If Discomfort Scares You, You're Doing It Wrong
Somewhere along the line we convinced ourselves that mastery was possible. That one day we’d look up and everything would be in place. In that moment we’d realize that we have in fact, mastered life. I know I’m guilty of this myself. I look at people whom I admire and salivate because they’re successful in their passions, financially stable, happy and worry-free. I’d be kidding you and myself if I said a part of me wasn’t working towards that myself. I’d be a fool if I didn’t recognize that I’m not seeing their whole story.
While I was listening this sermon earlier today, my fave first lady, Sarah Jakes Roberts reminded me that life never gets comfortable. Never. In fact, if you’re comfortable you’re probably not stretching yourself all the way. And discomfort doesn’t automatically mean a joyless life. Stop thinking that.
If you’re completely comfortable right now, you’re not stretching yourself enough.
Besides when did discomfort become such a bad thing anyway? When did the prerequisite to joy become having to feel completely secure? How long are we going to wait for the pieces to line up before we realize that they probably won’t ever?
It’s all about perspective and to be honest, that’s something I used to roll my eyes at the thought of. But now, I’m wondering if the eye roll was a little too naive and a bit too preemptive. I just had a conversation of this vain in a group chat the other day. The topic was on suffering. How some people suffer forever. No one wants to suffer so it makes sense that it’s become this concept of an escapable trial. That once you’re delivered, no more suffering. Maybe in heaven, but I posed the argument that suffering is not one size fits all. In Oprah’s Vogue interview that I referenced a few newsletters and a handful of blog posts ago, she mentions how she went into a six week depression after the movie Beloved tanked in theaters. By that point Oprah was well on her way to becoming...well, Oprah. Yet and still she experienced suffering. Maybe not as deep as the kinds we often prioritize -- not being able to pay bills, suffering abuses, the kinds of ugliness we can’t comprehend exist in a world that has God too -- but, it was suffering for her.
I think we forget that suffering is suffering even when a worse fate exists. And so we count out problems because they’re “not that serious”.
Accepting that it’s never going to get easier, at least not in a way that makes life a breeze, takes the fear off of living. It should embolden us in a way that says: if it’s going to be hard I’m going to go after it guns blazing. I aspire to live the kind of life that Michael Ealy and Chris Brown did at the end of Takers. They were surrounded. The odds stacked against them, so they took a drink, hugged each other, and went out guns blazing. Of course, they were afraid. Of course, they didn't want to die (re:suffer). They did it anyway.
It’s an epic scene, and yes I’m making a movie about high class thieves a metaphor for faith. They looked failure in the eyes and tried anyway. You have much less at stake than the breath in your body and yet you’re living a lackluster life everyday anyway.
When people who’ve lived more of life than us say it gets easier, maybe it’s not because you’ll eventually find your stride. Maybe the easier they’re referring to is a perspective shift. The more life you live the more you know that things will happen even when you’ve done everything the right way. It gets easier because, like the Serenity Prayer says, you learn to accept the things you cannot change, change the things that you can, and discern between the two. Suffering changes as you do. It won’t always look like the things that are plaguing you now, but rest assured it will always show up. At least while you’re living and breathing. And so, as my devotional so gently reminded me this morning: quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely to death.
Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely to death.