Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Glorious Discomfort

apartmentsAt first glance, the building didn't look so scary. If it had, my friend and I probably wouldn't have gone in. Or at least we would've prayed long and hard before we did. But shortly after we'd stepped into the dark inner hallway of the Kansas City low-income apartment building, the smell of smoke and mildew swirling around us, my pulse began to quicken.

Suddenly I became acutely aware of how vulnerable my friend and I were. And I wondered if maybe our husbands should've come with us. Or gone in our stead, leaving us to cook hotdogs or toss frisbees out in the grassy common area.

And yet, despite my uncertainty and insecurities, what we were doing felt so right. It was perhaps the most potentially "dangerous" experience I'd had in some time, and what was more, I'd placed myself in it intentionally--for Christ. Uncomfortable or not, it felt good. Because I knew my friend and I were exactly where God wanted us to be, doing exactly what God wanted us to be doing.
This is exactly where we find Ainsley Meadows, the heroine of my debut novel, Beyond I Do. She's a bit... cautious. She doesn't like surprises, and though she came from a broken home, she's lived a relatively sheltered life. She can't remember the last time she traveled into Kansas City's sketchier areas, if ever.

But one day, her mentor asks her to deliver medicine to an old woman who lives in an area plagued by crime. At first, Ainsley's scared. Stepping out of her fancy car, her slight frame decked in  department store garb, she feels as if a bright red target is attached to her back. concentric-rings-4-1101918-mTo reach the individual apartments, she must go inside, closing herself off from daylight and watching eyes (not that the eyes outside, watching her like hungry foxes bring her any comfort).

She enters the dim hall, similar to the one I had a few years previously, her senses alert to every smell and sound. Prepared to run, if need be.

What she isn't prepared for is the brokenness she sees when a drunken man storms out of his apartment, leaving a battered woman and her son cowering on the floor.

She sees them for but a flash, but that's all it takes for the two to become permanently seared on her mind and heart. She doesn't know how to help them, or even if she can. But she knows she must do something.

Because you can't encounter the broken, the helpless and hopeless, and walk away unchanged.

Both Ainsley and I faced an uncomfortable situation, situations we could've avoided. And yet, my encounter with inner-city missions creating a lasting impact and passion. That encounter and others like it trickles into everything I write.

I know Ainsley would say the same. Her encounter with that battered woman and child radically changed her trajectory--for the good. No, scratch that. For the glorious. If she and I had avoided that frightening situation, or turned back when we began to feel uncomfortable, we might've missed the amazing things God had planned. Amazing things like heart change, life change, ministry opportunities; we might've missed catching a vision of our calling.

What about you? When has an uncertain or uncomfortable situation turned into an amazing God-encounter? When has God used an uncomfortable situation to bring clarity to your calling? Tell us about!

Or maybe God is calling you to something right now that feels frightening, uncertain, and uncomfortable. Maybe you're looking for any excuse to bolt, but what if God's asking you to hold tight to the one reason to keep stepping?

BeyondIDocoverYou can find out more about Ainsley's steps of faith in Beyond I Do, currently available for preorder here, at a 26% discount. You can read about the woman who encouraged Ainsley to take this first step here.

And you can tell us about your steps of faith (or God's nudgings) in the comments below.

About the book:

Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiance' or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancĂ©. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.


  1. One daughter and son-in-law who work with a Christian inner city teen ministry purposely live in an inner city neighborhood. The first few times I went over to their home, I couldn't help but pay close attention to anyone who looked sinister. Which was everyone. After several years, I feel comfortable, cautious, but okay. Along with my daughter, I've had a chance to welcome neighborhood children into the yard and into her home, take them to church, and reach out to their parents--some lesbian, others on drugs, stil others physically volatile. But all in need of our loving Savior.

    Thanks, Jennifer, for reminding us that we often need to step out of our comfort zones to minister to the least of these. After all, that's what Jesus did for us.

  2. God rarely calls us to something within our comfort zones...He stretches us, grows us, and makes us better. What a God! Wonderful post, Jen...thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Amen to that! :) And thank you for your kind words.

  4. That is so awesome, Eileen! It is very cool how all your children are so active in ministry. And what a beautiful example of what God can and does do when we step outside our comfort zones and show others His love. :)