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The problem with comfort is that it’s poison to the soul. Comfort is Spiritual poison, and devastating to a Spiritual life.

Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another #shorts post.

Today’s tidbit comes from the book Addiction & Grace by Gerald May. I wrote a book review of Addiction & Grace in the previous post, which I hope you check out. I have one last topic from the book to write about before I can put it away on my bookshelf.

Comfort. We all have an urge, desire, and drive to seek comfort and be comfortable. That doesn’t only mean being comfortable at home, with all the modern creature comforts and niceties. It also means being comfortable in our relationships and everything we do. It means being comfortable in all aspects of our life. It’s part of our human nature to want to be comfortable; our corrupted and broken human nature.

The problem with comfort is that it’s poison to the soul. Comfort is Spiritual poison, and devastating to a Spiritual life.

And why is that?? Well I have an understanding of why, but it’s kind of stuck inside my head. It’s hard to articulate. But the author Gerald May explained some of his reasoning quite nicely in Addiction & Grace, so today I’m going to share what he says about it.

Spiritual Poison

One of the biggest problems with comfort is that we’re indoctrinated from an early age to feel discomfort is wrong. Discomfort is to be avoided, discomfort is “bad.”

But that kind of attitude puts a stop to all our Spiritual growth. Discomfort is an integral, irreplaceable part of Spiritual growth. And discomfort is also an integral part of any growth in general. Most of the time, the things that make us uncomfortable are the exact challenges we must conquer to make it to our next level in life and grow as a person.

No one likes or wants discomfort, especially not at first (but it can be pleasant once we get used to our new routine, which is when we understand that we never actually needed the thing we have chosen to go without). But we need some discomfort to have the best possible life. Not everyone understands this … or is even willing to.

The mistaken attitude that discomfort is “bad” is a false belief guaranteed to hold us back in many areas. Complete discomfort is an impossibility. I said I was quoting Gerald May today, so it’s time to let him do the talking:

The implications of accepting pain are significant in dealing with specific addictions, but they become massive in terms of our basic attitude toward life. In our society, we have come to believe that discomfort always means something is wrong. We are conditioned to believe that feelings of distress, pain, deprivation, yearning, and longing mean something is wrong with the way we are living our lives. Conversely, we are convinced that a rightly lived life must give us serenity, completion, and fulfillment. Comfort means “right” and distress means “wrong.” The influence of such convictions is stifling to the human spirit. Individually and collectively, we must somehow recover the truth. The truth is, we were never meant to be completely satisfied.

Gerald May, Addiction & Grace, Page 180

There’s a couple things to talk about in this quote. First consider what May says about how these mistaken attitudes are “stifling to the human spirit.” That right there is the truth, because if we avoid anything that’s uncomfortable, we’ll never challenge ourselves to do new things and as a result we’ll never grow. We’ll never bother to discover what’s on the other side of that discomfort if we endure through it. We’ll never master new skills and talents or chase after new opportunities, because they made us uncomfortable or demanded painful hard work.

Avoiding discomfort and hard work will always hold us back in life. But avoiding discomfort is most harmful to the Spiritual life. We need to be uncomfortable to have Spiritual growth, because if we’re too comfortable then we’re too close to the world—we have too many worldly comforts in our life to get closer to God. Getting closer to God means getting farther from this world, and that means sacrificing the comforts the world has to offer.

Second, total discomfort is impossible in this life, because we can never be completely satisfied this side of eternity. Our true longing as human beings is to reunite with God; as long as we haven’t achieved that Blessed reunion, there will always be something we lack, always something uncomfortable (if we’re looking to the world for comfort, that is). And none of us can stop the physical discomfort we suffer through aging. There will always be something unsatisfying in our life this side of eternity.

Because no matter what material wealth and riches we have, no matter what empty worldly comforts we fill our lives with, the soul will always be longing for God every moment we must endure this state of temporary separation. There is absolutely no worldly comfort that can satisfy this primal longing of the soul.

People used to getting what they want know desire is a never-ending cycle. We think that next object we desire is the key to permanent happiness; we think that’s the one thing missing from our life, and if we can just get our hands on it everything will be cool. But even when we do get our hands on these things, they never satisfy for long. They certainly don’t give that permanent happiness we expected!!

Only God can satisfy forever. So as long as we remain stuck on this side of eternity, that will always be a discomfort.

But there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this. We were created to desire God, so the discomfort from this frustrated desire is as it should be.

If God indeed creates us in love, of love, and for love, then we are meant for a life of joy and freedom, not endless suffering and pain. But if God also creates us with an inborn longing for God, then human life is also meant to contain yearning, incompleteness, and lack of fulfillment. […]

[…] The course of our lives is precisely as Saint Augustine indicated: our hearts will never rest, nor are they meant to rest, until they rest in God.

Gerald May, Addiction & Grace, Pages 180-181

This is my first time writing on the topic, and I have a hard time articulating my thoughts about it. So this will not be the final time I write about it. I need to write about it much more in the future.

The problem I have when it comes to articulating my thoughts about the danger of comfort is that this is something we really have to experience for ourselves before we can actually understand it. We need to stagnate in life because of comforts so we can see and understand the ways comfort is harmful. Without this experience it’s so hard to grasp what could be wrong with comfort.

I know I need to continue writing about this topic so I can articulate my views on it better over time. But at least for today I’ll end here, and I hope Gerald May’s opinion speaks something to you. Or at the very least, I hope it gets you started thinking about how comfort is harmful.

That’s it for #shorts #17. Stay tuned for more #shorts all this month.

Well that’s all for today. If you enjoyed today’s post, be sure to Subscribe using the link below. And please consider Supporting My Blog using the Tip Jar. Any amount is much appreciated!

Until next time, be strong and do good!

Your new best friend in Christ,



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2 comments on “#shorts Part 17 — Painful Comfort

  1. In this case, please allow me to refer to the great central teaching of the Buddha, namely the Middle Way.

    As humans, we need a certain level of comfort in order to thrive at all, which is only possible when at least our basic needs are met. As long as we struggle to survive, we are trapped in discomfort, and only comfort gives us the opportunity to grow beyond it.

    On the other hand, discomfort is not only an inevitable part of life – if only in the form of illness, old age and death – but also of spiritual practice. The path that IHS has pointed out to us – prayer, mission, charity – is clearly associated with discomfort and can hardly be accomplished from the sofa at home.

    When we accept that we need both comfort and discomfort but are not attached to either, then we are on the Middle Way.

    The problem, then, is not which of the two sides we are on, but our attachment to that state.

    Or, to use the phrasing used in this post, it is not comfort that is a problem, but our conditioning towards it. However, conditioning can be released.


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