Running from our problems never resolves anything; it simply postpones the emotional despair. In fact, it can even heighten anguish since we are stuffing it down in our hearts rather than dealing with it productively.
There are many ways to escape. Some people drown themselves in TV so they don’t have to think about the issues. Sadly, others jump into sin believing the immoral high can compensate for the discouragement. Retreating to a vacation is also a potential outlet. For me, it is projects. When I get discouraged, I typically work on something around the house. I occupy my mind with some fix it job. And, if I can’t find something to fix, I look for something to improve around the house, e.g. a touch up here, a spot clean there. So, if you come to my house and see a lot of improvements, you should probably ask me, “So what is really going on with you?”
Truth be told, I do a lot of thinking when I am working on projects. It helps me process life. I sort through the issues. I reflect on decisions that I need to make. It even helps calm my emotions. Yet, the principle reason I do projects is that it helps me feel accomplished. I enjoy looking at something I have done and think, “Well done.” The problem with discouragement in life is that I don’t feel a sense of satisfaction. The projects provide that for me.
Beautifying your home might seem like a wonderful form of escape, but it has a couple of downsides. First, it wears me down. I get tired. Eventually, this adds to the discouragement since fatigue starts to color my perspective on life. My wife and I have had conversations about an appropriate amount of escape, e.g. enough to process life without getting exhausted.
The second downside is that it doesn’t resolve the issue. It simply masks it. While I might process it to some degree I am not fully addressing it. Or, if I am dabbling around with it, it is merely in my mind rather than quietly with God. I banter around thoughts, processing the issue again and again, only to discover I have a clear sense of the issue without a clear sense of the solution. I think this is one of the principle problems of escaping from our issues. It never really resolves anything; it simply delays or suppresses it.
Luke 5:16 states, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” In the midst of his busyness, he appropriately dealt with the issues by communing with God. He did not run to the market, fix a table (he was a carpenter), or discuss it to death with his disciples. He quieted his heart so that he could gain divine perspective from God. Rather than run from any issue, he confronted it in the healthiest way possible, in communion with God.
Oh, this sounds like a much better approach to difficulties in life. And to be honest, the end result is not only freedom but joy as we have not wasted days and weeks running from our despair only to realize it is still kicking around in the crevices of our mind. Dealing with it honestly and quickly allows us to address the issue then wake up tomorrow with joy. Granted, it takes work. Yet, it beats the alternative.