Getting Out Of The Zone
by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
Today I had to step out of my comfort zone. I hate stepping out of my comfort zone. After all, it’s not … well … comfortable. However, in the process, I learned some valuable lessons that I hope to implement in the upcoming year. If I may, I'd like to share them with you.
Today’s exercise in stretching myself came courtesy of my pastor, who called me two weeks ago and asked me to pray about giving a message on being a genuine Christian. You should know that this subject is very close to my heart, especially at this particular time in my life. It’s something that I often find myself wanting to shout from the rooftops about. So, after taking a day to pray about it, I agreed. And so began my most recent venture outside of my beloved comfort zone.
Once I got the message all typed out and had it in front of me, anxiety started to well up inside of me. What if people didn’t want to hear what I had to say? What if I wasn’t really hearing from God in all of the details of my message and got something wrong? What if I said something that got me kicked out of my church? Okay, yes, I realize that last one is perhaps a bit ridiculous, but I feared it nonetheless.
My anxiety led to a very sleepless night. And as I went through my message over and over again in my head, there was one word — one single, solitary word — that I kept getting hung up on. It’s a word I had actually added after talking to both my mom and my sister. In trying to revise one specific paragraph, they each (on their own) came up with the same word to describe what I was trying to convey. Well, I thought, if that’s the word that comes to mind for both of them, then perhaps God is trying to tell me that’s the word. And so that’s the word I used.
But as I lay in bed that night, it didn’t feel right. In fact, it felt very, very wrong. But I wrestled with changing it. I should say here that I have a deep love and respect for both my mom and my sister. I know them both to be strong women of God, and I have great confidence in their take on things. I knew that nothing was wrong, per se, with what I had written; however, I didn’t know if it was the right thing to say in my message, at that time, in that context. And so my inner debate continued. I couldn’t decide if Satan was playing tricks with my mind as a way to get me to use different terminology or if God was speaking to me because He really did want me to change the wording.
I called my mom the next morning filled with anxiety; my heart was in my stomach, and my nerves were getting the best of me. In talking through my thought process with her, I had a very profound realization. I recalled a dream that I’d had years ago. After speaking to a friend about the dream, she told me that she believed a day was coming when I would need to stop relying on others around me for spiritual wisdom and begin to rely solely on God. I had completely forgotten about the dream until that moment. It was as if God was saying, “Trust Me, Joy. I have given you the words. You simply need to speak them.” And the moment I had that realization, my anxiety left me. I knew what I needed to change, and that’s what I did.
I’m happy to say that no one threw rotten tomatoes at me or booed me. However, even if they did, I would have continued on in confidence, knowing that it was God speaking through me and not my own words.
So what did I learn? I learned that when God pulls me out of my comfort zone, it’s for a good reason. I learned to have confidence in what I believe He is speaking to me. And I learned that if I continue to walk in His Truth and His Will for my life, I have no reason to worry because He is the One I live to please.