The holiness of discomfort

 I used to think I would know God's will by how comfortable I was.  It actually sounds silly to read it in those words but I really don't think I'm the only one.  I know you've heard the stories: "I knew I'd found my calling because it just felt right" or "I just felt so unsettled about it, so I knew it couldn't be right."  I can't begin to tell you how much I wish those things were true for me.

Honestly, I'm not even sure I totally believe in the idea of "calling", or at least what it seems like we've interpreted it to mean.  Usually when people talk about calling they seem to be referring to that one, spectacular thing that God designed them, and only them, to accomplish in this life.  Like, if Jessica didn't follow her calling then no one would ever plant that seed.  Truth is, I feel like that way of looking at things puts a limit on God.  If God wants a particular seed planted and the first planter misses her opportunity, I think our great, big God will send along another planter.  Maybe God doesn't' have a specific calling for each person, maybe God's purpose is that each person glorify Him and enjoy Him.  The rest is secondary.

I guess that was my entry into discomfort: I was discomfited by the knowledge that I am not the spectacular one: God is.  And I wanted to be spectacular, still do, always will, probably.  But, then, other discomforts came.  I used to think knowing the answers was the most important thing.  I was the one with my hand raised in Sunday School.  I was the one who won the Bible drills.  Knowing the answers made me feel like a "good Christian".  Until one day I didn't know the answers, one day the questions got too hard.  Questions like: why her and not me?  Questions about why God created certain things in certain ways.  Questions about what Rachel Held Evans called winning the "cosmic lottery".  Questions about why some people could read scripture and interpret it to mean one thing but other equally learned people interpret it in the exact opposite way.  And not knowing the answers made me very uncomfortable.

I used to think it was God's will that I be comfortable, now I think discomfort is holy.  I think discomfort keeps me asking questions. I think discomfort makes me less of a know-it-all.  I think discomfort keeps my mouth closed.  I think discomfort helps me listen. Most of all, I think discomfort keeps me pressing in to Jesus.

Almost a year ago Glennon posted this prayer on the Momastery Facebook page.   I tried to look it up and it seems to be attributed to a bunch of different sources.  The first bit, in particular, speaks to me:

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships - so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

Listen, easy answers are just easy.  It's the discomfort that causes us to press in and, eventually, to change and grow.  So now I embrace the holiness of discomfort even when it hurts, even though I wonder if I'll ever be comfortable again.


I wrote this in response to Sarah Bessey's synchroblog prompt as part of her book launch for Out of Sorts.  I just started Out of Sorts and I love it so much already.  Here is a fantastic review of it that I wish I'd written.  You should read Out of Sorts, I know you'll love it.