The great escape
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
If you believe a lot of ads, escape is just a quick plane flight away. I used to escape every chance I got. I don't mean taking a vacation - I ran away from problems.
If I didn't like where I lived, I moved. If I didn't like my job, I quit. Did someone hurt me deeply? I made sure they never saw me again, even if they wanted to apologize. I prided myself on being a sort of Great Houdini of the soul - an escape artist.
But I often escaped out the back door of one problem only to find the front door of another. After a while, some "new" problems began looking pretty familiar. As lots of people have observed, not learning our lessons the first time can mean encountering new opportunities to learn them - until we do.
Recently, I read something written by the 19th-century religious leader Mary Baker Eddy: "History repeats itself; to-morrow grows out of to-day. But Heaven's favors are formidable: they are calls to higher duties, not discharge from care; and whoso builds on less than an immortal basis, hath built on sand" ("Christian Healing," pg. 1).
As a young adult, I encountered a bad set of circumstances. My problems appeared so insurmountable that I made plans to commit suicide. Fortunately, my very intuitive roommate suddenly felt impelled to go home to see if I was all right. I was very grateful because, I realized, I loved being alive!
But having failed in that dramatic escape, I chose another. Quit an interesting job and moved across the country. Stopped eating properly. Lost a lot of weight. Although my physical condition eventually improved, the feeling that I'd been betrayed and misled persisted for years. Convinced that the mere remembrance of that emotional pain would protect me from future mistakes, I nevertheless ended up in circumstances far more hopeless. The consequences of having made wrong choices were even more severe. I knew I didn't want to be jerked around by the damaging emotions I'd felt before. But now I had family, financial, and professional responsibilities. I couldn't just take my name out of the phone book and disappear into the sunset.
One day I sat down on a bench near a pond. I just asked God what He wanted me to do. After praying that simply for a few minutes, I looked up. A lovely morning light was shining in the east. I became aware of a deep inner peace. And I found myself considering these words: Stay right there, and I'll come get you. That was the kind of thing I might have said to close friends or family if they were in trouble. Nothing would have stopped me from going to them and helping in any way I could.
Now I recognized this as the counsel that God was offering me. God - divine Love, whom I respected and knew as an all-powerful friend and Parent.
With new resolve, I went back to work with the conviction that I couldn't possibly be deprived of anything good by fully trusting God. I opened my Bible and found this: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Cor. 10:13).
The word escape stood out. I decided that, rather than try devising one myself, I'd let God guide me. I actually looked forward to seeing what it would be! I was able to start bringing my emotions under control. Almost immediately, I enjoyed a fuller, richer life, with more freedom and with new artistic outlets added to the ones I already had. I also became much more productive at work. I felt stronger and more complete. More satisfied with my own individuality than ever before. I still cherish this experience because of the progress it impelled.
The message here is that we need never lose (or fail to develop) confidence in God as a good and loving Father and Mother, whom we can trust and follow every moment. "Man is more than a material form with a mind inside, which must escape from its environments in order to be immortal" (Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 258). For any problem that can possibly confront us, there's a solution lying in a deeper understanding of our precious, unbreakable union with God.