—— Shawn Campbell
My best friend when I was little was my “yellow Blankie.”
I just could not be at ease without my Blankie to comfort me. I remember one time when I thought I lost it and I was so distraught. I searched high and low, only to find it, days later, stuffed inside my little fake oven.
As I reached teenage years, other people generally thought of me as shy or quiet, although those who really knew me saw how outgoing I could be. When in new settings, however, I would retreat to my comfortable place of quiet observation (which had become my new Blankie.)
I know that throughout my life I have been put in situations which test my comfort level—whether it’s facing a person I would rather not, or speaking in front of a group of people. I think God has been trying to grow me in this area—to let go of my Blankie—all my life, but my stubbornness resisted.
But God can be stubborn, too, and He has His mind set on my becoming who He wants me to be. Who is in control? Oh, yeah — He is. I have been reminded of that, particularly in the past year and a half, when something came my way so many times that I didn’t really want to deal with. But since the past has proven that fleeing doesn’t really work, I realized that I should change my tactics, step outside of my comfort zone and accept the challenge that is before me.
Here is a recent example: My husband and I received a request for help from a couple that we had recently befriended. I understood the difficulty of their situation and I knew they were in a tough spot. It was so down-to-the-wire for them that they needed an answer by the next day. Whether the thing they were asking for was “right” might seem to be a black-and-white issue to some people, but to others their request might be in a grey area. I told the wife that I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but that I would consider it and talk it over with my husband. I said I would call her back by the evening.
I mulled it over the whole day and spoke with several people for their input. My husband didn’t have a strong opinion about it either way, and was anxious to help, so he was comfortable with telling her “yes.” I was beginning to feel, however, that our answer needed to be “no.” I felt sympathy for their situation and wanted to offer a solution for them, but I was feeling like we were not God’s answer for them.
The next step—making the call—was difficult; it meant laying my Blankie aside. I wanted to be honest in my answer and not make them feel uncomfortable for asking—especially because their request expressed an amount of trust in us. I could tell by my friend’s voice that she was disappointed in my answer.
To be honest, I had half expected her to give me my Blankie back by telling me that it was okay, not to worry about it, and just thank me for considering the situation. That's not what she said, however, and I worried that the awkwardness would loom forever.
Several weeks passed before our paths crossed again. But when we did see them, God did what He seems to like to do for me—He sat them right next to us at an event. We smiled at each other, but my thoughts were consumed with what to say to them.
My typical behavior would be to grab my Blankie and never bring up the “thing”—continuing to feel awkward about it for all eternity.
This day, God was lovingly giving me my next challenge to overcome. As much as I resisted, I really felt that I should bring up the “thing”, in hopes of just getting it out in the open and finding out how strained the relationship might be.
After the event, my husband and I chatted with the couple. I asked how their situation was working out and they seemed to sincerely feel that it was going well. The husband told us that we should not feel at all awkward about having said no. He explained that when they asked, they had felt they had reached a point of desperation and were looking for any possible solutions. We talked a while longer and all was well—the awkwardness had vanished.
It was such a wonderful feeling to step up to the challenge and let go of my “Blankie.” The situation was addressed and was now out in the open and I grew in the process.
As I have faced my recent challenges; when I have stepped outside of my comfort zone, the rewarding feeling has been amazing. With each triumph, I feel stronger and more empowered for the next challenge that comes my way.
I may still cringe at the challenges, but I no longer allow my first response to be to reach out for my friend, the Blankie.