I was watching a Christmas movie the other day, when one of the characters said something that struck me as somewhat profound. The movie is called “Christmas List” and has Mimi Rodgers in it. The story is about a 35 year old woman who has just kind of gone with the flow of things allowing circumstances and other people to dictate the outcome of her life. She writes a Christmas list just for fun and all of a sudden she begins to receive the items on her list. Suddenly her life becomes exciting and joyful. This causes her to reassess her life and it brings her to this conclusion.
“Somehow, all this time I’ve been waiting for my real life to start, I never realized that the waiting part had become my real life. And what was supposed to happen had become a dream. But you know what, there’s no more supposed to for me. There’s only what I want and what I’m going to do to get it. If I want to go to the Sky Room, I’m going to the Sky Room and if I want to go to Timbuktu, I’ll take myself there. I’ve learned something, you can’t wait for life to happen to you, you have to go after it.” - Mimi Rodgers character. This quote came from a fictional movie, but I am a strong believer that truth can be found anywhere if we are willing to be open to seeing it.
How many goals that we set for ourselves in our youth become the fond dreams or wishes in our latter years? How many moments do we waste away with sorrowing thoughts of “if only”? How many of us have found that the waiting to get to the goal has become the life we never imagined?
I know that I have spent many moments fruitlessly on “if only” this had happened or I had done that. I have also looked longingly at tomorrow with the hope that somehow it would look different than today. But in either case I never did do anything differently to bring about the things I desired. Every day I did the same things, letting life take me where it may. Somehow hoping that things would change and never realizing that I had the power to bring about the changes I so desperately longed for. Albert Einstein was quoted for saying the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Now I want to clarify something. I did do different things but everything I did fell under one category, what I was comfortable doing. If it was not in my comfort zone, I didn’t do it or rather I rarely did it. Those rare times was a case of me wanting something more than I was afraid of it. And let me tell you, those were some of the best successes of my life. However, they never seemed to be lasting. I believe the reason nothing ever seemed to last was because I was never willing to stay out of my comfort zone long enough to make a go of it. When things became overwhelming or felt too scary I would retreat back to the comfort of what I knew even if it wasn’t what I really wanted. Being in a comfort zone is easy and pursuing a goal can be hard work. But in reality the easiness or hardness of anything really depends on how much we want something.
A teacher in my church said, “I believe God lives to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” To me comfort is about rest. Think about it for a moment. What do you do after a hard day of work? You come home, take a shower, put on comfortable pj’s or sweats, sit in a comfortable chair, curl up with a comfortable blanket and watch TV or eat your favorite comfort food. Comfort is about resting after hard work or effort. Whether that is physical or emotional work.
God seeks to comfort us and give us rest when we have become weary through our efforts to learn and grow. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28) But as you see from this quote, He seeks to comfort us after we have labored. Comfort is for resting, there is no learning and growing in comfort. And yet we try to live our entire lives in a comfort zone. We park our lazy boys and TVs with the intent of staying there indefinitely.
Leslie Householder author of The Jackrabbit Factor said, “God is more interested in our growth than our comfort.” I believe this is because He knows that there is no learning when we are comfortable. If we are not learning then we are not growing. Learning and growing is about taking action and taking action is when we truly live. Not only do we live but we can also thrive. If we stay comfortable to long we can become bored and life becomes stagnant. We are constantly left to react to life. Where is the joy in reacting to every situation? In most cases this kind of living leaves us stressed, worried and more than likely depleted of hope and joy. I believe that in most cases, being comfortable for too long will leave you forever looking at your life with the regret of “what if”.
Just as the song from The Byrd’s based on a scripture says, “Turn, turn, turn, to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”, there is a time for being comfortable and there is a time for working which inevitably brings with it learning and growing. But the labor must come before the rest. So put aside your comfort zone, think about what it is you really want, and get to work. Dream the dream and go after it. After all, “…men are, that they might have joy”. 2Nephi 2:25
So what is it that brings you joy? Maybe it’s time to dust off some of those dreams and goals and find out what makes life worth living. And remember the next time you're tempted to turn back to your comfort zone; if at first you don't succeed try, try again!