Early in my fire department career, an officer told our fire academy something that stuck with me for over a decade. He informed us “Fellas, this job ain’t comfortable – you will be hot, you will be cold, you will be tired, you will be hungry, but none of these things matter. You must complete your job.”
He was right. On the job I spent hours sweating in my fire gear, freezing in my gear, starving on medical calls, kept up all night long without rest, but somehow my crew and I made it through. As I have gotten older, I see that I have acquired the ability to be uncomfortable for more extended periods of time than I did in my youth and I can sit back and watch how other people react to being uncomfortable.
Today, in western society, many of us are programmed to be constant comfort seekers. We keep our thermostats in our houses set at 72 degrees and won’t even think of spending time outdoors if the ambient temperature is not within 20 degrees of that. We have big comfy couches and chairs, big screen TVs, hot water at the turn of a knob. We tend to take for granted that it has always been this way, and it has not. People survived for thousands of years outdoors working in any weather and finding refuge beside a burning campfire or wood stove. Many people in the world abroad still live this way and would have no concept of the comfortable lifestyles we live in the West.
Don’t get me wrong, being comfortable is ideal, but it is not necessarily the best thing for us. Being too comfortable in our surroundings can make us lose our edge and limit our survivability in situations where the there might not be any power, running water, or push button entertainment.
It is when we find ourselves far outside of our comfort zones we see how strong we are, how hard we can push ourselves, and our inner strength is leaps and bounds above where we thought it would be.
As a family man, and father, I take pride in the fact that I sell my personal comfort to make my family more comfortable. When I go to work, I sacrifice my time, sleep, and comfortable surroundings, to gain an income for my family so I can make sure they stay comfortable with all the amenities the four walls of my house can hold. When I get home from work, there is always more work to be done to keep the home functioning and comfortable: fixing things that have broken, cleaning things that have gotten dirty, and regular home maintenance.
The point is that we should not always accept the fact that we deserve comfort all of the time. Comfort ebbs and flows, to gain comfort sometimes we have to sacrifice it. To truly understand comfort we have to be made to feel uncomfortable occasionally. Perpetual comfort is not a virtue anyone should seek. If it were, life would honestly be empty, dull, and without meaning.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2