Lately I have been hearing comments from people who, at different stages of their lives, are dealing with a variety of life challenges. Each one expresses a desire to “go away” yet has second thoughts about what that might mean.
“The thought of running away is VERY tempting.”
“I don’t want to feel as if I am running away.”
“Staying and dealing with what I need to face would be the adult thing to do.”
“But I feel as if I need to get away to strengthen my resolve.”
“I could use some time to rest before making a decision.”
“I am running on empty.”
“I need to create some distance to clear my head.”
“It is not really as complicated as I am making it out to be; I am just overwhelmed.”
Do any of these comments sound familiar?
When we face a particularly stressful situation, the urge to run away can be very appealing. Getting under the covers and eating chocolate may also help, but there are other options worth considering. One option may fit both the running away and the chocolate scenarios and they are both rooted in expressions of friendship. If we are going to “face” something, we need to be ready to do so and to be ready we need to be present. When we are out of sorts, unable to focus, feeling threatened, confused, in a fog, (you get where I am going here) we are just incapable of dealing with whatever it is with a fully attentive mind and heart. Having those two elements (heart and mind) aligned, along with a third element, our “gut,” helps us to pay attention and tune into our inner voice of wisdom. When we feel internal alignment we are more likely to be open to problem solving possibilities and potential solutions that were previously obscured. In order to face whatever we need to, we need to find ways to tap into our inner resolve and resilience. When we do, we can then sustain ourselves as we re-enter the challenging problem solving space.
How do we do this? Maybe by talking with a friend, listening to music, walking in nature, or just by getting away. But where? How? Do we channel Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “If I had the wings of a dove”? Remember the lyrics:
“If I had the wings of a dove
Well, I would fly, fly away, fly away
And be at rest.”
Just think about it.
These lyrics are rooted in the Psalms. King David, (Psalm 55) contemplates: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness.”
Sounds just like the beginning of this article, right?
What are the ways to do this, practically, in today’s hectic world?
Think if there is someone you trust in whom you can confide your need to take a break; to be in someplace safe to have time to think (or not think.) That person may invite you to find solace with them. If they don’t, perhaps you can ask them.
As a friend, if you know someone who is having a tough time, offer to have them stay with you as a respite. Remember, they need a break. Assure them there is no expectation of talking, interacting, or anything that might be perceived as pressure to share with you what is going on with them. Your role as a friend is to provide a space, a retreat, a place of restoration, the proverbial port in your friend’s storm. See if you can offer a place to rest…you can make a pot of healthy soup, some hot chocolate, or other comfort food.
Think about it.
And as you think, try to remember a time in your life when someone offered you such a place when you really needed it. If nobody did, think about a time when it would have been helpful if someone had!
So, if you have the chance, just change the sheets, provide a cozy comforter, put some flowers in a vase, and offer your friend a hug. Don’t ask questions. If you want, be available to listen, but only if your friend wants to talk and you feel comfortable listening without judgment. Or, just let your friend know they are welcome to stay for a while in a safe place with no expectations.
When we want to run away, we may really be needing to run toward. Toward a place of solace and peace where we can restore ourselves. Once restored, we are better prepared to examine where we are and what, if any, next steps, we need to explore to change an untenable situation.
If you are a friend who can provide that, make the offer. It is an offer that is really tough to refuse.