I’ve discovered something new about myself.
I’m an escape artist.
A professional at getting out of things.
I get the most done when I’m avoiding what I need to do. I call it productive procrastination. My apartment gets cleaned, my emails get answered, my errands get run, all those mundane tasks are suddenly incredibly appealing. Doing them means I don’t have to deal with the bigger challenge.
The funny thing is, half the time that bigger task is not that big, if I would just face it. But I’m an escape artist. A master at avoiding the inevitable.
I think that’s part of why I have such an affinity for travel. When I’m on an adventure, seeing and experiencing a new place and new things, I’m in my comfort zone. I’m happy and uninhibited and I make the rules. Which also means I’m escaping responsibilities, the humdrum patterns of life and the overbearing expectations of others. I feel like a college student again, not having to take on the duties of adulting that only increase with each passing year. I’m free. I’m fully me.
But the thing is, we can’t all be carefree all the time. If we did there’d just be a bunch of overgrown kids running around. It’s in those everyday tasks, in those tough challenges and rough patches that God grows us.
When I was eight years old I had my first bought of growing pains. My knees throbbed as if they’d been kicked over and over, my shins felt like they were being pulled into a million splinters. I would cry when my mom gave me little massages and iced my aching joints. But I wasn’t done growing. It happened again a few years later, the same nagging pain. But after each round of growing pains, I shot up, adding several inches almost overnight. And today I’m a proud 5’11.
I love being a tall girl. But I sure didn’t when my joints was pulling and protesting their growth. I didn’t when I was crying in the dressing room because I couldn’t find sleeves that were long enough and pants that fit. I didn’t when all the boys were too short and no one wanted to take me to the dance because I would tower over them. I hated being a tall girl. I wanted to crawl into a hole, achy body and all, and hide. I wanted to escape.
Growing hurts. Escaping doesn’t.
But I couldn’t escape it. I had to go through it. And the pain and embarrassment and tears were all worth it. While I can’t say I love every inch of my body every second of every day, I can say when I look in the mirror I like the woman I see. She’s tall and strong and beautiful. But it took some growing pains, quite literally, to get there.
When I’m faced with other challenges – whether they be times of busyness, sacrificing things I enjoy for the sake of life’s responsibilities, or choosing to stay in a relationship or job that’s difficult – wrestling with the tough stuff rather than throwing in the towel makes me remember the gangly eight year old girl with the achy legs. I have to press in and pull through. I have to recognize that this is only for a season and that this season has a purpose. That purpose is to grow me, to stretch me and push me.
I’m no different than a potter’s creation. The potter molds and forms and shapes the doughy clay into something beautiful and ornate. But it’s useless if it doesn’t go through the fire. It’s just a blob of clay in disguise. With one swipe of the potter’s hand the delicate creation can collapse back into that mushy mass. But when it goes into the kiln the creation’s form is set – it’s officially a vase or a bowl or a pot. The creation is stronger now and it’ll take a lot more than a clasped fist to break it.
So I have to go through the fire. It probably will hurt and last a lot longer than I think is necessary. But the Potter sees the bigger picture and he knows what his creation needs in order to be strong and ready to face the challenges to come. It’s a perfecting process, making me more into the woman God wants me to be. And when I’m searching for ways to escape, to be cheerful and comfortable and carefree, I’m missing my assignment of refinement. I’m missing the opportunity to lean into the real Artist and let him make me the refined masterpiece he intended me to be.
And why would I want to escape that?