Last week while driving to work I found myself only half-listening to NPR’s interview by Scott Simon, from the series Next Chapter, entitled Wisdom from YA Authors on Leaving Home:  Neal Shusterman.   That was until I heard the following words uttered by Mr. Shusterman:   “Find your comfort zone and then leave it because the greatest experiences of our lives are the ones that we have when we have stepped out of our comfort zone.  That’s where you really grow.”

What stopped me about those words?  Then I realized what I had heard was ‘find your comfort zone and then leave it.’   That’s when it came to me.  In order to truly serve one another; to be fully present to one another, to lean into another’s joys, sorrows, suffering, and relief, we must leave ours.

But why go to your comfort zone and then leave?   It’s very difficult to authentically reach out to another until you know what’s within you.  When we serve the sick, the dying, their families, and those in grief, we are called to do this many times over.   It requires letting go of our fears, our filters, our expectations, and enter into theirs – not to solve but to listen, to hold, to honor.  To let them explore what they are ready to explore.  For us to be prepared to effectively serve another we need to start where we are comfortable.  Go in, lean in to ourselves.

So what’s your comfort zone?   To know our comfort zone asks us to be open to, and honest with ourselves.  It’s shaped by the experiences we have had.  And it changes with new experiences that require we go deeper.  To know our comfort zone requires us to go there; be familiar with our own feelings about sickness, death, grief and loss, and ultimately prepares us for serving others.   Only by doing this do we then know what’s not our comfort zone.    This type of preparation is a reflective process over our lifetime.  Learning to accept and acknowledge where we are comfortable and where we are not comfortable.  Then when we serve another, we will know our needs, our choices, our feelings…let them go and enter into the other person’s needs at that moment.

Such a privilege we are given in serving, with such a responsibility.  Go to your comfort zone then leave it and go where the other person’s is found.