Break Ties with Distracting Escapes (Repost)
I felt it would be helpful to repost this blog post. It seems that focusing is more essential than ever! -MM
It was a ordinary day at work as I was planning details for an event that was consuming the last five months of my role as a Youth Pastor in our Church. I was directing and organizing a huge event for the Tim Tebow Foundation by hosting a "Night to Shine" for persons with special needs. The budget was growing into the tens of thousands, the volunteers into the hundreds, and the pressure into millions of little details threatening my sleep each night.
As I dialed the 1-800 number to order supplies for our volunteer appreciation I suddenly found myself speaking to a radio host on the other side of the country. I had timed by dial perfectly to their on air call for the 5th caller and without any concern or care, I slipped in front of probably hundreds of people attempting to get the prize (at least that is what I like to think). I had won a five night cruise to the Caribbean for two and hear this it was exactly where I wanted to be in the frigid air of winter. I remember bumbling and squealing my words as Northern Florida was witness to an awkward exchange of disbelief and the release of all the pressure I had been under. I am sure it was the cause for a few chuckles at my expense.
After receiving the information and picking a date, I had found myself struggling with the escapism of the cruise as the pressure of the present loomed and became fever pitch with details. How often this is the case for many of us as we put our hope into some break away from the routine and the ordinary. We save up our hope, our airline miles, and our expectation for that glorious moment when we set our e-mail to an out of office reply and we send most calls to voicemail.
Even though it is good for us to be able to break away from the routines that put us out of balance and keep us in a place of elevated stress, escapism can be detrimental to our reality and the promise of our future.
It is because they have us Miss, Deny, and Skew our present lives. Here is why.
Miss- When we are so focused on the escape of something (or someone) it takes our attention from the present reality that is full of reasons to see joy and goodness. In some of the most stressful moments of my life, I received some of the most wonderful gifts of grace, friendship, and provision. If we are just imagining a time or place without the present discomfort or pressure, then our focus isn't ready to see the blessings, the little acts of support or encouragement that usually come in the times of pressure. Don't MISS what God wants to show you because you are escaping to a false reality that does nothing but stall you in the present.
Deny- Denial is a powerful tool of protection. It prevents us from facing the realities of our present life or circumstances. I have observed individuals who deny that their loved one is doing something hurtful, that the outcome will result in a new reality of health for them, or deny that there is a decision that needs to be made and it will take real courage and at times sacrifice to make the changes needed to overcome. Denial is like throwing a blanket over your head after getting a glimpse of what is out there, and only believing what you saw isn't in the room with you but you keep walking into it or stubbing your toe because you think you can roam the room as before as if what you project in your mind is true instead of taking the blanket off and learning to navigate around it our getting it out of your space. Seek to break from denial.
Skew- The other form of escapism is when we bend, twist, and skew our view. We can accentuate certain qualities of others that either makes them perfect people or complete monsters. We can skew the view so that all our hopes are being manifested in what we deem to be a "perfect" situation, person, or outcome". Or we can skew the view that every word, action, or decision made by a person, group, or effort is detrimental and we make our discomfort about them rather than learning to grow, accept changes, or partner in the opportunity to make it a collaborative opportunity for all parties.
I've seen this play out in many ways. When my wife and I were looking to buy a home, she was willing to not let the cat smell or the small floor plan bother her as she sought to put her hopes into a place that just wasn't going to work, fortunately it didn't. I've also observed how a lens of not accepting a person's difference became reason to skew their heart and thereby people not accepting them or doing the work to love them or partner with them to grow and collaborate. It's the worst when this happens in the body of Christ.
How to be break ties with escapism so that we live in a reality where we are strong enough to face the truths of the present? I turn to God to consider the great power and clarity of heart we can receive when we read verses like, "The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time."(Psalm 34:19).
May we be willing to face reality not alone, but with the Lord before us so that we don't miss, deny, or skew the good that can be present in the most challenging places. May we not be all about escaping from our decisions, our discomfort, or from the reality that needs us available to be ready to live as one who accepts all seasons of life. Trust that there will be days at the beach and days in the trenches, just be willing to be present in them all as one who capable, strong, and faithful.
Keep Looking Up!