I finally finished reading The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg. It was a wonderfully written book about following God’s calling for us as individuals and learning what that can look like for each person. It also took me incredibly too long to finish. Unfortunately, I am one of those obsessive readers who gets through the first 50% of a book without sleeping and then loses the ability to read more than a chapter a week (if I’m lucky) until I finish.
(I don’t know why I am the way I am with books, but I’ve fallen into this pattern multiple times now – regardless of my interest in the subject or love of writing style. I digress…)
John Ortberg ends the book with the sentence “Ask for a mountain” (p. 254).
Leading up this, he gives several examples of how “life is not about comfort” (p. 251). He teaches the reader that “…facing challenges in community gives life and isolation destroys it” (p. 251). “The pursuit of comfort,” he says, “[…] is terminal” (p. 250). Pretty heavy thing to read at 7pm after a hard day of walking the dog, taking a nap, researching recipes, and reading a book, waiting for my husband to get home.
John uses the word “terminal” in his writing not as some ominous-but-harmless literary threat… He actually cites research on rats which documents shorter life spans for isolated rats that have been fed cheese than those in groups forced to seek out their meals together in mazes or obstacle courses.
There’s literally death in comfort!
I’m in trouble…
After closing the cover on this 254 page book, I started to reflect on the way I have been living my life, the people I count as my community, and my unwillingness to seek out new mountains. I have been the epitome of a comfort-seeker lately. You can see it in my workday, my evening routine, my ever-tightening wardrobe, and my reluctance to tackle new recipes in the kitchen – just to name a few.
Today is actually a perfect example: On top of my nap and hours spent looking up recipes, my evening culminated in a feast of tortilla chips while hanging around the house in my gouchos (Remember those?! I should be more ashamed. Hey, at least I took the dog for another walk (although admittedly, I was still wearing those free-flowing, ridiculous half-pants. Help me!)).
This all has got me thinking about my next mountain – my next communal project of discomfort for growth. Yes, discomfort. As much as my laziness tells me that I enjoy comfort or “security,” my heart tells me that it’s bored and yearning for more. It’s almost audibly yelling, “God, give me the mountain!” (p. 254).
And then it dawned on me: A fixer-upper could be my next mountain.
Now of course there are still some obstacles to work out in the typical buyer-seller negotiations, and of course I am prepared to walk away from the house if needed (or highly encouraged by my partner in life-and-love depending on how negotiations go), but let’s just say for purpose of argument that we get the house. This, my friends, would be the most awesome and thrilling and intimidating mountain that I have come up against in easily over a year. (Yes, I’m aware that a year doesn’t sound that long – but remember that each day is this life lived…that’s over 365 days of death-hastening comfort. I better get climbing!).
The mere prospect of a fixer-upper has already gotten me well into the foothills. Freddy and I have pushed and pulled and argued and hugged over the thought of putting a good amount of our cash safety net into projects around the house. That’s the community part. Freddy is 100% my partner. And I think that’s why climbing mountains with a companion is so important – you both grow from it and you’re able to encourage one another as the incline increases and muscles fatigue.
I’m going to take a bit of a tangent here:
Procreation aside – I think this is why God speaks about marriage the way that He does. You don’t need to be married to have companionship, but I think it makes it an easier day-to-day occurrence. It can also force you out of your comfort zone with greater frequency. I have really started to appreciate this about marriage. Some days, I force myself to trudge up the mountain of laundry ahead of me not because I want to tackle a mountain but because I know that Freddy will feel blessed if I move it out of his way. And sometimes, when my own comfort wins, Freddy gets behind me and pushes me up the mountain so I can get some exercise ;). It’s a beautiful thing.
Back to the house:
The house as my mountain is an important revelation to me. Freddy and I really have pushed and pulled about a move-in-ready home vs. a fixer-upper. Freddy has the experience to know that we have years of work ahead of us with this house, which is why he needed to know where I was at in my willingness to keep climbing the rocky terrain. But I am certain that my heart is pulled to this potential-project like a calling from God (and I’m starting to believe that’s exactly what it is). As I said before, I realize that we might have to walk away from the house if we can’t get some needed updates first, but I also know that I am prepared to get my hands dirty if the time comes. I know that my partner will be by me throughout this Everest-attempt and that he will take turns with me leading, pushing, following, and dragging at different times and on different days.
Bottom line: I fully intend to come out of this with a home and life improvement. Bring me the mountain!