Embracing the Discomfort

By Lizbeth Espinoza

For so long, I had this unsettling feeling of urgency to seek the things I used to avoid for fear of feeling uncomfortable. On top of my responsibilities of a full-time student and employee, I had an extracurricular workload that kept me regularly occupied. And yet, I felt as if I was not doing enough. Taking the easy, known path was one that had become too familiar because I knew I was guaranteed success and an assurance that I was not going to allow myself to appear like a clueless fool. Yet, it was in this feeling of comfort and an unwillingness to take risks that I began to desire freedom from because I knew that no great change ever occurred where I was not being challenged. Discerning a year of service with VSC has been the catalyst for becoming freed of settling for the comfortable.

Since the beginning, I was placed to live with individuals from around the country, in a city over four hundred miles away from home and set to work in a unique school environment I had never thought existed. Everyday I am faced with the choice to either do the bare minimum or embrace the possibilities of discomfort and release control to be able to be and produce the best work for my students, my service site and my community.

Amongst all these changes have come the endless opportunities to practice trust, patience and understanding. There is beauty in the ability to trust in God and others, to know that I have no dire necessity to have control of everything in my life, but to have faith that in time people and situations will work themselves out. I am convinced that God is allowing me to face these moments in which I become frustrated that life is not going my way as an opportunity to look through a perspective of understanding to allow myself to comprehend that all is not what it may initially appear to be. For example, my students’ behavior may not be directly related to myself, but rather it may stem from something happening at home. Plenty more opportunities for patience have arisen from living in community in which, despite my housemates and I having been raised in varying cultural backgrounds and traditions, we have worked together to find similarities and have even created our own manners of coexisting and living together.

One of the toughest aspects about this year of service has been the distance away from my family, friends, and all the familiar aspects of feeling at home. Many times, I have pondered what this year could have been had I not moved to San Francisco. How much easier life would have been if I stayed back and continued to do the same activities and the same work I had done for so many years. How easy it would have been to stick with what I knew best and felt most comfortable doing.

Yet, the greatest opportunities and experiences have arisen from embracing the uncertainty. Had I not been so far from home, I would not have had the chance to understand the depth in which my family’s upbringing has shaped me to perceive the world through a particular lens. Had I not been challenged to teach classes outside of my realm of expertise, I would not have come to understand how my desire to teach requires a sturdy foundation in building wholesome relationships with my students.

But, foremost, had I not endured moments of loneliness and heartache, I would not be confident that my Heavenly Father has got my back and is leading me towards a path of eternal happiness and fulfillment. We are called to follow Christ. In the same way the apostles left their homes, families, jobs and all to follow Jesus in the mission, so are we called. And while in most circumstances we are not going to literally drop our entire lives, become missionaries and travel the world, we are called to be open to take on the daily challenges and embrace the discomfort.

Lizbeth started a schoolwide reading competition where each grade competes with one another. Every month, the class with the most reading points for that month gets the “golden book” to display in their classroom. At the end of the trimester the class with the most points overall gets to choose which teacher wears the TRex costume! Which, on occasion you will see Lizbeth wearing the costume and walking the halls of DeMarillac Academy.

eva Smythe