It’s YOUR time to Become UncomfortableMay 13, 2021
by: Dr. John Trent
I’ve had the great honor of writing books, blogs, and articles for years. I’ve always tried to share what’s on my heart. To pen something I felt could be of real help to someone reading. I’ve asked you to consider a lot of things. But I do not think I’ve come right out and asked you to do something. Until now.
Today, I’m asking you.
It’s time. YOUR time. To get up and do something uncomfortable.
Let me put this personal request to you in context. I understand that these are some of the most “uncomfortable” times in our country’s history. Meaning wherever you’re reading this, I can’t imagine you are not being impacted by everything from Covid-19 to our exploding culture. So the idea that you’re supposed to be even more “uncomfortable?” Especially when we’re wearing already cutting back on so much on what’s important? That probably sounds ludicrous. Shouldn’t we be talking instead about how to get back to where things were comfortable? But stay with me, please.
When chaos happens around us, the Lord has wired into us, two very strong impulses. Fight or flight. But those are things that aren’t easy to do when life is “quarantined!” We have been relentlessly told to stay put and not go out. To stay safe and focus on staying away from so much. To simply shut down. And that goes for most of what we do in ministry and practice as well. All this has resulted in, I think, a third category of life. Which is to “freeze” in place.
In all honesty, I feel like in these Covid times that without realizing it, I had become a real-life version of King Theoden in the Lord of Rings. (Please take a moment to go to YouTube and type in “Gandalf and Grima” and watch that short clip from the movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_mPE9gcQJo). I’ve listened to so much Grima Wormtongue talk of “Step back!” “It’s not safe!” “Things will never be the same!” “The tides of change are so big, you’re helpless when it comes to making a difference!” It glazes over your eyes from seeing where you could and should go.
I feel like I’ve been wrapped tighter and tighter in a web that restricts our movement toward anything new or important. (“Important things are for a later time.”). All of which has been reinforced with almost every one of our major events and key meetings for our ministry being canceled due to Covid. Even the release of watching sports and “anything” that speaks of “life as normal” seems to be in “limbo” - like the whole world is frozen. I have to share that in these times, I did not realize how much I’d withdrawn. How comfortable I’d gotten with doing… nothing!
Until three things happened recently.
Each one was like Gandalf the White (formerly Gandalf the Grey) grabbing hold of Grima Wormtongue and tossing him out of my study. Three things that reopened my eyes. Refocused my life. Shaken me awake. Make me willing – actually looking for ways to be “uncomfortable.” Because it’s important. For my ministry and family. And “getting uncomfortable” is important for you and your family as well.
It started when I got a really nice set of Bose® wireless running earbuds. Which meant that I started listening to my first “audio” book. It happened to be Dan Crenshaw's new book, simply titled, “Fortitude.” (Copyright, 2020, Hatchette Book Group). It’s all about getting mentally tough in a world that is becoming softer, angrier. Less about living graciously and courageously. Written by a former Navy Seal and current congressman. As I listened to chapters as I did my long-distance trundling, I heard about duty and honor. About “Doing something hard” because of the value it brings compared to being so comfortable. Written by a man of faith and conviction, I literally felt like years were being peeled back, as the miles and chapters piled up. By the time I finished that book, it was like I was finally aware of how far and how much I’d pushed back and withdrawn from the big challenges still out there.
Then, along came Dr. Deborah Gorton’s outstanding new book called, “Embracing Uncomfortable.” (Copyright 2020, Northfield Publishing). If the call to get back into life from Crenshaw woke me up. The one-two punch was Dr. Gorton’s challenge that getting moving meant we have to face our fears! That we need to define or redefine our purpose. Which only comes when we’re willing to get “comfortable” doing something that right now almost certainly makes us incredibly “uncomfortable!” Again, I had grown so comfortable – and lazy and complacent. All of which fits so nicely in our current, “cancel life as we know it” culture. I wasn’t waking up with a greater passion for Christ or ministry or family or life or anything! I was “sheltering” in place alright. So much so that I was putting off doing anything hard – even those hard things I knew I desperately needed to start!
That’s when the knock-out-punch came, as a third amazing book showed up. This one full of incredible insights and words of faith from the 17th Century. Francois Fenelon was a French bishop who lived from 1651 until 1715. His amazing ministry and mission was to be a “guide” and a spiritual encourager to those trying to live godly lives in King Louis XIV’s incredibly secular royal court. In Will Collier’s impactful book, he captures, shares and orders some of the translated letters Fenelon sent to his mentors (Let God: The Transforming Wisdom of Francois Fenelon, Copyright 2017, Dirty Paper Press). For example, in writing to one high government official, who knew he’d grown complacent in his faith, Fenelon writes,
“Abandon yourself entirely to God. Recklessly abandon yourself to God as long as you breathe on this earth. Let loose. You are in good hands. You can be self-abandoned because you will never be God-abandoned.”
Those three very different voices blew up all the sloth and fear and retreating that had seemed to envelop me. I got up. “Let loose.” Decided to get “uncomfortable” with doing something that had I’d been putting off for way too long. Which for me, was also doing something hard (for me). But important. Tackling all the new technology that is at the heartbeat of the way so much ministry and even counseling is being done today.
Meaning, as I write this today, I’m now surrounded by my ElectroVoice RE20 microphone and Focusright Scarlet 4i4 mixer. Both linked by my computer to my brand new Sony VZ-1 Vlogging camera. Which, along with my new amazing 4K Avio video card, lets us tape ZOOM sessions with incredible clarity. All allowing our daughter, Kari and myself, to launch our new StrongFamilies.com podcast and YouTube Channel. And to build out the new video-based coaching programs on LifeMapping for our LifeMapping Coaches. Things I knew I should have been getting up and doing. But I’d let myself get so “comfortable” – and just talk about doing things. Not actually get them done. Not asking God for the courage to take on something hard. To get uncomfortable. But I’m so incredibly grateful for God bringing Crenshaw, Gorton and Collier’s wise, biblically sound words into my life right now. To shake me awake.
Which brings me to my call to YOU.
Maybe just reading this article is all you need to push away the cobwebs you now know are there. Or if you want more, I envy you the chance to read (or listen to) for the first time to Fortitude, Embracing Uncomfortable, and Let God. Whatever it takes for you to “wake up” from the Covid comma that so strong around us, consider doing something hard right now. Something important. Something you KNOW you need to do. And have been putting off. Something that you know will make a difference in your ministry or practice. Even your personal life and family.
Do it. In God’s strength. Knowing that you are free now from all those cobwebs. Freed by those “good hands” who hold you up. The same God who can give you the strength to feel twenty years younger than you are today. Because He indeed will never leave you nor forsake you. Even when you decide to get “uncomfortable.”
Dr. John Trent is a best-selling, award-winning author and speaker, of books like The Two Sides of Love, the Language of Love, and The Blessing (which has sold over 2 million copies). He is the President and Founder of StrongFamilies, a 501c3 he runs with his oldest daughter. StrongFamilies is dedicated to helping others end loneliness and create genuine attachment through The Blessing.