Monday, January 28, 2008
Why Do We Long for Escape? - Gregoire
I have a dream. It probably won't resonate with you, but we're a family of campers, so keep that in mind as I share this.
We pack up everything for four months and rent an RV. Then we drive around the southern states--the sleepy little towns that hardly anyone visits. We do schoolwork on the road (we homeschool, so this is easy). We play board games. We get away from the phone, the fax machine, the demands on our time. And I write. And write. And write.
You may dream of a cottage by the lake, or something that fits your temperament better. But you probably have it, don't you? That ideal place you would run to, where you could be your most productive, your most creative, your best.
Even non-writers have these dreams--to escape, and find the real "me". To have time to get in touch with God, and figure out His will for this stage of our lives. To dig for the Truth that seems missing from our daily lives with the myriad of demands on us.
There's nothing wrong with getting away, and often a little vacation can clarify things in our minds. But I think this urge for escape isn't necessarily a good one, and perhaps says more about our priorities and beliefs about God than it says about God Himself.
David, after all, wrote some of the best Psalms when he was literally running for his life from Saul. He wasn't in a quiet, peaceful place with no concerns. It is not necessarily peaceful surroundings that bring on creativity.
Perhaps it is that we forget that God does not only call us to write. I am also called to be a mother, and that means making my children practice piano (there is definitely no piano in my RV dream). It also means getting involved in the youth group at church so I can meet their friends and minister to them.
He also has called me to be one of the only lights in our extended family, which means I have to make an effort to get to know my nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters-in-law. He has also called me to write a weekly column, and not just the books in my head. He has called me to things in the here and now.
When we say to ourselves, "if only I could have that cabin, I could be productive...", what we're really saying is that "I can't be productive where I've been planted." The place where God has put me right now makes it impossible for me to really use the gifts God has given me. Yet is that an accurate picture of God? Can it be? If God calls us to something, He will also give us a way to fulfill that plan.
Please don't get me wrong; I'm not saying we shouldn't take the occasional weekend away to pray and prioritize. Sabbath and rest are, of course, part of His plan, too. But our productivity has to come in the here and now, where we live and breathe and do dishes and answer the phone. Maybe it means we have to get more disciplined to get done what we need to do everyday. Maybe it means we need to start cutting some things out of our lives. But we need to do it, for God calls us to redeem the world, not just the little cabin in the woods.
So I am trying to let go of my RV dream. I am trying to be more disciplined on the writing days I do have, so I can redeem the time. And I am learning new strategies for practising the piano. That's what I've been called to. It's hectic, but it's okay.
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Sheila is the author of To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother, and How Big Is Your Umbrella: Weathering the storms of life. You can find her at www.SheilaWrayGregoire.com.
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