Have you ever wanted to escape? Run away? Pack up the essentials and leave the rest behind? If you’re anything like me, and I’d venture to guess 99.9% of people, of course you have. When life is overwhelming, sickness overtakes you, pressures and deadlines threaten to suck the life out of you, demanding schedules (even self-induced) leave you no time for rest, relationships are rocky, or children are misbehaving, it’s human to want to throw in the towel.
I’m going to be completely candid with “you” for a moment: when I first moved back to my hometown in Virginia after being gone for six years, I never realized what a difficult transition it would be. I longed for this place when I was far away and feeling alone. I longed to be in this town with these people doing these things. But that was BEFORE the foundation of home and security and friendships began to slowly take root in this new city. This place that I HATED for the first two years. This city that had nothing to offer, and the people were so different than me. But it grew on me. And four years later despite being away from every single family member (even my twin sister!), my husband and I had made THIS city “home”. Saying good-bye and knowing it would be for forever was one of the single hardest things we’ve had to do. You see, when we first left Virginia, we were just babes. We had no identities apart from the ones placed on us in connection with family, church, work or friends. We had no idea how to navigate the world. We didn’t even know what our worldviews were! We had been raised in the same town our whole lives and we thought what everyone else around us thought. We said what they said. Our views were their views.
Fast-forward to our new city. I had to become someone. I had to know what I thought about a particular situation, policy, issue. I had to know where I stood and why I stood there. I had to realize what made me laugh, tick, trigger, smile, cry. I had to find “me.” And I did. For the first time, I was able to find my voice. And much of that voice was in complete opposition to what the people back “home” expected it to be. How dare I love black people and embrace homosexuals! How dare I decide that gossip was a waste of time and energy! How dare I eat this, drink that, say this, believe that! You name it, I found myself in direct contrast to most of those people I had been around my entire life. (Or at least the significant majority.)
Needless to say, this new city was the place in which Matt and I found ourselves. I know that’s so cliché to say, but I don’t know how else to put it. I do know that we made that city our home. We laid down roots. Made lifelong friends. Loved our church. Matt excelled in his residency. I began a cupcake business. We made it. We did it.
So, moving back wasn’t easy. Everyone around us expected it to be. They were wrong. And they still are. It’s been almost two years and we still aren’t “home”. I know it seems ungrateful. People would trade places with us in a heartbeat. And they would probably come to the same conclusion that we have: that once you leave, it’s never the same. We aren’t the same. No one else is the same. Why would we expect them to be? Six years passed. We’ve all changed. Especially me.
When we first got here, I found myself in a sea of invites, obligations, and expectations (most of them were unspoken. awesome). I felt like packing up all of our belongings and screaming at the movers to turn around! I imagined escaping to a much simpler, more fulfilled life. I would legitimately daydream about a one-way airline ticket to nowhere. I actually voiced this desire out loud to my husband. About how nice it would be to get on an airplane and just leave it all behind. The plane could just circle in the air for the next few months. I didn’t care. It wasn’t about where I was going. It was about where I was leaving.
Recently, I read Psalm 55:6-7: “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert”..or in my case, “sky”. How refreshing that David felt the same way I do! And then it hit me. No matter where I go – on an airplane, to the desert, behind closed doors – I’ll never be apart from God. (It doesn’t hurt that Matt and Lincoln are with me always too!) Knowing the He is with me on this journey, that He has equipped me for the STEEP climb, and that He has gone before me gives me peace. The Bible says “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:1-12) Did you just feel the wave of peace cover your soul? I did. Rest assured that on days where you feel like escaping and running away from everything, God knows and understands. And He will give you the grace to overcome.
Let me share another verse that is near and dear to my heart. Not only is it the passage that the Lord led me to read while I was in Boston (you all know that story), but Matt also wrote this down as our “family verse”: (Good man, I tell you. Good man.)
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-39
When you feel the urge to escape, remember that nothing, no nothing, can separate you from the One who created you. You don’t have to run away. The Author and Creator and Perfecter of Peace is by your side. And in your heart. And comforting your soul. His love and mercy is sufficient in all things. No matter what you face, you never have to contemplate a way out. Bow your head, close your eyes and on bended knee, pour out your feelings to Jesus. He is listening. And He wants to bring you into the folds of His embrace. You just have to let Him.