This past weekend I was invited to celebrate a sweet friend’s milestone birthday at a beautiful airbnb in the mountains of Highlands, North Carolina. It is the perfect time of year for a trip to Highlands, as the brilliant colors of Fall create a tapestry of crimson, gold, and burnt orange around every corner, and the temperature is practically perfect. Not only that, the rental house was completely free, a birthday gift from her husband.
Sounds pretty perfect, right?
There was only one catch.
I would be spending the weekend with complete strangers.
Except for the birthday girl, Helen, and our mutual friend, Shannon, I didn’t know any of the other women who had been invited. They were all Helen’s closest friends from over the years, some dating back more than twenty years. Since we have only been friends for about two years, I felt even more awkward.
Picture it with me…
We arrive at our beautiful vacation destination, suitcases in hand. Eight women look around the room, sizing each other up. Unsure of how to start the conversation. Not knowing what topics to embrace and avoid. Wondering if the others will like us. Trying to figure out who to room with. Coming down to breakfast in our pajamas and no makeup. Questioning who should sit next to the birthday girl.
Sounds like a blast, right?
So many things could go wrong…
I have to confess that I almost said no. I quickly checked my calendar and, thankfully, Noah had a basketball tournament scheduled—the perfect out! But before I could decline the invitation, my friend Shannon responded that she’d love to go and then texted me privately threatening my life if I backed out. I was stuck.
Now, I love my friend Helen and I was excited about celebrating her birthday! But in the mountains of North Carolina with six strangers? Not so much. (I feel the uncomfortableness crawling up my neck even as I type.)
Still, I told myself I’m a big girl and I’ll never be too old to make new friends. This wasn’t about me; it was an opportunity to celebrate my friend.
So, with all the courage and enthusiasm I could muster, I replied that I would be there, and even offered to drive the birthday girl to ensure I wouldn’t back out!
When Friday morning rolled around, I packed my suitcase, wrote out the boys’ schedule so Jeff could get them everywhere they needed to go, and prepared myself for whatever discomfort awaited me…
COMFORT IS THE ENEMY OF GROWTH
Friend, let’s shift gears for a moment. The truth is, God never called us to a comfortable life.
- He asked Abraham to leave his home (Genesis 12).
- He enabled to Sarah to get pregnant at the ripe old age of 90 (Genesis 18:10-14).
- He called Joseph to a foreign government (via servanthood and a prison— Genesis 41:37-45 ).
- He led Moses and the Israelites away from everything they knew and into the wilderness (Exodus 14-15).
- He asked Joshua to be brave (Joshua 1:9) and Gideon to trust Him (Judges 6).
- Hannah essentially gave up her child (1 Samuel 1:21-28).
- Esther left her normal life to enter the palace and then risked it for her people (Esther 2).
- Everyone pretty much hated the prophets (too many references to list!).
- Mary’s situation was uncomfortable to say the least (in more ways than one, haha).
- Jesus constantly put the disciples in uncomfortable situations—touching lepers, eating with “sinners”, feeding more people than they could count, sailing through storms, etc.
And the list goes on and on…
Jesus Himself told the disciples that if anyone wants to follow Him, they “must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow [Him]” (Matthew 16:24).
Following Jesus was never meant to be comfortable. Now I know spending a weekend in the mountains with some strangers is hardly comparable to the situations mentioned above. But the underlying tenet remains true—comfort is the enemy of growth. If we want to grow in our faith, in maturity, in emotional health, in friendship, or in purpose, we must be willing to step out of our comfort zones, trusting that what the Lord offers us is better.
Fast forward to today. The birthday weekend was actually amazing! The weather was perfect, we laughed until we cried, and I made some dear new friends. My favorite part was meeting and soaking up the wisdom of Helen’s friend and long-time mentor, Marcia, who was in her 70’s (y’all know how I feel about mentors 😉). Marcia told us she almost backed out of the trip, to which everyone else confessed the same, and I thought of how different the weekend would have been without her, or any of us for that matter. I’m so glad we were brave!
So this is my life lesson for the week—
Push through the discomfort and do that hard thing. Choose to be uncomfortable, trusting that God will use it to grow you or teach you something (or maybe just bring you a new friend).
After all, everything good in life starts at the edge of our comfort zone…