For those who know me, they will understand that I'm not the type who really likes to step outside my comfort zone. As much as I love being a youth minister's wife, sometimes there's nothing more uncomfortable for me than having to mingle with a room full of strangers, most of whom usually start conversations with, "Oh, so you're Mr. Jesse's wife!" followed by one of my well-versed quips in response. Then the typical small talk about ministry work, which segways into discussing the challenges of raising three small children & spending most of my time with them on my own, which is usually followed by the awkward silence as conversation runs dry. I have been trying to make more of an effort to keep conversations from getting to the awkward phase, with some success.
As a child, I wasn't shy by any means. I was a cheerleader, participated in band & choir, theater shows & many other things, but I wasn't particularly outgoing when it came to meeting or talking to new people. Ironically, as salutatorian of my graduating class, I read the following poem during my commencement speech:
My Comfort Zone
I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn’t fail.
The same four walls and busywork were really more like jail.
I longed so much to do the things I’d never done before,
But stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor.
I said it didn’t matter that I wasn’t doing much.
I said I didn’t care for things like commission checks and such.
I claimed to be so busy with the things inside the zone,
But deep inside I longed for something special of my own.
I couldn’t let my life go by just watching others win.
I held my breath; I stepped outside and let the change begin.
I took a step and with new strength I’d never felt before,
I kissed my comfort zone goodbye and closed and locked the door.
If you’re in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out,
Remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.
A step or two and words of praise can make your dreams come true.
Reach for your future with a smile; success is there for you!
Rereading this poem reminds me of how I felt when I was graduating high school: excited, anxious for life to begin, feeling that the possibilities were endless. Sometimes, amidst the chaos of marriage, raising three children, work, & ministry, this time feels like it was ages ago. But, if I really contemplate the meaning of this poem, it holds lessons that are still relevant (perhaps even more so given the often repetative & mundane nature of some of my daily tasks). So, the next time I'm confronted by intimidating life choices, I'm going to try my best to take a breath, step outside & let the change begin!