A football player pumping iron at the gym. A couple huddled around a laptop looking at pictures on Facebook. A group of gamers playing Warcraft till 4 am. A crowd of friends letting it all go on Friday night. Seemingly different lives, and yet, perhaps there is something in common.trevordiy.wordpress.com
A yearning to escape.
I’m convinced that on some level, we’re all looking to warp, even for a moment, into a different reality. We want to forget the fight we just had with our girlfriend, the nagging of our parents, or the silent screaming of our homework. We want an injection of euphoria to help us break away from the dreariness of the ordinary.
Maybe for you it’s in the fridge, the bedroom, or even a pile of textbooks. I don’t intend to judge. We all have different outlets. And of course, escape is not what we usually call it. More commonly, it goes by other names: procrastination, distractions, or pick-me-ups. For guys, it’s often porn or video games. And for my friends on the other side of the gender divide, I’ve been told that escape often calls out in the form of shopping or a Bellini.
I know what you’re thinking. It seems innocent, well-intentioned or harmless at the time. We all deserve a break, right? I couldn’t agree more. We all need a well-deserved vacation or an afternoon away from the grind of life. But what I’m talking about is something deeper.
Maybe it’s just me, or perhaps you’ve experienced it too. It’s those times when our distractions slowly take control of us. Instead of providing us with a quick ticket to relaxation, it seems that these outlets come alive, take us for a ride, and rob us of satisfaction in the process.
Escape also reveals its dark side when we turn to our outlets to avoid boredom, stress, or pain: we have a bad day and we eat our feelings; a bad week and we drink too much; a bad year and we turn to an addiction that leaves us empty and miserable.
I’m not a philosopher, but here’s how I define this urge to get away: in any given moment, escape is what keeps me from being in the place I should be in, doing the things I should be doing. Ironically, rather than getting us closer to where we want to be, our distractions often pull us further away.
Do you ever wonder if our quest for escape might be a craving for an antidote?
After describing the problem as I see it, I probably should tell you what I do about it. You might find it tacky or unusual, but hear me out.
I base the core of my life on a Palestinian Jew who lived two thousand years ago. Yes, I’m talking about Jesus. You may think I’m religious, and heck, maybe I am, but I hope to give you some food for thought.
When I say Jesus, it’s important that I clarify. Institutionalized religion has been known for providing easy escapism through withdrawal and irrelevance. And for what it’s worth, I agree: in my mind, religious distractions are little better than those found in glass bottles or rolling paper. On that point, Marx might have been right after all.
But when I speak of my faith, I mean something different. Think about why we escape in the first place. That desire to run seems to creep in when we can’t deal with the pressure of more unmet expectations, bear the thought of another lonely night, or handle the drudgery of a semester that will never end.
In the chaos of these real life moments, what I love about Jesus is that he is the antidote that I need. Whether I’m jaded, anxious or numb, Jesus offers me his compassion, zeal for life, and nuanced perspective on the world. He replaces my monotony with purpose, my guilt with acceptance, my pain with comfort, and my ego with eyes to see the needs of others. This Jesus is not merely a ritual or an irrelevant spirituality.
When I want to escape, Jesus makes room for my need to get away from the cacophony of life while still pushing me back into the game. He gives me the proper glasses to see that underneath the many distractions, what I really want is purpose, contentment, and authenticity. Fortunately, he wants to give me these things as I pattern my life after his – without the crash that follows the high.
We’re all craving more. In a world of options, I’ve been let down by many. Jesus, however, jumps in my path when I want to run away and frees me from being enslaved to a plethora of things that don’t satisfy.
For me, Jesus isn’t merely a role model who said some nice things. In that quest for relief, I’ve found a friend and a God who perfectly meets my craving for escape.