THE GREATEST ESCAPE

After a long day of pandering to my toddler's needs, negotiating toy hostage situations, and cleaning the same spot under our dining room table over and over again -- I'm just done. 

I want to disappear. I want to hide under my bed. I want to shut out all the noise. 

There's just to much of a commotion and not a whole lot of space; in my home or in my heart. 

It would be really easy to say that it's just motherhood that causes this irrational and emotional desire to run away -- but for me, that's not the case. I can remember plenty of times in my life, my work, and my hobbies where I could feel myself shutting down, wanting out, and needing to walk away. It's my go-to. Unfortunately. 

In some cases, I was just overzealous. I said yes, often - to the things that weren't really all that important. Not to me, anyways. Other times, I just couldn't do it; or maybe just didn't want to. It got too hard, too complicated, and too stretching. 

And then, many times - I would just continue on. I would simply survive, looking for and jumping onto any opportunity that could give me a break; life rafts in the stormy waters of hard work, hard life. 

In college, I took a nap everyday. I would sleep off long school days in order to prepare for even longer work nights. I'd binge eat pizza rolls and long before Netflix marathons, would watch old episodes of Seinfeld. At my job, I would take frequent coffee breaks in the teacher's lounge where I'd distract myself with the latest office gossip. Sometimes, I'd just shut my office door and start a new project while avoiding other, more significant ones. And now, in the throes of motherhood, I find myself turning to my phone often. I'll scroll my social media feeds for no apparent reason whatsoever. I'll text all my friends, all of the things. And I'll mindlessly search Amazon Prime for the next best deal. I'll count down the minutes until my husband gets home, until my next girls night out, or until the kid's bedtime. I'm just looking for a way out. I'm just looking to escape my life. 

Perhaps that sounds terrible, and maybe I'm being too honest? But I need to call this sin for what it is. I need to confess this very human part of me that battles for and works to divide my attention. 

Let me be clear. I don't want to escape my children. I love them. Fiercely. I don't want to escape my husband. He's my best friend, and I'll love him to the very end. But honestly? The responsibilities of daily life, of raising and nurturing children, of maintaining friendships and marriage, and of wanting to be productive (whatever the heck that means) -- these things all weigh heavily on me. And rather than seeing them as the gift that I know that they are, I sometimes see them as burdens instead. 

There's no trap door hiding here. There's no going back on growing up. There's no great escape plan. 

Or is there? 

To answer a question with a question, I have to ask myself --

From what am I trying to escape? 

To what is it that I am trying to escape to? 

Maybe to a place where my laundry was always clean and folded, where the dishes cleaned themselves, and the floors always sparkled? Or maybe to a place where I'm always right, where I was allowed to sleep in to whatever time I wanted to, and got to eat Chik-fil-a every single day for free? Maybe to a place where every accomplishment of mine was heralded and celebrated, where every door of opportunity swung wide open just by me showing up, or everything just always worked out? 

That would be nice, wouldn't it? 

When I get right to the heart of the issue though, it's not really about all those things. Instead, I think it's clear that what I'm trying to get away from is the very thing that Jesus said would give me life; give me freedom. I'm running fast and furious from dying to myself.

Because my eyes aren't on Him, they're very much turned inward; turned towards me, myself, and I. 

I've put myself in place of God Himself; thinking that I can offer myself the freedom and the rest that I so very much crave and desire. And when it's not me? It's my devices. It's my books. It's a cup of coffee in the morning. It's running to Target after the kids are in bed. It's... a lot of different things that just aren't fulfilling, aren't long-lasting, and are no replacement for the God who is and the son He sent us. 

Because actually, Jesus is our greatest escape. 

Practically speaking, we have to see that we've already been set free. For some of us that's a huge leap of faith, and for others a gentle reminder. Why would we be trying to escape something we've already been freed from? The burdens of the world are not ours to be weighed down by. Though we should, and will, continue to carry them, there is a big difference between carrying a burden in freedom versus carrying it while chained. Our posture changes. And then, so does our perspective. 

However, Jesus knew life could be difficult. After all, He walked with us for more than thirty years before walking into His ministry. He saw the pain of the world. And so I believe that it is from this heart, this knowing that Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light." 

He's calling us to escape to Him; to see Him as our true refuge. 

But, it's not enough for us to read that passage and then leave it. 

We have to hone in on this one small, but important part. That Jesus said, "Let me teach you." 

I think that maybe what that means, is that living free actually takes practice. It takes choosing Him over all those other things-- not just once or twice, but over and over again. It means intentionally seeking refuge in Him, not the closet floor or the closest dressing room. It means that we have to open our bibles, get down on our knees, go to worship service, attend small groups, and surround ourselves with people who reflect Him. It means literally plastering the words of the Bible all over our homes, and if we could -- all over our hearts too. It means fasting those things we've allowed to replace time with God. And it means surrendering to Him, knowing that because He is good and kind and gentle -- He'll take things slow. He'll give us rest not just for the moment, but help us access rest in any moment thereafter. 

This has to be true escape; the greatest escape. Cause if it's not done with Jesus, than maybe it wasn't really done at all. 

For so long, I've operated out of a freedom that relies more on my circumstance than my trust in the Lord; a freedom that looked more like me-time than Jesus-time. No wonder I'm so tired. 

It's time to start over. It's time to run straight to Him. It's time to stop asking to be rescued when He's already done that for me. I'm free.  


IN THE WORD

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. || Galatians 5:1

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light. || Matthew 11:28-30

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. || Philippians 1:21

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. || Psalm 62:8

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. || Psalm 46:1

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. ||  Psalm 107:28-30