When I was a young mother, I remember having to ‘escape’ on a regular basis. Escape what? I suppose the pressures of young motherhood itself. As James Dobson says, parenthood is not for cowards. The threat of chaos if you misstep, the sheer energy required, are phenomenal.
And you know what? I don’t think moderate escape is a bad thing. I usually could not escape in body, so I would in mind. I thank God for the novels that took me out of my frenetic world into another. It was during those years that I read many of the great Russian authors, and most of classic English literature.
Let me insert a humorous little story right here:
At that time of life, we spent weeks of each summer at our cottage. I remember one day my son, Tim, getting up and spinning an impromptu tale for me. It went like this: “I open my eyes and I see…..and he inserted poetic detail. I listen and I hear…..more poetic detail. I smell…Oh no! More burning toast! Mom is up reading again!”
So, as I said, I believe there is a proper place for escape in life. John’s Old Testament professor from many years ago surprised his students with the grand total of days set aside by God for Sabbaths and mandated celebrations. God understands what the grinding nature of reality can do to our so-very-frail selves!
But I have found something interesting at work in my life. Something unexpected. As I get older, I need more rest at times. And I am still plenty emotionally frail. But, on the whole, I don’t handle that with escape anymore. (Interestingly, I now read almost entirely non-fiction)
Four things, I think:
One: I understand the nature of reality so much more than I did as a young woman. (Though I thought I understood it well then) Life is much, much, much more shot through with sin and sorrow/tragedy than I imagined. (In spite of my Russian novels!) I have come to a greater acceptance of this. So I expect much less of life, and enjoy what I do have much more. As my dear Mrs. Schaeffer said, “If your attitude to life is all or nothing, you get nothing every time.”
Two:I trust God so much more than I used to. I have the history of God’s faithfulness to his people in Scripture that I can rely on. I also now have my own lengthy personal history I look back to, and see God extricating me from hopeless situation after hopeless situation. He is more capable of getting me out of holes than I am capable of digging them for myself. One of my very favorite chapters of the Bible has become 2 Chronicles 20…”We are powerless against this great horde (insert any problem) that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Three: I get along so much better with my husband, John, than I used to. We were immature, self-indulgent and barely-converted when we married in 1972. And – oh my – the rocking and reeling in our marriage for many more years than I care to think about, One of my closest friends once said to me, “You know, Barb, some kids can grow up and say, ‘We never saw our parents fight’. Our children will not be able to say that.’” Nor mine.
But now, we get along pretty well and – in reference to point one above – that is much in a sinful world. I am most grateful.
Four: I am closer to the end of my journey. The finish line is likely not right around the next turn, but nor is it far away. And how that calms my heart. What perspective it brings. I have so much to look forward to.
The Great Escape!