A Catholic Monthly Magazine

When My Comfort Zones Fail

By Fr Kevin Bates SM

It’s never easy having to move out of a place, a personal space, a routine, a rhythm that has for some time given us some security and peace of mind.

Letting go of our comfort zones can be simple enough and not of major importance. For example, when our holidays finish and we have to return to work, we have to let go of that delightful slow holiday rhythm and realise again that we have responsibilities that only we can attend to. We can think of lots of similar instances which, in the end, don’t demand too much of us and we manage with a certain ease.

There are other departures from comfort zones, as we know, that require much more of us. 

I find my spouse has been unfaithful and moves out of home leaving me alone with our children to care for.

My company goes into voluntary liquidation and the job I relied on for my livelihood and that of my family is no longer there. Relationships built up over years now have nowhere to belong and I am out of work

I’ve long believed that climate change and environmental issues would have little impact on my life and that there was little I could do in response to it. I now find that my power bills are impacted, the air I breathe is often of poor quality, my reliance on a good water supply is now no longer something I can take for granted.

The Church that was once a sure moral foundation for my life has become very rubbery around the edges and I am left doubting much of what once seemed clear and certain.

Australia Day, the celebration of a country where everyone gets a fair go, was a source of pride and satisfaction. It is increasingly revealed as an occasion of pain rather than a fair go for many Australians. This day marks their disinheritance and the loss of the place they had held here for thousands of years. Their ancient comfort zone is no more.

Our range of possible responses to these losses is limitless. Despair, anger, rage, fear all can come into play. Accompanying these can be a loss of self-worth, a doubting of the life we had before this experience of loss, a loss of direction and a retreat into self-destruction.

I could collapse into a passive state and expect someone else to restore me to health and peace.

I could seek the help I need to regain my composure, dignity and sense of self-worth. Sometimes another listening heart and reflective voice will be enough, for a little or a longer time.

Sometimes, a clear-minded decision to re-group and to make the best of my changed circumstances, will free up new energy in me and give me a sense of appropriate authority over my life again.

If my suffering is profound enough, I will need great patience with myself and learn to trust in my own worth from a new starting point.

There’s always the Love of God of course! We know through our faith that only in God is our soul truly at rest. God, who is the unchanging foundation, the only truly solid comfort zone, is large and powerful enough to take aboard all our anger, rage, fear and self-doubt.

This Love waits with us, cries with us, grieves with us and always believes in us. This Love, who is our only real foundation, knows that everything else has the potential to change. This Love is also the means to equip us with everything we need in order to thrive, and not merely survive, when our comfort zones fail us.

May that Love, who is our only sure foundation, carry us well and surely.  

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