Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

Is Comfort Killing Your Soul?

In the West, we strive to make everything comfortable. We wake up in a cozy bed, take a steaming shower, dry with a downy soft towel, put on a tailored suit, settle into the leather seats of our car, crank up the air-conditioning, walk through the automatic doors at work, adjust our pneumatic chair, and chat on our hands-free telephone.

We are in love with comfort.

FrankCreative Commons License Al King via Compfight

We work hard to save money to retire comfortably.  Simultaneously, we go into ridiculous debt buying oversized houses—a room for everyone, plus a workout room, craft room, guest room, and movie room.

We are addicted to comfort.

But what if comfort is not actually good for us? What if it kills our souls? What if we are committing gradual soul suicide?

There is at least one place where I gladly jump on the comfort train—the dentist. Think about the days before anesthesia. The dentist gave you a stiff drink than started yanking. Today, they even put you to sleep for more serious operations. At the dentist, I am glad for the comfort that sedatives bring.

However, comfort in other areas of life seems to work in the same way.

Comfort is an Anesthesia. It puts us to sleep.

Comfort makes us lethargic. We become numb to our surroundings, blinded to ourselves. Comfort sedates us.

Think about kids who grow up with everything they want in life. What happens to them? They end up on a reality TV show shouting, “No, Dad! I wanted a RED car not a blue one!”

They never experience the discomfort of working their way through college. They never scrape and save to buy their first car. The never learn to embrace discomfort. Perhaps making children comfortable is not the primary aim of the parent. Perhaps our job is to walk beside them as they face the difficulties of life.

We were made for more than comfort. We were made to live.

“A ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”William Shedd

Adversity is a Fire. It burns down a house or forges a sword. (tweet that?)

I am not a masochist. I do not love pain. But I know if you avoid discomfort you miss out on real life change.

Uncomfortable conversations are the only way relationships grow. If we avoid them, we slowly grow apart.

Uncomfortable situations show us our weaknesses and motivate us to grow. Coaches intentionally place players in uncomfortable situations to help them grow.

The weight room—uncomfortable.
Wind sprints—very uncomfortable.
Having energy in the fourth quarter—awesome.

Adversity is white-hot fire. In it, we are either destroyed or remade.

Almost four years ago we left our comfortable home in the Atlanta and moved to Sarajevo. We did not speak the language. We did not understand the local people. We did not know how to raise children here. We did not know how to do our job here.

It has been four straight years of discomfort. I have never grown faster or changed more. My soul is alive.

We were not made for comfort; we were made for life, for adventure, for purpose.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Unknown

So what are you going to do about it?

Choose to do something uncomfortable. Go on a trip, start a project, have a conversation that scares you. Get uncomfortable and watch your soul come alive.

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