Saturday, March 16, 2013

Comfort versus Adventure: the Reconciliation Edition

Comfort is reassurance of love and worthiness; security in being taken care of; promises of redemption from and resurrection for situations, feelings, my mistakes, other peoples' mistakes; a faithfulness that can be depended upon; a rebuke that is gentle instead of harsh, that brings forgiveness and mercy and newfound courage and understanding instead of more hurt and guilt; and sometimes, a place of refuge and escape that is necessary for a time in order to heal, rest, and rebuild before venturing out again.

Adventure is just that--venturing out. Doing the unfamiliar or unexpected, braving a less than ideal situation, attempting tasks previously thought difficult or impossible or scary. Standing up or speaking out if you tend to sit still and keep quiet; sometimes, sitting still or keeping quiet when you want to do and do and do is the challenge, the thing that takes courage.

If one thinks of comfort as snuggling up only considering or seeking one's own happiness with no regard to duty or the happiness of others or the will of God--or if one thinks of adventure as seeking adrenaline for the sake of adrenaline--or if one thinks unremitting inconvenience and gritting one's teeth doing unappealing things with no pleasure is the only way to submit one's life to a higher calling--then one might think that comfort and adventure have nothing to do with one another, and that both are antithetical to following the will of God.

I would like to submit that it is possible to think of God's plan for my life as a comfortable adventure. Comfortable, because He will never leave me nor forsake me; and an adventure, because He calls me to action, yet tells me not the results ahead of time. Because He leads me by the hand on a path I do not know. Because He asks of me a bravery beyond my certainty, but promises to never ask of me more strength than He will provide. Because He asks me to subordinate my pleasure to His will but gives me unexpected pleasures along the path of submission.

Because He loves me enough to comfort me, and loves me enough to be unwilling to allow me to settle for less than the life He made me to live.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I often think of myself as incompetent. Not in academic things like reading and writing and so on, and not even at music (although that can happen too), but at general life skills. I can have a lot of fear about things like calling people on the phone, or asking for help. In groups I depend on other people to take care of most logistics and map-reading and anything else I think of myself as not being very good at.

And then, I, this person who has that view of herself of being an incompetent scaredy-cat, spent the better part of two weeks traveling, by herself, to auditions for flute grad school. And I survived. I did nearly all of the trip-planning myself as well, and honestly, I think I did a pretty good job. So that was definitely a learning experience.

Lesson one: I'm not as helpless as I think I am. If asking the hotel front desk how to get on the internet and then calling a delivery place to ask about their ingredients and to order food stands between me and dinner when I am hungry, I can do it. If calling a taxi is the only way to get where I need to go, I can do it. If asking someone for directions is the only way I can find the campus building I am looking for, I can do it.

Lesson two: Planning well really does take a lot of the stress out of the actual trip. And I am decent at planning.

Lesson three: Making mistakes can be part of a learning process; it doesn't automatically lead to The Ruin of The Whole Project. There were definitely elements that were not as well planned or well executed as they could have been, but I still eventually ended up where I needed to be by the time I needed to be there. As an example of poor planning: thinking about the time change when picking flights to go to California is a good idea. I didn't. My sleep schedule did not thank me. Printing out a map of an unfamiliar campus I will be walking around is also a good idea (didn't first trip, did later). Those weren't the only things, either, but I am confident that if I am ever doing anything like this again I will remember those experiences and do better. Except for the part about dressing appropriately for the weather, I have a history of not caring enough about that to actually fix it. I seem to think staying warm is over-rated.

Lesson four: Do not neglect eating real food. Truly. Sitting at a table in a restaurant by yourself may be awkward, lonely, and sad, but if this is for more than, say, one day or one meal, your body prefers you to eat lonely real food than to subsist on coffee, chocolate, trail mix, and so on for days. (This would fall into the category of "things I'm going to do better if I do this again," not "things I did right this time").

The main lesson, though, really, is that things I am scared of are usually not as scary as I think they are. Fear can give a very skewed perspective of the problem.