Getting Out of My Comfort Zone!
By LESLIE LUDY
I’m going to be bluntly honest with you — I am not a dog person. I have never gotten warm fuzzies from cute puppy-dog eyes or fluffy doggy tails wagging. Even adorable little puppies do very little to melt my heart. To be completely truthful, dogs have always seemed kind of gross to me. While everyone else may see a heart-melting little fluff ball, my mind is immediately distracted by unpleasant images of fleas, clumps of dog hair on the furniture, and dog smells in the carpet.
But despite my well-established discomfort toward all things canine, God, in His providence and divine sense of humor, saw fit to bless me with a young daughter who absolutely loves – and I mean loves – dogs. I’m not exactly sure where she picked up her undying passion for puppies, but whenever she sees one she immediately starts cooing at it, and within minutes has become its very best friend. Harper has never been very excited about playing with dolls — but give her a small plastic dog to play with and she’ll be perfectly content for hours. For over a year, she begged me for a dog of her very own. She would post signs around the house that read “Harper-Hearts-Dogs!” and leave me little notes in my bedroom to the effect of, “Mama, when can I get a cozy dog?” (A “cozy” dog, in case you are wondering, meant one that would allow her to cuddle it, brush it, and dress it up to her heart’s content.)
I knew that Harper was responsible (and smitten) enough with dogs that she would do a good job taking care of one, and I also knew that having a dog would be a huge blessing to her little soul. Eric was open to the notion of a dog, but I kept dragging my feet, envisioning a house filled with chewed-up chair legs and ruined rugs. We already had four small kids with two more on the way soon — why did we need the added hassle of a dog? Besides, we had newly remodeled our house—wouldn’t it would be irresponsible to take in a pet that could cause major damage to our freshly painted walls and newly laid carpet?
As I prayed about the situation, I was reminded of the Scriptural principle of sacrificial love. 1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.”
I realized that if I wanted to show that kind of sacrificial love to my daughter, I needed to put aside my personal feelings about dogs, stop worrying so much about keeping the carpet perfect, and think about what was best for Harper. Carpet didn’t really matter in the eternal scope of things, but showing sacrificial love to my child was truly of inestimable value.
So a few weeks later — after several visits to our local animal shelter in which I made a concerted effort to ignore the offensive smells and obnoxious barking — a scraggly pooch named Gracie “Lou Lou Bell” Ludy officially joined the family. I must say that her transition into our home hasn’t been picture perfect. We’ve had many doggy accidents to clean up, doggy smells to mask with air freshener, and expensive doggy supplies to spend money on. There was even a night not long ago when I spent an hour on the Internet frantically researching the topic “what to do if your dog eats chocolate” because Gracie managed to scarf down a box of Valentine chocolates while our backs were turned. (She didn’t seem any worse for the wear, but I was envisioning a midnight visit to the pet emergency room!)
However, even with all the inconveniences this dog has brought into our home, the joy and delight she has brought into Harper’s life has been well worth it. It has been a major leap out of my comfort zone, but a major step forward in learning to place my children’s joy above my own preferences.
Motherhood is filled with opportunities for sacrificial love. Sometimes it’s a major sacrifice — like turning down a much-desired career or ministry opportunity in order to put our kids first, or staying up all night nursing a sick child. But other times, it’s in the smaller, everyday decisions when we must be willing to get out of our comfort zone for the sake of our kids; to put aside our own selfish wants in order to do what is best for them. God has been challenging me over the past several weeks and months with making purposeful decisions to get out of my comfort zone even in small areas, for the sake of showing sacrificial love to my little ones.
For example, I’m not much of a “come on over to our place and hang out” kind of mom; but my son Hudson loves to throw holiday-themed parties for his friends. I’ve made the deliberate choice to get out of my comfort zone and host several lively kiddo parties at our house this past year, as a special blessing for my son. Being an introverted person who likes order and routine, this is not always easy for me. (Our most recent party involved hosting fifteen young and energetic children at our house for an evening of cupcakes, crafts, and games!) But I must remind myself that the special memories that these parties create for Hudson will last much longer than the temporary mess, noise, and chaos I must endure.
I’m not very gifted in the area of arts and crafts. Actually, that’s a huge understatement. Most craft projects completely overwhelm me as I stare blankly at the directions for twenty minutes trying to make sense of them. But my four-year-old daughter loves to create. So I’ve become purposeful about doing creative projects with her several times a week, despite the fact that her artwork usually turns out better than mine. (When I say I’m not artistic, I’m really not kidding!) I know that it means a lot to my little one that I am willing to do these activities with her despite my lack of skill.
These are just a handful of ways God has been challenging me to make purposeful decisions to say no to my own preferences in order to bring joy to my children’s hearts and show them, even in little ways, a glimpse of Christ’s sacrificial love. I’m certainly not a finished product in this area. God always seems to be pinpointing new arenas where I need to replace selfishness with sacrificial love! But, by His grace, it is my desire and intent to get out of my comfort zone as often as He prompts me to, so that I can love my children the way He loves me.