Do you want to run away too?

I remember in all the promise of my young twenties feeling like I could live anywhere and that I belonged outside of my town, state, and country. That I really was better than all those Americans who don’t own a passport or haven’t left the country. I was refined. Cultured. Well-traveled. Now, I’m solidly in my mid-thirties, with four children and I have only left the country out of necessity (primarily to defend my PhD dissertation two years ago). I don’t fly on airplanes, I drive a minivan instead.

Dunnottar Castle, Scotland, 2003

I live between a push-and-pull desire to stay put, put down roots and enjoy the gifts of walking my children to school or circling through the same neighborhood paths in our evening walks; and another strong desire, to run away. Every time we drive by the airport, I really just want to jump out of the car and hop on a plane and see where it’ll go. New  smells, and tastes, and sights, that are just so much bigger, or older, or grander than my present. There’s a thought that if I just have enough cultured experiences then I’ll be more than simply the status-quo, the housewife staying home to raise her children.

I don’t think that longing for adventure or travel or foreign sites is simply escapism though; at least for me, I feel like there may be a legitimate sense of calling that moves me away from the known. But that’s not here right now. It’s not my present reality. What I have right now is a mortgage and children and a calling to stay put.

We all want to run away. And yet the call of the gospel is to dig in, in all the muck and mire of the moment and sit. Quiet. Still. Even if we’re traveling around the world, the challenge is still to be present, to not run away, to show up and stay put. Through hard conversations where you’re bold enough to tell the truth and kind enough to be gracious. Where you pursue friends, even the unlovely ones, because you have been pursued by an extravagant grace. Where you sit and mourn with your friends as they or their parents hear hard diagnoses. Where you find beauty in simple things.

doyouwanttorunaway

Because I don’t need the Eiffel Tower or a Tahitian holiday to satisfy me (though both would be nice!). Travel for travel’s sake is worthy and expands your sensibilities and helps you to feel a bit lost, all good things that happen as places sink into your soul. But right here and right now is what matters — how I treat those around me, how I can savor a cup of coffee even if I’m exhaustedly making it, how I can pause to enjoy the crunch of leaves underfoot and the little walking liturgies we inhabit day to day. Because here my character is formed; here I show who I really am.

flower photo1

This is the twenty-second post for the Write 31 days challenge, where I’ll be writing every day through the month of October. I’m excited to see what comes of this daily practice. I’d love for you to comment, pin the above image, share posts and subscribe to receive posts to the right in the sidebar as we work through these things together. Posts in the series are all linked to from the first post.

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9 Comments

  1. Ashley, thank you for this post. For all of them, really. I, too, am not traveling right now, but am doing character-building work in my home, and work at the Rescue Mission and in my neighborhood. It is not glamorous work, but it is good. And for right now, this is where I am called to be. Your words breathed life into that calling today.

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    1. Oh Jill, it means the world to me that you’d comment and find some encouragement and solace in my writing. Really it does. Thank you. And keep on loving the little things and the people God’s put in front of your nose — that’s your calling. 🙂

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  2. This: “We all want to run away. And yet the call of the gospel is to dig in, in all the muck and mire of the moment and sit.” So spoke to my heart! Oh man how this post was meant for me! I love traveling so I can really relate to you here. But more than that, I think all year I’ve struggled with this feeling that I need to get away and do something outside of my mundane reality of being a housewife. I want to do great things, and experience adventure. Thank you so, so much for this reminder that true strength is digging into the much and mire and that God has me right where I am for a reason!

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    1. Heather, thank you so much for your kind words. It makes me all kinds of happy that my words could be used to speak truth and validation to you right where you are. Thank you for commenting. Sometimes we all need a bird’s eye view of what we can get so bogged down in the details of.

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  3. You got me (again) with this one. Yes I want to run away, travel, always be experiencing the new. I am having to stay where I am. God put me here in my town 10 years ago, and it took 5 for me to stop hating it. And now I have to keep digging in because I’ve not been able to move on yet. ‘Be present, show up, stay put’. Yes. and engage with all of it. Not just tolerating but loving the people and places around us. Thank you for this tonight.

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    1. Caiobhe, you’re so very welcome. I feel like I alternately struggle to want to stay put and then I then the big, crazy, out-there dreams also make me fearful too. It’s good to keep remembering the goodness in the now, the grace in digging in. And that’s so true — not just tolerate but love.

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  4. Beautiful, again, Ashley. 🙂 I am a homebody–love staying home, not often adventurous–but I still sometimes get the desire to run away! Run away from my responsibilities, just quit everything I’m doing, etc. It’s nice to have a reminder to “show up and stay put.”

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