Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. – Pema Chodron
I’m a runner. I run for enjoyment, to improve my health, but I also run when problems are too great for me to bear. It’s easier to escape and avoid than to have to face and deal with the problems. For the past five months, life has been challenging and difficult. Work is tough, my personal life is tough, and now my health has started taking a hit from all the pressure.
Every day when I step in the door of my office, it feels like I’ve entered a war zone. I’m on pins and needles, fueled by anxiety.What is going to happen today? Who is going to confront me? Who needs confronting? What kind of fire do I have to put out? There is constant conflict, confrontation, questions, accusations, and demands and they weigh heavily on me.
Nichole, can you help me with this. Nichole, can you help me with that? Nichole, why did you do it this way? Nichole, why did you do it that way? Nichole, when are you going to do this? When, when when…why, why, why?
I am drained both mentally and physically. Work bleeds into my personal life and my personal life bleeds into my work life. It compounds and compounds and all I want to do at this very moment is to yell at the world, Leave me alone! Sorry to be so harsh 😦
I cry out to God. God this is too much! I’m exhausted. Can’t you give a break, just one break? At times, He doesn’t answer. Can’t you at least tell me no instead of leaving me hanging? Why am I being put through so much all at one time?
Since Calgon wouldn’t take me away, I plotted a little escape, true to form. I packed my weekender bag and hightailed it to Memphis to stay with a close friend. I took a much-needed break from the world. I didn’t have to think for anyone, answer to anyone, or help anyone. I just got to sit and relax and do whatever I wanted to do. It was very refreshing. It was everything I wanted and more.
As Sunday afternoon rolled around, I knew it was time to face reality and head back home, only, I wasn’t so eager to do so. I cried actually. I did everything to buy more time. I persuaded my friend (which wasn’t really that hard) that we needed to have dinner before I left. I wanted desperately to escape the obvious – my chaotic life.
I believe that is how Jonah in the Bible must have felt when God was pressuring him to do something he did not want to do. It’s not fair, he cried to God. I don’t want to. Just like me, Jonah took off on foot and ran to the furthest place he could run to.
The story of Jonah and the Whale opens with God speaking to Jonah, son of Amittai, commanding him to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh. Jonah found this order unbearable. Not only was Nineveh known for its wickedness, but it was also the capital of the Assyrian empire, one of Israel’s fiercest enemies. Jonah, a stubborn fellow, did just the opposite of what he was told. He went down to the seaport of Joppa and booked passage on a ship to Tarshish, heading directly away from Nineveh. The Bible tells us Jonah ‘ran away from the Lord.’
Jonah didn’t get very far and the Lord stopped his escape dead in his tracks.
In response, God sent a violent storm, which threatened to break the ship to pieces. The terrified crew cast lots, determining that Jonah was responsible for the storm. Jonah told them to throw him overboard. First they tried rowing to shore, but the waves got even higher. Afraid of God, the sailors finally tossed Jonah into the sea, and the water immediately grew calm. The crew made a sacrifice to God, swearing vows to him. Instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, which God provided.
Sitting at the dinner table with my friend, I felt God say, Go home Nichole. Get in the car and drive back home. I had to go back home just like Jonah did.
Jonah was in the giant fish three days. God commanded the whale, and it vomited the reluctant prophet onto dry land. This time Jonah obeyed God. He walked through Nineveh proclaiming that in forty days the city would be destroyed. Surprisingly, the Ninevites believed Jonah’s message and repented, wearing sackcloth and covering themselves in ashes. God had compassion on them and did not destroy them.- Jonah and the Whale – Story Summary by Jack Zavada
After dinner, I went back to my friend’s house, loaded up my car, and drove home. I could not avoid it any longer. The next day I got ready for work, prayed up the day, went to work just like I was supposed to. Nothing out the normal happened that day. It was business as usual. I guess all that really mattered is that I showed up.
Sometimes running away is not always the best answer. Sure it provides a relief, but that relief is often temporary. Running doesn’t provide the solution, it just prolongs you from reaching the solution. We have to keep facing our issues and the demands until the purpose for them are revealed. You never know, by facing the issues, maybe you are saving a life or saving your own for that matter.
I am not sure what you are facing today, maybe you are contemplating running, or you have already fled. Maybe you are hiding out somewhere trying to avoid it all. Take it from me, the problem is never going away until you see it all the way through to the end. As hard as it may be, it’s time to turn around and go back home. “Somebody” might be depending on it.