I have a terrible tendency towards escapism. When depression, loneliness or sorrow settle in so does my desire to run the other direction. Immediately I want to be anywhere but where I am. A big city? Sure! A warm beach with the sun shining? Even better! When I get down in the dumps, so to speak, I just want to get away from it all.
The past few days have been emotionally taxing on me personally. There really isn't exactly a rhyme or reason to why certain days are tougher than others. The feeling comes on like a heavy weight placed on my shoulders. I can't always tell when it will come and I can't always shake it off as quickly as I'd like. One thing I can do is long for a place to escape to, and once again that is what I am doing.
My escape du jour is to Destin to lay on the beach and soak up some much needed sunshine. I look at my pale face, pale legs and thin body and long for it to be covered with a golden glow. There is so much about my current appearance that I long to change. Slowly but surely that change will come but it won't come as fast as a tan could. So, my heart is begging for the sun. I'd hop on the next plane to Florida if someone would hand me the ticket (or at least give me the credit card to purchase my own!) I'm not picky. I'll take anywhere with sun. Aren't I flexible?
As I mature (hopefully), I am beginning to realize that these pangs of depression aren't as easily remedied as jetting off to a warm location. It would be great to believe that all the troubles and sorrows of the human heart could be wiped away with a short little jaunt to somewhere far, far away. But that just isn't so. Thinking that life is that easy is childish.
When I was in school I lived for the weekend; especially the 3 day weekend. Somehow having that extra day off would make life so much better! I would be happier and more fulfilled and the rest of school week would be easier to handle, right? Wrong. Going back after that third day off was always tougher then having to return after a traditional 2 day weekend. The time away from the reality of school only made me long to never have to return to the place I didn't enjoy. I didn't want to spend 8 hours a day in the prison like building that lacked windows, comfortable seats and kind peers. When I was able to spend more time in the place I wanted to be I didn't become more tolerant of the world I didn't like. I became more adverse to it and had a harder time returning by the time the late bell rang.
Now I am older but still wanting some version of a 3 day weekend. Can I just stay away from real life a bit longer? Isn't there somewhere I can go or some adventure I can take? Instead of facing what is truly burdening my soul I am looking to deny that these negative feelings exist. I want to push them into the shadows so I can live in the light for just a little while. Will it be easier to deal with what I have ignored after my return flight home? I doubt it.
Escaping reality when I was a child in school made as little sense then as it does now. Instead of running from reality I need to look it in the eye and honestly address the impact it is having on my emotions. Why am I struggling to feel joyful and at peace? Why am I struggling to feel truly, honestly happy? Why am I feeling unfilled? What is the root cause of this dip in spirits and how can it be truly solved, not simply covered up?
Addressing the true status of our hearts must be approached with brutal honesty - the honesty that starts with ourselves. Sometimes it is hardest to face our own feelings, even in the private corners of our minds. Why is it so tough to just tell it like it is to ourselves? Maybe because it is easier to run away.
Being honest means work will most likely need to be done. We might have to deny ourselves some negative influence that has been impacting our thoughts, spend more time in God's word or more time praying. Depression and loneliness haven't taken hold because God has abandoned us. It has occurred because in some way we have taken our eyes off of God. Whatever it is that is getting in the way of seeing him will have to be removed. If it is simply a case of looking down instead of looking up, then our gaze will have to be redirected and retrained to set itself on God and not our surroundings and circumstances.
There is no guarantee in life that we will always be surrounded by cheerful people, sun shine, warm temperatures and pleasant views. There will be times when life feels like drudgery. With that can come a staleness towards life that threatens to wear down on our mood and outlook. This is just another opportunity to connect with God. He hasn't gone anywhere. Just because we don't seem to see him moving doesn't mean he has decided he too needs a vacation. Our lonely, weary hearts can still enjoy the joy of his presence but first we must seek it out. The choice is ours. Will we seek the next flight out of town or will we seek the warm embrace of God, our Father?