“That burning sensation is temporary!” our trainer trumpets as we exert ourselves to perform the exercises she assigns. “Get to where its uncomfortable ‘cause that’s where the growth happens! If you don’t feel it in your core, you’ve gotta adjust. Make those micro-tears in your muscles! Come on! 10 more seconds! Make it count! And…release!” I hear a collective gasp welcome the blessed rest after an intense bout of conditioning. “Remember,” she continues, “you train for life in here. Breathe through it. You got this! Again!”
Staggering with legs like Jello Jigglers that need more time in the fridge to set, I come to a seat on the floor and listen to more from our trainer as we stretch. “Nice work today, guys,” she says, beaming at each of us, “Now, you’re going to feel this in your hamstrings. You gotta keep moving. Keep coming. If you don’t, you’ll tighten up and it won’t go away.” While I enjoy class for the physical benefits and endorphin production in my brain, my instructor’s words today go beyond the physical workout as I make my way home.
”Get to where its uncomfortable ‘cause that’s where the growth happens!” In my mind, life experiences present themselves with a sort of restrained eagerness for the application of this phrase, impatient to prove its validity. Dealing with loss; uncomfortable. Facing my weaknesses; uncomfortable. Letting go of my plans in order to yield to the impressions I receive from the Spirit; uncomfortable. Waiting and learning patience; uncomfortable. Enduring; uncomfortable. “Uncomfortable is where the growth happens.” Her words apply to each circumstance.
In each of these situations God exercises me, creating micro-tears in my soul that, in turn, gradually lead to growth. He is an unflinching and tireless trainer, perfectly aware of my level, weaknesses, injuries, capabilities, and potential. He knows precisely what exercises I need and how long I need them. He is a loving and painstaking planner, careful not to overload me with too much to bear, but also careful to give enough to help me grow into strength. God’s expectations of my performance leave my expectations behind by leagues, but He doesn’t mind the difference and gives the guidance I need to meet His. His regimen often leaves me aching and quivering with exhaustion, but He encourages me through it all, saying “O [woman] greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong” (Daniel 10:19).
God’s way is an uncomfortable way, but it is not a comfortless way. Christ invites us to “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). He offers rest, an easy yoke, and a light burden, yet the rest, easiness, and lightness are not the result of an effortlessly vanished burden. No, they come as a result of becoming strong. His yoke is easy and His burden is light because of the immense strength He has developed—and He teaches us, the “heavy laden,” how to develop such strength ourselves. He labors and bears with us as we learn of Him, and it is here in the joined struggle and straining that we find rest and peace to our souls.
Jesus Christ invites us to keep coming, to keep growing, to keep bearing the uncomfortable, and to keep finding rest in Him. He has given us His Spirit—the Comforter—and each other, with the mandate to “be willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” (Mosiah 18:8). With these gifts, we are prepared to endure anything, for separately they are powerful and combined they are miraculous. Growth is uncomfortable, but we are made for it, and, thank heaven, God knows it.