Have you ever explored outside your comfort zone too far and too quickly? Describe what happened.
How was the Lord involved in your venturing outside your comfort zone? Did you turn to him in prayer for guidance?