I’ve been asked a lot these past couple weeks questions like: What would you tell your freshman self? What advice do you have for younger guys? What's the word that summarizes your college experience? And more…
I sat in my car on the backside of Bennett hall, two rows away from the road. 3 weeks into college and it wasn't exactly what I expected. I ate alone, I didn't know anyone. I thought to myself, “What if I transferred. Everyone you know goes to A&M, you can transfer there, have roommates and continue high school. You remember how great senior year was right?”
I just sat there. A few tears welling up, frustrated at how bad college had started.
I called the only person who could be feeling anyway that I was at the time.
Austin picked up as I turned the air down in my car.
“Hey man, what’s up?” he said.
“I hate it here,” I replied.
“Well good evening to you too… What's going on?”
“I don’t know, this just isn't what I expected. I feel completely alone. I don't know anyone, I don't have any friends, I eat meals alone. Where is the fun that I was expecting? Where are the friends that I left.”
“Ok? That sucks. What do you want me to do about it?”
“I think I'm going to transfer to A&M, I’ll room with guys I know, I already have a community, I’m leaving Stillwater.”
“Ok, well let me ask you one question before you do,” Austin said.
I had no idea that that question Austin would ask would change everything.
“Ok, what's your question?” I replied confused.
“Are you comfortable?” Austin questioned.
“Am I comfortable?” I replied.
“Ya, answer the question: Are you comfortable?”
“No! Of course, I’m not comfortable. I have no friends, I don't know anyone, I don't know what I want to do with my life. I’m 8 hours away from home, all my friends are hanging out in college station. No Austin, I am not comfortable.” I said almost mad at his question.
There was a pause.
“God never called you to be comfortable. And in those moments of discomfort that's where you are going to lean and depend on Him. That's where you're going to learn what the psalmist meant when he said ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’ In discomfort is where your faith is made strong.
There was another long pause.
“I have to stay, don’t I?” I said
“No, I never said that. But don’t leave just to seek comfort.”
My entire life has been marked by that conversation.
I did end up staying at OSU, and I’m glad I did.
My time in college has been marked by that. From the church I picked. To the organizations I joined. To the friends I made and the conversations I had, it all was predicated by the question: Are you comfortable?
Was it hard at times? Yes, oh yes. But was it worth it? A hundred times over yes.
What's interesting is the more I read the bible (I recommend you try it, it's a really good book) I find that it is filled with people that God called them to uncomfortable lives.
I think of Abraham. When God comes to him and says “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12) I have a feeling Abraham at one point in the years of walking he said, this is hard. Is it worth it?
I think of Moses in the Exodus narrative, When God comes to him and says, “I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10) Moses’ response was no way. That’s hard. I’m weak, this isn't going to work.
I think of David when he faces Goliath or in the many battles, he leads as King. I think of Elijah and the other prophets, an outcast for their messages about YHWH. I think of Peter and Paul.
I think of almost every person in the old and new testament had to have a moment of saying this is hard. Comfort is easy. But in the uncomfortableness, they learned who God really is.
Even Jesus, God in flesh, wrestles in the garden saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) Jesus said, "This is hard if there's another way, I don't want to go to the Cross. But it's for them, and for you Father, I'll go into the most excruciating amount of discomfort for them."
God never called us to comfort.
That realization changed my entire worldview. From how I view the relationship, to how I view money. What I want to do with my life, where I go, what I say. Everything is marked by that question: Are you comfortable?
I hope to answer, and I hope you will answer too: “No I’m not comfortable.”
So that we can hear the sweet voice of the Lord say,
Oklahoma State has been good to me. The Lord has been even better. This Saturday I say one final Go Pokes to Stillwater. Next Stop is Spring, Texas.
Let’s go to work.
Let’s live uncomfortably.
*photo was taken years ago on a back road in Stillwater