Last week I launched a pilot course to help therapists grow their practices. Whenever I put something out in public, whether it’s a presentation, blog post or a new product I get uncomfortable.
Despite my best efforts, I get anxious about people’s reactions. Somehow the validation of the product becomes a validation of my self-worth. Whenever I’m in that period of uncertainty my deeper spirituality is tested. I understand that unless change and growth are a part my spirituality fear will drive me to protect my ego status and not disrupt the status.
Resistance to change is so common, it’s what we’ve come to expect from religious people who love the past more than the present or future. Jesus’ message was all about “change”. In fact, the word “repent” actually means to “change your mind”. Most people are not “early adopters” even though their ability to survive might depend on adapting to new circumstances.
When I’m stretched beyond myself I get uncomfortable. I teach my patients how to stretch their hamstrings. I tell them to get beyond what’s comfortable into the developmental zone and hold it. The development zone is where change and flexibility happens. Unfortunately, I have met too many Christians who were uptight and rigid. I don’t want to end up a rigid old man unwilling to change.
I would say trying to be perfect to protect my ego status has been my greatest enemy. By trying so hard to avoid imperfection or the pain of failing I’ve kept myself from greater spiritual growth. I still struggle to trust God when it feels like I’m in a freefall waiting for my circumstances to turn in my favor.
When I let go and fall into the developmental zone is when I see the most growth. I know it sounds counterintuitive but I grow much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right. My demand for perfection is the greatest enemy against doing good.
“Perfection is a mathematical or divine concept, goodness is a beautiful human concept that includes us all”. –Richard Rohr
I realize that unless I overcome my fear I’ll not be able to do the good I was put on this earth to do.
I’ve been studying the book of Acts in the bible. In chapter 9 Saul was blinded by a vision from the Lord and told to go to Damascus and wait to be told what to do. Saul terrorized the early Christian church and was eager to kill Jesus’ followers. Saul was a fanatical religious terrorist.
In verse 10, Ananias is described only as a believer in Damascus. No one special, not an apostle from Jerusalem, a common man. In a vision, he is told to go visit Saul, lay hands on him so he can see again. Ananias aware of Saul’s reputation is naturally fearful and hesitant.
In our day that would be like telling a Jewish soldier to go and talk to Saddam Hussain. Instead of a highly trained Seal team with helicopters just a common soldier with a message to free a terrorist from spiritual blindness. Now that’s what I call getting out of your comfort zone. Not knowing the outcome but trusting in the call from God to participate in the mission.
After some divine coaxing Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on Saul and said. “My brother Saul..”
How humble and loving are those words?
The rest is history, Saul went on to spread the word of Jesus throughout the known world and write two-thirds of the New Testament.
Ananias, a simple believer who was willing to get out of his comfort had a part in changing the world. Christianity changed from being a small sect of Judaism into a worldwide faith that was open to all who believed.
How much are you willing to get out of your comfort zone?
Are we so preoccupied with personal security, identity, and survival that we miss the call to change our part of the world?
We all want and need various kinds of securities and assurances at every stage of life. But let us be careful that they don’t totally run our lives and keep us from future growth.
One on the most common one-liners in the Bible is “Do not be afraid”. So let us help one another move beyond our boundaries and learn how to rest in being uncomfortable.