Lean into Discomfort

Lean into Discomfort

A few weeks ago we held our very first Radiant Coffee Talk, here at the Humboldt Park Campus of New Life Covenant Church and it was poppin’, in the Godly sense of that word. It was a B.Y.O.M. event and we all brought our own quirky mugs, drank coffee enjoyed a delicious brunch and then we all got a chance to engage in conversation.

Our facilitator, gave us a conversation prompt in a simple request:

Describe your current stage in life.

In two words, describe how you feel about it.

At first, I counted myself exempt from the conversation. Afterall, there was too much to do for me to sit and honestly think about a response. Then I checked my ego, like, “Girl, sit down and write your answer!”, and I’m quoting the voice in my head there. Immediately, my hand off the mouth of my brain, I ink-blurted this sentence:

I’m learning that surrender means leaning into discomfort.

I feel committed, but afraid.

It ink-splattered all over my perfectly clean moleskin notebook. When I saw how quickly it came out, I realized how much this was percolating in my spirit.

Raise your hand if you like the discomfort of vulnerability. I mean, who really wants to lean into discomfort? Normally, when you lean on anything, you do so in anticipation of comfort. We tend to lean into reliability. We tend to lean into the norm. We tend to lean into the known.

Throughout the Bible, God calls folks to do quite the opposite. We know the stories all too well. Before Sarah, Sarai leaned into the discomfort of childbirth beyond its normal years. Jochebed, the mother of Moses, leaned into the Nile Riverbank and placed her son onto his destiny. Prophetess Deborah leaned into being a military strategist when the men were fearful of the enemy. Ruth leaned into a whole new heritage. Hannah leaned into the Prophet Elias to raise her weaned child as a prophet. Queen Esther leaned towards King Xerxe’s scepter in discomfort of risking her life. Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, leaned into the ridicule expected of pregnancy before marriage to Joseph. And she continued to lean, throughout his earthly ministry, all the way to the cross, all the way to the tomb. Can you imagine, not only the discomfort, but the pain she endured as a mother?  

Examples of actual women in the Bible abound. Women, who left their comfort by faith for the  discomfort of a promise yet fulfilled. A promise we are all beneficiaries of today! We read about them and because we know the end of their story, we don’t see the magnitude of the discomfort they felt. I’m learning, in this stage of my life, that surrendering to God is leaning into that discomfort. I don’t know the end of my story.  Neither do you. I don’t know how my obedience will span out, but I’d rather not know it. I’d rather know the discomfort of growth than the comfort of stagnation. I’d rather do it afraid, than do nothing in fear.

Leaning on Jesus has pushed all the boundaries of my logical comfort into a liberating and spacious spiritual comfort. Hope that makes sense to you like it does to me. I’ve leaned on Jesus, sometimes against the grain of my own logic, and I have come to find that he is a loving shepherd. Now I get what King David was really talking about in this famous Psalm 23. Read it with me as if you were being guided outside of your comfort zone:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

  He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

    he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths

   for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk

   through the darkest valley,

I will fear no evil,

   for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

   they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

   in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

   my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me

   all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord


There is a promise deep in the pit of your belly, one that you daydream about, one placed there by God Himself. When you surrender to your Shepherd, He will lead you out of your comfort zone into green pastures, quiet waters, a refreshment for your soul. It’s the oxymoron of surrender. You face the greatest discomfort in releasing your need to control. In this process you will surely find that His goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life.

Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, our Loving Shepherd, thank you for the discomfort of growth. Thank you for the process of surrender, it is ongoing, it is renewing. Guide us outside our comfort zone. Lead us into green pastures, through the darkest valleys, into quiet waters so that we may find refreshment for our souls. As we lean into the discomfort of surrender, may we find your rod and staff there to comfort us.

In Jesus Name, Amen!

Judy is a mother of a vibrant little girl and a rambunctious little boy, a wife to a pastor and a woman looking to help women feel like they belong. She is a nerd at heart, loves reading and writing almost as much as she loves cafe, but not nearly as much as she loves Jesus.