Meeting God in Discomfort
This past week I was with some friends when one made a very astute observation:
“We’ve lost the ability to sit in discomfort.”
Think about it. You’re hungry? You can order dinner to your door in 20 minutes without even needing to get off the couch, clicking more than five times, and (heaven forbid) talking to a real human on the phone. You’re cold? Turn up the heat. You’re bored? Scroll on your phone and find yourself lost in TikToks for the better part of the afternoon. You want new clothes or new books or a new gadget? A few clicks and BOOM the box is at your door in two days or less. We can get whatever we want whenever we want it. And it’s hurting us.
Because what happens when we can’t run away from or numb the discomfort anymore? When we actually have to face the hurt, head on? Can we handle it? Do we know what to do?
Lent is a necessary time for us because we need a gut check – all of us. We need to look up and realize the ways in which our technology, our choices, our very lives have become immune to discomfort. Because the farther we run from discomfort, from suffering, the farther we run from God, who wants to meet us there.
Two weeks ago, we put down our childhood dog, Blackberry. He was 14 and had a very long, very good life. He was also very sick. The news that it was going to happen came out of nowhere. It was Ash Wednesday, I was already very overwhelmed: I was trying to work, babysit a 16-year-old, and the WiFi had gone out at her house so we were running all over Virginia looking for an open cafe with internet. I FaceTimed my family, and our dog, cried in the car for about 3.5 minutes, then went inside, re-did my makeup, put in eyedrops and got on my next Zoom call. I numbed it all out. I didn’t want to deal with it. The next day, when it was time for his appointment, I went to mass and cried in the pew (masks are so good for crying in public), and then pulled it together and went back to work. I was fine. It was fine. That’s life. Time to pull it together and move on.
But a few days later, a friend made some space for me. She said it had been really hard when her childhood dog had passed away a few months earlier, and she invited me to actually pause and sit in the discomfort and sadness I had been running away from. Those hours of just crying and talking about everything – childhood, family, distance, pets, loss, grief – were some of the most open-hearted moments I’ve had in months. Through my friend, Christ met me in my suffering, and invited me to let the walls down.
Discomfort honestly sucks. It hurts. It’s not fun, and it’s not the place I want to hang out. But, as a Christian, I know that suffering has a purpose. Sometimes, the purpose is simply to open ourselves more to God, who loves us and meets us in all the hard places.
Are you running from discomfort, from sadness, from suffering? This week, I invite you to create the space to sit in it, to confront the messiness and the brokenness and let God love you through it. Lent calls us closer to Him, to the immense suffering He underwent for our sake. He knows, sisters, and He’s here through it all.
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Jane Kennedy lives in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and works in criminal justice reform. When she’s not working or writing, she’s probably catching up with friends on FaceTime, getting lost in Rock Creek Park, quoting C.S. Lewis, or trying to recreate Salt and Straw ice cream at home.