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  • Kathy Broska

A Costly Paradox

At risk of making your brain hurt, here's something I've been thinking about:

Why do we hold on to the limitations of what we know, instead of embracing the freedom of the unknown?

I am no expert here. But as an armchair psychologist, I refer to this as the costly paradox of "comfortable pain".

Let's make it real:

Say you're in a job that is bringing death to your life.

Or you're in a relationship that you know is unhealthy.

Or you're continuing a behavior or thought pattern that you need to break in order to experience a new level wellness in your mind, body and soul.

What keeps you from making the change?

Sure, sometimes there is real life stuff that requires us to stay put. I get that.

However, many times, I think we subconsciously default to the pattern of tolerating the pain we know instead of stepping out into the freedom of the unknown.

After all, we can label and define our comfortable pain. (And we probably do it frequently when talking with our friends and family). But this freedom thing? Not so much. It's a little more vague, because it's hard to define what we can't see or haven't experienced.

Think about it: At least in our job that's slowly killing us...or in unhealthy relationships...or in our refusal to rest...or even in old thought patterns and behaviors...we have familiarity. We know what to expect--it's that old adage of the "devil we know."

Sure, we know there's something better out there, but change is hard. And with change, comes fear.

Fear of failure.

Fear of criticism and judgement.

Fear of being alone with ourselves.

Fear of doing something new.

Fear of looking stupid.

Fear of being overwhelmed.

Fear of giving up control.

Fear of losing something or someone.

And yes, there's fear of success, which can be even more binding than the fear of failure.

Friends, here's the punch line: God's word promises that His perfect love casts out all fear!

What will our lives look like if we stand on that promise?

What could happen if, instead of quietly tolerating our comfortable pain,

we become more deliberate to step in to the freedom that comes with dwelling in the mystery?

How would it look to kick our comfortable pain to the curb and begin replacing our fear with small steps of faith?

Be encouraged: We can face the unknown because we are known and loved by God. We can live our big life because we have a big God—a God who has no limitations, only possibilities!


Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

2 Corinthians 11-13 (The Message)

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