Food for Thought: Learning Can Be Uncomfortable
by Ardith Hoff
A new missionary recruit went to Venezuela for the first time. He was struggling with the language and didn't understand a whole lot of what was going on. Intending to visit one of the local churches, he got lost, but eventually got back on track and found the place.
Having arrived late, the church was already packed. The only pew left was the one on the front row.
So as not to make a fool of himself, he decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He chose to follow the man sitting next to him on the front pew. As they sang, the man clapped his hands, so the missionary recruit clapped too.
When the man stood up to pray, the missionary recruit stood up too. When the man sat down, he sat down.
Then the preacher said some words that he didn't understand, and he saw the man next to him stand up. So, he stood up too. Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped. He looked around and saw that nobody else was standing. So, he sat down.
After the service ended, the preacher stood at the door shaking the hands of those who were leaving. When the missionary recruit stretched out his hand to greet the preacher, the preacher said, in English: "I take it you don't speak Spanish." The missionary recruit replied: "No I don't. Is it that obvious?"
"Well yes," said the preacher, "I announced that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy, and would the proud father please stand up, you stood up."
When talking about her role as a professor at Stanford, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that she explained the process of learning to her students this way: "It's not my job to make you comfortable. Actually, it's my job to make you uncomfortable." Much of learning is just that, very uncomfortable. AARP, December 2017, p.42
As it says in Philippians 4:9: “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” To grow in faith, can be uncomfortable. But to follow Jesus’ example is the only way to do so. Learning, and in turn growing, requires getting outside of our comfort zones. We can drift along in our old habitual ways of doing things and not move forward or we can learn from Jesus how we can change and grow.