Friday, August 14, 2009

comfort zones

What is your comfort zone, and have you stepped out of it lately? We all have spaces, not just physical places but mental ,social,emotional,spiritual, etc, that we feel comfortable with. We grow up in families and communities with certain characteristics - be it beliefs, manners, expectations, likes and dislikes. We develop a sense of home, a place to feel safe. We all need that. But then we go to school and we learn often that not everyone is like us. Not everyone shares the same likes and dislikes. Not everyone has the same personality and not everyone has the same beliefs. And you have to adapt, accept those differences, while retaining a strong sense of who you are. You don't have to become someone else because of it, but it will change you, perhaps modify who you are.

For example, my parents were married till the day my mom died-30 plus years. I thought that was the norm. Then I came to know many people whose parents did not stay married, for one reason or another, and many who for one reason or another did not themselves stay married. I came to appreciate more the advantages I had had growing up with two parents always there, always in love , always showing love to me and my sisters. I became more understanding and compassionate towards those who hadn't had that and to those who had tried and failed to keep a marriage together. (it takes two, you know). I am happily married and plan to stay that way, but I do not judge those who have not.

I have known people who are stuck in one place in their lives. They are committed to not changing so much that they live in fear of it. That is part of the reason for the anger being seen today in the healthcare debate. There are legitimate concerns, and then there is fear from things unfounded. There are those who use people's fears to sway them to a particular viewpoint. They lie and deceive. It is important to check your sources, think clearly, ask questions. But it is important to be open to change. Life is change. It doesn't mean you have abandoned anything, least of all what you believe. It means you are growing.

I am a gardener and I love to see what comes up in each season. There are things I have deliberately planted and then things that just pop up out of nowhere. Some things grow very well and others don't. Some things grow well for a while and then fade away. I had a couple rosemary bushes that grew like gangbusters, to about 3-4 ft high and wide. I have a picture of them in their prime, and remember the tiny blue flowers and the luscious aroma released by running my hands along the branches. Unfortunately they were decimated by a couple winters of hard frost, so they are no more. Life and the garden goes on. Perhaps I will get another, perhaps not. But I also have hollyhocks that are now advancing into the lawn. I accept the change and revel in the surprises I see every season.

Some want their lives to be neat and tidy, not a leaf out of place, no surprises (they fear surprises because they think only bad comes that way). Some people believe that they must live by strict do's and don't's, otherwise God will be displeased with them.I believe that God wants us to enjoy life, not just manage it. Jesus said He had come to give us abundant life. But you have to come out of your comfort zone to do that. I did that recently by going to a townhall meeting on healthcare. Half of the people I encountered were friendly to my points of view. The other half were either in disagreement or were hostile to those views . It was not always comfortable, sometimes tense, but a learning experience. You should try it.

Life is a garden, enjoy it ,accept it, keep growing.

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