A couple weeks ago I attended my very first Life Group, a home-based Bible study. I did not know any of the people attending, but I did know the Bible study was going to be focused on Christian parenting. Signing up for the group was a big step for me and attending was huge. I have been to my friends houses for Bible study, but never to someone’s house that I did not know. So many fears popped into my head as I was driving to their home, what if my toddler and 5-year-old destroy their home, what if I have nothing in common with these people, what if my kiddos hate it, what if I offend someone with my boldness, what if……. It would have been easy to make an excuse and not go. I could have decided- since my husband was working, taking my 3 kiddos alone would be too much, which I considered. Thankfully, I reminded myself that past experiences of stepping outside my comfort zone have led to growth, personal growth as well as growth within my circle of friends. I have experienced that growth is not comfortable, but it is worth it.
It may come as a surprise to those that “know” me (I’ll explain the quotation marks later), I am naturally an introvert. I enjoy alone time with myself. When I tell people this I usually get a response like “really, but you are so outgoing” or “huh, I would have guessed extrovert”. I credit that reaction to the fact that I place myself in uncomfortable situations to be more social and outgoing. But, truth be told there is nothing better than spending time with me, myself, & I. I take myself out on a lunch date about once a month and I get some of my most creative and insightful work done. The time spent alone provides me an opportunity to recharge and reconnect with the here and now. Now back to the quotations, those that “know” me are the folks that respond with the above comments. These individuals interact with me, but they do not truly know me. They see someone (me) who speaks up in small groups, is bold, has an opinion (or a few) and isn’t shy about sharing it, or offers leadership in group settings. And while those things are true about me, it has taken work for me to get to a place where I am comfortable and confident doing so. Those that truly know me, know that I appreciate my alone time and actually prefer it.
As mentioned above, I must intentionally step outside of my comfort zone in order to be heard, seen and known by others. I take small intentional actions that stretch me a little each time, and eventually that leads to noticeable growth. I have to then reevaluate how I refer to myself after the growth has taken place because I am no longer the same. For example, each time I step outside the introvert comfort zone I become a little more extroverted or a little less introverted. While I haven’t set any specific goals regarding how introverted vs extroverted I want to be, I do know I want a balance that allows for relationship building.
When you think about those things that are outside of your comfort zone consider what growth your comfort zone is limiting or preventing.
· What outside your comfort zone scares you?
· Why is that fear there?
· What lies have your comfort zone confirmed for you? For example, I have spent many years believing that people are untrustworthy and therefore I should protect myself from being hurt. Well my natural inclination towards being introverted further validated that lie thus it was a "no brainer" to keep people as far away from me as possible. Even though I desperately desired relationship with others my comfort zone limited my ability to make and keep friends. Most of my relationships were and truthfully still are superficial. But I am intentionally working on changing that by stepping outside of my comfort zone.
Just in case you are wondering, none of my fears for not going were confirmed. My kiddos did not destroy their home, I had something in common with each of the people that attended, my kiddos enjoyed playing with the other kiddos, and I didn’t offend anyone with my boldness. Actually, my openness, honesty and willingness to be vulnerable with these strangers led to a few me too’s,” which led to me feeling seen, heard, and supported. My comfort zone has expanded just a little bit more and I consider that to be growth.