I grab the stack of mail and mindlessly work my way through bills, ads, and junk.
My slow cooker is handling dinner, so I snag this tiny window of quiet to thumb through the pages of this month’s Pottery Barn catalog.
Somewhere between exquisite bed pillows propped on velvety sheets and rooms that suggest someone has momentarily stepped out, I discover something I’ve been missing in this magazine that boasts of comfort and sophistication.
Families, dogs, real-life people who aren’t just a blurred afterthought.
As I zero in on expressions and imagine personalities, I wonder where these faces have been all this time. On my visual stroll through stunning spaces, I start to see how my own comfort zone has deprived me.
Maintaining our comfort zones means control but no authenticity, safety but no passion, perfection but no connection.
After a little research, I learn that Pottery Barn redesigned their catalog to include humans in 2001, but all the photos with people were edited out of the final draft. I’m sure I know why.
The people who occupy space in my living room are messy and loud. Daily evidence of their presence includes dirty socks left on the floor, last night’s snack wrapper (plus some bonus crumbs), Cheerios between couch cushions, and the six-year-old’s latest LEGO creation that the two-year-old will surely find and destroy.
People offer perspective for a home magazine like Pottery Barn. A purposely placed human can help show the actual size of furniture, but this successful company has avoided using them over the years because people pose inevitable risks. A person is just one more element that can cause a customer to react.
I chuckle at the boy eating Oreos on the light gray couch. On a different page this same boy stands on the edge of a sectional with a baseball in hand. I feel as if I might know the woman in her kitchen making dinner. I wonder what she’s cooking, how many she’ll be feeding, and whether she ever uses a crock pot like me. But then I remember she’s not real.
Until now, Pottery Barn has played it safe by displaying picture perfect scenes void of real life. But we’re really no different.
We like our comfort zones because we like our control, but control deprives us of authenticity.
My youngest is as fierce as they come. Ever since she rolled in my belly to the sound of worship music on Sunday mornings, we knew God made her to live life out loud. Since the day she arrived, this pint-sized member of our family has displayed the entire range of emotion with the volume cranked all the way up.
Brené Brown talks a lot about how numbing our negative emotions results in numbing the positive ones too. Any counselor will tell you that the freedom in forgiveness is claimed by wading through the anger and acknowledging the hurt.
When my girl’s angry, there is no holding back. When she’s happy, you can’t hold back your own delight. God has a plan for her animated personality. I don’t wish away the kicking screaming fits because I’d never want to erase the smiles she elicits.
We buy the lie that our comfort zones will keep us safe, but they deprive us of passion.
When I circle back to Pottery Barn’s stance on the liability of using human subjects, I think about critics I’d rather avoid. If I was mapping out people in my life like emotions in my heart, then my critics would be down on the far end with all the negative emotions. But what about the other end? Whose names would I write there? Who in my life brings joy into my day?
People like you.
I love connecting with readers I’ve never met in person and hearing that you too struggle with this thing called life, but I would never get to hear your stories if I didn’t believe God’s plan in sharing my own. And sometimes, my feet stretch far and wide across that imaginary comfort zone boundary. But it’s worth it every time.
God has only ever asked me to share publicly what He’s already healed within me privately, but it’s still difficult. Vulnerability is never easy, because it shatters the allure of a perfect image. From negative emotion to negative feedback, we spend our energy trying to bypass the very stuff that makes us human… and very alive!
We believe that our comfort zones will help us achieve perfection, but they deprive us of connection.
So how do we take bold strides to cross the lines our safe zones have kept us frozen behind? We look to the One who left His throne for our sake. Jesus came to us as a helpless newborn. Vulnerable in every way. He endured the hatred and slander and abuse of the critics and took on sin and shame and rejection… for us.
Jesus experienced every human emotion during His thirty-three years on earth. Up and down the continuum in both directions. He left heaven knowing full well what crossing that boundary would cost Him. In His eyes, we were worth it.
I’ve tried my hardest to live the abundant life from within my tidy comfort zone, and it just doesn’t work like that. We can’t have connection without vulnerability, passion without pain, and authenticity without surrender.
We can’t have abundant life without death.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Let’s ditch our comfort zones today, because haven’t they hindered us long enough? We only find passion, connection, and authenticity outside of the lines of safety, perfection, and control. In this world, we’re going to have our fair share of trouble, but Jesus has overcome the world.
Join me over on Emily’s Freeman link up for more What We Learned This Spring….