In this onset of winter it becomes very typical to begin putting on “extra” layers. These layers offer us several benefits a few include:
- Comfort- We all want to be comfortable in unsettling weather and uncertain indoor conditions. Having layers allow us to keep a comfortable temperature so we can stay focused.
- Convenience- We want the ability to quickly change our level of comfort. If we are cold outside during a brisk walk between buildings we can put on a jacket or stocking cap. Then once we enter a warmer setting we can quickly peel them off. Fast and easy…
- Safety- Let’s be honest, if we are out for an extended period of time; sledding, exercising, etc., we want to have safety from the extreme elements. Whether that be frostbite or other wintery ills, the layers give us that barrier from the dangers of the outer world.
These are all excellent reasons/benefits for layering up in the winter time. Yet, throughout our lives we also layer on much more than winter apparel.
We often place layers between us and others, often we place layers between the confines of our heart and mind, we even in some cases build callous layers between our individual life’s purpose and what we feel the world wants us to be or do. These personal layers act much in the same way as described in the winter layers above.
- Comfort- No one likes to be made uncomfortable. Discomfort is an antithesis to the whole functioning of our world today as broadcasted by our culture.
Don’t like what you hear…change the channel. Don’t like that person…just go find people who think and act like you. We are driven into deeper layers of personal comfort and all for the ultimate disarming of our ability to feel compassion and empathy towards others. Relating to hurting people/students will stretch us…it may stretch us past our comfort zones. We may be called to love someone we fundamentally disagree with or have deep hesitation about their lifestyle or personal choices.
- Convenience- Our culture is inundated by the ease of convenience.
We are frustrated if our Wi-fi is not streaming videos at the highest speeds…does anyone still remember dial-up Internet? (I shared the story of dial-up to my 8th graders and they literally had no conception of what I was talking about!) Anything that is not convenient for us taking action towards, we try justifying our lack of action by claiming the issue’s insignificance or clinging to the false narrative that it is someone else’s problem.
Daily we encounter those who need an encouraging word, a simple hug, or a gesture of kindness. Those daily encounters usually meet us at the most inconvenient times…yet when I think to those moments where I paused and set aside my temporal convenience in helping others I quickly realized how unimportant the task I was doing before truly was in the scheme of our mutual human living.
- Safety- This creation of self-imposed layers that buffer us from connections with others has its roots in our desire for safety. I’m not speaking in a physical sense, but safety from rejection.
We fear how others think of us or fear how others will react to us. We often question our heart and dismiss the leadings as a high of emotions which if followed will lead to hurt. Yet, in fearing rejection from others we inadvertently reject our own self and the impact our life can carry. We are wired for connections, introvert or extravert it doesn’t matter, our commonality is the desire for connection at a meaningful level.
The challenge we face is stepping out to take the risks in forging those deeper connections. I’m not suggesting we start pouring out our whole life story to the first person we meet, I am suggesting we build a network of people in our lives who will help us peel back the layers in our own life. Helping to expose the raw self that hungers to break free from the burdens of comfort and convenience. Rarely can that process be done alone, it is done in tandem with others in a safe and judgement-free setting.
Who in your daily life do you feel lead to foster a deeper connection with? I challenge you, step out in faith, as you begin to peel back the layers we have buried our lives beneath all in the namesake of what our culture has perceived as comfortable, convenient, and safe. Connections will stretch us, challenge us, and push us; approach those opportunities with an open-mind and an open-heart. The world needs us…go forth in faith and take courage!
Thanks for reading and I am so blessed we are on this journey growing together my friends!!
Thank you for this thoughtful post! These “layers” depend on past experiences as well, we need to be patient with those students that have their “guard up”…many layers!