Have we become too comfortable in church services? Following...
New year, same problems. Anna Cookson reflects of how we can learn to be comfortable in the uncomfortable.
It was one of those matt black winter mornings, way before the hands of the clock point to a reasonable time. I was cycling to work, barely awake. A bus pulled out, I braked - too hard and too fast - and, the next thing I knew, I was on the floor.
I didn't feel any pain. In fact, I didn't go to the hospital for two days. It was only when my wrist turned purple that I thought I should maybe get it checked out. When the nurse told me it was fractured, my world turned inside out. Not even the delicately advertised prospect of choosing the colour of my plaster cast could cheer me up. No cycling. No yoga. No writing. For six weeks!
I'm right handed you see - and that hand lies uselessly bound up in a hard casing. Washing, cooking, even using a mouse, all now require more effort.
I know that having a fractured wrist is a minor discomfort - and bearable. I'm using public transport, I'm dangling my arm out of the bath to wash, I'm getting on with it. But, as ever when life throws up challenges, I'm wondering what it is I need to learn.
And digging around in the mulch at the back of my mind, I think the lesson is this: being comfortable in the uncomfortable.
I don't know about you, but I always want life to be perfect. However, sometimes the perfection of experience lies in the dirty, messy mire of challenge and pain. Through these trials we learn, we grow, we expand.
Is discomfort really something I should be afraid of?
There must be a reason why Jesus shunned luxury for the experience of 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. That brought him closer to God.
Mother Teresa chose suffering too, so that she could walk the path of love and light. So is discomfort really something I should be afraid of?
Not according to Jesuit Priest Eric Immel SJ, who puts it really well in an article about a trip to India that pulsed with noxious insects and raging heat: “I feel called to do more with my life, more than just being comfortable. I recognize discomfort is inevitable to growth.”
Perhaps it is ironic that knowing there are riches in discomfort can grant us some comfort in the moment. But it's hard to get that perspective when you're going through the tough or challenging time.
5 steps to being comfortable in the uncomfortable
1. Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can't. You may have to let go of old patterns of behaviour for a while, but it’s good to shake things up.
2. Surround yourself with positive people. They will not only distract you, but diffuse the situation with wisdom. (Ignore those who shout: "A fracture, I've heard that's much worse than a break!" Shouting does not make information correct.)
3. Decide to be happy now. Do things that make you happy. Have a bath, go for a walk, phone a friend. Focus on being content in the here and now. Don’t wait for the suffering to be over to be happy. It will be there to come back to.
4. Breathe. This will pass. This will pass. This will pass.
5. Pray and keep believing. There will be blessings in every situation, just as gold lies deep within the earth, sometimes you have to dig to find it.
So whether it’s Brexit or American politics, illness, insults or a traffic jam, next time you find yourself deeply uncomfortable, don’t be afraid.
Your soul wants to evolve, go with it.
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