I have two sons who are weightlifters. They like to work out together, and they lift a whole lot more than I remember lifting when I was their age. They enjoy pushing themselves to the point that it hurts. That’s when the muscle gets microtears and rebuilds bigger and stronger. In order to see the growth they want, they know they have to be willing to be uncomfortable.
Like my sons’ weightlifting, your personal growth depends on how much you are stretched through difficult times. You become more of the person you can be as a result of trials. That means it benefits you to be uncomfortable.
Here are three ways you grow through being uncomfortable.
Eric Liddell won the Olympic Gold Medal in the 400 meters in Paris in 1924. Even though he felt called by God to be a missionary to China, he also competed as an Olympic athlete. The movie Chariots of Fire profiles his life and features a famous quote: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
I can relate to that feeling. I do believe that God made me to be a good writer. And when I write, I feel His pleasure. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy. The writing process is work for me. At the same time, I find that creative process to be a discovery journey with Him. It’s as if we write together.
God has created you to do something. But it may not be something you are already good at. It may be something latent inside that you have never tried before. Eric Liddell had to run that first time before he knew he was fast. I had to start blogging before I realized I could be good at it. And you may have something you have yet to discover about yourself that can change your future.
I have most grown in situations where I have had to step out and lead. But that required that I overcome my fear of leading. While I have always felt called to leadership, I was so afraid of making a mistake. That prevented me from embracing my full potential for leadership when I was in high school and college. Even as I got older, I still shied away from leadership positions. Several years ago, a leader of my boys’ troop asked me to take a leadership role, but I didn’t want to do it. I was afraid of the responsibility because I didn’t want to make a mistake.
Not long after, however, I decided to deal with that fear of leading. I faced my fear and sought out leadership positions. Now I no longer have that fear of leadership. I now serve as a leader in my boys’ troop, in my church, and on nonprofit boards. God made a leader. And when I lead, I feel His pleasure.
You may have a talent that you have not yet explored. In fact, it may be something you feel drawn to—like a moth to a flame—but you fear it just the same. God wants to do it together with you. Do not let the fear get to you. Face the fear head on. You will grow through being uncomfortable.
I have found that I grow closer to God when I am uncomfortable. When I have to go through a new experience or do something I don’t know how to do, that’s when I grow closer to Him. When I feel like I’m on the trapeze without a net, God shows up as my net. And I experience a new level of spiritual growth.
I used to have a “three-day rule” for visitors. Whenever we would have visitors stay with us, I would not want them to stay longer than three days. I felt that visits would go badly after three days. But the truth was I could keep my mask on—and be on my best behavior—for only three days. I didn’t want visitors to see the real side of me. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable.
Now I live my life in a fishbowl. We have people stay for months at a time at our house. They see me at my best and my worst. Our guests know me—the real me—because they see me as I truly am. And I have the opportunity to live my faith in front of my guests all the time every day. Even though it’s uncomfortable sometimes, I love having them around.
You can be the blessing someone needs in their life. But you have to be willing to get over yourself first. The very thing that makes you the most uncomfortable could be the very thing you derive the most fulfillment from.
I recently heard, “You don’t grow in ten times on the mountaintop as much as you do in one time through the valley.” Although I agree, I don’t enjoy the process of growth. I find it scary and awkward. But it’s through the times that I am most uncomfortable that I see the most growth in myself. Now I seek out those times when I have to be pushed beyond my comfort level because I enjoy the results on the other side.
By seeking opportunities to stretch yourself, you will grow tremendously. But you have to be willing to welcome them into your life. Allow the circumstances that God puts in your lap to be testing grounds for your professional, personal, and spiritual growth. But you have to be willing to step outside of your safe zone and be uncomfortable.
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