You can picture the scenario, right? Little child, barely old enough to tie his shoes, putting all his prized possessions into a bag bigger than he is and dragging it to the curb threatening to run away from home.
“That’s it!” he might huff. “I’m running away and I’m never coming back!”
We know that he doesn’t mean it. A few minutes of getting hot and sweaty and tired from dragging that bag full of teddy bears is enough to send the youngster back inside for a cookie, a cool drink, and a hug from mom.
But what if the person running away from home is mom?
“That’s ridiculous,” you say. “No mom is going to sling a sack of earthly belongings over her shoulder and march down the street in a huffy temper tantrum.”
I wouldn’t be so sure about that.
But even if that exact scenario isn’t the reality for most of us, I’m sure, if we are willing to be honest, that many of us have run away from home a time or two. Or sixty.
“Not me,” you say. “I stay at home with my kids; I homeschool them; I’m here all day, every day.”
Physically, maybe. But where is your heart? Where is your mind?
Whether we escape in novels, TV shows, long phone calls with friends, Facebook, or just a wild imagination, many of us are running away every day. Some of us runaway for long chunks of time in a day. Some of us never come back.
Maybe you daydream of having a career that takes you away from the monotony of your home life. Maybe you wish for endless sums of cash that would enable to you pay someone to care for your kids while you pampered yourself with trips to the beach. Maybe you convince yourself that you’d be happier if you had fewer kids. Or no kids. Or a different husband…. This is running away from home.
Ask yourself, as I ask myself, “Am I fully present with my family while I:
• Make another meal
• Do another load of laundry
• Answer another math question
• Change another set of bed sheets
• Respond to another tug on my pant leg
• Put down what I want to do, again, in order to do what my family needs me to do?”
Titus 2, a very familiar passage for many of us, speaks of our need to be ‘working at home’. I know what you are thinking: “Are you kidding me? All I do is work at home. From sun up to sun down, I am working. I am exhausted. Don’t tell me to work more.”
Okay: I won’t. But here’s the thing: I know that I can be busy “working” with my hands while my mind is wandering far, far away from home. I am oftentimes not fully engaged with my kids when I should be, which makes me irritable when they dare to interrupt my thoughts — which should be on them — but aren’t.
Proverbs 7 speaks of the foolish woman. It says that “her feet do not stay at home”. I have a feeling that it isn’t much of an improvement for my feet to stay at home if my heart and mind are running as far away as possible.
Moms work hard. Theirs is a tireless job. I understand that. I experience that. We do need rest. We do need to take breaks. But, I know that I use the “I deserve a break” mentality as a free pass to running away from home in my heart and mind much more often than I ought.
Lord, keep me self-controlled, loving, and kind so that I can be fully engaged, authentically loving, and intentionally serving my family the vast majority of the time. Then, when it is appropriate, let me rest well. And let me rest in a way that glorifies you: not by filling my mind with inappropriate daydreams and wrongly-directed imaginings; rather, let me rest by surrendering my heart and mind to be aligned to your will. When my desires line up with yours, the temptation to run away from what you’ve called me to will disappear. Do this in me, Lord –for your glory and for my family. Amen.
Barbara and her husband educate their seven children at home and have found that no two are the same! Barbara is currently writing a book about her battle with depression. In between lunches and lessons, Barbara blogs at www.barbarapostma.com