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Doing something ... new and scary

Remember your first car accident? I do. A drunk pulled in front of me at an intersection. I fairly t-boned him. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. What was this man doing, driving drunk at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon? 

The adrenaline surge of a near death experience was new to me at age 17. I became nauseous but couldn't throw up. My fear-based rage felt like a nest of hornets under my skin. It took some time before these terrifying new emotions drained from my system. When they did, I crashed.

For many people trying something new evokes a dread akin to my car accident. New friends are the hardest. Can't tell you how many men I've met who haven't made a new friend since, well, childhood. Grown men, good men, kind and thoughtful men: few, if any, friends and none new for decades. 

A critical self-examination is a new and scary experience. No, not the slurpy New Year's resolution kind of thing, where you convince yourself just a few tweaks are needed around the edges (or the bulges). I'm talking about the, 'I'm-slowly-dying-under-the-weight-of-my-routine' kind of change. Now that's scary. 

Finally, how about this? What if the new thing was spiritually clean and relationally helpful? Say, like telling the truth. Or thoughtfully taking the initiative to reconcile a broken relationship. Or coming out from that perpetual fog of indecision you've been hiding behind and making an assertive choice.

Scary? Yep, probably. But you'll survive. You ought to try it. It'll be good for you.

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Doing something ... new

I like comfort. Although owning more pants, I wear (mostly) three pair of jeans. I like the way those jeans feel, not too tight and not too loose. I wear (about) five shirts. Over and over again. I like it that way. Others may tire of seeing me in those shirts but I do not tire of wearing them. They are neat. They fit. They go with the jeans.

Same criteria of comfort goes for the shoes. Few articles are more necessary to life than comfortable shoes. And comfortable means forgetting I'm wearing them. My feet are dry and warm, protected from all splinters, shards and icky gunk on the floor. 

I like the comfort of my favorite foods. I know how they're supposed to taste in my mouth. The right temperature. The right texture. The right blend of spices. The warm feeling I'm supposed to get from a bowl of delicious stew. The refreshing lift that comes from just the right cold, crisp salad. All of that is comfort, and I like comfort.

I like my favorite shows on television. Yes, I watch TV. I realize I'm supposed to act like I read spiritual books all the time, engaging in nonstop spiritual contemplation; that kind of thing. If that's what "spiritual" means then I'm missing the mark.

What I DO watch on TV would bore the eyeballs out of many. Though once an avid fan, I no longer watch sports. Haven't EVER watched a complete episode of any "reality" show. I heave in convulsion at the thought of "reality" shows. I believe "reality" shows to be one of the rings of hell, and not one of those easy-to-dismiss outer rings.

But to each his or her own. I like the comfort of what I like. You know what? You like comfort, too. You like your routines. You like your food AND you like it in a certain way. You like your clothes. How do I know this? Because I've seen you wearing them over and over again.

You like your entertainments. Oh, yes, you do. You may have convinced yourself (some of you) that your entertainments are more high-minded than others - say thoughtful drama over slapstick comedy - but when you want to park your brain and gear down from the rest of your busy life you still have your "go-to" entertainment options. 

Comfort is not a bad thing. A steaming bowl of my grandmother's chicken and dumplings was a bowl of pure comfort. But comfort comes with a cost. Comfort can be so satisfying it can strangle in the crib changes which need to be made or opportunities which ought to be pursued. 

A diet of comfort food will shorten your life. And what a metaphor for life THAT is!

Limiting my intake of, just name it - food, entertainment, news, fashion, travel ... people! ... - to only what is comfortable will constrict my life. My capacity for discernment declines. It's like the arteries of my judgment harden.

What formerly was mere personal preference (say, being a morning rooster rather than a night owl) now becomes the only choice. It's a small step from the only choice to passing judgment on you for choosing differently from me. Check out my judgment regarding reality shows! My world grows smaller even as my comfort remains unchallenged. This is not good.

So, what "new" have you tried lately? I do not believe new is always better that old; in fact I'm sure it's not. By asking about "new," I don't mean the bleeding cutting edge of culture. I mean "new" that might jar you from your comfort. In particular, I mean "new" in a way that is more healthy for you. 

Over the next three posts, I'm going to spend a little time exploring what it might mean to do  something ... new.


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