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Uncomfortable with comfort

February 25, 2018

It’s been so long since I’ve written on my blog that I took a peek at my last entry to see what I had written about. Lo and behold, it included advice that I needed to be reminded of today: have faith that the direction your life is taking will lead to fulfillment even if you can’t imagine it now.

It’s not so much that I can’t image feeling fulfilled now—to the contrary, I feel quite fulfilled in my roles as a mother, wife, community volunteer, and faculty member at MSUB—but there is a facet of my life that continues to nag at me and I’m not sure what to do about it. Unless you know me extremely well you’ll think I’m crazy for writing about this, but the one thing that bothers me most about my current life is my level of comfort. Allow me to explain.

As a college student, I had the opportunity to witness the extreme income gaps that exist in our world. I was shaken to my core when I traveled to South Africa and saw wealth so opulent and poverty so staggering, both coexisting within view of one another. I saw children with distended bellies and flies in the corners of their eyes and people living in cardboard boxes—literally living in cardboard boxesjust around the corner from clean, modern, air-conditioned buildings. I’d seen similar scenes in Mexico and Brazil, but the level of poverty in South Africa was far more extreme. It was on that trip that I realized the gravity of our world’s condition and became fully committed to being a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

Yet here I am today, feeling as if I am indeed part of the problem. I am part of the five percent who consume twenty-five percent of the world’s resources while others don’t even have a stable roof over their heads or food in their stomachs. I have a four-bedroom house that consumes more natural gas and electricity in a month than some will ever consume in a lifetime. Although I bike when I can, I still drive vehicles that consume gasoline, a commodity that has caused immeasurable death and destruction in battles over rights, access, and pricing.

I don’t want this level of comfort for myself and my children. Safety, a solid roof, and food, yes, but not this much. Not while others have so little. I have a desire I will never shake to unburden myself of it all and go serve others in some backwater place without all of these conveniences. The happiest, most deeply satisfying moments of my life have been the moments I’ve spent unshackled to convenience, dirty and tired after a long day of building something for someone and sharing a simple meal in the company of people who have little but love much.

But at the same time, I recognize that the coincidences in my life have been too great to simply be coincidence: I do believe that God has me here, in this place, for a reason. He hasn’t sent me out to the far corners of the world to do mission work, at least not yet. It somewhat perplexes me that He gave me such exceptional foreign language skills then led me to Montana; as the saying goes, the Lord clearly works in mysterious ways. I’m learning to be content with the place He has put me in and the roles He has given me, and to even embrace this place and these roles, but I still can’t shake this discomfort with my level of comfort. Maybe it’s just God’s way of keeping me on my toes and not letting me become acquiescent to comfort so that when the time comes for Him to call on me to relinquish it, I’ll be ready. I can only hope that’s what He’s preparing me for because some day, I do want to relinquish it all and give my life fully to Him.

I’ve been reading Katie Davis’s latest book about her experiences living and working in Uganda, where she has adopted a house full of orphaned daughters and launched a successful non-profit organization. As I read her reflections about how she sometimes struggles with the situation she is in, I chuckle to myself as I realize that I struggle because I’m not in her situation. I long to be, but that is for another time… or maybe it’s not. I don’t know what God has in store for me years down the road, but I do know that as long as I keep my eyes, heart, and mind toward Him, whatever it is He assigns me to do, I will indeed feel fulfilled.

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