Holy Discomfort

I’ve felt this before. Uncomfortable. Unsettled. Agitated.

It happened every time I was pregnant, especially at the end. Hard to sleep. Hard to breathe. Ready but the time not quite right yet. With my last one I had nerve pain of some sort down one leg all the way until he arrived. I think he was resting on some kind of important pain center I had.

Every single time I write a sermon, speaking material or a blog I feel it. The idea first, the study, the prayer, the wrestling with it. And then finally total discomfort and then the labor like feeling of giving birth to it.

Recently, I’m focusing on something new, something I know nothing about. Julie Cameron, the writer and creativity coach says, “Have the grace to be a beginner.” I’m trying that.

The discomfort of it all gives me every reason to stop. Why would I try to learn something new? Why would I put myself in a situation to feel this way?

I’ve learned however, at least for me, there’s a spiritual aspect to my discomfort, almost as if it comes from God. I’ve named it a Holy Discomfort and tried to recognize it as a good thing…the growing of something new in the darkness, the labor before the birth, the pain as something broken heals and regenerates itself.

When I broke my ankle, I couldn’t understand why it ached for a year. Now I know it was miraculously mending itself, creating new bone. How amazing is it that our bodies can do such a thing?

I think about all the discomfort I’ve known, from starting new jobs to knowing when it is time to leave an old one; physical discomfort which is trying to tell me something; the anxiety of a tough conversation that needs to happen; pregnancy and childbirth; cancer; therapy; even yoga as I work toward taking myself right to the edge of discomfort and then stay there allowing my body to relax into it.

It is a Holy discomfort.

Lent in some ways is considered a time for this. Sacrificing, fasting, wandering around in the wilderness, allowing bleakness and barrenness and staying there a while.

I’m learning to be patient with discomfort and to understand it as another kind of spiritual discipline, a place where God is teaching me something.

What is making you uncomfortable right now? Is God there? What are you learning from it?

God, help us. We gravitate toward comfort and amenities and away from that which feels uncomfortable. Help us to show up to the discomfort of life too and help us stay there, in the discomfort, instead of running. Teach us, please, while we labor together. Amen.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa/Mocha to Keller and Pace, breast cancer survivor and Christian.  

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