I step out of a stranger’s unfamiliar Chevrolet Malibu and see a colossal building with the heading “Vitality Fitness” spread largely across the top. I am immediately impressed. The typical crossfit gym resembles a rundown garage tucked into a warehouse. This, however, was nothing like that.
As I step down a few concrete steps and into a newly constructed, state of the art gym (which includes a protein bar nonetheless), I immediately pause. By the looks of the members there … these people are serious crossfitters.
I feel it. That feeling I got back in high school as I walked up to a group of girls who didn’t want to hang out with me. Just as I did then, I sheeplishly stand to the side hoping they’ll let me in.
I hate being the “new girl” and unfamiliar faces don’t necessarily make me feel welcome. At least Laura is with me and I am not the only new girl here.
My heart is barely settling into a normal rhythm after feeling paranoid our driver who took us from the hotel to this gym might secretly live a double life as a serial killer.
Just as I start to take in the familiar sights of barbells, wallballs and jumpropes, the coach gathers us around the TV displaying the “WOD” (workout of the day). The anxiety which quickly faded with the familiar scene of a crossfit gym has just as quickly returned with one name: JOSIE — A “Hero WOD” consisting of a 1 mile run, then three rounds of 30 burpees, 4 power cleans and 6 front squats with 105 lbs on the barbell, ending with another 1 mile run.
Do I even want to do this?! It’s going to hurt. I’m going to die. My legs are going to fall off and I’ll never make it back home to my family in California.
And then the workout begins. 3, 2, 1..Go!
While visiting this gym one of the coach’s shirts caught my eye. The shirt said, “The comfort zone is a made-up place.” Yeah? What if I tell you I’ve been to the comfort zone? What if I tell you that I’ve rested on the beaches of security and lounged on the cushions of the status quo? I can describe the soothing sounds of familiar voices, and the beautiful sights of common surroundings. Trust me. The comfort zone exists!
Working out has taught me a lot about the comfort zone. There’s a point in every workout where I start to feel uncomfortable, and I feel pain. It’s the kind of pain that causes cramps in your side, or panting of breath that make you feel like you’re going to suffocate. My throat gets so dry it burns and my chest aches. It’s in those moments where I have two choices: I can either back away from the discomfort I feel and stay in the safety of the comfort zone, or I can push past the pain and do what I know is good for me and will get the results I long for. It’s really as easy as that. But what I’ve learned is choosing option two is not easy at all, and not many people will choose to leave the comfort zone.
Most people want to get in shape, but not many people will pay attention to nutrition. Most people want muscles but not many of them will lift heavy weights. In the same manner, many people want God to do great things with their lives but not many of them will seek it out. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because all of those things require us to push past our comfort zone and into the land of uncertainty and discomfort. Staying in the “comfort zone” robs us of the great things God has planned for our lives. In many instances, I stay in the comfort zones of my life — the comfort zone of a hard workout, which can include using less weight on my barbell or quitting when the work gets hard; staying in my comfy bed instead of getting up an hour early to meal prep; or even going to bed when I know the blank pages of my bible study await my attention. In all of those instances, we must push past the comfort zone, into the discomfort of what awaits us on the other side.
While in North Carolina with my good friend, Laura, I asked her if she thought God wants us to be comfortable. She said something so profound I thought I’d share it with you. Laura said, “No. I don’t think God wants us to be comfortable. I think He wants us to find comfort in Him.” She is so right, and so wise (Really, you guys! If you don’t have a Laura, you should get one).
David himself walked through not only discomfort, but valleys of death where evil was present. He said in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” If David can find comfort in the shadow of death, don’t you think we can find comfort in the land of uncertainty? Listen, I’m talking to myself here too, and I’m living this message out as I type. But one thing I know for sure is that the comfort zone NEVER produces results. And I’d dare say that you won’t find God in the comfort zone. Not because He isn’t there, but because we don’t look for Him when we settle there. How do I know? Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” He meets you on the other side of the comfort zone and walks beside you while you go through the pain and discomfort of uncertainty. Deep waters and blazing fires don’t sound like the comfort zones I’ve rested in. This makes me certain that we must get out of whatever comfort zone we’re chillin in.
So how can I encourage you to leave the comfort zone? Well, let me ask you this: what do you want? Do you want toned legs and jacked arms? It will have to get uncomfortable. Do you want six-pack abs? You won’t get it by eating comfort foods. Do you want God to do amazing things in your life? Push past the comfort zone and head to the land of uncertainty. You’ll find Him there, with arms open wide, waiting for you. And if it feels scary and your chest feels heavy and you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to do this … good! You’ve made it out of the comfort zone and you’re on your way for great change, amazing results, and no regrets! I’ll be waiting here for you too, and together we can trust God to do what the comfort zone has never been able to offer.
Hey friend, I’d love to hear what your comfort zone looks like and what you feel awaits you on the other side of the zone.
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