Comfort zones. We all have them. Cozy, comfy places we love to snuggle and stay. Even when those places aren’t cozy or comfy, we don’t want to vacate our comfort zones.
It’s what we know. It’s what we’ve come to expect out of life.
What happens when those comfort zones become demolition zones?
When Kristen was 3 years old, an ophthalmologist detected a tumor in her left eye. Its location virtually blinded her in that eye. When I heard this news, it knocked me out of my comfort zone and into a spiritual demolition zone. My life was out of whack, again. When is all this bad news going to end? Blind–are you kidding me? I thought we were done. What’s next, God?
All the closeness I’d felt towards Him was gone, replaced by anger and frustration. I’m tired of getting bad news all the time, God. Do you not like us? You just seem distant and cold, sitting on a throne, too far away to really care.
I didn’t like my thoughts. Even more, I didn’t want to be a bitter woman, so we met with our pastor to get spiritual counseling. We shared our pain and our frustration, and he listened. Then he shared a concept that changed our lives.
He shared that if your expectations for your life are high (at a 10, let’s say), but your reality is lower (at a 3), the space between those two numbers represents the amount of frustration, anger and bitterness you experience. If your expectations are a 7 and reality is a 6, then you’re content. But if there’s a big space between your expectation and your reality, it’s likely you’re discontent, angry and frustrated with your life.
So, what’s the answer? I was on the edge of my seat. I had lots of space between my expectation and my reality.
The only way around bitterness is to bring your expectations and your reality to the same level. And there’s only one way to do that.
You have to value Christ above everything else.
I stared blankly at my pastor.
He got specific. “If your car is taken from you, it’s okay, because you have Christ. If your house is taken from you, it’s okay, because you have Christ. If your spouse is taken from you, if your children are taken from you — if you lose every single thing that meant anything to you on this earth, it will still be okay, because you have Christ.”
“And when you get to the point where you can honestly say Christ is everything to you, then and only then will you experience real contentment. Then and only then will you view everything you have as blessings, not things you were entitled to. You won’t be bitter at what you don’t have, because you’ll be seeing what you do have, like God sees it.”
Woah. I’d never heard anything like this before. I knew I wasn’t anywhere near this kind of thing . . . but it intrigued me. If nothing else, it gave me hope that someday I could trust God again.
Little did I know that four years later I’d take this lesson and cling to it like there was no tomorrow.