“We are not here just to comfort the afflicted, but to afflict the comfortable.”
I read this quote recently in a blog I follow and it has remained with me, prodding me to explore it deeper.
I discovered the statement was initially written about the role of newspapers and journalists in holding accountable those in a position of power who might abuse that privilege. Later this idea was used to describe our role as ambassadors of whatever faith we follow. It speaks to the idea that the role of religion and spirituality is not only to encourage the expression of tender, compassionate love toward others but also to act as a fierce, revolutionary sword of truth designed to pierce the heavy weight of indifference, blindness, and cruelty. Love speaks truth to power and stands up to injustice and evil.
In this post, however, rather than applying this statement toward our obligation to hold another accountable to truth, I’d like to turn that sword around to hold ourselves accountable.
Our task on the spiritual journey is not just to comfort the parts of ourselves that are afflicted, but to afflict the parts that are too comfortable.
So just what does this mean?
Because we often begin our spiritual journey in pain or crisis, we frequently dive in hoping to attain a sense of peace, security, and happiness. We want to find a way to receive love, respect and compassion from our friends and loved ones — and to more authentically offer these things to ourselves as well.
Loving ourselves and others, setting proper boundaries, and seeking abundance and happiness is our birthright, and an important aspect of the spiritual journey. This beautiful longing can get distorted, however, when we gauge our progress and spiritual development primarily by how comfortable our lives are.
Of course we want to be comfortable, and I’m not encouraging masochistic tendencies or making a plug for an ascetic lifestyle. I am also not negating the genuine need at times for a healthy “pause,” as I wrote about in my last blog post. What I am pointing to is the tendency to allow the desire for comfort to supersede our impulse to grow.
In order to more fully embody the love that is our true nature, we have to become willing to identify and challenge our illusions, to relinquish our cherished ideas about who we think we are, what we think we know, and what we believe to be true about life and God.
This adventure we call life is an opportunity to courageously face the uncomfortable aspects of ourselves that we have hidden in the corners of our psyche. It is an invitation to leave the apparent comfort and safety of our Idealized Self, the self we think we are and want others to think we are.
Is there an area of your life where you have become too comfortable?
Have you turned away from knowing some aspect of yourself that you’d rather not face?
Have you fallen into a rut of defining yourself through the lens of your Idealized Self Image?
I can attest to the fact that letting go of illusion is not a comfortable process. It can be disorienting. It can be scary. It is definitely humbling.
…. I know, not the best selling point for the spiritual search. But remember, you never have to travel this journey alone. This is precisely why we come together to support one another, because we can’t navigate our way alone.
So while letting go of the comfort of illusion and the safety of the known can be challenging, here is the good news:
It is a portal. And traveling through this portal can open you to a deeper experience of freedom, peace, serenity and joy that is beyond what words can capture.
It’s worth the price, I promise you. But you won’t know it yourself until you have taken that leap of faith.
I invite you to take the risk. Afflict the impulse to remain comfortable. Pierce the shroud of blindness and illusion with the sword of truth.
Safety and comfort will never look the same again.