Navigating Uncomfortable Waters


Ship_StormI like comfort. My personal choice is easy, painless, risk-free, non-confrontational living. God, however, seems quite at peace with asking me to be uncomfortable. In fact, He is somewhat insistent on stretching me, requiring me to face my own unhealed stuff, and gently reminding me that comfort does not always equal His will or purposes in my life or in the life of those I love.

I have found that God is not hesitant to ask me to walk through wilderness, desert, north winds, and mountainous terrains of my soul and spirit. The lessons I have learned as I have faced the uncomfortable places have greatly transformed me.

I think that most of us who are believers in Christ can identify many situations where God has asked us to be uncomfortable. From my salvation on, I can think of times when God’s invitation was to allow Him to change me IN AND THROUGH the uncomfortable place.

Why would God choose to work that way?

God, who knows each of us so intimately, much more than we know our own selves, has a plan for us. Scripture tells us that He intends for us all to be “conformed into the image of His own dear son.” This transformation requires change. Most of us resist change. We cling to what we know, even when it is not working.

Emotional and spiritual discomfort can teach us so much. When I feel uncomfortable emotionally, I ask myself, “What is going on underneath this discomfort? Am I afraid? Angry? Feeling a need to control? A need to rescue when God is not asking me to? What is God saying?”

A truth that has deeply influenced me in the last few years is something my counselor told me once. He said something like, “It’s not your job to make things comfortable for people in your lives but rather to help them mature.”  He challenged my mindset and asked me to consider thinking differently.  I have found that my default response of trying to fix things for others often was a detriment between them and God, them and their path of maturity, them and their opportunity to grow.

I have learned, most of the time, to back off in the moments when I sense others are struggling to express themselves, or struggling to deal with their stuff, or struggling to be responsible, or… . In other words, I have learned not to rescue others from discomfort. I have learned not to be so uncomfortable with discomfort – mine or others!

While I have learned to back off  fixing other people’s discomfort, I have also learned to embrace my own discomfort. I have learned to look at it as a gift when it is a result of God asking me to change or showing me a place where I need healing.

We can opt out of facing our discomfort. God’s heart for us doesn’t include forcing us, having created us with a free will. Yet He invites us to live fully and to allow Him to change us.  

So the next time you feel that inner discomfort, ask yourself if it is an invitation from God. Perhaps He is signaling you that your uncomfortable waters are a part of His beautiful plans.

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