I have a friend whom I’ve known for decades who lives in a most fascinating way. She is always anticipating her next vacation. Work is just the filler she has to grind through until her next trip to the tropics. I’ve observed for years as she excitedly posts about her next vacation only to eventually bemoan her return to the drudgery of work. I often find myself thinking, there must be a better way to do life than living vacation to vacation, loving three weeks of your year and hating the other forty-nine!
My friend is not alone. Many people try to escape their everyday lives through a variety of means. For some, like my friend, the escape is a series of engrossing vacations and travel adventures. For some, escape is all-consuming workout routines or filling life from floor to ceiling with business or a revolving door of ephemeral friendships. For some, escape means numbing the mind through drugs or drinking to excess.
By the way, I don’t think people are crazy for trying to escape. Why not? Because life hurts. Life often feels unfair. Life involves suffering. Life can be filled with personal loneliness, job frustrations, physical pains, relational disappointments, existential angst, social injustices, harmful violence, as well as futility and emptiness. For many who deal daily with suffering, the sanest choice available feels like escape.
That said, escape is never the best answer. Escape does nothing to improve our situation. It merely numbs us for a bit, and then we’re back to the pain of life. So what’s the better way? Step one: accept that life is hard. It was never supposed to be easy, especially for Christians (see John 16:33). Once you accept that life is hard, you can begin to live with more realistic expectations for how it should be. You can start dealing with the challenges you face, building up the muscles of doing hard things, solving problems, and taking care of your responsibilities.
We have many resources to help us on this path. One resource is prayer and worship, entrusting our situations to God. “Cast your burdens upon the Lord, for he cares for you.” Another resource is our faith community, leaning on fellow journeyers on the road of faith. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Another is cultivating gratitude for every good gift we enjoy. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… And be thankful.” Finally, becoming less self-obsessed, getting out of ourselves, and serving others can work wonders for our well-being. “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” May God bless each of us as we learn to deal with life with faith, hope, and love.