Thursday afternoon of a long week, one of the worst work weeks I’d had. Too many long nights and extra hours, too much stress, too many words spoken in anger and frustration. I was at my limit, nearing my breaking point, and I needed an escape. It was too much to handle and I just needed to get away.
I called a friend in Florida and asked if I could come visit for the weekend, then told my boss I wouldn’t be in the next day. Maybe I’d be back on Monday… I went home, packed my car and took off on the six hour drive to Tampa. Off on a vacation, but more than that, on an escape from this stressful situation.
Sure, we all need a vacation or a little escape sometimes, but do you ever find yourself using escape or distraction as a response to change? Rather than face a particular trial head-on, you fill your mind and time with something else?
Distractions and escapes are a way we run away from life’s changes and challenges.
We each have different ways of escaping the issue at hand. Maybe you try to ignore it and focus instead on busy work, obsess over a hobby, zone out on television shows or movies. I once sewed a full size quilt – entirely by hand – as an escape and distraction after a breakup.
Sometimes those distractions turn into obsessions. Maybe you take up running or eating better as a way to free your mind from whatever challenge you’re facing, but in your desire to escape do you take it too far? Or, you go out for a night of drinking as a distraction from the challenges in your life, but does that one night turn into a series of nights or a way to numb the pain everyday?
Escape can be an essential tool to cope with life’s challenges, so long as it doesn’t become the focus.
Escape on its own isn’t a bad thing. We all need a vacation, a break from the burdens of life, a time to experience a few moments of peace and happiness in the midst of a big storm. These breaks are essential to getting us through the storm!
However, when the escape becomes our primary focus, we need to beware. Obsession with escape can lead to two outcomes – we get stuck in our storm and never move forward or we create a new storm from our obsession or addiction.
Focusing on escape doesn’t get you out of the storm, it only delays your journey through it.
Ignoring the change we’re facing can feel good in the moment, especially if it’s a difficult one, but ignoring it doesn’t usually make it go away. Instead, we get stuck, unable to move forward. Our lives begin to swirl or sometimes become stagnant.
Do you feel like your situation is not getting any better? Do you feel like you’re stuck on a merry-go-round and the ride just won’t stop taking you around and around in the same circle? If so, take a close look and see if you’re focused on escape.
At some point, if we want to move forward, we have to face change head-on. Confront the storm and step into its waves. Ask Jesus to hold your hand and guide you through it. Move forward, even though the path may be difficult.
Taking escape to an extreme will add storms to your life.
If you’ve taken escape even further and become obsessed with your escape technique, seek help! This is an especially dangerous response to changes or trials in our lives.
Have you taken your escape to an extreme? A focus on dieting and exercise turned into an eating disorder? “Retail therapy” turned into a mound of debt? Comfort eating turned into overeating and weight gain? An occasional night out of drinking turned into a problem of constant drinking? If any of these sound familiar – seek wise counsel and professional help!
In this section of the A Better Change series, we’re exploring the default response to change of ‘running away’. This is one of three different ways we ‘run away’ as a response to changes and trials in our lives. Once we understand ourselves and our patterns of response, we’ll be better able to practice better ways to approach change.
Continue with us in this series over the coming weeks as we explore new (better!) ways to respond to change!
[callout]This post is part of the “A Better Change” series. For more information on this series and to find related posts, click here: A Better Change Series – Overview[/callout]