No one enjoys discomfort.

You live with it, making the most of a bad work situation because you need to pay the bills. You endure it, knowing that the reward for going to the dentist is not having to visit again for another year.

While a normal part of life, discomfort is not something that we as humans desire. But as followers of Christ, I believe we need to flip that narrative. We must seek out discomfort. We must #ChooseToChallenge what is unjust.

I believe this to be true, in large part, because of my time at Baptist World Aid.

For nearly six years, I have worked for this organisation that daily pulls me out of my comfort zone. I have cried with women in the field as they opened their hearts to me and shared their harrowing stories. I’ve sat in prayer meetings, overwhelmed by grief for the refugee mums we were lifting up, each facing the unimaginable loss of a child.

Were these comfortable experiences for me? Certainly not. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my time working here, it’s never to run from your discomfort.

Wrestling with the problem of poverty is always going to be uncomfortable for me, because it reminds me that my own wealth plays a starring role in the distress of others. But I have also learned that it is in this place of honesty and brokenness that God is at work. Stretching my understanding. Causing me to grow. Using these moments of discomfort to stir my heart to action.

Which is why I’m writing this reflection for International Women’s Day.

As an able-bodied woman who lives in a wealthy nation like Australia, I know how fortunate I am. I live in a society where I’ve had the opportunity to receive a quality education. I married by choice and as an adult, at the age of 28. And my husband does the lion’s share of our domestic home work, because I am the breadwinner of the family.

I am not saying that our nation is beyond reproach when it comes to the issue of gender equality. But neither can I say that I’ve faced the same injustices as the women I’ve sat with in Bangladesh, Nepal, Kenya, and Uganda. Where every inequality (be it gender, disability, ethnicity, or poverty) further compounds a woman’s vulnerability.

It’s something that does – and should – make me very uncomfortable. And I am praying that it makes you uncomfortable, too. Because what happens when you can no longer live with or endure your discomfort?

Something needs to change.

We live in a broken world where injustice runs rampant. But as Christians in Australia, you and I have a choice. We can rest easy in our privilege, or we can choose to look deeper and risk discomfort. We can deny ourselves, take up our cross, follow Christ, and be part of building his kingdom. We can #ChooseToChallenge for change and help to bring about the fullness of life God intends.

So, this International Women’s Day, I have a challenge for you. Open yourself to engage with the stories of women from across the world as they filter through your social media feeds. Be willing to let them disrupt the comfort of your day.

And consider this: how comfortable have you been feeling lately? And what are you going to do next?

This essay was also published on Sight Magazine on Monday, 8th March 2021.