Let It Burn

“Keep Doing the Hard Things.”

It’s becoming a mantra, a life vest for surviving the deep waters outside of my comfort zone. Something I repeat to myself over and over every day.

Because repetition, even amidst failure, eventually leads to success.

We’re going to get there soon – to the island we’ve been swimming hard towards. Comfort is hard-earned. We’re making the down payment of temporary discomfort for the worthwhile payoff of success. We just have to hold on.

I wanted to share a conversation I had with one of my best friends in hope of encouraging you. Especially if you, like me, are doing several hard things simultaneously.

Aly Moore is spending her summer in the San Fran area, doing an unpaid internship for a church. We finally talked the other day during one of her phone times. Our conversation was a dose of reality. I’m prone to self-pity, and I tend to think my situation is unique in its difficulty.

After that conversation, I realized something massive: if my life is hard, then Aly’s is 10 times harder.

She wakes up at 4:30am for prayer. She spends an hour every morning crying out to God for Him to move – literally SCREAMING in desperate petition. Then, she spends her day doing whatever the pastor needs done around the church, everything from physical labor to sermon preparation.

Aly spends every day serving people she didn’t know two months ago.

She doesn’t get paid for it. She’s exhausted at the end of the day, and she lives in very close quarters with her fellow interns. Among other difficult adjustments to life in CA, she had to trade in all her skinny jeans, a staple of her wardrobe, to meet the strict guidelines of the church community.

I kept shaking my head as she spoke, in awe of the magnitude of what she was doing. She didn’t even seem to notice the gravity of how incredible a step she’d taken in moving across the country solely to dedicate herself to the advancement of the Gospel.

I wasn’t sure what to say in response to everything she was sharing. So I just kept repeating:

“Wow…that sounds like a monastery. Wow…that’s so hard…”

(…all the while thinking deeply about the way I’ve been viewing my own situation).

She acknowledged that the summer had been difficult so far.

I was expecting Aly to have a countdown until she gets to start her senior year of college, like I do. I expected her to be eager to get back to her hometown of Cincinnati, a place where she obviously belongs. You know what she told me?

“I want to come back and do the two year mentorship under the pastor here. I know if I do that, and go on to become a missionary, I will be ready for what’s to come”.

I was amazed into silence. My friend was so dedicated to the mission of sanctification, of actually enduring the painful process of becoming more like Christ, that she was willing to intentionally stay away from her comfort zone – even when everyone else would say she is more than justified if she decided to stay in Cincinnati for a while.

Then she said something that’s been echoing in my head ever since.

She was talking to the pastor. honestly confessing how painful it felt to be in Cali, at this church, day in and day out. She said,

“I feel like I’m on fire,”

His response to her was absolutely mind-blowing:

“Let it burn.”

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