“Somebody once said, ‘Everything you want in the world is just right outside your comfort zone. Everythingyoucouldpossiblywant!’”
Vogue, December 2008
I know what you’re thinking. Joy abandons her blog for a month and then comes back with a quote from Jennifer Aniston? Bear with me, though. I can’t exactly remember when I first read this quote, but I think it was when I was at the airport in Oslo back in January, killing time before our flight to Germany for a two month outreach. I knew I was headed for 9 weeks of being completely out of my comfort zone, so I took her words seriously as a little shot of hope to help me make the flight without wanting to jump out somewhere over Amsterdam.
This whole 8 months in Europe has been a constant string of moments, large and small, outside my comfort zone. And when you first get out there, you feel like you’re trying to walk around underwater. It’s no fun. But now I feel like I’m almost accustomed to being out of my comfort zone…to that anxious fluttery sensation in my chest as I enter into another unknown, potentially awkward situation. The meeting of new people, the adapting to new cultures, the learning of new words, the discipline of keeping one’s self in the moment instead of checking out and going on autopilot as a coping mechanism. Now I feel I’ve figured out how to hold my breath longer and move a little more gracefully in the murky waters of new, uncomfortable situations. I’m no expert, that’s for sure. But I think I do a better job than I ever have at least appearing to be confident and to have fun.
Now the question is: in these 8 months outside my comfort zone, have I found everything I want in the world? Well, yes and no. The only reason I say no is because of the incredible drought I have experienced this year when it comes to guys. I mean, seriously…I think I’ve gone months without seeing one man I am even remotely attracted to, not to mention a guy that I might actually be interested in (and, it must be said, the reverse is true. It’s been a while since I’ve had to turn someone down). So, I would like to meet someone, and that didn’t happen in my comfort zone or outside of it.
But. A husband is definitely not the only thing I want in the world, or even one of the most important things. I really have found so many things that I’ve wanted, and so much more. I really can’t explain it, but when I came back from outreach for our DTS debrief week, and was back together with all the students from the school, it was like all the pieces fell into place for me and I could see the big picture of this time in Europe. The first few days I would get all emotional and teary just being in the same room as all the students – the beauty of these individuals, of what they bring to the group, of the transformation God did in each of them over 6 months – it was too much to take.
And on top of all of that, to think of what God has done in me these past months! The ways He’s showed me more of who He is, and how it is constantly more beautiful than I could have dreamed…the security in my relationship with Him that I’m moving into, knowing that I’m His and that His joy is upon me…finally beginning to understand that God is good and He can be trusted! These truths are worth so much more than all the things I could ever want in this world.
Oh, and on top of it – the rich relationships I’ve enjoyed here with people from all over the world, the feeling of love and safety and belonging and people really valuing me enough to invest their time and resources in me – sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough arms to hold all of these gifts, enough heart to be as thankful as I want to be.
I guess, in conclusion, I’d have to say I agree with Jen…or the “somebody” she was quoting. Now the question is, when I move back to Southern California, how can I keep pushing myself outside of my comfort zone? But I’m not too worried about it. Opportunities tend to pop up; I just need to say yes, hold my breath, and dive in.