I grew up on the Lord of the Rings books. I loved the excitement of exploring an unknown world through the eyes of JR Tolkien. Taking the adventures with Frodo through Middle Earth allowed me to experience adventures and get a taste of life if it weren’t so… comfortable. I recently watched the movie about Tolkien’s real life, and even his life took me on a journey of struggle, loss, and meaning. I felt jealous of his adventures, even though he had so much hardship. Does it make sense to long for hardship in a world that is designed to make life comfortable.
Don’t get me wrong, I am fortunate to have a loving family, friends, and a meaningful career. I also recognize that I am very much reliant on basic comforts like electricity, plumbing, transportation, modern medicine, mobile phones, and even WiFi! These technologies can make our lives healthier, richer, and allow us to see the world and meet new people. However, I can’t help but feel some disappointment in myself for being so dependent on these things. I wonder what life would be like without these comforts, would less distraction help us focus on what really matters?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the parallels to my faith in this search for meaning. God teaches us of suffering in Romans 5 3-4 “… suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us…” Yet, sometimes our lives seem to revolve around avoiding hardship.
I’ve struggled to put this topic into a coherent blog, but it feels important because so many clients express desire for more meaning. As humans, we’re not designed to just sit back and consume life. Comfort is not the goal. We need to challenge ourselves mentally, spiritually, and physically. You can start by removing something that creates false comfort in your life. Try giving up a vises like social media, negative newscasts, Netflix, alcohol, or wherever you find false comfort. The discomfort in giving something up can create room for growth. Then, challenge yourself by doing something you don’t know you can do. Maybe it’s writing a song or running a marathon, learning a new skill, or starting a new career. Make a difference in someone else’s life if you can. It can be as simple as a weekly phone call. Explore your faith at a deeper level and try to see how God in your life, today!
The Lord of the Rings stories carry powerful themes. Tolkien shows us that we can step outside our comfortable lives and live an adventure. Our adventures may not include dragons and magic, but we can explore ourselves, our faith, our communities, and we can impact the lives of others. It’s never too late to ask yourself, are you living your adventure?
Chris Guzniczak, LPC
Flower Mound Counseling