By Kathleen Billings
Last Spring, my husband and I were blessed to visit the Grand Canyon for the first time, crossing an item off our bucket list! I clearly remember my heart rate accelerating as I approached my first view of the Canyon. As I strolled along the lengthy road to the edge of the rim, excitement grew inside of me. I was keenly aware that I was about to be wowed by one of the most spectacular wonders of the world. As my eyes viewed the canyon for the first time, I was in complete awe of the beauty I observed, and my heart was drawn into the spiritual significance of what was before me.
What is it that makes the Grand Canyon so attractive and inspiring? For me, it is the depth of it – the layers upon layers of sediment that form the canyon from the valley up, each layer symbolic of a specific point in time and adding its own unique raw beauty. As I witnessed view after incredible view along the South Rim of the Canyon, I reflected on how each layer can be likened to each layer of our interior life. The more layers we have – the more beauty we possess. The more depth to our lives and to who we are as individuals in Christ– the more striking we are.
Creating depth takes time, perseverance and courage. Just like the attractive layers of sediment in the Grand Canyon were created over time with pressure and through the weathering of countless storms, so too our interior life grows, and our spiritual muscles develop over time when we whole-heartedly rely on God’s strength to withstand the pressure of external temptations and when we weather the storms of our lives with God’s grace. Each moment in prayer, each sacrifice made, each temptation resisted, each act of love – forms the layers of our interior life and creates depth to our soul.
If we exist at the surface for fear of the unknown of going deep, we end up only surfing through life and not ever tapping into our God-given potential to create beauty in the depth of our soul. We risk never becoming the best version of ourselves.
I will never forget the fear that surged through me as I stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and looked down for the first time. There were no guard rails to protect me. The thought raced through my head, “what if I fall?” Then another more profound thought came to me,
The depth of our interior life depends on our willingness to leave our comfort zone.
If I want to grow in my interior life, if I want to experience freedom in knowing that I am doing and being all I can in Christ with the gifts that He has given me, then I need to leave my comfort zone and go beyond my guard rails. In a sense, I must jump into the canyon, trusting that God who is in the deep, is calling me there also. Just like the excitement I felt as I walked the lengthy road to my initial view of the Grand Canyon, the closer we journey to the edge of our comfort zone, the more excitement builds in us. When our destination is where God is inviting us, it is exciting! You cannot fulfill your calling in life within your comfort zone.
In Luke 5:11 we catch a glimpse of a few of the disciples leaving their comfort zone. We are told, “When they brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.” Just like that, they left EVERYTHING – everything familiar to them, everything comfortable to them – to do that which they believed would fulfill them – as they literally followed Christ.
Immediately prior to the disciples leaving everything to follow Our Lord, they were fishing from their boats. After not catching anything all night, Jesus said to them, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4) After following Christ’s command, “they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” We see in the story a tangible example of the unbelievable bounty that is discovered when one is willing to go deep.
Are you willing to leave your comfort zone? Do you cast your net deep? If not, ask yourself what is holding you back. Do not miss out on all that God wants to do in and through you! He is waiting for you at the edge of your comfort zone.
Kathleen Billings is married to her best friend, a mother of five beautiful blessings and three more souls in Heaven. She has a BA in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Together with her husband, Troy, they began and direct a vibrant parish based Marriage Ministry called BAM – Building Amazing Marriages. Kathleen has a personal blog entitled seasonsoftheheartandhome.com where she writes about living her faith, in every season, as a wife and mother amidst the ordinary moments each day that God wants to make extraordinary. She is a regular blogger on marriage for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website and is also a contributing author to the book “Amazing Grace for Mothers.” Kathleen has been an active Catholic speaker for the past 20 years – speaking at days of recollection, retreats for women, retreats for married couples, evenings of reflection and women’s groups.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Billings. Used with permission. All rights reserved.