“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to live with the ordinary.” (Jim Rohn) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog so time back.
One of my dad’s favorite sayings was “go with what you know”. Dad was not a risk-taker and like to stay within his comfort zone on things like the choice of a restaurant or maybe a clothing brand. He also avoided going on vacations to anyplace that he didn’t know, which my mom hated. She traveled extensively after his death. He was not willing to risk the unusual, so he lived a very predictable and ordinary life.
Today we call the avoidance of the unusual “staying in our comfort zone.” That concept can extend to all aspects of our lives, including the interpersonal relationships that we develop. Many times we might avoid people who seem to be different from us and our normal friends, because they are unusual – not like us. Maybe they look different or dress differently. Maybe they have a nose ring or spiked hair. Perhaps they are a different color or perhaps speak with an accent that is unfamiliar to us. For whatever reason, we choose to avoid them and go with what we know. How sad for us.
I have posted often here about diversity and the benefits of trying to understand different points of view. People who are different from us bring new perspectives into the conversation. They look at things differently from us and many may see things that we missed or overlooked. Certainly, they have come to different conclusions they we did and there is value in trying to understand how and why that happened. In doing so we may be introduced to a different set of life experiences than we had, which shaped their view of the world. We may even discover how insular and one-dimensional our lives have been, compared to the experiences of others.
Perhaps we never have had people pointing at us and calling us names. Maybe we didn’t experience the horrors of war at a very young age. It’s likely that we didn’t have to endure the dangers of a long migration in hopes of finding sanctuary. Maybe we didn’t undergo incestuous rape while growing up. Perhaps we were not denied something just because of our color. Maybe we didn’t struggle with gender identity questions while growing up or fear that someone would find out that we were attracted to those of the same sex as us. We probably didn’t have to deal with the stigma of having a disease that left us visibly disfigured or with a condition that left us unable to socialize with others. So, how could we possibly see things from those perspectives?
What difference do any of those things make? They each contribute to seeing things
differently and each provides a perspective that we can learn from, if we take the risk, get out of the ordinary, and try something different by meeting someone different from us. Sometimes in order to do that we might also have to go somewhere different. One cannot expect to sit comfortably in the familiar surroundings of one’s home and have different people trooped by you, so that you can meet them. You have to get out in the community and go places and do things that are different.
One of the more comfortable settings that we become complacent about is the church. It feels comfortable to be in our own church, among fellow Christians who are of a like mind. Going to church has become as much a social event as a religious one for most Christians. It is time to greet each other and feel good to be among friends. There is time to chat before and after (and sometimes during) the service and sometimes there are hospitality events (coffee hours) right after the service. It’s all very comforting and comfortable. For many it is also easy to check their faith at the door and leave it at the church, not to be needed until the next weekend.
A few, however, don’t check their faith at the door, but wear their Christianity out into the community during the week and share the Good New through service to others. Those few also get the added benefit of experiencing people with whom they would not normally associate and listening to people with different points of view. It may be taking meals to shut-in through the Meals-on-Wheels program, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen or an organization like Community Sharing. Whatever the job, it does get you out of the ordinary and expose you to things and people that you would not ordinarily meet. Whether you realize it at the time, or not; your life is richer for the experiences.
You don’t have to go out and volunteer somewhere to change your life by doing something different or meeting someone different. Opportunities for change are all around us every day; we just don’t see them or look for them. The easiest way to see an opportunity for change is to just ask yourself, “Why am I doing it this way or going this way or making this decision?” if the only answer that you can really come up with is, “Because I always do that”; then you have hit upon something that you can do differently today and see what impact that has on your life. Surprise yourself and do something different today. Risk the unusual. Be extraordinary.
Have a great and unusual day.