Close. Comfort. And Something Like Courage.

Once again, I find myself sitting in Starbucks.

On my drive through Eastern Kentucky into town, I figured this trip would be no different than the others. Today has been a mundane day. Nothing awful, but also nothing extraordinary.

I grabbed my backpack.
Macbook, journal, headphones – my usual.
I took the same route as I always take.
64 – 60 – back roads – Winchester Ave.
As I drive I make my game plan.
I figured I would order my usual drink – it’s cold out, so something warm.
I order the same few drinks each time.
I would sit in the corner.
I always sit in the corner when I go so that I can see everyone.
No matter what, I avoid a middle table. It’s too close.
The thought of being wedged in between two strangers while working gives me anxiety.

I am extremely predictable.

I am a creature of habit.
But sometimes those habits can be blurred into a little something like entitlement.
I should get things the way I’m comfortable with.
Why? Just because that’s how I like it.
It’s easy to think that our own way of viewing something is the best way, the only way.

I grabbed the handle and walked inside. My eyes widened in horror.
It was packed.
I stood in the doorway, scanning. Every corner taken.
There was one small, lone table – a middle table.
This can’t be right, It’s 2pm, it shouldn’t be crowded. It never is at this time.
I scanned again. Nope.
Nothing open except a middle table between two men.
The younger looking to be about nineteen, the older of the two being late twenties.

I walk to the table only to realize the middle was missing something – a seat.
I awkwardly laugh and ask the older man if I can take his other seat.
He chuckles and lets me slide the chair to the left at my small middle table.
I order a warm drink. Within minutes it hits me just how warm it is in here.
I should have gotten something cold.
After ordering I realize I need to plug my Mac in; only to find the outlet to be behind the younger guy. I do my best to wedge my “less than designed to fit in small spaces” lower half in between the tables without touching him to plug my charger in.
Mission: not accomplished.

Finally I slide down into my chair and put my headphones in.
Finally I can tune out these two men on either side of me.
Finally I can relax, I can enjoy myself.
But this isn’t what I wanted.
Why aren’t there any other tables open?
Why couldn’t one of these guys have taken the middle?
Why is it so warm in here?

Seriously?


Notice how all of my initial reactions were about me. About what I wanted. About how what makes me comfortable was being disturbed and therefore something must be wrong. Except nothing is wrong here. The coffee shop is still operating as per usual. People are laughing, working, having good conversation, being productive, drinking good drinks. I was the only thing wrong here. Even in my mild discomfort, nothing catastrophic happened. I’m just fine on the other side. How crazy is it that as people, we can feel so entitled to things, just because? Why is it that I was created for interaction, for fellowship, for being surrounded by people and yet for a split second being at a middle table in Starbucks was enough to make me dread coming in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong – the is nothing wrong with time spent alone.
Just like there’s nothing wrong with being surrounded by people.
And there’s nothing wrong with being comfortable by some things.
And there’s nothing wrong with having preferences.
But there needs to be an understanding that “my way” is definitely not the only way.
It’s all a balance. Only sometimes that balance gets shifted and distorted.

The irony of this all is that within the hour, almost the whole place cleared out.
 I can turn my head and see 11 empty chairs.
But those chairs didn’t become vacant until after God spoke to my heart.

What does this have to do with anything?
 Really though, what relevance does my Saturday trip to Starbucks have? 
Oddly enough, I think it has a lot.

In Christianity, in the Church, in a personal relationship with Christ, I think scenarios such as this are common. And by that I mean that feelings of entitlement and the desire for comfort and complacency often run rampant in the three things I just listed. Not only that but the tendency to become reclusive in our faith is something I see frequently.

It is so dangerously easy to allow pieces of faith become about “me”.
Even acts of service can become selfish when they become more about how our ‘good deeds’ make us feel and less about who they’re helping or the deeds themselves.
It’s almost second nature to only view church and even our relationship with Christ in respect to what we can get out of it. How often do we judge a church service, a time of worship, a devotional, not by what God is speaking or doing or how He is moving, not by how many others are impacted, not by Biblical accuracy, but by whether it was catered to us and our tastes. Prayers can become wish lists to God, and never include thanks and praise to Him.

Church goers can become so up in arms about even the slightest variation in the order of a church service. We argue about music styles, we debate about building plans, we criticize someone for lifting their hands – or criticize them for leaving hands down. There are so many people feeling entitled about so many things that sometimes the command to further the Kingdom becomes so pushed to the side that it disappears completely. These things are fine to discuss, and tweak, and pay attention to, and have preference for – as long as the ultimate focus is Christ.

We have times where we ignore God’s call for us to participate in something because we don’t really think it will benefit us. We avoid sharing our faith with others out of the simple fact that it might take us out of our comfort zone.

But here’s the thing –
we weren’t created to be reclusive, we are called to fellowship.
We weren’t created to be stagnant, but to go.
We weren’t created to be entitled, but to be selfless.
We sure weren’t called to be always comfortable.
We are called, created, designed to be courageous.

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